Archive for September, 2012

Galapagos, Day 13, Afternoon: Fresh Blood (or, Bachas Beach)

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Ecuador Trip: Day 13  

Galapagos Cruise: Day 8

The thing about being the only people left on-board a cruise when New People arrive is that how you respond and interact with the New People can set the tone for the duration of your trip. So if you find yourself in the position of being on a previous portion of the cruise (ie. you have become Old People), the best you can do is welcome the New People with open arms. After all, they outnumber you and might beat you up otherwise (Travel Tip!).

If you come on-board as a New Person, regardless of whether the Old People are only two couples or five, it can be a bit intimidating. When friendships have formed and perhaps a bit of a clique mentality may have developed, there are still ways around it. if New People reach out and try to include you, if you WANT to be included, then respond likewise. The Group of Four decided during Week 1 not to stick together as a group all the time. This was especially important at meal times and when splitting the 16 travelers into groups of 8 for riding in the pangas. If you always go with the same four or six or eight people, or you always sit at the same spot for every meal, how are you going to get to know the others? In my not-so-humble opinion, if you are going to go on a cruise with 16 travelers total, it makes sense to open yourself to new experiences and friendships. Even if those relationships only exist during the cruise, they can make or break your holiday.

So, we had our fresh blood, and the first thing you basically do after the guide gets everyone introduced and settled in their rooms, is have a late lunch (that feels more like a dinner) and then go on your first excursion. Our first excursion with the New People was on lovely Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island. Bachas Beach is a nice introduction to the Galapagos, and we had a chance to swim (and perform headstands and on-your-husband’s-shoulders stands, etc.) after a nice little walkabout (not to be confused with an Aussie walkabout) in the lovely, warm waters.

We walked to a lagoon on Bachas Beach. It was a beautiful day!

No, that’s not the lagoon. That’s the ocean. But I loved the clouds that made the sky look like one huge marble.

Star War creatures pretending to be cactuses.

I said this would be a short and sweet post, no? Let it be known that I can live up to my promises.

The lagoon! Love the pink flamingo.

When we left for the Galapagos, I expected to see a lot more flamingoes than I did. So every time we came upon one, everyone quickly reached for their cameras. During Week 1, we saw a few flamingoes on Moreno Point, Isabela Island. Maybe 4 or 5 total around the lagoon. And they were always quite far away (thank God for zoom lenses). We didn’t see another flamingo until Bachas Beach. Later during Week 2 we visited Floreana Island, which is renowned for its flamingoes. But we spotted only one from a great distance.

It wasn’t that great a disappointment, however. I have seen flamingoes in zoos as a child, and I have seen pink flamingoes on lawns. I loved seeing the real thing in the wild in the Galapagos, however not seeing as many flamingoes as I would have liked would not have been akin to not seeing enough Blue-Footed Boobies! Then I would have been distraught. Inconsolable.

Great Blue Heron! This bird also reminds me of creatures from one of the Star Wars movies. Between the Great Blue Heron and the cactuses on Bachas Beach, you have a cast. Is this fellow not magnificent? I adore the ability to bend backwards knees! Photo Credit: Moi C’est Bien.

Next up, Bartholomew Island and a return to Santiago Island, which we had visited during Week 1 on our way to Genovesa. Then, we visited James Bay (Egas Port) and Espumilla Beach with a quick drive-by past Buccanneer Cove. This time we’ll visit Sullivan Bay, where I found myself up to my neck in lava. Great fun!

(I just realized I might not have reached my goal to write a short post. It’s just, um, shorter than most. Ooops.)

Galapagos, Day 13, Morning: North Seymour Island

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Ecuador Trip: Day 13

Galapagos Cruise: Day 8

It’s been a few days since I posted about the Galapagos. Click this link to read all about Genovesa Island, which was where we left off.

Day 8 of our Galapagos cruise aboard the Cormorant was a little sad, because our Group of Four were the only people staying on-board for Week 2. We had to say goodbye to 12 other guests, some of whom we had gotten to know very well and now counted as friends (while a couple of others we could have frankly done without anyway, so no harm, no foul). Plus, as we discovered later, we also had to say goodbye to some of our crew. We didn’t expect that. We somehow thought our favorite panga drivers and towel-folders and bartender would be around for Week 2. Some were, and some weren’t. Luckily, our guide, Harry Jimenez (who has a great blog that details more than I ever could about the Galapagos), was sticking around for Week 2. On the Cormorant, that’s not always the case, although maybe now that the 2 week cruises are in effect the cruise lines will try to ensure the same guide stays the entire two weeks. We found it very nice to have the same guide throughout our adventure and hadn’t anticipated that we wouldn’t. So we were surprised to not find out until the day before we swapped guests whether or not Harry would still be around.

