The Dutch language does not make a distinction between the two, but there definitely is one. And the place to observe this the best is the Galápagos. Still there are a lot of similarities as well. Both can grow gargantuan, they both can get very old and they are both super slow! This makes them so quaint and at the same time you feel humbled by seeing and walking or swimming with them.
The funny thing about them is that they do everything slowly. At the age of twenty something, they are still babies, they take at least 5 minutes to cross a road and when they lower their head into the water to have a drink, they only take a sip of water every 30 seconds and they can easily go on like this for 15 minutes. But, why would you be in a hurry when you have 200 years ahead of you and your day-activities consist of nothing more than eating grass and drinking water or, being of the other variety, eating seaweed and catching a breath of air.
Unfortunately these beautiful animals even die slowly. This was discovered by sailors who sailed by the Galápagos in the 18th century. What began with taking them home as a souvenir, almost ended in the extinction of these graceful creatures. It turned out that a tortoise lives on for about one year when they are laid on their back. This came in very handy, as sailors now had fresh meat for their long journeys. We got very sad at the thought of these beautiful creatures being abused and treated with such cruelty.
For a period of nine days we were honored to witness the life of the tortoises and turtles and the other wildlife on the island. We had to climb over quite arrogant sea lions to reach the sea; they were sunbathing in the middle of the walking paths, and they even occupied every available bench! We also literally came eye to eye with blue-footed boobies (see photo). We went paddling with penguins playing at our feet. We chilled on the beach in company of a tanning iguana. We swam above a school of 20 sharks, while still being afraid that they could smell our fear. Steve swam along with a turtle surfacing to catch his breath of air. Anne played a game of “who-can-blow-the-most-underwater-bubbles” with a very young sea lion. We were surprised, amazed and we enjoyed ourselves immensely! A true holiday within our holiday…
If, even on this earth, there are such places which closely resemble Paradise and which in all honesty can be called a paradise, how wonderful would it be to live in the Paradise to come, which will be even more indescribably beautiful and tranquil! Swimming with sharks is truly a foretaste of what it would be like to see the lion and the lamb playing together.
Oh, by the way the tortoise is the one that will certainly drown when thrown in sea or in a deep river and the turtle is the one that will definitely not be thankful when put on a mountaintop…
Very impressed of the wildlife on the Galápagos, we send you many kind greetings and we look forward to our adventures at the top of the world in colorful Peru and Bolivia!
PS: Click here for more photo´s about our Galápagos time!