It was a trip of a lifetime for Marion Davenport and her family as they explored the Galapagos Islands.
"We've always wanted to go as a family on an adventure, someplace that was filled with birds and wildlife," Marion says. Marion's family included husband, Dave, son Eric, his wife, Kathy and children Lauren, 9, and Philip, 10.
The first leg took them to Quito, Ecuador, located on the equator. The family saw the sights, stuck one foot on either side of the equator and, of course, noticed the beautiful tropical birds, especially a cousin to our beloved ruby-throated hummingbird, the green violet-ear. All the birds in Ecuador were wonderful and so colorful. The Davenports also enjoyed meeting the locals.
"The people were so very warm and friendly, I'd wished I'd known more Spanish. The food was great, especially the juices like blackberry, guava, passion fruit," Marion says. She also noticed the gasoline for 68 cents a gallon.
The family then flew to the islands and boarded a cruise ship that would take them to eight of the Galapagos. The volcanic islands, due west of Quito, are filled with various wildlife and sea life. Marion and her family were able to get up close and personal with many different species.
"But if you got too close to the beach master, the senior sea lion and his ladies, he would let you know. The sea lions were certainly not afraid of people," Marion says. "Some mornings, we'd wake up to see sea lions on the deck of the cruise ship," Marion says. "They'd hitch a ride during the night and weren't in any hurry to leave."
Each morning a smaller boat would take passengers to the islands. Many times departures were delayed by other sea lions reluctant to leave the dinghy and get back into the water. "Sometimes," says Marion, "we had to wait awhile as the sea lions needed lots of coaxing to get off the boat."
When finally underway, the boats took passengers to the different islands and a rich array of wildlife.
Animals of the Galapagos did not go island to island, but evolved separately and differently, Marion says. "There are blue-footed boobies and there are red-footed boobies - I just love saying the names. Then, there are the magnificent frigate birds that also caught a ride on the ships."
On the different islands, the Davenports learned that all the snakes were nonpoisonous as the snakes had no predators; that the land iguanas adapted from marine iguanas; and, that the Galapagos penguins are the only warm water variety.
The Galapagos are a province of Ecuador and are located 525 miles off the coast of South America, right on the equator. Charles Darwin spent less than a year studying wildlife on the islands in 1835. He noticed that mockingbirds and other species differed from island to island.
Marion Davenport, known to many as the proprietor of Tega Cays' Chirp 'n' Chatter 'n' More, was thrilled with a vacation that was truly away from it all.
"It was amazing to see other cultures, meet other people and to spend time with the grandchildren," Marion says. "We learned so much about wildlife. Philip, who's 10, studied every book he could find about the islands and about Ecuador. Seeing the sights though his eyes and his knowledge made the trip very special to us."
• Lizann Lutz writes about the people, places and events around Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Indian Land and Van Wyck. Please share your ideas with her by calling the Fort Mill Times at 547-2353 or by e-mailing Lizann at firstname.lastname@example.org.