Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pyramid Power

Galveston, Texas has a lot of things going for it: beaches, swimming, boating, fishing, lying in the sun, great places to eat and varied cultural attractions. However, we didn’t expect to meet Real Pirates on their ship, the Whydah, inside a bronze pyramid. The Whydah had been a
Aboard the Whydah
slave ship but because of its speed and responsive handling, Captain Sam Bellamy seized it making it his personal flagship. Interestingly, slaves on ships captured by pirates were given the choice of becoming part of the crew or being released in sight of land; many preferred the freedom of the open seas to the possible return to slavery on land. Later, loaded with treasure, the Whydah sank during a terrible storm off of Cape Cod. Legend has it that Captain Bellamy was returning to the woman he loved, planning to take her away with him. When we boarded no one was conscripting sailors or firing cannons, but we did get to tie knots in lines and play with authentic pirate treasure.

The two other pyramids at Moody Gardens were also entertaining.  In the aquarium pyramid
Lion fish, penguins, aquarium tunnel
sea lions, seals and penguins kept us entertained while they competed for fish. Although it appears that the animals are being trained as performers, the tricks for food keep them entertained and socialized. Coming to humans, allowing the humans to touch them, lying down, rolling over, jumping out of the water are all behaviors that are necessary to keep the animals healthy. These interactions with humans and specific behaviors allow veterinarians to examine and treat the animals without traumatizing them.  As we wandered through the myriad of aquaria, we saw many of our favorite critters without having to don our dive gear or even get wet ~ at least while we were inside. We spent the most of our time in the aquarium tunnel watching a variety of fish, including some fairly large sharks, swim by and over us.

The torrential rains added to the ambiance of the rainforest pyramid which is divided into two sections: one for birds and the other for butterflies. There are, however, other animals in this rainforest! Hidden in a dark cave fruit bats flitted back and forth feasting on apples, bananas, cantaloupes and oranges. Nearby, and behind glass, tiny vampire bats were hanging around, waiting for their meal; I wonder who it will be? Actually, in the wild these little guys prey on animals and only when the animal is asleep. And they really live in South America, not in Transylvania where there are no tropical forests. In this tropical forest, the plants were amazing 
Butterfly, parrots
as were two rather lazy monkeys. One was having a nap on the walkway while the other was greeting visitors from its perch on a tree limb. We also saw orchids on tree limbs and oodles of other flowering plants. These blossoms were visited by insect inhabitants of the rainforest, the butterflies. Some had wings with a riot of colors, while others were more sedate in their decorations. But all looked like large wet toothpicks as they emerged from their chrysalises. Once their wings dry and strengthen, they take flight tracing colorful patterns in the air.

If you’re in Galveston and you like seafood, there are lots of places to explore. From cheap to very expensive, you can eat your fill of local shellfish. Our favorite this trip was Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant. One of the pizza makers taught a little girl how to throw pizza dough, making all of the patrons envious of his skill and her enjoyment. Watching the light fade over the Gulf, drinking good wine, and eating excellent food was a wonderful way to end this Near-Normal day. 
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