It was initially hard to imagine why David might ask us to notice the fierce edges of our lives, our existence, on the trip to the Galapagos. I had anticipated beauty, creatures great and small, unique vistas. When you are on the stunning MVV Evolution and your every need is anticipated by a crew of 18 in pristine waters, it doesn’t feel very fierce.
The first morning, I set my clock so that I wouldn’t miss sunrise, hot tea in hand, the deck hands wiping down the night’s dew on the railings and wooden surfaces. The low hum of the engines, the sky brightening over Fernandina. We moved through hundreds of jumping, leaping dolphins off the bow, and I wondered whether all animals play, whether they cannot sometimes keep themselves from joyfulness. The only thing that felt fierce was my deep sense of overwhelm, of gratitude for my sense of connectedness to something divine.
Later that day, we walked among hundreds of lounging marine iguanas. Black, scaly, muscled, they lay piled on top of each other, conserving their heat for the cooler night ahead, non-plussed by our amazement. We came upon a lagoon where sea lions slept, played and swatted sand flies in the mid-day sun. Some babies waited on the beach and rocks for their fishing mothers to return to them, some tiny and wrinkled, covered in sand. Some restless, bawling, searching the water’s edge. Some chasing each other in the shallow lagoons.
It’s hard to explain the sickening realization that can happen in an instant: this baby will die on the sand an orphan because no one else will nurse him if she doesn’t return. This bull rapes and kills his own offspring in the cerulean lagoon, then barks other males away from his turf. Dumb struck. No words. Spell broken. Fierce indeed.