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Weeks Five - Nine
Filming with the IMAX Crew
10 July 1998 Plaza
9:30 p.m. Arrived here late last night after I'd gone to bed. Got up at 5:30 a.m. and called the SJ to come get me so I could get ready for the morning land shoot. It was fun seeing everyone on the SJ again -- a little like coming home! Met the newcomers: My roommate Kimberly Wright (She looks a lot like Andie McDowell), John Ross (the SI magazine writer), Peter Coan (Dave's assistant), Luke Kitzanik (Andy's nephew and a spitting image of my first boyfriend!), Yuri and Carlo (lighting/equipment), and Bill Reeve (camera operator -- replacing Noel). There are a lot of people on this ship now. The morning shoot was ok -- my first time with the top-side film crew. I had to walk a few steps to the edge of a cliff and gaze out with binoculars. I felt amazingly self conscious with everyone watching. You think walking is so easy and then you have to do it in front of a 3-D IMAX camera and you suddenly feel as though you have not in fact been walking all of your life! Later, Dave and Ray took me off to do some voice-over recording. This wasn't very comfortable either. John Ross joined us, and it got better -- more like a conversation among a group rather than a solo performance. We'd just started to roll (I thought) when Ray said that the wind was too strong and noisy. So, I got a little reprieve from that.
Just before lunch, Peter Gueber and his cronies arrived on the RACHEL. He's quite a character, and his friends (all of them native New Yorkers) are a lot of fun. Peter and Eric are especially deep thinkers, and they drilled McCosker and me over lunch about evolution, natural selection, and how the whole theory relates to mankind and our future. Interesting conversation. John and Eric and Dave went off to swim and walk on the beach. Peter came back to watch the sunset sub shoot. What an operation. I had to walk a few steps to the sub ladder, climb up and in (we rehearsed this about 10 times) and then the sub was deployed. All of this was done with the sun setting behind the sub. Must have looked good, because I have never seen so many camera flashes!
Tomorrow morning, we go back to the spot we filmed the morning shoot to get some footage of a group of young sea lions that we saw when loading the boat. These little guys are so playful.
12 July Bartolomé
The highs are so high and the lows so low. Yesterday was a great day of filming. I was on land at Plaza with the top-side crew filming sea lions frolicking in a tidal pool and a land iguana who performed admirably for the camera. Then I was on the DAPHNE for an afternoon dive with sea lions. We've looked all over for a place to film sea lions, and we just sort of stumbled on the spot yesterday and got some great underwater footage. The young sea lions are incredibly playful and curious. After the filming dive, I snorkeled back to the site with John Ross and Kimberly Wright and spent some time diving down and trying to fool the little guys by changing directions quickly. They are so agile that they came very close to me but never hit me!
Had dinner last night on the RACHEL with Vince, Don, McCosker, Al and Dave. We had ahi sashimi (yellowfin tuna), shrimp ceviche with popcorn, chicken soup (with yucca?) and albacore tuna with a green olive tapenade. Pretty good! Had some great Chilean vino blanco and vino tinto. After leaving the Rachael, Captain Vince, Don and I went to the DAPHNE to socialize with some of "our" group. The "lows" started here -- when Andy launched into a speech to me about how the producers are using me and not depicting me as a scientist, etc. Then I find out back on the SJ that Stuart is ready to walk off the set, and then this morning McCokser is upset that the producers decided at the last minute to send him on the Daphne and leave me on the SJ. What a mess. I'm sure the stress that we've been through already is taking its toll. Perhaps everyone could have dealt better with all of these little problems if we weren't already so emotionally taxed. Things seemed to settle down later in the day -- Dave Clark settled things with Stuart, Andy apologized, McCosker and I had a heart-to-heart before he left with the DAPHNE, and Dave and I had a nice talk on the "lava landscape" set. So, everything seems back to "normal" again. The DAPHNE is off in Baltra, and we'll see them tomorrow. It was supposed to be a 4-day split, but Stuart needs some camera gear from the SJ, so we'll steam to Baltra after a morning shoot on the peak that we all climbed the last time we were at Bartolomé. I'm hoping to do a dive with Aric in the morning and catch some fishes with quinaldine for the aquarium. Then hopefully a swim...
