Our trip to the Galapagos Islands was full of surprises, not the least of which being how incredible the place really is. But just like life, our journey to Ecuador was full of ups and downs. And just like God, He showed up in the midst of them.
I feel like our trip was a journey about trusting God. Anyone who has been on an airplane recently can attest to the unsettledness of flight, especially when turbulence happens. My mind was set on praying my anxieties away and it more then helped. (I don't typically feel uneasy about flying, but when my entire family, including my husband & two children are sharing the plane, it's hard not to.) So thankful for the many prayers said on our behalf because we had very copacetic and uneventful plane rides to and from our vacation...and not a bag was lost (and there were eleven checked bags).
It's hard to describe anything on our trip as a "down", but I would be remiss if I didn't mention my lack of trust and feelings of powerlessness particularly when we first arrived in Ecuador. We stayed in Guayaquil, Ecuador for two nights, although the first night we arrived very late (on their Independence Day). Needless to say, our first experiences in a foreign country were early morning hours and an armed guard riding with us in our hotel shuttle. With our two young children with us, both Adam & I were feeling uneasy about our new surroundings. I was so taken back by my feelings of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear because we were out of our comfort zone. Fear of being in a third world country, of crime...even of my inability to communicate with them (none of us speak Spanish). How easy it was to let those fears turn into judgement. Of a dirty city. Of crazy driving (well, that part was totally true). Of people who were different.
So every cloud has a silver lining. Very thankfully that morning we took a four hour driving tour of the city of Guayaquil with a local named Victor. He was great! Getting out of our hotel, beyond those "safe" walls...slowly my fears began to recede and I was able to appreciate Guayaquil, their lifestyles, their culture, their home. We had a wonderful time and even came away with a restaurant suggestion four blocks walk from our hotel. It just goes to show you that half of fighting the fear of the unknown is just getting out there and experiencing that which you fear. Amazing!
Down number two came in the form of our "cruise yacht", the Letty. It was really nice, slept 20 guests and 11 crew members. It was comfortable, accommodating, clean. The crew was amazing and so friendly. This time fear came in the form of rough seas at night. Not sure there would have been a peaceful place to sleep on that boat. Let me be clear, we traveled in July which is winter in Ecuador (clearly not winter as we know it). Winter in the Galapagos means the winds are up and the water is cold. Winds mean rougher seas (by the way, the crew told us the ideal time of year to make this trip is March). So the seas tossed us about several of the nights. People who don't get seasick got seasick, including me. We slept in the bottom of the boat, closest to the water. It was difficult to sleep soundly (atleast for me). The sounds and movements made a rollercoaster seem tame. Definitely unexpected. Definitely a test to keep my fears in check. Adam and I were in different rooms (each of us with one of our children) so I struggled with the insecurity of being "alone" in my room. Not used to all the banging and clanging noises associated with riding in a boat that size in rough seas.
I want to make it clear that the unexpected sleeping issues truly did not overshadow the awesomeness of our trip. We had to get from point A to point B. So most of us wound up taking some Bonine for seasickness, but it didn't stop us from enjoying each excursion and appreciating the incredible things we were able to experience each day.
The third down (this is a trilogy) happened after one of our excursions on the panga (or zodiak). Upon arriving back to the main boat in the panga my grandmother, without warning, passed out. So at first I asked myself, why is this happening? And then I realized, whether or not this was happening, God was still there and in control. That was His amazing lesson to us that day. She did revive and was carried onto the main boat. We were anchored in a small cove and our crew happened to be friends with another boat that happened to be anchored in the same cove. The other boat happened to have a doctor on board, who they promptly zodiaked over to our boat. Turned out she was just dehydrated. A little rest and a lot of water and she was absolutely and completely fine the next day. I love God's timing. She could have passed out during the panga ride, when we were far from our boat. It could have happened when our boat was not near any other boats, especially with a doctor on board. By the way, I never saw that other boat the whole rest of our trip. So very thankful that my grandmother was okay and we could all enjoy the rest of our trip together.
Being on the boat for 9 days with our Ecuadorian crew was amazing. It is hard not to draw close to people you share precious time with. I love the fact that when I think of Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands, the names of those men come to mind and I can pray for them and their families. Going to the Galapagos was more then just seeing breathtaking scenery, turquoise blue water, and unique animals up close. It was also meeting the people and extending our little circle to include some wonderful people we had the privilege of getting to know in Ecuador. We returned to Guayaquil after our trip to the Galapagos. And we stayed in the same hotel. But 9 days later, there was not a trace of the fear we experienced upon our arrival. There was a new found comfort. When I write that I actually feel bad about it. I'm frustrated that I felt that way in the beginning. Trust in God keeps fears at bay. And I'm so glad for another lesson learned and a reinforcement of why it is so important to trust God in all things.
Gracias, to the crew of the Letty for a wonderful experience in the Galapagos!