Art Basel Miami 2018

I was in Miami only several weeks before over Memorial Day weekend, so when Kevin asked me to fly out again for Art Basel in early December, I was a little hesitant. I’m so glad I went though because I ended up having the best time…and we even bought a piece of art!

We stayed at the Confidante which wasn’t the nicest hotel, but was fine considering we weren’t in the room much. I arrived on Friday night right after work and met up with a group for dinner at The Surf Club. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. We had an avocado salad to start, followed by truffle pasta, eggplant parm, and then a sundae dessert. We even got to walk through the kitchen and meet famous renowned Chef Thomas Keller.

Saturday was my one main day to experience Art Basel. Me and Kev woke up early to beat the lines and use our VIP pass to be one of the first ones into Art Basel in Miami Beach which is the main fair. The convention center was huge but we did manage to check almost everything out. After that we went to ART MIAMI to check out some more art. C24, the gallery who used to represent Nick Gentry who we commissioned to do two pieces of art for us in the past, got us tickets. It was a completely different vibe at ART MIAMI than ART BASEL, but it was still a lot of fun and the art was much more affordable.

On Sunday morning, we only had a little time before heading to the airport back to NYC, so we woke up for an early morning run before heading to UNTITLED.

There were a few pieces we were seriously considering including (in order of favorites from top to bottom. Also, these pictures don’t do them justice):
1. Jean-Luc Moulène, Monochrome / Echantillon (série 2) – vert
2. Gilles Barbier, Hawaiian Ghost # 10
3. Mike Dargas, Bee Loved
4. Ayane Mikagi, Moon Sounds III
5. Bonnie Maygarden, Aura

Bee Loved and Moon Sounds III had already been sold, Enchantillon was a bit out of our price range, and we were planning on scheduling a trip at a future date to meet with Bonnie Maygarden in New Orelans to see if she could do a commissioned piece with different colors. That was until the Sunday morning before we fly back to NYC. We were at UNTITLED and I had low expectations, but then we came across up-comer Carmen Neely’s work. In her collection of work, Intellectualized Intimacy, she revisits conversations, life events and tactical items in the process of creating work of carefully selected moments of romantic nostalgia.

Kev and I both loved one particular piece, It is love, but even so. We plan on putting it on the large wall in our dining room. We’re so excited to have it in our apartment to look at every day–stay tuned for pictures once we have the art up on the wall.

Carmen Neely, It is love, but even so

Overall, the weekend was a success and I had more fun than I anticipated. I would have left Miami and Art Basel happy regardless if we ended up buying art but it was certainly a plus to find something Kev and I both really liked enough to invest in. I look forward to going again another year!

One of our other favorites – Robert Longo, Tiger

Thanksgiving 2018 in San Diego

I spent this past Thanksgiving in San Diego. Kev rented a car and a comfortable house on Airbnb. The house was within walking distance of what became my favorite coffee spot, Native Poppy, over the long weekend I spent there. It was a cute coffee/flower shop and the rose lavender iced latte and chai cinnamon pudding with fresh cut bananas and strawberries became my go-to breakfast.

I like going to San Diego because not only is the weather nice, but it’s just more laid back in general and I like spending time outside and at the beach. Kev and I had a nice long run on the boardwalk one morning and we came back the next day to take pictures along the beach before stopping for a
Red Bull vodka slushie at Pacific Beach Shore Club. I also like San Diego because it has a lot of great veggie/vegan options. We went to a vegan taco truck called Taqueria Veggie for lunch. I had some of the best tacos ever–the Asada and Merlin tacos were my favorites. The other notable veggie place we ate at was Kindred. I had read a lot of good reviews, so I was excited to try it out, and they did not disappoint. I had a holiday nog-inspired cocktail, a vegan cinnamon roll, and the Benedict.

And of course, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in Kevin’s family without the post-Thanksgiving family football game. This year we got to play on the beach too which was fun.

Our last activity before heading back to New York was volunteering to walk dogs via an Airbnb Experience. It was through the non-profit, Free Animal Doctor. They partner with various shelters to socialize the dogs and of course give them some exercise. We met at Shelter Island and walked for about 3-4 miles with the dogs. There was an adorable Pekingese that would have been swiped up in a heartbeat had she been in New York that you can see in the picture above. It was a great way to end our trip by doing something good.