I suppose the upside to switching guides partway through a cruise would be if you had a grumpy guide during Week 1. At any rate, if it’s important to you to have some continuity, you might want to check with your cruise line if you’ll have the same guide throughout your back-to-back weeks/days (Travel Tip!).

That said, two back-to-back full weeks are not the only options for organizing a Galapagos cruise. One couple during our Week 1 had already been on the Cormorant for four days before the rest of us arrived. For Week 2, we received 12 new guests, once more making us a group of 16. However, four of that group were not there the entire week. They stayed 3 or 4 nights and then left, after which four completely new guests came on-board.

Week 1 began and ended on Baltra Island, which is a military base where one of the two airports for beginning or ending your journey is located. So on the morning of Day 8, after traveling all night from Genovesa, we got up bright and early to visit North Seymour Island before saying farewell to the first batch of guests on Baltra. On North Seymour Island, we encountered several more bugs than we had anywhere else during Week 1. A lot of slapping of shins and calves occurred. So…Travel Tip!…take along bug spray.

But! We also encountered a LOT of my favorite bird in the Galapagos—the Blue-Footed Booby! Seriously, I can not recall at this point if we had seen a Blue-Footed Booby since our panga ride at Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island, on Day 3 of our cruise. Well, on North Seymour Island, we had Blue-Footed Boobies coming out our ears!

A pair of Blue-Footed Boobies in the midst of their courting ritual, a cute little dance called the “Booby Two-Step” or some such. The male whistles and sticks his tail feathers in the air while the female decides whether or not she wants to accept his gift of sticks and rocks. It’s amazing and so totally cute. But the dance is very slow. Mr. BF Booby does not believe in hopping about when he courts. No, he lifts his feet very slowly, one at a time, to display their blueness beauty. And, really, why should he not?

I mean, look at those feet! Wouldn’t YOU be impressed if a male booby (by which I mean someone possibly not of Galapagos origin but a booby nonetheless) performed the Blue-Footed Booby mating dance for YOU? I know I would.

Okay, now just to prove I might be the cleverest faux travel blogger out there, I googled “Blue-Footed Booby Two Step” and came up with a PDF of instructions for performing your VERY OWN BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY DANCE. Travel Tip! Instructions may be adapted to suit other Boobies! Download and practice at your peril. And beware sneaky people who might be taping you while you dance. Not that I know anyone who that happened to.

I do have a video of the Boobies dancing two pictures above on my Facebook page. If you want to see it, visit the page, then click Photos, then click Videos. There, you’ll find a smorgasbord of Galapagos videos).

The Group of Four with Harry Jimenez at North Seymour Island. We weren’t really saying farewell to Harry, but everyone else was. I think I took pictures of most of the group with Harry at this location.

Bon voyage, Week 1 buddies!

After we returned to the Cormorant, the other 12 guests left on the pangas, avec Harry, to travel to Baltra Airport. Harry would pick up some new victims—uh, guests—for us to greet later that afternoon. But what would we do in the meantime? Our Group of Four was left to our own resources while the crew busied themselves getting ready for the next boatload of guests. So we grabbed some cervezas, did some sunning and reading, and then asked for a tour of the boat. We had a wonderful tour.

Our master chef extraordinaire, Javier, showing us the galley. We saw a lot more of the catamaran, including the engine room and crew quarters. It was very interesting to see what goes into making a holiday like ours come together.

Just when we thought we couldn’t take any more relaxation (and a bit of wondering if we’d like ANY of the people on Week 2)…

Okay, let me explain that. A Galapagos Cruise is “like a box of chocolates.” You know the rest. If you don’t, watch Forrest Gump. (“You never know what you’re gonna get”). We got along so well with one couple on Week 1 that the crew decided we must be related. Would we find another couple to replace Couple Uno? Or would be left as the sad and lonely Group of Four + Twelve New Blechy Strangers? What was wrong with Couple Uno that they had to leave after Week 1, anyway? Were they cheapskates? Did they not want to buy us any more red wine? Were they tired of us whining that we hadn’t brought enough money and where were the ATMs in the Galapagos, anyway? And would they work? (These questions and more will be answered in a future post).

