This past weekend, I wore my hiking sandals outside without socks! That means summer is on its way and with it, my tales from the Galápagos. I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in the Galápagos in the summer of 2019. After spending 6 weeks on an island, I amassed quite a few stories as you can imagine. There was no way I could fit all of them in a single post, so I decided I would write a Galápagos series. Today’s post will be dedicated to my transportation stories (you might not think a lot could happen when trying to get from point A to point B, but it is me so what do you expect?). I hope you enjoy the next few weeks as I relive my island adventures. I know I would much rather be laying on a beach somewhere right now, what about you?
I flew out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport one summer evening when parking was a hot commodity. My mom just decided to throw me out at the curb instead of parking and coming in with me. Honestly, that was probably the easiest thing for us. Saying goodbye as I tucked-and-rolled out the car (just kidding, she came to a complete stop) was much less emotional than saying goodbye for 6 weeks at the security barrier. I handled check-in and security by myself like an adult and decided to use the restroom before boarding the plane. I immediately dropped my bag in the toilet and just looked down at it, not exactly sure what to do. I tried to rinse it off in the sink, use some high-quality airport soap and blow off the germs. To the people who wondered why my shirt was wet near my bag strap, mind your business. Despite all my fun in the restroom, and a short scare that our flight was going to be delayed and we were going to miss our connecting flight, we made it on the plane. I got over my airport trauma pretty quickly because they gave me Cheez-its on the flight! Name brand snacks on an airplane?? I wrote about it like three times in my journal; you would have thought that was the highlight of my summer (I do take my Cheez-its very seriously, see exhibit 1).
With my toilet-water soaked bag, I made it to the Galápagos!! We lived on San Cristobal most of the summer but had the opportunity to do some island-hopping to neighboring Santa Cruz and Isabela. Those trips consisted of an almost 2-hour speed boat ride on some of the choppiest waters you can imagine. It felt like the water was pounding us and was a pretty painful experience. The way the boats were set-up, there was an enclosed area and an open-air area at the back. We were packed on the boat like sardines, it was so hot (the day you have to peel your leg off the leg of the person sitting next to you is the day you are bonded for life), and the choppy water made it a perfect storm for seasickness. My poor friend Matt spent every boat ride with his head held over the side of the boat. Growing up near the coast, I have always joked that the ocean is my life source and I was fine on every boat we took. As a result of my sturdy sea legs, I always had to sit in the enclosed area since there were no worries I would throw up my lunch. On one particular ride, water kept pouring on me. Every time we hit a wave, the water would fall from the ceiling onto my head and lap. I was over it very quickly and put my raincoat hood on my head and then draped the jacket over my lap. When my friend announced, “Brynn kind of looks like a nun,” everyone took out their cameras and got photographic evidence so you could see it for yourself. They all had a good laugh and I finished that boat ride not soaking wet, so we were all winners.
Most of the time, I walked everywhere I needed to go. That is how I fell in love with my hiking sandals. I wear them year-round now and am never too proud to wear them with socks when it gets chilly. They took me the mile to the school every day, a 10-mile hike up a volcano and helped me dodge the sea lions who owned the place. They smelled very bad when I returned, but I could not imagine parting with them; I once had a dream where someone offered me $100 for my Tevas off my feet and I would not give them up (I literally signed up for an intense research study for some free juice, so I really think that is saying something). After three trips in the washing machine, they were good as new and continue taking me on adventures. Teva, if you are reading this, sponsor me.
A tribute to the sea lions who owned the place
Everyone who knew me in 9th grade knew that I loved blue-footed boobies and it was always my dream to see the bird that can only be found in the Galápagos. I would often walk out of my way so I could be a little closer to the water in the hopes that I would see my favorite bird. I was walking near the water on my way to the school when I saw the head of a bird who was standing on a rock. I could not see its feet, but I knew. I frantically whispered to myself, “Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness!” and started speed walking towards the water. I saw those Carolina blue feet and was completely overwhelmed with emotions. I started sweating and may have even shed a few tears. Out of breath and at a loss for words, I tried to tell my friends what I had just seen. I ended up just throwing the phone at them with the picture I snapped and hoped I could quickly calm my breathing so it didn't sound like I was fighting for my life.
Whether or not there was a blue-footed booby sitting on a rock, whenever I was walking near the water, I constantly found myself in awe of the beauty of the earth. I wrote on the postcards to my friends and family (which have still not arrived 2 years later by the way, but that's a whole other story) that I had never seen water that blue and how happy I was just to be alive. I cherished my time in the Galápagos and grew so much as a human. I hope that you stick with me for the next few weeks as I share more of my tales (a little blue-footed birdy told me that next week would be all about my snorkeling adventures).
In honor of my airplane Cheez-its, please enjoy this recipe for Cheez-it crusted chicken. I still get a little nervous cooking chicken because I am very worried about accidentally giving myself salmonella. As a result of my fears, I wanted to follow a recipe rather than make it up as I often do. This recipe is adapted from Betsy Carter at Tasty. You can find the original recipe, here.
Cheez-it Crusted Chicken
1 cup Cheez-its, crushed
1 egg, whisked
½ cup flour
2 skin-on chicken drumstick
Preheat oven to 425 ℉
Place Cheez-its in a resealable bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add pepper.
In a separate bowl, beat egg until smooth.
Roll each chicken piece in flour and then coat into eggs.
Roll each chicken piece in the cracker crumbs and arrange on a foil-lined baking seat.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and cooked through (No Pink! None of us need salmonella).