13 July Bartolomé
Had a shallow dive this a.m. with Aric but didn't see any chaenopsids or gobies. There are thousands of potential "holes" for Acanthemblemaria, but I've only seen one hole occupied by a fish so far. McCosker says the tube-worm blennies are typically very abundant here, and he's concerned that El Nino took its toll on the population of these little fishes. The land crew did an early morning shoot, then we cruised a couple hours to Baltra to exchange a few things with the DAPHNE. Then we headed to the N.E. side of Santa Cruz where we did an afternoon sub dive to just below 3000 ft. We were on a steep (60-70 degree) slope of large rocks and sand. The rotenone didn't work (again), but Don managed to collect 3 chimeras, a couple rattails, a small cat shark, a pelagic squid, a small stomatioid, some brittle stars, sea biscuits, crinoids, sea cucumbers, etc. Not bad! Kim went in the back with Tim, and she was great. We reveled in the light shows going up and down and talked about how difficult it is to describe to others what it's like - sort of like being in a lava lamp or one of those glass "snow" domes that you shake up and then watch the contents swirl around and settle. Don worked wonders with the lights again, enticing animals some distance from the sub to fire and thus giving a lot of depth to the "show." The "soup" was so thick in places that Don wrote his name with the light -- the "o" was a perfect ring of luminescence!
Looks as though I'll have the morning free tomorrow, then perhaps a land shoot with tortoises and then a night sub launch/recovery in Tagus Cove. I'm steeling myself to return to Tagus Cove, the place where Bill and Noel took off on their fatal flight. Those poor guys. I haven't written yet to Deb Raisner or Noel's parents. I'm not sure what to say. What can I say? But I do want to express to them both my sympathy for their loss and how much I enjoyed meeting Bill and Noel, however briefly.
15 July Cape Douglas, Fernandina
After the dive the afternoon of the 13th, we hauled anchor and cruised through the night to Tagus Cove. It was sad going back there, and I couldn't help but look at the point I last saw the ultralight. But I wrote a note to Deb Raisner before we arrived, and that helped mentally. I took Peter Coan for a snorkel in the cove in the mid afternoon (biked 1.5 hours this morning), and he had so much fun. Saw lots of recently settled fishes, and managed to collect some Hypsoblennius, Apogon, and Thalassoma (I think). Later in the afternoon, Charlie (our guide "borrowed" from the DAPHNE -- the DAPHNE has Juan Carlos -- every ship in the area has to have a naturalist guide aboard) took a group of us for a hike on land, past rock walls that whalers and pirates had etched graffiti into -- one was dated in the early 1920's! Saw a Galapagos hawk, some finches, mockingbirds, sea lions, penguins, and learned a little about the plant life but have already forgotten the names of everything except the "glue tree " which has pretty yellow flowers. The most common tree has a gray bark that smells like citronella and, sure enough, the Ecuadorians rub it on themselves to keep the mosquitoes away.
After dinner last night, we had a long filming session for the night retrieval of the sub. Don and I were in the bubble for about 5 1/2 hours, at or near the surface the whole time, except for one ca. 45 minute break on deck. It wasn't too bad, and I saw millions of fish larvae. Managed to collect a dozen or so larvae, most of which appear to be engraulids -- but, again, these guys have yellow on them, so perhaps they're gonostomatids -- although they don't have the elliptical eyes...
Anyway, the film crew made three shots last night: (1) the sub, all aglow, coming to the surface from ca. 30 ft., everything dark around it except the SJ all lit up beautifully; (2) Ben attaching the pin from the hoist into the sub and the sub being lifted out of the water to its highest point; and (3) the sub being lowered to the deck from its highest point -- here, I finally got to smile in this film! Only problem was that it was 1:30 a.m., and I was pretty tired from the biking, hiking, and snorkeling...
Slept in until 8:00 a.m. this morning, then made a dive with Aric in the same place that Peter and I snorkeled yesterday. It was only 25 ft., but quite a nice place, with decent visibility, large boulders, lots of fish, and 2 playful (ok, ok, I've said that enough!) sea lions. I caught some gobies, wrasse, blennioids, and a king angelfish for the aquarium. This afternoon, I sat in the sun a bit to warm up -- the dive was cold -- 64 degrees or so, then we left Tagus Cove and cruised around the top of Fernandina to Cape Douglas. Arrived here late afternoon, and a film group went ashore to check out the wildlife. Pretty pitiful compared to 1995 according to Dave, but he wants to film here for 2 days nevertheless. While the land party was ashore, Kim and I did a photo session, with me holding the new anthiine bass, or the new wrasse, or a jar with a variety of things. Being in front of the camera for so long is tedious, and it's hard to muster smiles after a while! Kim is great, though, and I'll miss her when she leaves tomorrow. Dave Pawson (S.I. marine biologist) and Godfrey Merlin (CDRS naturalist) arrive tomorrow, along with Doug Lavender who's returning from Noel's memorial service in Vancouver. I have the morning free, and then will do a sub dive mid day and a land shoot late afternoon.
