ISSUE 21, April 2007
Editorial
Historic: Philanthropist and scientist: Sir Henry Wellcome
Travel: In Darwin's footsteps
Grand Secretary: Interview with Nigel Brown
Quarterly Communication: Speech by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Faith and Freemasonry: A Salvationist and the Craft
Young Mason: Keep up the tradition
Freemasons' Hall: Refurbishment
Ladies Groups: Cheshire Ladies Circle
   Library and Museum: Masonry and music - the role of the organ
Specialist Lodge: A new Lodge for showmen is consecrated
Serving the community: Two Masons win major rescue awards
Spain: How a Cleveland Mason found his Spanish roots
Wales: Welsh Mason lands national sporting award
Hospices: The Craft's historic links with hospices
Ancient Craft: Herefordshire's ancient boat builder
Education: Forthcoming events and Andrew Prescott and Own free will and accord and First Universities Scheme Initiate
Masonic Charities: Latest from the four main Masonic charities
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Sea lions swimming underwater off the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands, which are the tips of enormous volcanic, submarine mountains, have been there, in some cases, for millions of years. What makes them so special is that 97 percent of the area, now a national park, has been allowed to exist as it has done since the beginning of time – the terrain, animals, fauna, wild and marine life.
    There are no vets to help when wounded, no water brought when the temperatures soar to over 100 degrees, and virtually no shade on many of the islands. It is fascinating that although the islands are all comparatively near each other, no two are the same – that is the actual land surface – what grows on it, and even the animals and birds will vary from island to island. This is very much because the islands lie at the meeting point of the wind and ocean currents coming from the North to the South.
    This determines the climate and distribution and abundance of the species. Although you would expect a tropical climate, Ecuador is on the Equator, the majority of the land is arid, although there is lush vegetation growing in the highlands of the larger mountains.
    Another aspect which can be confusing is that they only experience two seasons, dry and wet, with the latter between December and May being the better time, as although it rains, this is only likely for a short period, and makes the area lusher. What is particularly exciting is the close proximity you can get to the animals who, although living in the wild, have no fear of human beings.
    The number of people allowed on the islands is very closely monitored and no large ships are allowed in the area. Our ship, one of the bigger ones, the Santa Cruz, held 90 passengers plus crew. There were no frills aboard except for a bar and small jacuzzi.
    The day started early with a wake-up call, often at 6am, and an itinerary that included land visits and lectures, which left you exhausted by the time you have had dinner. Guests come from all over the world, with 14 different nationalities on board when we first arrived. Ages vary from a group of university students to the mature traveller.
    Guests are divided into groups for the land visits, each with their own naturalist, dependent on their native language. English and Spanish appear to be the most prominent. Our expedition – we were not allowed to call the voyage a cruise – started on San Cristóbal, the official capital, and one of the older islands. This is where Charles Darwin came ashore in September 1835. The ship sails from one island to another, or to a different part of the same island every day, so each time you go out, you are enjoying a different experience.


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