Friday, November 2, 2007

pt 2: galapagos

the thing is, i don't even know where to start because this has been 7 days of waking up at 6 am and spending all day with my family and every single cast member from cocoon (plus steve guttenberg if he was espanish). seriously, not a coherent thought in my head, cepta that i'm tired and going to get a bad night's sleep besides. anyway.

let us start with the boat:
it's a converted ferry ship that used to hold a thousand cars and now holds about 65 people, most of which, ironically, are over 65. i really can't emphasize enough how fucking old these people are; some are merely 50 something, but then the median age is brought up by the one woman who's easily 80, who we call bluebonnet, because her sun-proofing haberdashery of choice makes her look like a way elder extra from "little house on the prairie."

i grew up with boats, but the dinky kind that never leave fresh water, smell like fine cheese (a nice way of saying mildew), and exist merely for two person sailing jaunts around the lighthouse or motorized trips into the harbor for ice cream. when kayaking in nh, i frequently pass the lake's yacht club (which, as a child, i pronounced as yaCHt, in the manner of the hebrews that most people [who aren't german/jewish/arab/hated by most of the world] can't make their throats do, which i know is ironic since that place is filled 24-7 [at least in the summer] with the WASPist, whitest, most-embroidered-with-golf-club-yellow-pants-wearing grandpas whose veins flow not with blood but with gin).

(and who, ironically, come from the same age bracket as 89% of the people on this boat.)

as i've mentioned before, going to this part of the world from anywhere not in central/south america is stupid expensive, so, while we were determined to make mom's dreams come true, corners were cut with the precision of a nascar driver. case in point: we got the two cheapest rooms this boat had to offer (one for becca and aaron, one for "the left behind"). the room i share with my parents (i'm over it) has two tiny windows that allign perfectly with the platform from which the zodiac boats arrive and depart everyday, and the curtains don't really close, and the entire bathroom is the size of my shower in new york, which was an upright coffin to begin with, but if you don't get dressed in the bathroom post-shower you're giving a free show to a bunch of ecuadorians and a handful of old people in wet suits and life jackets returning from yet another snorkeling trip to see manta rays.

[image: a, cute, b, the level of intimacy i had to share with my parents in our spacious sea cubby.]

and did i mention that i share a bunk bed with my father? surely i have mentioned that i share a bunk bed with my father. we chose beds based on who sleeps the worst, which is why mom got the single bed (she hasn't slept through the night since april 7th, 1976, the night before my sister was born), i got the bottom bunk because i'm the lucky audience of one for the nightly snorus (snoring chorus-- shit you not, i sleep with earplugs in, the custom ones i got when i was 15 and mom worried i was damaging my hearing at all those lemonheads shows), and dad, who once slept soundly through an entire flight from boston to a conference in hawaii when he wasn't even tired, gets the top bunk.

and it's perfect, because in this arrangement, nobody sleeps at all, not even dad, who climbed down the other night to pee, fell, and found his footing *on my calf*, thus waking me up by putting all of his weight on one of my precious bones. i cry out, wake out mom who can wake herself up when she snores just a little too loud (which is to say, unbelievably fucking loud), but my earplugs are in so it's all like some strange underwater nightmare. and we wake up everyday at 6:30, except for today when we woke up at 6 to go on an early morning hike up 300+ steps to see a nice view, which i just reasoned as being like going up the public stairs 3 times to get to my car in my days before having my own parking space, but i'm getting ahead of myself.

[image: the morning's hike, or, if my beat up silver prius isn't still waiting for me at the top i am so screwed.]

the activites/guides:
it's hard to break this trip down day-by-day because it's one big mental slurry of zodiac (boat) rides, "hikes" (which is old people for walking very slowly for an hour), sea lions, iguanas, kayaking, lectures, lava, darwin, old people, alexis the waiter (we always run to the same five-top at meals so we don't have to sit with any cursed strangers), oreos (in a jar, in the "library," kill me now), marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, land tortoises, more sea lions, the really mean naturalist who in another life was a lesbian gym teacher (same wardrobe even), coke zero (what diet coke has evolved into in this part of the world), not sleeping, food, land iguanas, sea tortoises, running to get to meals early to get the table with 5 seats and alexis, documentaries about galapagos, birds, and food again.