Summer-Fall 2018 Reading

I’ve read a ton of new books since my last book blog post. Below is a quick recap. As you’ll see in many of the pictures, Boots is never too far away while I’m reading.

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

This was one of my Book of the Month picks. I really enjoyed it so I sent it to my mom to read right after and she liked it as well. It’s a love story but not too mushy and annoying. A man and woman meet and have an instant connection and then he, as the title alludes, ghosted her.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I picked this one up at a local bookstore. I saw it featured at bookstores before and I know it won some awards but the synopsis never jumped out to me. I’m glad I read it but it wasn’t one of my favs. The mother made me so angry because of how selfish she is and I don’t understand why she had a second kid when she’s not even nice to the first one.

My rating: 2.5/5

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My cousin Jade loaned me this one. I saw this book displayed in many bookstores in the past but the description didn’t jump out to me. I thought it would be too much of a fluffy, frivolous read. I’m glad I finally read it though because it was a hoot. It was a really quick read and I liked the quirkiness of each character. I had some LOL moments and had fun reading this light novel.

My rating: 3.5/5

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

This was one of my Book of the Month selections too. It sat on my coffee table for a while but once I got a few chapters in I couldn’t put it down. I don’t normally like love stories but this was a good one.  It had me rooting for the protagonist which is always a good sign of investment in a story and strong characters. I recommend this book.

My rating: 3.5/5

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This was one of Kev’s book club books and he recommended it to me after reading it. I thought it was going to be a kick-ass women empowerment type of sci-fi novel but it was kind of weird. Women get a “power’ where they can zap other people. It was interesting seeing the ways in which the power transformed from a defense mechanism to a weapon and the story line was unique, but it was still missing something for me.

My rating: 2/5

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinbourough

This was one of my Book of the Month picks. I wasn’t looking for anything too heavy. This book was just okay. I liked the beginning but then it lost me. The story line wasn’t believable enough and it got too far fetched.

My rating: 1/5

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

I LOVED this book. I picked it up on a whim from an airport book store. I like Tallent’s style of writing and for a dude he did a great job narrating as a young girl. He described the setting wonderfully and I felt like I was in nature exploring with the protagonist.

My rating: 5/5

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

My cousin Jade sent me this one too (she’s the best). I saw it on NYT best seller list for a while but thriller/mystery/suspense isn’t usually my first genre choice so I never picked it up. I’m glad I read it though, it was pretty good. It was a quick read and entertaining.

My rating: 3.5/5

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This was yet another one loaned to me by my cousin Jade. She said she had a hard time getting through it but I actually liked it. It definitely isn’t one of my favorite novels, but I think Plath does a good job of getting the reader in the mind of the main character, Esther, as she starts losing her mind. One part of me thinks that Esther is actually bonkers but the other part of me thinks that the feeling of being lost, not knowing her purpose, and having a ton of intense conflicting emotions is something normal that many college-aged people go through. Since the book is set in 1953, people during that time may not have recognized what she was going through as depression and just put her in a psych ward.

Plath actually committed suicide at age 30, so it’s interesting drawing parallels from Esther to her own life. It was a good book but overall it was a little anticlimactic and dull at times. I do give her props though for writing about a subject matter that was probably considered a little taboo at the time.

My rating: 2.5/5 

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

This was one of my November Book of the Month choices and I loved it. I sped through it. It was fresh and interesting. I really liked the main character, Maurice. He is a scoundrel and I want to describe him as an unaware villain yet he is so calculating in every step of his career, he has to know what he did is wrong. In fact, as I’m writing about Maurice, I realize that he fooled me too because despite the many horrible things he did throughout his life, i’m trying to justify his behavior, and that’s how he got away with what he did in the first place. He is a charming but unreliable narrator which makes the story all the more entertaining.

My rating: 5/5


Bermuda

A few weeks ago I took a much needed mini-vacation to Bermuda. Since I worked through the summer and didn’t take any time off, I decided I needed a long weekend to relax and reset before the craziness of work and the holidays in Q4. Bermuda is only 90 minutes away, so it was a really easy flight and going through customs was a breeze.