16 July Cape Douglas
Now I remember this place. This is where the flies bugged us like crazy on the DAPHNE when we were there on ca. June 24-25. I remember that we had a contest to see who could swat the most in one slap. Randy, of course, with extra large hands, won with five!
Kimberly left this morning. I was sorry to see her go. She was unlike anyone I've met before. She meditated several hours a day on the top bunk in our room, and she took all kinds of pills and powders. I was kind of intrigued by her. Dave Pawson arrived today, along with Godfrey Merlin. Dave Steadman (paleo-ornithologist) won't be joining us as planned -- he's been working on land for a while since we've been here, and the rains from El Nino have made the lava tubes where he sifts for fossils too damp. Doug Lavender came back, and it was good to see him again. Had a quiet morning. Biked 20+ miles and helped Pawson get organized. Did a sub dive to 2000+ ft. this afternoon with our non-English speaking Ecuadorian observer, Maria Elena, in the rear. She was sent by an oceanographic institute in Quito to "observe" on the last part of this expedition. Nobody had told us she was to come, but since I have an extra bed in my room, it worked out fine. We can't speak to one another (my Spanish is lousy), but she's nice enough. She liked the sub "ride" a lot and helped me with specimens this evening after dinner. I had to rush to shore when we finished the dive today to do two shots with the film crew - one walking along the beach and coming across some marine iguanas, the second walking down some SLIPPERY rocks to a spot where I was to gaze with binoculars out to sea. Everyone keeps encouraging me in this filming business, but I still feel a bit intimidated by it all. The reports from Mandalay are so-so.
We are back in contact with the DAPHNE now. They were at Roca Redonda this morning but didn't find anything, so now they're at Wolf/Darwin. We'll head up there tomorrow night, and both boats will stay there for the rest of the trip.
The sub dive today was great. Got a lot of fishes and many echinoderms for Dave Pawson. Got several scorpionfish, tonguefish (Symphurus diabolicus), two greeneyes (Chlorophthalmus), two witch eels (nettastomatids), a long eel-like thing (notacanth?), and I think a jellynose.
17 July Cape Douglas
A busy day. Made two scuba dives with Aric Anderson, trying to catch hawkfish for filming. Got a couple short-nose ones but couldn't find any long-nose ones. Also got cold! Water temp. was 62 degrees at 50 ft., 60 degrees a bit deeper. Brrr..... Saw some turtles on both dives. Pawson and Godfrey made a sub dive this morning. They caught two batfish (Dibranchus), an orange hagfish (which I, like a complete moron, put into the aquarium, and it proceeded to produce gallons of slime and really muck everything up), and a beautiful black-spotted fish that McCosker says is the juvenile form of a jellynose. This is exciting because ichthyologists don't really have a clue where the jellynose family, Ateleopodidae, belongs in the classification of fishes - and it's pretty rare to be so in-the-dark about an entire family of fishes. The problem is that ateleopodids don't greatly resemble any known teleostean fishes, and the adults are highly modified and somewhat reductive in nature. So, I'm hoping that a comparative study of juvenile jellynose specimens with other teleosts might help determine the proper placement of the jellynose in fish classification. Sometimes, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny - in other words, the young stages of organisms often more closely resemble the organisms from which they evolved than adults do.
I made a sub dive to 2500 ft. this afternoon. Rotenone wasn't working (again), but we managed to collect a couple ophidioids of some kind, a big octopus for Michael, a pink urchin, a huge siphonophore, and a "clam." When Don got the octopus at the end of the suction hose, its body went into the opening, but it wrapped its tentacles all around the hose. I got some hilarious video footage of this. The critter ultimately gave up the fight, and we got it into the hose and down into one of the buckets.
We're cruising to Darwin right now and will arrive early tomorrow morning. The underwater team apparently has found hammerheads but no whale sharks yet. They're apparently out of fresh water, so I'm sure they'll all be glad to get back on the SJ.
The land crew filmed some flightless cormorants nesting this morning and seemed happy with the footage. These guys are complaining a lot about the the film - not enough wildlife, too unorganized, etc. I have nothing to compare this film job with, so I'm not sure what to think. I'm still happy to be here, but I may be the only one.
