A Stone's Throw

practice your aim. you never know when you'll spy 2 birds at once.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

At work in the Galapagos

One day, while wandering the streets of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos, I saw a shop filled with extraordinary sculptures. I entered and soon met the creator, Segundo Ruiz. We hit it off immediately and when I told him that sculpture was always something I've wanted to do, he offered to take me to his studio to show me his work. After the initial traditional exchange - him showing me his finished pieces and works in progress, and me showing him all the art pieces I've been working on through my South American trip - he invited me to study in his studio while I was there.

So for over a week, I studied the craft of sculpting - the sanding, the hammering, the carving, the sharpening, and the designing. Here's a few photos of that series of events:

Segundo specializes in sculpting tortoises, iguanas, seabirds, seals, morays, etc. And, as I came to find out, has his work displayed in museums and galleries around the world.

His chairs are especially amazing, as they incorporate the design of some creature into the overall shape of the chair. Each one of these is at least waist-high.

One of my favorites on display. One similar to it sold the next day for 1500$!

The indoor/outdoor studio of Segundo Ruiz. You can see the massive pieces of wood he uses for his creations.

Here, at his home, he carved a massive bed frame of sea creatures. On the bed is his cute kid, Teo.

The tools of a sculptor.

Segundo, meticulously carving a little tortoise for a gallery show. All with a mallet and chisel.

Me, at work.

A slightly better picture of the piece I was working on. You can see the torso and tail taking shape as well as the dorsal scales that divide at the top into 2 heads. I didn't have the time to finish the sculpture, but Segundo says he will finish it so we have a project we created together.

The tool I became very familiar with.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Seals and Tortugas

How can you not like a face like this?

The three seal pups who guarded the way every day to my favorite snorkeling spot.

This little guy decided to become my friend and didnĀ“t want me to leave.

So we became friends.

A very curious giant tortoise.
Taking a walk. Imagine the arthritis in those knees. Imagine!
On a hike on the Alcedo Volcano, I came across this guy. He was none too pleased with me interfering with his meal.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Pics of Galapagos

Marine iguana coming in from a swim.

Group of blue-footed boobies getting ready to fly away from the camera.
The most dubious looking iguana I saw. Looked very interested in picking a fight.

There's a lot of laying about in the life of iguanas.

Sunset in the Galapagos

As if it wanted to pose just for the camera.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Galapagos, by camera.

Galapagos, even on a cloudy day, is rather spectacular.

Los Grietas - a rock quarry with a really deep diving area. While you were deep under water, these massive rays of sun shone down. Made me think of Atlantis.

The Nymph Lagoon. Check out the water. Quite magical.

Gorgeous shrubbery growing in the lava stone. Plus, this is the first time I've gotten to use the word shrubbery.

Mangroves on Tortuga Bay.

The cactus palm, a curiously cool tree found all over the place. And, speaking of cactus, its like everything here has thorns.

How can you not like seals?

The endemic Galapagos penguin. Cool little guys. Rather lazy as well.

Nearby, I was having a nap on an abandoned stretch of beach and when I woke up, this monster was laying right next to me. Seems I set an example for the brute.

The Islas Tintorellas - where during low tide a slew of white-tiupped reef sharks gather to wait. The waters warmer there, and despite the bizareness of their presence, they're there most every afternoon.

A clearer shot of where not to swim.

An Oystercatcher.

Seals tend to sleep wherever they choose.

The famous blue-footed boobie. Very elegant bird. Hard to get close to without spooking.
This is how I would travel if money was no option.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Giant Friend

(will post lots of pics later when I have cheap, fast internet. For now, here's a little sample!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Like A Fleet Of Submarines

After spending the first few days on Isla Baltra and Isla Santa Cruz, spending time with the giant tortoises, land iguanas, stingrays, and other creatures, I recently I took a water taxi to Isla Isabella, the biggest island in the archipelago, but one of the most untouched by man. There are resplendent beaches, extensive lagoons and lakes, several volcanoes, including the 2nd biggest volcano crater in the world, and on and on... You could dedicate a guidebook to listing all the things to see and do.

For me, I've been concentrating on exploring what I can on land and then in the ocean. My wanderings have led me to swim with sea snakes, puffer fish, spotted eagle rays, skates, and then today - I came upon a fleet of giant sea turtles. Some 30 strong. And when I say gigantic, they were like these massive ships under the sea - submarines! I came upon them while exploring a reef and then right before me, not a foot away rose a mammoth sea turtle. It hung in the water and kind of gave me a look as if saying, 'well, you're here, you can come along, but just don't mess with anything.' I spent a good halfhour with it as it cruised around, feeding, and leading me back to where the others were waiting.

It was absolutely surreal and incredible.

The days on Galapagos are like that. Just when you think you've been shocked by something wonderful, another amazing event comes along.

And I have more days to come...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Well, after all this busing and hosteling and having every sort of crazy experience from Argentina to Colombia, I decided what better way to spend my final month in South America than in the Galapagos.

Most everyone I've met who has been to the islands had roughly a week here because its ridiculously expensive, but I decided that just wasn't nearly enough time. So a month it is. It'll be a challenge to keep within a budget, but I have confidence.

I won't be able to update my blog too often as internet is slow and expensive, but I will update with pictures when I am able.

But let me say this - the Galapagos Islands are beautiful. Clear water, perfect temperature, animals afoot everywhere. Just this morning I swam with rays and sea snakes. Amazing! And yesterday when I went to a different beach there was a sea lion just taking a nap next to me. Perfect.

Cheers everyone!

- Caleb

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Riding Atop Trains

So, when the opportunity came for me to jump a ride atop a train, you know I had to take it. The train left the town of Riobamba at around 6 in the morning and went all the way to a place called The Devil's Nose - a series of hairpin turns high up on a mountain side. The view was incredible and a spectacular experience.

Things got dodgy when the train derailed. If you're ever on top of a train that derails, its a very disconcerting experience. There's this huge series of thunderous bangs and then the car starts wobbling back and forth. This feeling is complimented nicely by the sheer panic of being mere feet from a deathly fall down the nearby cliff.

A train, derailed.

A conductor with a stick trying to rerail the train. I was suspicious of his technique.