We got in late on Thursday night and stayed at the Fairmont Southampton. We unfortunately did not enjoy our stay there. There was a wedding that weekend so the bar lobby was loud and obnoxious and the check-in line was long and slow. We didn’t have a view and the walls were also thin. We stayed there primarily because they have a dive shop on the property. Bermuda has a ton of ship wrecks so we did two dives close to the resort in the morning. The beach was beautiful and the cove area that we left from was picturesque, but the diving itself was boring. I’ve done a few ship wreck dives before so while they’re cool to look at, it gets boring after a few minutes. The wrecks also weren’t that old, so there wasn’t a ton of growth or activity on or near the ships. There was also a disappointing number of fish. Where were all the fish?! There was hardly anything to look at.

Luckily after that, our stay only improved. After our dives we grabbed our bags and headed to the resort we were staying at for the rest of the weekend, Rosewood Bermuda. I am SO happy that’s where we stayed for the remainder of the trip. It’s a 5-Star resort that I was somehow able to get a great deal on. I loved our room. It was clean and roomy. I loved the bathroom the most which had a huge bathtub that I took advantage soaking in every night we were there.

Rosewood Bermuda is beautiful and well-kept as you can tell from the pictures below. There were three pools and beach access. The resort is about 1.25 miles from the beach, and while they provide shuttle transportation, Kev and I enjoyed a scenic run there and back one day. The food was also tasty. There are a few different restaurants at the resort with several vegetarian options, so we were very content. They also had a gin bar which was totally up my alley. I enjoyed a few gin and tonics and Kev and I even enjoyed afternoon tea there one day.

Overall we had a great trip and I would definitely like to go back. Next time we will play a round of golf and go into the town of Hamilton to explore more. It was just the kind of mini vacay needed to get me through our next vacation in December.



Spring/Summer 2018

Work has been so busy that I’ve been slacking on the blog posts besides our big trips to the Galapagos for me and Kev’s anniversary/my 30th bday, Miami for Memorial Day, and Paris for Independence Day. Therefore, below is a collage with the hodgepodge of fun things I’ve been able to sprinkle in over the past several months and here are the highlights:

  • Broadway Shows including Mean Girls, Come From Away, Girls & Boys (with my fav Carey Mulligan), Lobby Hero (with Michael Cera and Chris Evans), Children of a Lesser God (with Joshua Jackson), and A Band’s Visit.
  • Pop-up experience-The Dream Machine experience in Brooklyn
  • Andy Warhol exhibit in our building
  • Work promotion in June and She Runs It 2018 President’s Award honoree
  • Pop-up experience -Rosé Mansion
  • Summer trip to Michigan including Henry Ford and lake day at Grams
  • Morgan’s Bachelorette Party in Charleston and subsequent wedding
  • Pop-up experience -Candytopia
  • New octopus tattoo by the famous tattoo artist Mr. K at Bang Bang
  • Childish Gambino and Drake concert at MSG
  • Golfing at Crystal Spring Resort during Labor Day weekend
  • Kev working to get pilot’s license and developing his photography skills
  • Finally tried Dominique Ansel cronuts for the first time this summer
  • Exploring Impossible Burger spots like Saxon & Parole and Umami Burger
  • Enjoying Brookfield Place/Battery Park/West Side Highway – many walks/runs in the summer
  • Went to the U.S. vs. Brazil soccer game
  • SF/Berkeley trip where we went to the  René Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA and went to a Cal Bears football game
  • Standard kitten cuddles with the two cutest cats in the world



Independence Day 2018 in Paris

I spent a long weekend over Independence Day with Kev in Paris. We stayed at Hotel Malte – Astotel at 63 Rue De Richelieu which was a nice boutique hotel. The room was tiny but nicely decorated. Since we were only there for a short trip and I had been begging Kevin to go on another Paris trip for a while, I wanted to make sure we made the most with our time there. We booked several tours via Airbnb Experiences which ended up being the best decision because it forced us to power through our jet lag and we saw a good portion of the city in a relatively short amount of time.