18 July Darwin Island
Arrived here early this morning and met the DAPHNE. Did one shot today of frigate birds. I was standing on the 0-1 deck of the SJ looking out at the frigates that moved in to eat the fish scraps being thrown to them by Ray Day and John Ross. The SJ was slowly steaming past Darwin during the shot, and it looked neat. Right before the second shot, a piece of the fish that John and Ray were throwing out hit me on the cheek, so I finally got my chance to yell "CUT!" and wipe the slime off my cheek. It will be fun to remember all of these little things when the film comes out.
We're now steaming south (again). Al couldn't film here because of poor visibility, so we're all a bit bummed about not getting to film hammerheads and whale sharks. I was truly looking forward to the chance to dive with these animals. We're to meet the DAPHNE at Pinta tomorrow morning, where hopefully we'll find clear water for some more sub shots. We're now entering the phase of more intense sub work and the search for specimens to film, so things are looking up for us scientists!
21 July Marchena
Happy Birthday Camille Bear! We arrived here on the 19th after checking out Pinta. Visibility is good enough here for sub shots, and there's deep water nearby for sub work. Did some filming in the lab on Sunday with Pawson and McCosker. That's pretty tedious stuff for the "talent," as we're called - ha! It takes hours to set up a shot, and everyone yells, and the lights are hot, and the smoke from the "fogger" stinks.... But on the other hand, it's all sort of interesting to watch. Sunday night, Vince pulled out a cooler of beer, and we had a party with the DAPHNE crew on the stern of the SJ. Early yesterday morning, it was my turn for the "bubble" seat in the sub (McCosker, Pawson, and I are rotating - I was in the rear with Pawson in front on Sunday). I was feeling a bit sluggish after the party Sunday night, so Don increased the oxygen in the sub, and that was great. As Don said, what are friends for?! We had an incredible dive - caught 3 viperfish (yes!), some sharks, eels, greeneyes, scorpionfish, an absolutely gorgeous red ctenophore, pelagic sea cucumbers, glass sponges, gorgonians, a myctophid, a leptocephalus, an orange roughy, a huge sea urchin, etc. Unfortunately, the film crew wasn't ready to go with the aquarium when we returned, so they didn't get the viperfish alive. Bummer! I spent the whole afternoon in the aquarium room doing two shots - one peering into the tank and the other putting fish into it. After dinner, I moved to the DAPHNE for one night because I'll be in some of Al's shots this morning. Al will film Godfrey (playing Darwin - perfect! - as he's a British naturalist anyway, and he's been on the islands for about 25 years) peering into a glass-bottom bucket from a small dinghy (as a way to contrast the tools Darwin had for underwater observation with our high-tech submersible). He'll also film John and me falling into the water with scuba gear, and he'll shoot me swimming along and looking up (to see Darwin looking down). Hopefully, we can do some collecting after all of this...
Just got a call on the radio from Rob on the SJ saying that Mom & Dad called to say Happy Birthday. I'm so sorry I missed them! Maybe I'll try calling later. Michael is still here (he decided he couldn't leave until all dive operations were completed....), so this is the first time we've been together on my birthday in years.
22 July Marchena
Wow, what a birthday! A scuba dive in the a.m., a sub dive in the afternoon, and then a surprise "party" in the evening with the whole gang singing "happy birthday." Not often a girl has 50 guys singing to her!
Did a sub dive this morning with Al filming us in open water, and then we went to 1800 ft. Searched really hard for more viper fish (they're now ready to film the aquarium), but we didn't find any. So it goes with wildlife filming I suppose. The dive was about 4 hours, so I was ready to get out and stretch when it was over - not to mention hit the head. There are "piddle packs" in the sub for the guys, but I don't think they'd work too well for females! You certainly don't drink a lot of anything before a dive....
We'll be here in Marchena this morning and then wake up in Bartolomé apparently. Not sure what's up there. Only five more days on the ship....
25 July Bartolomé
Busy couple of days. Did a "lab" scene in Al's bedroom(!) on the SJ - Al's staying on the DAPHNE for the most part. Did one shot with me putting the new species of anthiine in a jar, one with me looking at a viperfish under the microscope, and one close-up of the viperfish teeth. Did some more top-side shots as well - John and I going into the water with scuba gear, one where we're in the zodiac looking for a dive spot, and a night sub recovery with me waving and smiling at Pawson, McCosker and Juan Carlos. Ray Day had these guys "wired" for voice recordings, and apparently they cut up so badly that the tape is not useable! Each of them is a funny guy, but when you get them all together, they're too much! Did some underwater (bottom) sub work with Al - visibility was awful, but perhaps he got something. Did a nice dive with Michael yesterday morning and got some long- and short-nose hawkfish for filming.
