We started our day on Santiago Island, one of the larger islands in the Galapagos. We walked along the rocky lava coast looking between cracks and around rocks for hidden creatures. We saw many Sally Lightfoot crabs scurrying away as we approached…they are eaten by quite a few animals so it makes sense why they would disperse when we came too close. There were 100s of land and marine iguanas basking in the sun…some of which were piled on top of each other. The guides informed us they were not cuddling, they were using each other’s body heat for warmth.
The bright yellow finch we saw standing on the black rocks, beside the green moss, by the dark sand beach was so colorful. There were multiple sea lions lying around on the rocks, some with their cute little fin covering their eyes as they slept. There were multiple crevices filled with water within the rocks where some of the sea lions were taking baths and playing with seaweed. It was fun to watch them dive into the water and out into the ocean.
We also saw many lava lizards throughout the island, all of which had different patterns on their skin helping them to blend with their background. The female lizards had bright red on their necks, making it easy to differentiate them from the males. When lizards are feeling threatened, they react by doing what looks like push-ups…their head moves up and down…someone should tell them it’s really not that scary. Interestingly, they do have a good defense mechanism if caught by a predator. They can detach their tale from the rest of their body, giving them a chance to escape…the tale grows back.
After our morning walk, we were back on the boat to change into snorkeling gear. Once in the panga and in the snorkeling area…we jumped out of the boat and into the water which was along a rocky coast. The water was much warmer than yesterday and we saw numerous schools of colorful fish swimming below and around us. We also saw multiple starfish and a hammerhead shark. When we came out of the water, we saw penguins sitting right on the rocks. They were so adorable in person…not just cartoons. They were like little torpedoes…they would dive into the water and move fast right past us as they swam. The fish who seemed to be slowly swimming would quickly move out of their way. They were not afraid of us, yet we were extremely close. We took some pictures with our water camera and had fun staring at them both in and out of the water.
After snorkeling, we were back on the boat playing cards until our afternoon hike which was on the tip of Santiago Island known by its shape of a “Chinese Hat,” The island was made of solid lava rock, and we hiked on the path through to the top. The terrain was almost like being on another planet. We saw one plant able to grow through the rocky crevices which was some type of cacti. Once we were at the top, the views were stunning. The water was a beautiful sea blue and there were multiple islands scattered around. We took some pictures and a few minutes to enjoy the scenery before hiking back down to the bottom of the island. We got back on our boat and relaxed for the rest of the evening. And no…in case you were wondering, dinner was not good tonight either.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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