Here’s a recap of our trip and jam-packed itinerary:

Wednesday, July 4th
We landed in the afternoon and though we were tired, we forced ourselves to go out. We stopped at Nina’s Paris, a Marie-Antoinette-themed tea shop that is pink and lovely. I read about Nina’s while doing my research on Paris and I’m so happy we went. The decorating of the parlor was so pretty and feminine and the classic pink cake was delicious as was the original Marie-Antoinette tea.  I ended up buying a can of the signature Marie-Antoinette tea which is a delicate tea flavored with apples and rose with a touch of strength from a Ceylon tea basis. So good!

After we were full from lunch, tea, and cake, we headed over to the  Eiffel Tower to watch the sun set and to take some evening pics at the tower.

Thursday, July 5th
We started the morning right with “The Delicious East Vegan tour.” We went to Comptoir Veggie for a vegan yogurt parfait and latte, Jay & Joy to sample several vegan cheeses, Manifeste011 to try on vegan clothing, and VG Pâtisserie for some delicious vegan pastries.

After eating our way through Paris we went on another tour, “Lourve-A Crash Course in Art History.” The Lourve can be overwhelming and I did not take art history in school, so I really enjoyed having a guide.

Friday, July 6th
On Friday morning we went on a biking tour, “Paris’ Best Kept Secrets Tour.” We rode electric bicycles which was pretty cool. I normally don’t feel comfortable biking in cities but it wasn’t too scary with our guide and we all chose to wear helmets (oddly, it was not a requirement of the tour company). It was a great way to cover more ground and we even unintentionally came across a new street art piece by famous street artist, Banksy.

After a pleasant morning biking around the city, we had afternoon tea at Salon Proust Ritz Paris. Afternoon tea is one of my favorite things to partake in when I’m in Europe. From there we watched France play Uraguay in the World Cup soccer game which was even more fun being in France for the semi-final. On our walk back to the hotel after a long day, we stopped at Guerlain to pick up one of my favorite perfumes. Guerlain is a French perfume and it’s special to me because not only does it smell good but it also makes me think of Paris and my great trips there.

Saturday, July 7th
On Saturday morning we went on our last tour, “Discover the Secrets of Versailles.” Similar to the Lourve tour, having a tour guide and being able to cut the extremely long line was key for the Versailles tour. The Palace of Versailles is beautiful and I loved hearing about the sun king, Louis XIV. The famous Hall of Mirrors was my favorite part of the palace and I loved everything about the gardens. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day to walk the grounds. We enjoyed it so much that as soon as we got home we went on a Netflix binge of the historical fiction show, Versailles.

After a morning walking around the Palace of Versailles, we were driven back to Paris. We enjoyed an afternoon snack with tea and iced hot chocolate at Angelina’s. The iced hot chocolate at Angelina’s is out of this world. From there we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags on the way to the airport but we made a quick stop at Maison Kitsuné to check out their Parisien collection on first.

Overall we had an amazing time. It was a beautiful, sunny weekend so we couldn’t have asked for better weather.  Paris is wonderful but the city is even more magical in the summer. I get all dreamy just thinking about the trip–I already can’t wait to go back. Also, Airbnb Experiences for the win! I will definitely be checking out their available tours in any new city I want to explore.




Spring Reading 2018

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

I’m really intrigued by Octopuses, so I browsed through Barnes and Noble one day and picked up The Soul of an Octopus. I did not like Montgomery’s style of writing and could have done without some of the personal stories, but I did learn a few things about Octopuses which was the point. Here are some of the cool things I learned:

– Octopuses are sentient invertebrates
– Female Octopuses are really good mothers. They lay thousands of eggs which they hang in caves and keep protected under their arms. They spend the next several months of their lives taking care of the eggs, that are each the size of a grain of rice, and pretty much die of starvation over time just as the eggs hatch
– Octopuses spent a life of solitude, with the exception of briefly mating
– Octopuses are extremely intelligent creatures and keepers in aquariums often have to come up with special, more difficult games to keep them from being too bored
– Octopuses each have their own personalities
– Octopuses have the ability to regenerate their arms, and unlike other species that have the same ability, like chameleons, an octopuses regenerated arms are as perfect as the original
-Each octopus’s arms “has a brain of its own”
– An octopus eats through a beak which is at the center of its underside and taste its food by moving it up its arms by the tentacles to the beak

Rating: 2/5
(I liked the Octopus facts but there was way too much author fluff)

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This was my April Book of the Month club selection that I read during our Galapagos trip. It was a quick, easy read. I liked the first half but then I started getting a little bored after I realized there wasn’t some crazy twist and the guy was just obsessive and crazy. Overall it was pretty good though.

