Can you see it?
Volcanic cliffs rise from the ocean. Frigatesstalk blue-footed boobies. Water swarms withimpossible colors.Galapagos Islands.Look carefully. There, deep in the honeycolored sand are Charles Darwin's footprints.This strangely beautiful archipelago gavebirth to his theories that would revolutionizehuman thought:
There is grandeur in this view of life, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful,have been, and are being, evolved.
The air was hot; the temperature hovered inthe high nineties."Why are you going to the equator duringthe summer?" a friend asked.I thought of Darwin. He chal-lenged creationistswho claimed that allspecies were fixedand unchanging. Inthe Galapagos,Darwin saw that lifeevolved differently,isolated from themainland and oftenfrom the island nextdoor. He arrived at the concept of naturalselection and in 1859 published the ground-breaking book,
On The Origin of Species
.I had to see where it began.It wasn’t a simple trip - we left New York atmidnight and arrived the next morning inGuayaquil, Ecuador. Ashuttle brought us tothe hotel armed with warnings ranging fromcrafty pickpockets to lethal yellow taxis.The next day, beneath a startling blue sky,we boarded a smaller plane for the short flightto the islands. Like Darwin in 1835, our firststop was San Cristobal. We landed and wereimmediately shuttled to the docks and the
expedition.Expedition travel is very different from acruise. Our boat, the
, carried onlyninety-six guests. The tough little ship hadsailed waters around the globe. While com-fortable, it didn't have the fine amenities of aluxury liner. The main entertainment wasenvironmental videos and a staff of passionatenaturalists. There was no midnight buffet orcabin flat screen; the focus was always on therugged beauty outside the portholes.