[image: marine iguanas, l-r: jubjub, jubjub, jubjub jr, jubjub x (converted to islam in prison), jubjub]

[everyday the extremely cheery/nice/rad head naturalists announces what documentary'll be showing in the lounge post-lunch or dinner, and it's always galapagos-related, but i always hoped once she'd announce a documentary and it'd turn out to be paris is burning or grey gardens or shoah.]

the guide was got the first day was the greatest, so natch, we've never gotten her again. i'll call her hilda, and she was super cheery, and didn't get too mad when we accidentally strayed off the path on the hunt for a horny frigate bird (in order to woo ladies, frigates inflate a giant red balloon on their chin, because nothing says, "i'm good mate material" like having a giant ball under your face).

[image: the frigate. ladies, hide your boners!]

then there's the lesbian gym teacher, then the weightlifter, who we actually like because he doesn't really give a fuck if you go off path. and he let aaron touch a crab, and all aaron's wanted to do the whole fucking time is touch something, which is of course completely illegal and i'm sure if he did touch a sea lion, even by accident, he'd be thrown in the galley for the rest of the trip, fined a jillion dollars, and be forced to support that sea lion for the rest of its life since aaron's touch would make the sea lion smell wrong to its mama, get it rejected by its herd, and force it to be raised in captivity at the darwin research center where it would probably see less of the galapagos than aaron did . or it might just die. the crab survived though.

[image: a, cuter, b, can't touch this]

[image: aaron begrudingly accepting the naturalists'/mr. hammer's dictum]

[also: please note that my mother bought one of those hats for each of us and i was the one member of our party not to wear one. call me vain if you must (which you'll take back after i post another picture later on), but when you're traveling on your parents' dime, are sharing a bunkbed with your father, and are constantly reading about a writer's strike you don't earn enough to be effected by, you tell me whether you'd wear the hat or hold on to the one spec of dignity you have left even if it means scalp burn.]

we went to the darwin research center on our day "in town," which was spent on the only island with a town/that isn't 99% national park (merely 70%). that was basically land tortoise day, where we saw diego, the male tortoise who had the noble task of pretty much single handedly repopulating one of the islands with land tortoises after goats were introduced there and ate all the vegetation, causing the tortoises to die either of starvation of falling down the mountain now that it was slick and plantless. we also saw lonesome george, the last tortoise of his breed, who has two women tortoises in his pen that he's a dick to. fuck him then, right?

then we went to a guy's farm to see land tortoises a strollin' through the fields for a snack, and up close, they look like 600 pound boulders with thin necks and heads with these little michael jackson nostrils. they eat by sticking their heads down to the ground and just yanking up grass and swallowing it whole, and i watched one eat for five minutes until loud cunt (see next section) came within 5 miles and the tortoise made a sound like a tire deflating and retracted its little grassy michael jackson face into it's fucking enormous shell. (interesting fact: because tortoises are in such hard shells and can't expand when they inhale, they have to move their innards around every time they breathe, especially when they hide, hence the great effort and sucking sound.) (i went to a lecture!)

[image: see, not vain, and this is probably the only picture of myself i'll ever display in a public forum, ever. my words might seem negative, but the pictures, they tell another story. and the tortoise is on the right, btw. jerks.]

it's hard to get sick of seeing sea lions, cuz they're just so fucking cute, and this is pup season (fun fact [more fun than interesting]: one big difference between sea lions and seals is that sea lions have external ears, and seals don't. fuck you, san francisco bitches!] i am sick of their poop (huge), and i'm sick of marine iguanas, and sick of the way [same lecture!] they sneeze out salt from the water they drink like gross baseball players. there isn't much in the way of fresh water around here, so all the animals seem to expel the salt from their faces. sea lions cry it out, which is why their eyes always look all junky, but that just makes them look even more like dogs, and dear lord do i miss my dog. unlike the sea lions, he's snuggable, but just like them, he smells!