Rating: 2.5/5

The Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel (Book 1: Sleeping Giants, Book 2: Waking Gods, Book 3: Only Human)

I started reading Sleeping Giants on our Galapagos trip in April after borrowing it from Kevin once I finished all of my other books. I didn’t realize it was a trilogy and since i’m not a quitter, I continued through. It kind of reminded me of transformers but it was definitely a young adult trilogy.

I actually gave my friend the book to give to a high school student that she is mentoring since it is more of a young adult book and it’s an easy read.

Rating: 2/5

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Kevin bought this book for me from Mile High Run Club. It was an okay book, not super exciting. If anything I was in awe of Jurek’s commitment and single-tracked intensity and it made me want to push myself harder during my next workout. The guy definitely has some issues though that he didn’t really address head-on in the book.

Rating: 2/5

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

The Book of Essie was my June Book of the Month club selection. I loved it. I liked the plot and MacLean Weir’s style of writing. I devoured this book pretty quickly. It was definitely one of my fav novels that I’ve read in the past few months.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

I ended up skipping my May Book of the Month club selection, but then I kept hearing about The Mars Room so I ended up downloading it to my Kindle. Overall I liked the book but there were a lot of loose ends and I didn’t like the ending.

Rating: 3.5/5

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

I heard good things about When Katie Met Cassidy via Book of the Month club though it wasn’t one of my original selections. I ended up downloading it on my Kindle after I read The Mars Room and literally read it in two days. It was a quick, easy read but also fresh and entertaining which is why I sped through it so quickly. It kind of reminded me of Blue is the Warmest Color.

Rating: 4/5

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

I’m more of a fiction reader but every once in a while I like mixing it up with non-fiction. Pink’s novel was pretty good but I didn’t have any enlightening ah-ha moments. I am considering reading one of his suggested books, A Geography of Time: Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist by Robert V. Levine. Below are the main things I took from it:

– I am a “third bird,” meaning i’m not a morning lark nor a night owl but I do skew a little more towards being a morning person
– Studies show that students perform best on tests early in the morning (but not too early) and need breaks throughout the day in order to maintain strong performance/retention
– Daily naps are actually very good for us but for no more than about 20 minutes. It is okay to drink tea or coffee before a power nap because the caffeine doesn’t actually kick in for about 25 minutes
– It’s better to deliver bad news before good news

Rating: 3/5


Memorial Day 2018 in Miami

This past Memorial Day we spent the weekend in Miami, and we stayed at the Kimpton EPIC. We booked the trip a few months in advance and were looking forward to sitting by the beach and pool, so we were disappointed that they had a storm and it was rainy and downcast most of the weekend. However, that didn’t stop us from still doing several activities and having fun.

We flew into Miami late Friday night so on Saturday we took our time getting up (especially since we didn’t need to hurry to get a spot by the pool since it was pouring) and then ventured out for brunch. We learned that Miami is definitely a driving city and there weren’t many options within walking distance from our hotel so we ended up just eating at the hotel restaurant. After that we took an Uber to the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. We had a lot of fun there even though it was swarming with kids. I thought the scorpion fish were the most interesting. I’ve seen at least one on a dive before but it was easier to see them up close inside the clear tank. They are quite active little fellers and they kind of hop around rather than swimming like regular fish.  My favorite exhibit at the Frost Museum was the aquarium, but we also really enjoyed the special exhibit, The Power of Poison: From the Depths of the Sea to Your Own Backyard.

After the museum we went to Bodega for some good Mexican food and a drink before seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story. The movie was pretty good but what I liked even more was the Jack and Coke slurpee that the theater sold.