The DAPHNE pulled anchor last night and went to Plaza to film sea lions again. We'll catch up with them later today and then I may dive with Al before our sunset sub launch and science dive - perhaps our last? It's Saturday, and we'll be in Puerto Ayora on Monday morning.
26 July Plaza
Made the last "sea" shots today and will arrive in Puerto Ayora tomorrow morning. I did some underwater work with Al today, then some solo sub shots where I explored the panels and switches in the bubble, then a sunset sub launch with Don, and then some audio in the sub. Felt a bit like a rag doll being pulled by Al and Dave today, but I understand their need to squeeze out some more footage before the ship leaves for Florida. Plans are to take a group photograph tomorrow morning, pack during the day, blow it out at a "wrap party" tomorrow night, pack some more on the morning of the 28th, and then McCosker and I will give seminars at the CDRS on the afternoon of the 28th.
We finished filming last night about 1:00 a.m. after our ca. 9:30 return from my last sub dive (on this trip anyway - as I told Don, I'll be back!). Had to be up this morning to dive with Al at 8 a.m., so I'm tired. The shot last night was fun - Pawson, McCosker and I looking at specimens, but you'll only see our hands (well, chest to knees I suppose) - should look cool. I had to handle one of the adult jellynose fishes in the scene, and the thing is so slimy that it kept slipping out of my hands. It has a really beautiful green eye, and the chimera that McCosker was handling has a beautiful blue eye. These are things we never see in our preserved specimens.
29 July Puerto Ayora
Arrived here early Monday morning as planned (27 July). Spent the day packing specimens on the ship and then did an interview on the back deck with Darryl Wright, Danny and Savano - a publicist group contracted by IMAX to do the "making of" video. Also met Valerie Feldner, the reporter from the New Yorker who's writing an article about IMAX films for Attaché magazine. Monday night we had the wrap party at the Hotel Galapagos, where I'm staying now. I felt a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz (again) that night - saying goodbye to all of my new friends from the ship.
Worked on my seminar yesterday morning and finished packing, then went into town to the CDRS with Michael and Pawson and did my talk on fish larvae. Rodrigo Bustamente translated each line of my talk, so that was a bit awkward, but we muddled through it. The room was packed, and we were asked lots of good questions. I was pleasantly surprised. Afterwards, Don, McCosker, Pawson, Michael, Tim Askew, and I had a beer at "the gravel pit" - an open-air bar with a roof above and gravel on the floor! - and then I went back to the ship to get my stuff and then moved into this hotel. I have a huge room (3 beds), a view of the ocean, and a pet spider(!) in my bathroom. Michael and I had dinner at the Four Lanterns (spaghetti con camerones - excellent!). He went back to the ship later and will leave with Al's group tomorrow to head home.
Woke up this morning to rain - it sounded so nice - we've had almost none on this trip. But it messed up the morning shoot of tortoises (I will stay here in Puerto Ayora with the top-side crew another week or so to finish up the terrestrial shots). I had a nice talk with Dave Clark a bit ago, and I'll join Dave and Peter and Ray for lunch and dinner here at the hotel. The rest of the group is staying next door at the Red Mangrove.
30 July Puerto Ayora
Didn't get any filming done yesterday because of cloudy skies. The crew got the crane set up to film dome-shelled tortoises at CDRS, so they will try again today. Still overcast now (8:30 a.m.) So who knows what today will bring. Did some more voice recording in the afternoon yesterday, had another brief session with Darryl Wright's publicity crew, and did an interview with Valerie Feldner. The publicity thing was fun because I was sitting on a rock by a big tortoise who eventually stuck his head up as high as it would go and posed with me for some still shots. Did a 30 minute run late afternoon with Dave Clark, had dinner with the gang here at the hotel, then had a few drinks at the Galapason. Pretty easy day for a change!