[image: teva burn-- the white man's burden. sleeping on the bunk bed below the dude with teva burn-- the white woman's burden.]

and i only went snorkeling once because i kind of hate snorkeling, if only because of the wet suit. nobody looks good in a wet suit, not even a hot person, and especially not a person with boobs. not unless you're wearing your wet suit provocatively unzipped, where upon you're just posing for a poster in 1989 during a break between metal video gigs and having sex with random dudes in exchange for coke, not jumping into 65 degree water to just breathe through a plastic tube and look at maybe sharks through a piece of plastic smothered in your own saliva.

but let's say you've been on a boat for 6 days that feeds you 5 times a day and offered flan the night before so delicious you ate a hunk of it the size of a land tortoise. then you really don't want to attempt putting on a wet suit, especially if you started the week sans the flan, so then, like me, you end up swimming in that water wearing a bathing suit and trunks, and while i'm a hearty new england missy who used to jump into the lake in april *mid-thaw*, i'm also now old and slightly less stupid.

([literally cut and pasting this from an email to teeter since the medium exists for the two of us to exchange stories about our fatness:] for the first couple of days i ate these fiber crackers they had in the "library" and didn't realize that had *700 calories a package* and were essentially the weight gain nutrition bars from mean girls except in cracker form. so fucked! i can float home on my own!)

[image: just wanted to post another picture of a land tortoise. they can't all be laffers.]

but only slightly less stupid, because in i went, and all i saw were the same fish i saw in my two trips in a glass bottom boat (oh yeah, i went in a glass bottom boat), except through spit-o-vision, and under the threat of being kicked in the face by these two single obese women on this trip who probably aren't gay, just midwestern, but have found some sort of love none-the-less (one is here alone, one is taking care of blue bonnet, both have found a snorkeling buddy for life).

so i've kayaked, taken a glass bottom boat, communed with a land tortoise, "hiked," overeaten, not gotten guano'd on by a frigate, seen a shit ton of sea lions (still cute!), and basically communed with nature to such an extent that i am so ready to go home to my tivo and watch friday night lights now.

the passengers:
beard papa. beard papa is this douchey old guy who looks vaguely like that actor (now dead) who was in fast times and coockoo's nest and looked like human tortoise (ironic). or maybe he just looks like brian posehn's grandpa, but i like brian posehn, and i fucking hate this guy.

[image: beard papa and mama. don't ask how i got this picture. and it doesn't really do much to show why he sucks so much, but the hat's a decent hint.]

and he's so annoying because he suffers from that painful disease (painful for everyone around him) where he a, believes his every thought is correct and worth sharing, and b, believes you are entitled to his advice (like, "you should look at this bird," to which i can only respond, "you should kiss my ass"). and if there's anything i've learned in this life, it's that the most worthless advice is that of the unsolicited variety. jesus fucking christ.

if someone (9 times outta 10, a dude, but the few women who do this are the fucking worst) comes up to me and says, "you know what you should do?" my answer is, yes, and i'm fucking doing it. didn't ask you, cumsock. and if that sounds extreme, keep in mind i ran a hockey league for 7 years, and that i'm not a dude, and men absolutely love to tell women how to run things, especially where sports are involved, even if they've never run a fucking thing, not so much as a lap to help clean up the courts. i rarely see dudes do this to their dude kin, because walking up to a dude you don't know that well (at a hockey game, no less!) and telling him what they're doing wrong is an invitation to get your face punched in.

[image: l-r: dad's multi zippered'n'pocketed/legit raver pants, sandals'n'socks'n'sand, and some of the scariest old lady legs i've ever seen. and i know that makes me seem like a horrible person but it's not personal to this nice lady, just further proof that all bodies everywhere are gross, and i fear the day that my own legs look like gnarled drift wood.]

ooh! or if someone prefaces a statement with, "listen, everybody's been saying that," you have my official permission to not listen to a fucking word that comes after that. because what they're really saying is, "i'm fucking with you and making you paranoid, and i have no idea what other people think, but if i make you defensive enough you'll do what i want." when they stop talking, say, "if everybody's been thinking something, they can talk to me themselves. in the meantime, if they don't have the balls to step up, they can continue to suffer in silence, i don't have the time to read their minds. anywho. you weren't saying?"

