Right now as I type from Floreana, the least populated of the habited Galapagos Islands, I realize just how rare the opportunity I’m enjoying is. Being surrounded by nature like I am now, while taking classes which try to aggregate the problems created by humans, I find myself in a freakish contradiction. For every fantastic story I can tell you about Galapagos, there is an equally depressing fact about the world that I have learned in the course. The mix of vitality from the atmosphere is stopped for about two hours of class while the discussion accentuates my cynicism which had already been growing after a year of college.
The clash that has stereotypically pinned class and the outside world has been especially true on this trip. Down here, when breakfast is at 7, you’re waking up early no questions asked. Since I already consider myself a professional procrastinator, the pristine beauty of this place after dark is detrimental for my habit of working after hours. A great highlight of this beauty was two nights ago. My good pal Phil and I walked up a road outside the town’s lights where the clear sky was only illuminated by the moon and stars. We then walked to the pier where we saw a school of sting ray in attack mode against some guppies. From here, I could notice the life surrounding me in a way that I never got growing up in a city. The moon soon set afterwards, ominous and red. I can’t give justice to how cool that was in words, just trust me. We then went back up the hill where there were now only the stars. Not knowing the next time I could see something like this, I didn’t care that this star gazing was in a gravel road and breakfast was in seven hours.
Classes are different. Each time that our cohort gathers together for discussion, we tackle a world problem which tends to be insurmountable in terms of being changed. The end message tends to be that if we change our behavior in a few ways, our tragic fate could be avoided. But the complexities of the world and its consistent tendency toward irresponsibility lead us, or at least me, to pessimism. In this course, I’ve become more aware of loopholes that people, corporations, and governments use to disregard the environment. When the message of one of our major readings is that we already lost the fight to save the biodiversity in our planet, it gets to you.In this class, we get exposed to the state of the real world in a place where you have to step over sea lions. Seriously, Nicholson? Oh yeah, not to mention that Lonesome George just died two days after we visited him. Witnessing an extinction in this course was especially intriguing. In the end, I’m grateful for the multi-dimensionality of the course because it shows that perhaps our problems and our dealings with them are not mutually exclusive.
|Sea Lions have become a personal favorite of mine (Conor's Photo)|