31 July Puerto Ayora
Did some shots yesterday with tortoises at CDRS. The tortoises had not been fed for a day or two so they'd be certain to come over to the food when offered. Lots of jokes were made about their slow progress to the leaves when they were finally put out. With "come and get it" you intuitively expect a mad race to the food, but with tortoises, it's kind of like plod, plod, plod, and an eternity before they reach their destination. Amusing monsters, these tortoises. Anyway, I was to come out of the woods into a clearing where two tortoises were feeding, sit down by them, and, well, stare at them I guess. One was a little more directly in front of the camera than the other, so that's the one I was supposed to concentrate on. All went as planned until the other tortoise decided to move - guess he didn't like not being the center of attention. Anyway, I'm half lying on the ground gazing curiously at this one tortoise as it munches leaves in front of the camera when I look back and find the other lumbering mass of tortoise getting ready to crawl over my legs. The huge "beak" of this thing is right up against my ankle, and I'm sitting there thinking to myself - will this guy bite me?! I'm sure the camera captured this moment of terror as I quickly withdrew my legs from the jaws of "crunchdom." Godfrey later told me that he had been bitten by a tortoise in the very same pen we were working in... apparently, he was wearing a yellow shirt and the tortoise must have thought he was a plant. Go figure... Anyway, the whole incident was amusing, and I started laughing. You try to be serious when the film is rolling because it's so expensive -- and then little things out of your control happen.
Had another talk/recording session in the afternoon with Dave and Ray - yuck. I hate that stuff. Had a quick run afterwards and then took my larval-fish slides over to the Red Mangrove to show Andy and Bill. They were impressed and started talking about how to incorporate some of them into the film. I like this idea a lot and will talk with Dave Clark about it perhaps tonight. Had dinner with Dave, Ray, Peter, and Valerie Feldner at the little place by the supermarket. Had shrimp soup and grilled lobster - yum! Then we went to the Galapason for our nightly capirhainas...
Have the morning off, but was awakened at 6:30 for a call from Michael. He made it home yesterday and said that shortly after he arrived, a flower delivery arrived from Camille. How sweet! He sounded so much better (he was really down most of the trip), and I'm relieved about that. I'm going to head into town in a bit and look at some of the shops. Did about a 45 minute run this morning, but legs prevented me from doing more. They're pretty much out of running shape. Hard to believe that I was doing 15-17 mile runs before I came on this trip.
I'm supposed to have dinner with Dave and someone from CDRS this evening.... somewhere in the hills outside of town. I'm looking forward to seeing the highlands.
1 August Puerto Ayora
Wow, the summer's flying by. Can't believe it's August, and I've been here nearly 2 months. The film crew finished up the tortoise shots yesterday, then did a shot of me sitting on a rock wall making notes in a pad and "reflecting." I got to wear a different outfit for a change! Moved into a new room this afternoon. Now I've got a front-row view of the ocean. Very cool room. Had a great sushi feast that Jack prepared. He caught and cleaned a bunch of fish yesterday morning and made the sushi himself. Excellent. Sat on the stoop of my room after dinner talking with Dave about all kinds of things -- life, the film, etc. I'm still working on him to include some larval fish stuff in this film. Looks as though I have the whole day off today. Not feeling so great, so will try to rest some today. It's been a long trip and even writing in this journal seems taxing sometimes.
11:30 a.m. Just returned from Godfrey Merlin's home, where the crew is filming finches. What a place - just like out of "Robinson Crusoe." Godfrey and his wife Gail have some lush foliage (thanks to El Nino) in their backyard, and they have several types of finches there. The finches seemed completely unconcerned with the filming equipment, and Bill apparently got some good footage. Even more impressive than their finches is the young blue-footed booby (Boobilee) that is living with them. She was near death when they found her (March), and they have nursed her back to health. She's really part of the family now and is very "affectionate." They plan to release her soon and are sad about having to do this, but they know it's for the best. This bird actually lives in their house most of the time, and there is newspaper all over the floor and furniture with booby poop. Godfrey has been such a help on this trip. He's quite a wild-looking man - with long bushy hair and a big grey beard. But he has a gentle spirit, and his wife, Gail, the librarian at CDRS, is a sweetheart. I bought Godfrey's fish guide yesterday, and he signed it for me. Not a comprehensive treatment, but beautifully illustrated by him. I look forward to seeing "Chuck,' as we now call him, on the big screen playing Darwin.
While I was at the Merlin's home, Gail fed "Boobilee" the booby. "Way too cute," as Dave would say. The bird hopped up onto its feeding stool (a wooden tortoise with a flat table top on its back!), then got impatient while Gail prepared the fish filets in the kitchen, so it hopped back down to the floor and walked into the kitchen. Then it came back out and got on its stool again, and when Gail came out with the fish, it hopped up on the coffee table, started flapping its wings and opening its bill for the fish Gail threw at it. The booby ate about 4-5 filets and then didn't want anymore and hopped away. Pretty amazing.
