Photographer David Broad captured this stunning picture of a Galápagos penguin, the third smallest penguin in the world.


How could you have ever doubted your inner strength when you have given your friends and family such a great role model? You are amazing!


I just finished your book…loved it. Your style is easy to follow, and the tenderness w/ which you describe the Islands is lovely. I, of course, being an amateur photographer, would have loved more pictures. Your presentation at the “church” a couple of weeks ago was special enough for me to buy (and eventually) enjoy your work. Congratulations on all your accomplishments.  Kathy O

Questions and Answers

Question: Your subtitle is “A Personal Evolution.” How have you changed since taking this trip and writing about it?

Bette: Going to the Galápagos has helped me see my intimate relationship with all living things and my responsibility in preserving our heritage. I feel frustrated that I don’t have enough money to donate to all the causes I emotionally support. Al Gore’s film Inconvenient Truth reminds all of us what’s at stake if we don’t sacrifice. When I’m tempted to spray pesticides to wipe out the hoards of ants which track across our kitchen and bathrooms several times each year, I think of how petty my inconvenience is. Then I take out my vacuum and suck them up or use a non-toxic substitute.

Question: What did you learn through the trip?

Bette: I learned that dreaming about something never takes the place of doing it. I urge all armchair travelers, especially women¬and most especially older women¬to get out there and make your travel dreams reality. You may not consider yourselves adventurers, but you will never know how much grit you have until you put yourself to the test. You may be surprised. I know I was.

I became very aware of the danger humans bring to the islands, both the residents and the tourists. I learned that competition for resources is everywhere. Animals vs. animals, plants vs. plants; people vs. animals, plants and the government. I saw unique plants competing with invasive trees for their share of sunlight. I heard horrendous stories of tortoises and sea lions murdered by fishermen angry that their catch limits were preventing them from making adequate incomes. The Ecuadorian government has the difficult task of protecting this pristine environment. At the same time, the government must protect the rights of people to make a living – a problem faced by governments around the world.

Question: Has writing always been easy for you?

Bette: It’s never been easy. I get very nervous when I start a new project and this anxiety lasts until I’m totally immersed in whatever I’m writing. In the beginning, time drags and I give in to distractions¬-getting up to water plants, pick weeds, clean the kitchen. Later I lose track of everything outside my writing and get irritated when life interrupts and I have to leave the computer. Even though I’ve been told and have even taught students not to edit when first drafting, I search for the “right” word or phrase even at the beginning. For me-¬the search pays off because it makes me think about my topic or character in ways I might never experience otherwise. Very often, I ditch that “right” word before the end of the project during my many re-writes.

Question: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Bette: Being with family is at the top of my list. My husband and I are avid movie and theatre-goers, and as often as possible go out to eat with friends. I love visiting our daughters, Heather and Suzanne, in Oakland and Berkeley and getting together with their friends. Going birding with my daughters is a special love. Singing gives me a special high. For more than twenty years, as a member of the Friendship Connection, I’ve had the privilege of performing “Sentimental Journey” and other old standards in nursing and retirement homes. Reading is another favorite past time¬especially classics like A Movable Feast, by Hemingway and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.