Wait … where is she going?

My daughter is headed to a faraway land where there are no mouse ears or Dole Whip

In two days I’ll be sending my daughter off to the Galapagos Islands. Yes, those Galapagos Islands. There aren’t any at Epcot (I checked), which means that for the first time ever, we’re sending our kid out of the country without us.

Despite being a somewhat overprotective dad prone to freaking out about things, I’m fine — mostly. I think that’s because it’s been pretty shocking how little I knew about where we’d be sending our 16-year-old. As we gathered for the first planning meeting last fall, we were presented with an exciting proposition:

Teacher: “Your child has the opportunity to travel to the Galapagos Islands.”

Me: “Definitely. She’s in. Excellent. Also — where are the Galapagos Islands?”

Thanks to the teachers who are leading the trip, I did learn a few things about her upcoming destination:

  • The islands are about 1,000 km (about six of our American blocks, I think) off the coast of Ecuador.
  • Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency.
  • Its time zone is two hours behind us here in New Hampshire, and it’s just a six-hour flight to Quito, the country’s capital.
  • The islands were named for the dashingly handsome Jimmy Galapagos.

Probably not that last thing. But I did continue to surprise myself with how willfully blind I was to the whole experience. I think part of it was that I had no idea what the place even looks like. She may as well be going on a school trip to Jupiter.

Last September, when we met with her teachers to learn about this now-imminent adventure, it seemed like a good idea. It all seemed great up until today when our neighbor, whose daughter is also going on the trip, asked if there would be flotation devices for the kids when they go snorkeling in the ocean with the sharks and the megalodons and the typhoid and such.

There was a brief moment when I gave into my nervous instincts. I started to wish she was going to some other island — Plum, or even Gilligan’s. Some place I could envision. Instead we’re putting her on a bus that will take her to a plane that will get her to the west coast of South America, and then out onto a spit of volcanic land in the Pacific Ocean where a lot of unique and odd animals live. And she’ll be able to get up close to them and experience something quite different from our normal vacations, which also involve unique and odd animals — typically a mouse that wears red pants and a duck that doesn’t wear any.

By the time this is published, she will have gone on the trip, experienced things I never dreamed she’d have an opportunity to experience, and returned home safely. At least, that’s what I’m going with.

Bill Burke is a writer who made it through an entire column about the Galapagos Islands without making a joke about Blue Footed Boobies. He lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife and world-traveling daughter and is Managing Editor of Custom Publications for McLean Communications.

Categories: Dad on Board