2 August Puerto Ayora
Just got back from a nice run. Ended up having the entire day off yesterday, so did some shopping, reading, and then tagged along with Peter to the beach at CDRS. Couldn't really swim because it was shallow and difficult to maneuver around the lava rocks in bare feet, but it felt incredibly good to submerge in the cool water. Had cocktails with the IMAX "boys" at the Red Mangrove and met Cara Burres, Noel Archambault's fiancé. What a surprise - she's a vertebrate paleontologist and did her Ph.D. at U. Kansas. So, she knows my friend Ed Wiley and others. The real surprise was that she knows Michael's brother, Mathias, who also did his Ph.D. at U. Kansas. What a small world.
Went to dinner with Dave et al. in the highlands. What an experience! We took a taxi ride in a truck, and it bumped along the rough roads at breakneck speed. I felt as though we were headed to the middle of nowhere. And then there was one structure with lights - like an oasis in the desert. And it truly was. What a remarkable restaurant. Outdoor seating on a large wooden deck, with huge brick fireplaces in the middle, and a brick grill in the kitchen area. A resident owl flew in and watched us for a while - an amazing animal. The cool crisp air was delightful, and the Italian owner was charming. Had sangria, little pizzas, pasta with a very fresh tomato sauce, grilled chicken marinated in a lemongrass mixture, carrots, beets, a potato cake, and a dessert of a kind of hard shortbread covered in chocolate sauce. With wine, it came to a total of about $22 per person. Unbelievable.
Today we will begin filming in the lava tube. Juan Carlos will be in the shots with me, so that should be fun. What a character.
11:45 a.m. Just back from some shopping. Picked up some hand-made Ecuadorian earrings - only $2.00 U.S., but I really like them and I'm sure Camille will as well. Picked up lots of habas suave at the grocery store to take back. This is some kind of bean (looks like a lima bean) that is baked or fried and salted. It's a great snack, so I'll take some home for my family to try. I also found some Nabisco-brand animal crackers - but these are Galapagos animals! My nephew, Jamo, and Michael's son, Sergio, should like these.
Yesterday, I took some time away from the rest of the gang and had lunch at a little shop owned by a German lady. The menu is in Spanish, English, and German, and I really liked the atmosphere. Bought a beautiful little carved sting-ray - of balsa wood I believe - very lightweight and fragile. A little memento to remind me of my encounter with the big stingray when filming with Al.
3 August Puerto Ayora
10:20 a.m. It's a wrap! Just made the last shots in a lava tube close to town. The guys set up there yesterday morning, and we did a shot there in the afternoon with Juan Carlos and me walking along a ledge and exploring the cave. It was brutally hot in there, and we were both covered with sweat. But the lava tube was very beautiful, too. The walls show distinct layers of lava that differ in color - from almost black to reddish to somewhat gold. Cara and I spent hours digging tiny rodent and bird bones out of the mud in the cave. It's usually sandy/dusty in there, so now I see why Steadman had a difficult time collecting while he was here. Can't sift mud!
Had a long talk last night with Bill about his relationship with Noel. Poor guy... It's going to take Noel's friends a long time to heal, I imagine. Anyway, it was wonderful for me to have Bill behind the camera on this shoot. He was very easy going and supportive in a quiet way.
Today will be spent packing all the gear for shipping to Quito at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow, but I'm not involved with that. Missed a call from Camille yesterday evening about 9:00 p.m. Was sorry about that, but it won't be long until I'm home now.
4 August Puerto Ayora
The end is near. We'll leave here early tomorrow morning and spend one night in Quito. Managed to get everyone together yesterday evening at the Red Mangrove for a group photo. Had dinner at a local "snack bar" - arroz con frijoles y carne asada.
5 August Guayaquil
Ended our stay in Puerto Ayora with a party at the Red Mangrove. Spent the morning shopping, and Eric of the Red Mangrove showed me where to buy some nice ceramics. I bought quite a few things and am hand-carrying them today on the plane. Bill talked me into going to the beach for a swim in the afternoon, and I'm so glad I went. We took a taxi to a point where a path begins that goes to Tortuga Bay. Had a hilarious time trying to tell the taxi driver that this is where we wanted to go, as neither of us speaks Spanish. Fortunately, I saw a sign for Tortuga Bay, so we were able to "tell" the driver that way. Lord only knows where he'd have taken us if I hadn't seen the sign. He was heading full speed out of town when I saw it!
