By Emily Harley-Reid, Creative Services Editor It’s embarrassingly easy around International Expeditions to get blasé about destinations like the Amazon or Galapagos — they are such staples of the company that we often feel like everyone has “been there, done that!”

So in sharing a moment of my Galapagos Islands tour, I think it is a true testament to the power of travel and of Darwin’s “Enchanted Isles” that I still get emotional.

It was nearing dusk on our first beach excursion, when I stopped to take a photo of a baby sea lion playing in the surf at Cerro Brujo. Although they are as common as air in the islands, growing up in land-locked Kentucky, my experiences with sea lions was limited to zoos. And it was so refreshing to see an animal enjoying itself with gawking travelers sharing the same stretch of white sand.

In an effort to capture the perfect picture, I had gotten down into the sand (had to get the sea lion, Evolution and sunset in one shot for my facebook page!) Imagine my surprise when the pup decided to quit playing and come check ME out! Earlier in the day we’d had Boli’s “Don’t touch the wildlife” speech, but didn’t recall if he mentioned the animals getting their daily briefing on keeping flippers to themselves!

Snorkeling in GalapagosAs I tried to keep smiling and quit squealing, through squinted eyes, a wet, black nose inched closer and closer, mimicking the way I crawled across the sand. Boli took the camera and began snapping photos, as I relaxed and tried to play - all while keeping hands at my sides, of course. In only a matter of seconds, the pup was resting his head in my lap like a house pet or my toddler.

While this first encounter with the curious Galapagos wildlife was only one of a million “highlights” during my 10-day Galapagos cruise, it certainly stands as a mental monument to the power of nature.