4: Peter Was Sharing His Dinner with the Fishes – Diary of a Single Girl – Galapagos Island, Ecuador

4: Peter Was Sharing His Dinner with the Fishes


I will not puke… I will not puke… I will not

At least that’s the way he explained it to the crew member who asked how he was feeling. To say the boat ride was rough was like saying surgery without anesthesia might sting. We’re talking the theme from Gilligan’s Island here.

We were told the weather in the Galapagos was unpredictable, but none of the 11 passengers were expecting what we were experiencing.

I was the first to decide that bed was a better option than dinner. The motion sickness patch I was wearing was clinging for dear life to the back of my ear, but I think it stopped working from fear. How the rest of the group managed through dinner is a mystery to me, because I don’t know how they were going to keep from stabbing themselves with forks while trying to stay in their seats and hold onto their plates and glasses at the same time. As I was leaving the dining room, a glass went flying across a table and smashed on the floor, holding everyone captive until they cleaned it up, because it was a barefoot-only boat. I am proud to say though, that I did not share my dinner with the fishes as Peter did.

Peter was kind enough to let me lie down in his cabin, because the wind was blowing onto the boat and my cabin was filled with fumes. When he showed up in the cabin looking like a candidate for a Casper movie, I managed to crawl out of the bunk and, timing the rolicking motion of the boat just right, to fling myself onto the top bunk. He crawled into bed, then out of bed, then into bed, then out of bed about five times, providing the fishes with several courses plus dessert. Once he managed to stay in bed, he didn’t move again. I mean didn’t move a muscle. I was tempted to poke him to see if he was still alive.

Not only was there a rain that would have worried Noah, and the boat was fighting swells that sent us up down like a roller coaster lover’s wet dream, but we had the added joy of a side-to-side rock that got so vicious Darren saw his shoes slide out the door.

I managed to get back to my cabin eventually, where I spent the rest of the evening in an eagle spread to keep myself from being flung from the top bunk and smashed against the wall like a bug on a windshield. Every so often I looked at the door to see if anything was sliding into the sea. But we had a different problem.

Seems the drainage system became overloaded, and after listening for about an hour to what sounded like a waterfall, I decided to investigate – no small thing when you have to get off a top bunk and don’t want to fall and squish your cabinmate in the process. So after again timing the climb down for minimum injury; I wobbled my way toward the door and then thought, “oh, this isn’t good,” as I felt water slosh over my feet.

I flung the light on while trying to remember where I’d stashed my life jacket and looked down. I called out to my roommate, “Xiang Ye, I’m up to my ankles in water here!” Her eyes popped open, and she only said – “CAMERA!” then snatched her camera off the floor and slept with it on her chest the rest of the night.

Luckily our flooding was limited to the doorway area, but the Aussies down the hall didn’t wake up. Well, they came to breakfast the next day in soggy clothes.

Of course, I couldn’t just be satisfied with knowing that it’s flooding in our cabin, I’ve got to go out into the black black night to find out why. So I stick my head out the cabin door and WHOOSH! – a deluge on my head! Oh, so THAT’S where all that water was coming from!

We had a couple of nights of this unexpected pleasure, and I have to admit, after getting used to it, it was kinda cool. It was an adventure in creative sleeping (I learned you HAVE to lie on your back or stomach, a sideways position is really more like a launch position), and at the same time, the motion lulled me to sleep. Not all the passengers felt the same way. In fact, just about everyone who had bragged that THEY don’t get seasick were turning various shades of green later. I could have sold my seasickness drugs for a profit that day.

The positive side of all that seasickness, however, meant more food for the rest of us. Apparently we were on the weight watcher’s tour. It became a daily competition to see who could ask for leftovers first. The food was very good, but we were never given enough of it. So each night Darren, Sophie and I were hunting down leftovers. Eventually I became friendly with the cook, Arturo, and he slipped me sandwiches from time to time.

The tour of the Galapagos we took was aboard the Pelikano (pronounced “Peh-lee-kah-no,” with an accent on lee) which means “Pelican” in Spanish. The boat had 8 cabins for 16 people and a crew of 7. A small basic boat, called Tourist-class here. Basically, the boat backpackers with a more adventurous spirit should take. To compare, this company’s sister boat, the Freedom, slept 12, had air-conditioned cabins, tuxedoed waiters, white tablecloth dining and a jacuzzi. We tied up to them one evening, and those cruel tourists from Joplin, Missouri told us they were having lobster for dinner.

As we sat eating our 9 millionth meal of fish (freshly caught from the boat however) off our blue plastic placemat and being thankful for hot showers and toilet paper, these folks were looking in our windows like they were observing the tortoises. We could just imagine their conversations. “Look honey, the poor people are drinking warm water with dinner… quick – get the camera!” After we were done cursing them and convincing ourselves we wouldn’t want lobster, we reminded them that flash photography of the wildlife was not allowed.