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Dancers and enormous skirts

On a Saturday night, a tortoise rocks back and forth to the beat, the blue-footed booby in perfect unison, and a sea lion not far behind. Whirling around then parading proudly in a circle, coming together, then separating and joining again to the beat. The music is simple, happy, with a steady rhythm and a hoppy feel.

No, I didn’t have one too many of the local bar’s pina coladas or caiparinhas. This is the image created by the folkloric dancers from “Centro de Danza Galapagos.”  The women wear long flowing skirts, each printed with the image if one of the Galapagos’s famous or endemic species. The men sport a Panama hat (native handicraft of the highlands of mainland Ecuador), which they wear with a lot of pride.

Folkloric dancers in Puerto Ayora

Folkloric dancers in Puerto Ayora

Everybody dances, even gringas

And suddenly I find myself amongst them hopping from foot to foot, with a Panama hat on my head. The folkloric dancers are pulling the spectators into the festivities, gringos and locals alike. I did my best to hop around like the locals. My dance partner smiled approvingly. And I managed to not step on his toes or inflict any major injuries, despite the heavy dSLR camera swinging from my hip. I felt a little shy, but I asked him if I could videotape and he enthusiastically held the camera above our heads.

Clearly the roots of the festival are from mainland Ecuador. I’ve seen similar dancing in Cuenca, Ecuador. But the details are unique to this place – the skirts each adorned with animals, and the backdrop of Puerto Ayora’s fish market. The energy and Ecuadorean pride is the same. But the animals are only in the Galapagos.

I took a 5-day land-based Galapagos tour covering Santa Cruz and Isabela. The tour was fantastic, but this was one of my free days, just staying in Puerto Ayora. No plans. No itinerary. No tour.  Sometimes I think the most exciting parts of an adventure are the surprises. The things – little or big – that no guide ever told you, that you discover on your own.

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