Anyway, we hiked the path to the beach - a ca. 20-30 minute walk over a pretty easy terrain. You're well rewarded for your efforts when you arrive at the beach. The sand is as fine and soft as flour - and white, there are no shells and few rocks, and the beach is very wide. We talked for a bit and ate a picnic lunch, and then hit the water. Got to do some fantastic body surfing! Came back for a 4:00 run with Dave. Then had a drink with Dave, Ray, Peter, and Jack (owner of Hotel Galapagos), and then had dinner with Cara, Andy and Bill.
Left Puerto Ayora at 8:00 this morning, and I had a tough time saying goodbye to Stuart, who will stay there for a few days of R&R. Cara is also going to be there for a while, and it was troubling to leave her as well. Every time I talk with her, we discover more similarities between us. Get this, her real name is Caralee (I've been called Carolee a lot - a play on the fact that my name has an "e" at the end).
Had a nice trip through the highlands to Baltra. Took a ferry across a channel and then a bus to the airport. Ran into Charlie there as well as the older guy from the DAPHNE who thinks I understand Spanish! I've been in a reflective mood all day, and I suppose it's partly due to being tired and partly due to not wanting to say goodbye... This group of people and those who left with the ship have been my "world" for two months, and I've grown attached to many of them. I'm sure the emotions are heightened because of what we went through together. I suppose in a sense we'll be bonded for life.
6 August Quito
Heading home! Arrived in Quito late yesterday afternoon. Chilly here! Went out looking for some tiny wooden spoons to use in some small ceramic fish bowls I found in Puerto Ayora - some restaurants there use these little bowls for salt, and place tiny wooden spoons in them for serving. I ended up buying quite a few ceramic dishes in Puerto Ayora with fish motifs. Some of my favorites are coffee mugs on which a stingray has been painted. The tail of the stingray comes up off the cup and curves upward to form the handle. Clever!
We had a wonderful dinner last night at a local Ecuadorian restaurant and met Deloris and Monica from Quasar Nautica who worked so hard on all our travel/shipping arrangements. The food was extraordinary - some of the things I had (or tasted) were a tamale, a potato/cheese/avocado soup, shrimp in coconut sauce, and a dessert called "taxo" - some fruit that is blended and mixed with whipped egg whites, or so it seemed. It was one of the most sensuous foods I've ever put in my mouth.
Back at the hotel, I talked with Camille and then Michael's brother-in-law (Michael and the kids were at a Padres game). Went to bed about 1:00 a.m., and Michael called at 1:30! Then I got up at 4:00 a.m. to see the early crew off - all except Dave, Ray and I were leaving on an early flight out of Quito, and they had to leave the hotel at 5:00 a.m. I ended up calling Andy, Bill, and Doug's girlfriend Roberta to wake them up when they hadn't shown up downstairs by 4:40 a.m. Good thing I did. They all ended up making it on the bus and went away waving. It was truly hard to see them go - of course, I'm ridiculously sentimental anyway...
We're on the plane on the ground in Quito right now, and Dave, Ray and I have an exit row. Not bad! Better catch a nap on this flight so I'll be ready for the next adventure - Camille will meet me at Washington National Airport and tomorrow we'll drive to Pennsylvania for a family reunion. It was supposed to be in Hilton Head, SC, this year, which I was really looking forward to. But now I'm glad the drive tomorrow will only be a few hours instead of ca. 10.
6:18 p.m. Almost home. Arrived in Miami late and would have missed my connection, but it was delayed. Dave and Peter had to stay in Miami to take care of getting all the gear on a plane to Canada. Doug Lavender and Ray Day were there to help them. I am drained. Can't even think how to best sum up the trip except to say that it was full of ups and downs (as McCosker says, the highs were high, but the lows were too low). But I fell in love with the animals there, and I smile when I think of my encounters with sea lions, pelicans, boobies, iguanas, stingrays, eels, jacks, dolphins, tortoises, frigate birds, etc. In fact, I find myself longing to go back and see them all again. I know that I will never look at one the Galapagos volcanic islands again without remembering the hours and hours spent scouring the sides of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul with binoculars searching and hoping. But Im finally feeling that its time to let go of the sadness of the tragedy and devote some thought to making the whole ordeal a positive one for my future and for the education of the public. I have much to share with the world.
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