An endangered world: the Galapagos Islands. What to do when tourist activity does both: threaten the islands' fragile environment while also helping the National Park's conservation efforts? Here I am visiting the giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island.

If I could do it all over again, I probably would aim for a career as a photographer for National Geographic. Instead, (...and now that I am in my 60s) I pay for my own travels and try really hard to look the part. And while my travels perhaps lack the excitement of slugging through knee-deep mud in tropical Amazonia, or the torturous wait to capture the mating dance of some exotic bird, I do share at least this objective with my "colleagues" at NG: to bear witness.

Having visited more than 120 countries and circled the globe numerous times, I am struck by the many misconceptions and half-truths we in the developed world use to guide our planet and its inhabitants through this crucial time in human history. To enlighten would be a tall order, so I settle for offering a glimpse into a less familiar world - a world where hope and despair occupy the same territory, a world where first impressions are a dangerous currency, a world that begs to be understood.

~ RT