We needn’t have worried (note expert use of “needn’t”). The twelve new victims who came on-board partway through Day 8 in the G.I. had already had a chance to get to know each other before and after their flight. And that was great, because the Group of Four already knew ourselves, the New People were getting well acquainted, the Group of Four was friendly beyond belief and welcomed the New People with smiles and cheers and handshakes all around. And the next few days were an absolute blast.

We had not replaced Couple Uno. But we had a great assortment of new travelers with whom to enjoy Week 2.

Well, I had really intended to do the Morning and Afternoon of Day 8 of our cruise in one blog post. But I have rambled on, it seems. So, next time, a short (we like to think) post about our afternoon with the New People on Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island.

Print Edition of HEAD OVER HEELS Shipping from Amazon

Friday, September 21st, 2012

The new print edition of HEAD OVER HEELS is now shipping from Amazon! That’s a lot faster than the 5-7 business days I expected to wait.

You know what this means, don’t you? It’s finally time for me to send out my newsletter. And another website update is now on my daily plans.

I expect to publish the first two in my romantic comedy short story series, LOVE & OTHER CALAMITIES, in October. So if you want to be amongst the first to get the news, please sign up for the newsletter. I only send it out when I have a new release, and I do not harvest the email addresses for any other purposes.

Newsletter sign-up is easy. Just look in the upper right corner of my blog, or visit my Contact page. There’s also a clickable graphic link on my Home page.

Canadians, the new print edition of HEAD OVER HEELS is not yet on Amazon.ca. I will post another update as soon as it is. However, if ebooks are your thing, I have buy links galore for various ebook formats (Kindle, NOOK, Kobo, Sony, iPad) on the HEAD OVER HEELS page.

Print Edition of HEAD OVER HEELS Available Again!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

The print edition of my updated and revised romantic comedy, HEAD OVER HEELS, is now available from the CreateSpace store!

It will take 5-7 business days for the book to appear on Amazon as well as Amazon stores in the U.K. and Europe. I’m a bit in the dark about when the book will appear for sale on Canadian Amazon, but will update you as soon as I know.

The proof copy of the book appeared yesterday, and I was very impressed with the quality. The cover from Kim Killion looks amazing and the interior designed by Michael Hale is equally well done. All in all, I am in love with this edition. It’s very colorful and stands out. I am so glad I took the opportunity to revise and update the novel and offer it again to readers. If you haven’t read the book before in either ebook or trade paperback, check out the reviews and excerpt and take a chance on a new-to-you author!

Orders from CreateSpace will incur a shipping cost. So if you like to order paperbacks in a lump to get free shipping on Amazon, you might want to wait until the book appears there.

Cost from CreateSpace is $7.99, which was as low as I could price the book and still earn royalties. But I am pleased that I am able to offer the trade paperback at far less than the former publisher could, because I have basically cut out one middle man.

HEAD OVER HEELS on Sony!

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

HEAD OVER HEELS is now at the Sony Store!

Like with NOOK, I needed to use Smashwords to distribute to Sony. For some reason, despite that Smashwords has the updated back cover copy for the book and the third edition publishing date, NOOK and Sony are showing the new cover (and new insides–ie. the book you read) but Sony hasn’t replaced the second edition book blurb (what you’d see on the back of a paperback book) or the book publication date, and NOOK is showing an excerpt from the previous edition with Amber Quill Press (the scene still exists in the book but has been updated and revised). I find this frustrating and will contact Smashwords to see what, if anything, they can do to correct this. This is why I like to upload directly to a venue instead of going through a distributor. However, PubIt, the self-publishing portral for Barnes & Noble and NOOK, does not at this time support non-American authors unless you, say, live in the U.S. during the winter and have a U.S. bank account and street address. I have neither, so I am limited to publishing to Sony and NOOK through Smashwords (where the book is also available in various formats).

Rest assured, the sites have the new book content as well as the new cover. It’s the other aspects of the website book page templates that are carrying over from the 2nd edition with Amber Quill Press. Plus, the original publication date of 2002 (which was with NovelBooks, Inc.) is showing on Sony.

A little annoying, but there you have it. The book has been revised and updated to 2012. If you buy the Blue Orchard Books edition of HEAD OVER HEELS from Sony or NOOK, you will be getting the updated edition. On the Sony and NOOK websites, Smashwords reads as the publisher, not Blue Orchard Books. This is the only way to get to these venues from Smashwords. Again, rest assured, it is the new edition!

Want Some NOOKy?

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

HEAD OVER HEELS is on NOOK!

Get some romantic comedy nooky for your NOOK!