so yeah, we hate this guy.

after a few days, you just start observing these fucking old people, who are more interesting than the native exotic animals much of the time, because those animals just sit there, and these people were too-short shorts, don't know when to shut the fuck up, have some of the ugliest old people legs i've ever seen, drink like fish, and are generally ridiculous. par exemple: on the first day, we went on that hike that showed us blue footed boobies, frigates (normal and face-balled), iguanas, sea lions, yellow footed boobies, and hawks, and we've seen this animals pretty much everyday since (give or take a tortoise, penguin, shark, etc.)

so, while beautiful, it's not exactly exciting. trying to get the good table is exciting. or avoiding beard papa. or trying not to stare at Doinks, who's a really nice older guy, but seems to have recently gained 30 pounds without upgrading from his thin clothes. seriously, his shirt keeps riding up as if he were the creepy gay dude in boogie nights. and his shorts are now doinks (which = too short man shorts) that give him mooseknuckles (mooseknuckles = male camel toe) not just when he sits, but stands. but at least he's not an asshole.

[image: look all the way in the back...doink!]

or blue bonnet! she's actually really interesting, and refuses help whenever it's offered, even if it's offered to not get crushed by a zodiac in a beach landing, but she looks way too much like mother theresa, and my sister and brother-in-law, being bone surgeons, are just bracing themselves for that day when the movements of the boat knock her over and she breaks a hip (she's already broken a finger! and still she goes out everyday to see the fucking iguanas!).

and loud cunt. loud cunt is a woman who is so loud that i can hear her in my sleep. i can hear her in my bones. the first day we were here, we had to run an emergency drill before we could pull anchor, and loud cunt practically molested my father in the act of "helping him" with his lifejacket. she did this in front of her husband, a guy who's even fatter than doinks and, natch, is a proud yankees fan. theirs is a marriage made in my worst nightmares.

other than her, there's orgasmatron (an old lady who seems to get off on every fact the guide says on hikes ("this is guano" "oooooh, uh, oooh. uh")). there's the gay couple (they're gay, together, at once). there's t-shirt man (been wearing the same t-shirt for 7 days, might sleep in it, who knows), teen nerd (currently receiving a gold medal for getting everything right on the end-of-the-trip info quiz and wearing a tool t-shirt, which makes me so happy i'm old now, cuz if i was his age i would be wondering how i could get him to fall in love with me even though he would ignore me either cuz i don't know linux, don't look like jessica biel in fantastic four, or both), the moron (he's a fucking moron), the hot brazillian guy (is the ship videographer, maybe the only guy in my age group, definitely teeter's type, but he once sneered at me when passing me in the hall, which was a, unnecessary, and b, too evocative of my teen days yearning for shitheads like teen tool), the giant social director (she's really nice but she looks like she took this job after getting cut from the WNBA, just like the woman i used to work with in the parks department who had "ieishsh" in her name and could easily palm a basketball), and the black person (just jokes!).

[image: another reason to leave the sea lions alone-- every pack of sea lions has a big daddy that guards the patch of beach, sexes the ladies, and basically enjoys king shit status. get too too close, and you have 600 lbs of screaming blubber, fur, and salty eye junk torpedoing in your direction. some lit'ler sea lion was coming upon this dude's turf, and this dude was like, "don't make me get up off this rock." so no, he's not adorably yawning.

also, i ruined the l/r photo dynamic, it's the last one, such is life.]

tomorrow we disembark for the last time, and tonight we had baked alaska at dinner, which entailed a small ecuadorian man setting a quasi sheet-cake on fire in a dark dining room while the sound system loudly played the theme to ghostbusters.

please to reread that last sentence.

that's as good a place as any to wrap up this report of my boat trip, and tomorrow it's back to the mainland, and then back to boston after that. this was fun, these people were old, and that guy's an asshole. i ain't afraid of no ghosts!


so tired.

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