Galapagos, Ecuador, June 30, 2003 — Day 23 was the start of one of the year’s highlights: our week touring the Galapagos Islands. We were thrifty travelers for the whole year, and this was quite a splurge. But it was considerably more reasonable than it would have been had we booked from home, since we were able to get a discount rate by shopping around in Quito. Galapagos is part of Ecuador, but 500 miles west from the mainland. So we flew to Isla San Cristobal, and then continued by boat for the entire tour (our boat — a catamaran called the Archipell — was on the small size with only about 10 other tourists plus a guide and crew; some others are cruise ship sized). Every day we made several landfalls on different islands of the archipelago, plus we often took snorkeling and kayaking breaks. Our first hike on day 1 was practically teeming with sea lions, including a few brand new pups, as you can see pictured here.