I had an art deco historic tour in Miami Beach scheduled for Sunday morning. The Art Deco Walking tour started on Ocean Drive at the Miami Design Preservation League. It lasted a little over 90 minutes and we learned all about the development of Miami Beach and how art deco was introduced from about 1920-1950. Of course we walked by the Versace Mansion which was cool. After the tour we stayed in Miami Beach for a while longer and had lunch at Naked Taco. The weather finally cleared up and it started getting a bit rowdy, so Kev and I made our way back to Miami to check out Wynwood Walls. Seeing all the street art was the highlight of my trip. There were so many good artists! Below are some of our favs:

Even though the weather wasn’t great, we made the most of it. It was also a great trip for Kev to play around with his new fancy camera. The picture of me “running with the lions” below is my favorite shot he took.

I would definitely go back to Miami but next time we’ll stay on Miami Beach and hopefully the weather will be better.




Galapagos Trip and My 30th Birthday!!

The Galapagos have been on me and Kev’s travel list for a while. I bumped it to the top of my list after seeing beautiful pictures and reading more about the island in National Geographic. They did an article about the declining populations of iguanas unique to the Galapagos due to the rising sea temperature which is starting to kill the algae, their food source. I also heard about Lonely George the tortoise, so I wanted to see a giant tortoise in person.  The fact that Kevin’s birthday is the end of March, our anniversary is the beginning of April, and my birthday is the end of April, were just extra reasons to go to Galapagos. We were not disappointed. Even though diving visibility wasn’t great, I got to see all the main critters I’d hoped to see including hammerheads, marine iguanas, tortoises and two critters I didn’t even know about but were happy to have seen including mola molas/sunfish and a red-lipped batfish, which can only be found around the Galapagos Islands and off Peru. It was a trip of a lifetime. Below are my daily diary entries from the trip.

Red-lipped batfish

We headed to the airport on Friday night on April 13, 2018 to begin our journey to the Galapagos. We flew all night and arrived in Guayaquil on Saturday morning. We stayed at the Oro Verde hotel which was in the heart of the city and within walking distance of the main strip in town. We had one day to kill in Guayaquil before boarding our live aboard dive boat for a week, so we took it easy, walked around for about two hours through the city to the boardwalk and Ferris wheel, and went to bed early.

Octopus

April 15

On Sunday morning we headed to the airport for our flight to San Cristobal (Galapagos Islands). It was a short flight and then we got picked up at the airport by our dive company. When we got to the marina I could already tell it was going to be a good trip because there were a lot of sea lions swimming and laying out sunbathing and napping by/on the pier. We were tendered to our boat, the Galapagos Sky. After resting for a bit we had one late afternoon easy dive. We didn’t see much because it was a safety check dive but we did have some curious seals come to check us out.

Green sea turtle

April 16

Monday morning after breakfast we had a land excursion. It was scenic and pretty cool walking on volcanic rock. We learned about the vegetation and saw lots of lizards. We also saw a lava heron scouting for food. We also saw some blue-footed boobies but unfortunately no penguins.

After the land excursion, we suited up for an afternoon dive. We dove three times. My highlights of the day were the seals. They were very playful and curious and came to check us out. They are very fast and they glide through the water elegantly while also playfully doing somersaults.

April 17

Tuesday was our first day doing four dives and we dove at Wolf Island. We saw a ton of hammerhead sharks and sea turtles. We even saw dolphins swim above us and we had one seal friend that was swimming around us up close and personal. One of the coolest parts of the dives is diving “into the blue.” We start close to the island and towards the second half go “into the blue” –we swim out further from the island and float in a depth of 40-60 feet which provides another opportunity to see sharks and sea turtles. It’s also a little trippy and disorienting because the only thing you can see all around you is blue water and you forget which way is up.

I’ve also never dove in such strong currents other than on two dives in Fiji last year which were incredible. At first the current made me nervous but now I think it’s fun because I’m more confident in my abilities and we went over safety procedures in more depth beforehand. It was my first time receiving a dive alert to activate if we lost the group and couldn’t find the boat too. They later told us it’s called a surge and it’s not ideal to dive in. Because the current is coming from more than one direction, it tosses you around (that explains why we had to cling onto the rocks for dear life in the beginning to avoid being swept away).

