Type in The Galapagos

February 2019. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

I just took a trip of a lifetime and I travel extensively so that's saying a lot—seven days in the Galapagos onboard a National Geographic/Lindblad ship.

I travelled with another ESTJ, an ENFP, an ENTJ, and an ENFJ. We all had a lot to say about our experiences, and we did!! We were in a magical place. We had a wonderful time enjoying each other's company and respecting each other's needs for some quiet down time. We are all in the second half of our lives, embracing our introverted sides.

We focused on our Sensing sides with small details about the differences of the birds, iguanas and turtles on different islands. The broader issues of the effects of global warming and trying to grasp the essence of the area called upon our Intuitive sides.

Please indulge my Sensing side for a bit while I check out yours with some details. Probably everyone has heard of the place—600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. And you might know that three ocean currents converge there bringing together an unusual assortment of wildlife.

And probably everyone has seen pictures of its animal inhabitants and knows they are not fearful of people. It was so strange to walk up to a bird and not have it fly away, and in fact, watch it try to get closer at times. There was one particularly determined bird trying to pluck one hiker's gray hair for her nest.

And probably everyone knows about Charles Darwin's observation of how the finches were different depending on the island they lived on, which led him to the theory of natural selection. Did you also know why Darwin wanted to be on shore while his ship, the HMS Beagle, went in search of water? In addition to being a curious person, he also suffered horrible seasickness!

We were very impressed with the management of the Galapagos. Yes, Sensing and Judging were needed by all. Luckily all of the rules made logical (T) sense — stay 6 feet from the wildlife (although they didn't always stay 6 feet away from us — there was a tortoise so fascinated by a woman's pink tennis shoes that he began "stalking" her! Our presence is not supposed to interfere with their lives so no engaging with the animals. You had to hold yourself back from "baby talk" with those super cute baby sea lions.

The rules go on… Travel only with a Galapagos national park guide in groups of 16 or less. Land on an island in only designated times (we often had 8-10 am slots) and only in designated areas, staying on the marked paths with your guide. That was tough for some of the passengers who were clearly used to wandering off on their own. This is not a time to use your Perceiving side to explore something else. Areas are often off-limits so as to minimize the environmental damage any visitor causes.

And the pay-off for following the rules: seeing things you will never see anywhere else! One 40-minute snorkeling session included swimming with birds (penguins), reptiles (turtles and iguanas), mammals (sea lions), and multiple kinds of fish.

We got to see blue-footed boobies doing a courtship dance and, at another time, dive bombing for food in the ocean. (Boobies are beloved birds with blue feet in case you were wondering.) We saw different kinds of both land and sea tortoises (after which the island area is named) and different kinds of iguanas (they have the only sea-going iguanas in the world).

It was a challenge to kick our internet habits — we were either out of range or had very slow connections. I visited a school on one of the islands; they pay $1,400/month for 3 megabytes of data. Students have to surrender their cell phones and forgo YouTube.

The islands include active and inactive volcanos. One night in 1954 an area simply rose about 15 feet (uplifted is the technical term) due to volcanic activity. Geologists love the Galapagos, too!

And yes, climate change is impacting the area. Currents are getting warmer which will drive away some of the wildlife.

And human impact on the area is resulting in feral cats, feral goats, and blackberries, among other things. There are programs to eradicate these invaders. Some turtle populations have disappeared on a few islands, so there are programs to bring them back.

All of us, but particularly the two ESTJs, were concerned with the efficiency of the operation. Many ships in the area are smaller but we chose a larger one because it was a good compromise for various individual needs. How were they going to get 95 of us off the ship, on to zodiacs, and on the island. It was wonderful to watch! We lined up with our life jackets on, the cruise manager counted us off (including any groups), the crew gave us a hand on and off the zodiac (wet landings can be tricky), and the guides miraculously spaced us out on land.

We were awakened each morning with the most wonderful voice saying, "Good morning, good morning." Our cruise director would frame everything in a positive way, even the early morning wake-up times.

The food crew were similarly efficient. One of our travelers had allergy issues, and the waiters always found her with dishes made to accommodate, no matter where she was sitting. The attention to detail was incredible! And the kindness of the crew was so appreciated.

I had heard wonderful things about the Galapagos, and they are true. Visit if you possibly can, no matter what your type.