The Galapagos - Still a Love Story!

engagement love travel Apr 11, 2022


BY ARDITH BOWMAN MARCH 27, 2022 First published in SixtyandMe.

The Galapagos trip turned out to be the consummation of the Love Story article series I wrote for Sixty and Me, which covered self-love, love for friends, and mature love.

This article will describe a little about the adventure as well as the Valentine’s marriage proposal.

Spoiler alert: I said “Yes.”

Getting There

It was a long day! I flew from the west coast in the US. Most flights connect through Panama, a delightful airport. Then it is on to Guayaquil, Ecuador. If you make the same trip, I recommend spending a day there if you can. It is the largest city in Ecuador. Enjoy walking the Malecon along the Guayas River and find a good place to eat. You will enjoy the street performers and Ecuadorian people.

Then on to the Galapagos, usually using LATAM airlines. It is a two-hour flight.

The Islands – The Equator Runs Through It

Most people tour the 13 major islands by boat, but I prefer experiencing the people, food, and culture.

We first flew to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. There is lots to explore, shops and restaurants. My partner, Ralph, bought me locally designed silver earrings, certainly one of a kind. The Charles Darwin station is right in town, so we walked there to see young tortoises raised to be released into the wild, educational kiosks, and embalmed Lonesome George. His story touched my heart.

The island is a good place to see giant tortoises in the wild; visit Los Gelemos for a sighting of Darwin’s finches and wild orchids. The area is much like Hawaii. The volcanic formation of the Island chains is very similar.

Then it was on to the largest island, Isabella. This is where we began to truly adventure. We chartered a boat from Santa Cruz to take the hour-long ride over to Isabella. We arrived in Puerto Villamil where there are lovely hotels and inns. Because the economy in the Galapagos depends on tourism, the citizens suffered huge financial losses during the pandemic and were so happy to see us.

They even applauded as our open-air taxi bus took us to our hotel. They are kind and generous, family and community oriented. The population survived the pandemic by the small farmers in the highlands trading with citizens who live on the water.

Adventures on Isabella

On Isabella, we saw giant tortoises, blue footed boobies, the endangered Galapagos penguins, sea horses, green turtles, and so many iguanas that sometimes we needed to be careful not to step on them! The first time we saw giant tortoises freely grazing in the fields, we thought, “I really didn’t see that.” Then, we got used to it.

I suggest you get out there and kayak/snorkel. Absolutely do not miss Los Tuneles – it was a magical experience. There are lots of guide operations in Puerto Villamil to serve you.

It is easy to spend five days on the island, with so much to do and see.

The Food

Be prepared to eat a lot of pumpkin soup. The islands are remote, so menus rely on local food: fish and chicken. One day, the entire town was out of beer until a shipment came in! Now, THAT was quite the disaster. So, it’s a good idea to bring your own snacks. Only drink filtered water and ask about the ice before ordering.

Love in the Galapagos

When I met Ralph, I asked him on the second date to join me on the Galapagos trip. I was looking for someone with the spirit to say, “Yes,” and he did.

I confess that I figured Ralph might propose on the trip. Then, an engagement is a big step for each of us; he could decide to wait for more time to pass, as could I. The first perplexing moment was when he went for a walk by himself the afternoon before our big “welcome” group dinner that happened to be on Valentine’s Day. I thought perhaps he was doing some soul-searching. Then, off we went to dinner, me wearing my new earrings.

Just when I thought he wasn’t going to propose, the host of our small tour group said a few words to welcome us, and then introduced Ralph. After a brief note to the group, Ralph began to talk about our history and how we are meant to be a couple.

My heart was pounding so hard I could barely pay attention. While I was trying to pull myself together, there he was on his knee, with a sparkling solitaire that had been in his backpack all along. All I could do was nod and whisper, “Yes.” Pretty sweet kiss, too.

The event was not without humor. First, uncharacteristically, Ralph was nervous enough to forget to actually ask me to marry him. So, we agreed he will do that every Valentine’s Day forevermore. Second, I have never been engaged nor had an engagement ring. I had to ask the group which hand to put it on!

Back to the Beginning

This journey began almost three years ago when I realized that the deepest desire in my life is to feel profound, safe, and true love for another without shame or feeling not good enough or that I somehow had to be different than who I really am. I did not want to die having never felt that authentic feeling of love in my heart.

I even bought Valentine’s cards with romantic, loving messages. In my past relationships, I always gave more humorous or superficial cards. For two years during my journey with Ralph, I held on to the cards that expressed love. This time, I gave him one of those cards at Valentine’s dinner. Doing so was deeply moving for me as it represented my true feelings. Crying yet? I did.

Well, the wedding date is set. I feel blessed… I am blessed. Remember that the second step in the journey is to grow your friendships and community? Well, it will be a big wedding, because all of our friends are invited.

What I want for all of us is to turn toward those deep desires, no matter our age. What is your deep desire? Then, get support for your journey. Do some honest reflection to see what draws you during this time of your life.

Know that I am one possible guide for you as your story unfolds. I’ve made the journey; I know the way. Simply connect to share your story and your dreams; we can talk about what best will serve you.

Have you thought about your deepest desires? What things do you really want to accomplish in your life moving forward? Do you know what the journey will entail?


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