Spotted Burrfish

Tuesday was also our one and only night dive. The majority of the dive sites have strong currents and are chosen due to being cleaning stations for the animals. The night dive was in a cove so the current was not strong. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much though. I saw a lot of shrimp and the coolest things were decorated crabs that looked exactly like the rocks covered in barnacles. It was also pretty cold (even though we dove in 7mm wet suits and hoods). I was shivering by the end of the dive.

Marine iguana

April 18

We had another day of 4 dives in one day, but this time at Darwin Island which has Darwin’s Arch — One of the most iconic arches in the world and a key destination of any trip to the Galapagos. Some of the highlights included seeing more hammerhead sharks and an eagle ray up close. The black and white-spotted eagle ray was large and beautiful and did not care that we were there. It swam right next to us munching on huge chunks of barnacles on the rocks in order to get to whatever goodies were inside.

April 19

It was a 3-day dive. We did one morning dive at Darwin but because we enjoyed Wolf so much the day before, we went back for our other dives. I saw a school of hammerheads with a juvenile which was awesome (and rare). We also swam with more sea lions.

April 20

Today’s dives were amazing! We dove the seahorse-shaped island, Isabela. First, we dove in Ferndaninda and then we had two more dives near the mouth of the sea horse. They were our coldest dives (62 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 68 degrees the previous days’ dives) but some of the best. Fernandina was our iguana dive. The iguanas were awesome and bigger than I thought they’d be. They only go diving once a day for food so the area is protected and apparently only one dive boat is allowed there each day so that the iguanas aren’t too disturbed and can eat. They lay out in the sun all day building up body heat in order to dive for algae in the cold water. It’s something they’ve adapted to in order to survive in that environment.

Diving with sea turtles and eagle rays-nothing better!

At Isabel we saw HUGE sun fish/mola mola! I had never seen a mola mola until this trip and they are SO cool. They have a large top and bottom fin and small side ones. They can surprisingly move pretty fast too when they need to. According to our dive master, we were really lucky because we saw about 10 mola mola which is rare. On our ascent, we had fun playing with more sea lions. It was my favorite dive site because we saw cool things, the current wasn’t too strong, and it was absolutely beautiful. We went on a little boat ride on the penga (inflatable speedboat) after our last night and we went into a cave thing and a cove where we saw a ton more sea turtles, sea lions, iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. It was pretty magical.

Later that day we watched a TED Talk on Mola Mola/sun fish and we learned that they can grow up to 5,000 lbs and only eat jellyfish — keeping the ocean safe for other critters. They fan out on the top of the water to absorb the sun (hence the name sun fish) but throughout the day they go from the surface all the way to the ocean’s bottom to eat.

mola mola/sunfish

April 21

It’s my birthday! The big 3-0! It’s also our last dive of the trip.  We dove at Pinto and had a very pleasant dive. We saw a red-lipped batfish (which I didn’t even know existed until this trip), little fish that live in the barnacles and poke their heads out to eat passing particles, one giant manta, and a flock of spotted eagle rays. There was also a school of selimas fish that a sea lions was playing with/eating. We got some good video of that (starting 11:27 in the video above).

The Galapagos Islands were named after the giant tortoises found there

After our last dive we went to San Cristobal. We went to a ranchero de tortises to see the famous Galapagos tortoises. Fun Fact: Galapagos actually means “tortoise” in Spanish. We saw a ton of tortoises–we even saw two ‘running’ as a male chased a female to mate. The males are about 3x the size of the females and the males also make very loud grunting noises while mating, so you can imagine our astonishment watching a huge male chase and mount a female and seeing everything play out in front of us while paying a casual visit to the ranch. LOL.

After observing the tortoises for a while we went into town to shop around. When we got back to the boat we had dinner and Kevin surprised me with a cake. I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated my 30th.

We did 19 dives total and I got to see everything I had hoped to see. The Galapagos Islands are so wonderful and I hope it remains protected and that people start taking better care of the world so that future generations can see what we did. I definitely plan on going back to the Galapagos sometime. They were the best dives of my life.

Darwin’s Arch