August 12th was World Elephant Day, which is probably one of my favorite “random” holidays. The preservation and protection of the world’s elephants are extremely important, and it’s great that there’s a day dedicated to this area of animal welfare.
In 2017, it was a privilege and my honor to feed, bathe and (ethically) entertain the elephants provided and cared for by the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiangmai, Thailand. While traveling, it’s important to research which companies are truly sanctuaries as opposed to businesses that exploit and harm animals.
I hope to live in a world where all animals are treated with the respect and compassion they deserve ❤️
As anticipated, I saw some large creatures in the Galápagos; however, I didn’t expect to see tortoises up close. Manolo also took Juan and I to another destination we couldn’t skip, which was filled with these native species.
Interestingly enough, “galapago” meant “saddle” in Spanish, which described the shells on these animals’ backs.
Tortoises can actually live up to 150 years (the average lifespan being 120 on the islands). They can also weigh up to 250 pounds for females and 500 pounds for males! At this facility, the young tortoises between the ages of one and five are separated: fed individually, heavily cared for and combined with the older tortoises at age five.
Although the tortoises have it good on San Cristobal Island now, it wasn’t always this way (it was actually quite tragic). When Darwin visited the islands in 1835, he noticed that these creatures were so large and had lots of meat on them; tens of thousands of tortoises were slaughtered and consumed by himself and others he knew.
Looking back at these photos is bittersweet; we really miss this trip but still cherish every memory and are grateful for the opportunity that we had together.
The trek up to the old civilization was an adventure in-and-of itself! Our bus driver was winding through the narrow roads like nobody’s business, abruptly dodging other tourist buses on the way up! I was too excited to be nauseous on the way there, but the way back down was another story…
We had the BEST group on our tour and our guide was amazing. Jamie (pronounced “Hi-May” in South America) was the perfect combo of educational and entertaining! He joked and said he hiked the Inca Trail at least once a week to get away from the world; part of me thinks he was serious because you could tell he was at home here at Machu Picchu.
What still amazes me the most about the Incas is how forward and advanced they were, especially for their time. The way they worked collectively, farmed with innovation in mind, and how they utilized everything they had astounds me.
The views, no matter which direction you faced, were beyond impressive. As soon as I uploaded this photo, I was shocked that I was physically standing there not too long ago; I am truly blessed. AND I got to see some llamas in their natural habitat, which obviously made my dreams come true!
My mom and I were exhausted on the way back home, but our train ride fashion show kept us fairly engaged 🙂 I recommend Machu Picchu, Peru, and South America for anyone who loves cultural immersion, friendly people, and adventure!