A somewhat hasty dinner of fried terrapin scarcely interrupted the coming and going of the carriers, and an hour before sunset a boat loaded to the water's edge with our spoils was dispatched to the ship. We who remained ahsore prepared beds of dried grass under the tent, while the cook make a savory mess of terrapin-meat, with the sweet, golden fat, the rich, melting liver, potatoes, and onions. As the savory odors swept athwart my nose, I almost lost heart and appetite in the roasting of an iguana nearly three feet long, and as thick around as a man's leg. As I turned and basted the horrible beast, it was with less and less stomach for the feast.Our trip was different in every way from the voyages of the seamen and explorers of early days. Protection of tortoises, iguanas, and every other creature on the Galapagos means that the only local foods are from the few cattle ranches and from small-scale fishermen. Similar thoughts occurred to me as I was reading Moby Dick -- when the whalers in caught their first whale of the voyage, the cook was roused in the middle of the night to make a whale-meat dinner for some of the crew, who had strong ideas about just how the cooking should be done. These meats are no longer allowed as food for conscientious travelers.
Luxurious dogs that we were, to our roast iguana and terrapin stew we added the conger-eels, and craw-fish as large as our lobsters, and equally good. At the going down of the sun, a ravenous crew, seated on the convenient backs of terrapin, gathered about a feast to be treated by fork and spoon, not by stupid pen.
One can view these historic travelers who ate so many tortoises and harpooned so many whales as environmentally unaware, but we may be much worse: all our luxury derives from the use of oil. We fly, we travel in diesel or gasoline-powered taxis or ships, and we drink and bathe in desalinated water. Much of the food we ate was probably flown from the mainland. It's painful to think about the environmental result of our own actions -- currently destroying the Gulf of Mexico.