Our last day in the Galapagos was one of the best. After another delicious breakfast we went to work just a couple feet away from our lodge. Since this was our last couple hours of community service, we worked hard to clear weeds and plant banana trees for the host family.
After work, we packed for a big BBQ on a beach called Porto Chino. The beach was breathtaking – white sand and crystal blue water surrounded by black rocks. Most of the group quickly threw their stuff onto the sand and headed straight for the water. The waves were huge and so much fun, and a couple people almost lost their bathing suits! Meanwhile others were tanning and reading, and Autumn built a huge tortoise out of sand!
For lunch we had grilled chicken, fresh guacamole, beans, and salad. After lunch we climb up to a beatuiful viewpoint of the beach. From there we could see sea turtles swimming along the coast. Before we left, a couple of us decided to go back into the water one more time. As we were enjoying the water, we spotted a shark swimming in a wave! Needless to say, we sprinted out of the water.
Back at the lodge, we enjoyed our last night in the Galapagos with dinner and a group activity. We discussed the ways that the Galapagos could be persevered, like limitng cruise ships and the amount of tourists that visit every year. It was a bittersweet night, but we were all excited to go to Quito again.
Service & Friendship
Today started with our classical breakfast which consists of peanut butter&jelly, fruit, and some eggs. After our breakfast we went to our work place to cut some invasive species such as black berries and Guayaba trees. Hanna and Lauren cut down this tree working together, it took a while but they did it! Oh yeah, one of the cool things that happened was how Sara and Kaylin created a path of their own through thorny blackberry bushes. The path that they cut lead to this humongous rock which they named as “the throne rock”. Today, I too, cut a tree, but unlike yesterday this time it took me like 5-6 minutes instead of 15 !
We also went to this secluded beach where sea lions swam and played. Although the beach was kind of smelly due to our big friends we liked it a lot. The tides were strong, and while Laney was sitting on the sands, listening to her music, calmly having fun, all of a sudden a wave came and let’s just say she had to get up with a wet bum afterwards… Me, Mark and Autumn started eating some chips while Nicole and Lauren were running along the beach and making us laugh with their imitations.
But I’m sure that the highlight of our day was our nightly group meeting. We shared and we cared for each other. Everyone told a little about themselves and in a way we realized how similar or different we were. Nonetheless we grew closer and enjoyed a nice walk under the moonlight (although everyone had flash lights -shhh!-) guided by our amazing guide Fabricio. Well, that nice walk was interrupted by a fun scare from our mentors Crystal and Liz. Anyway, I have to go now because once again we are leaving for work, buuut all of us are sending hugs hugs and more hugs :D! (Oh btw now everyone is sitting on the floor in a circle and listening to “I want you back”by Jackson 5, nice atmosphere …)
Friday morning we woke early, preparing for the big hike ahead of us. We made our own lunches, packed extra water, and then we were off. The hike started rainy and muddy, and a few of us slipped on mud, especially Laney and Zeynep. Soon the landscape changed to dry and rocky, and then we were surrounded by volcanic rock. Everyone enjoyed taking pictures of the beautiful view of the coast of Isabela. After 10 millers and 6 hours, we were all exhausted and went to bed early.
Saturday was our last full day at Campo Duro and Isabela. We finished cleaning up the green house, and then we made marmalade with fresh passion fruit, papaya, and oranges. We enjoyed lunch at the camp and said good bye to the tortoises. Back at home base the entire group participated in scavenger hunt around town. We had to collect things like coconuts and grocellas, and take pictures of landmarks. After a close race, Zeynep, Laney, Lauren, Alex and John won. Afterwards the entire group cooked dinner, which consisted of delicious fajitas and humus. Everyone bonded over these last few days, and we’re all excited to continue the adventure!
To begin another adventurous day in the Galápagos Islands the group got up bright and early to continue our work at the tortoise sanctuary. After clearing out a breeding lagoon and picking out invasive species, we went to a beach where the group split into two and switched between snorkeling and kayaking. While snorkeling, we got up close with some Galápagos penguins and friendly sea lions! The kayaking was also a blast because some people fell out of the kayaks and/or capsized!! The next activity involved volleyball at the beach with some local kids and playing a group game called “mafia.” At night we ate great food and had free time to shop around the town. Overall, a great day!!
-Kaylin and Sara
A Full Day
With an early start and a deliciously filling breakfast, we headed on our first day on Isabela to work at the tortoise conservation centre ‘Campo Duro.’ Most of our work consisted of continuing to build a lagoon and removing invasive plant species from the sanctuary. After a couple of hours of work, we took a break to eat some fresh oranges and papayas and a game of soccer with the local directors which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Then it was time to head back to the hotel and have a hearty lunch of fish, rice and plantains. We then visited a local monument called ‘ the wall of tears’, we were all intrigued to learn from our tour guides that the wall was named after the very back-breaking and cruel work the prisoners of the island during the 40s and 50s had to endure whilst constructing the wall of heavy volcanic rocks. We were lucky enough to be able to enjoy the beautiful views that Isabela has to offer before heading off to a nearby mangrove spring and volcanic tidal cave. It was incredible to see such diverse natural structures within such a small area. We finished our afternoon with a walk on the beach and a team building game involving quick thinking and lots of laughter! In the evening our group split up to explore the town before meeting back at the hotel for dinner and spent some time unwinding and reflecting on an amazing first day in the Galapagos.
–Case and Tally
Standing on the Equator
Today was our first entire day together as a group. A few of us arrived very late Sunday night while the rest of us were sleeping so in the morning some more introductions were made. Once we were all together as a group and had a nice breakfast, we hoppoed on the bus and headed to the equator line! The first thing we did was meet Paola who guided us through the Inti Nan museum where we learned about shrinking heads, a traditional burial in a Tola, how they built their houses, and many, many other interesting things.
All GLA students have all arrived safely in Ecuador. Check back frequently for blog updates and photos from the road!