Can you believe how fast the time has flown since we parted ways back in the summer?! What an emotional goodbye after a whirlwind of a trip to the Galapagos. From the bustling streets of Quito, to lazy days chilling with sea lions on the beach, we hope you remember our two weeks together and all the memories we created together!
Below are some of the best moments from our time together:
Orientation on the roof (when we all were strangers)
Our tour of Quito – especially the chocolate tasting (that 100% cocoa bar)!
Lots of time on planes and boats – extra time on the way to Santa Cruz!
The amazing veggie pizza the first day in the Galapagos
Kayaking and snorkeling with sharks and ray on Isabela Island
Hanging out in the hammocks at our home bases
Working alongside giant tortoises and that amazing lunch at el Chato
Cooking dinner together – pasta, sauces, garlic bread, and salad!
Free time exploring the downtown areas – and that artisanal ice cream
Making reusable T-shirt bags at the recycling center (are you using it instead of plastic??)
Swimming with sea lions at las Tijiretas –in the brisk water
The wonderfully relaxing beach days – at Punta Carola and La Loberia
Our Salsa Class!
The Quito market – all those colorful souvenirs
Our delicious last lunch at Crepes and Waffles!
The last goodbye, watching the slideshow of our trip together!
We hope you have continued to reflect on your GLA trip – especially on the ways you can continue to be an ambassador for the environment and a leader in your home community. A group OMG goal was to use less plastic, specifically “don’t prioritize convenience, prioritize the environment”.
“You will never be completely at home again. Because part of you heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”.
Allie, Lexi, Hakan, Wilson, and Fernando
Saturday August 3, 2019
Its arrival day, it’s arrival dayyyy! We’re so excited everyone has arrived safe and sound! We have 2 students who arrived earlier this morning, enjoyed a beautiful Quito sunset and 2 more who are being picked up by our all star local director at 2am! The other 12 arrived in great spirits, ate an empanada, and we’re headed to homebase!
Sunday August 4, 2019
What a great first day in Quito! We all started the day with a traditional Ecuadorean breakfast and instant coffee! Orientation was held on the terraza and students learned more about their surrounding environments,
important GLA info and rules, and played a few name games to get to learn all 16 students!
Lunch was served at noon, with soup to start! After everyone was full and happy we headed out for a city tour, stopping first at the Panecillo, the angel on top of the hill before seeing the Golden Cathedral, walking the colonial streets of Quito, visiting a local bee shop, and my personal favorite, the chocolate tour where we all had passion fruit and blackberry truffles!
Back to homebase for supper before packing and introducing mentor groups -our leadership activities! Headed to the Galapagos first thing tomorrow morning!!!
Monday August 5, 2019
Today we made the 600 mile and 12 hour journey from Quito to Isabel Island. At 6 am, we left our hotel and drove to the airport. Across mountain passages overlooking sheer cliffs, we finally made it with all the luggage in tow. Our flight was beautiful-seeing Quito sprawled in its cozy valley was absolutely stunning, and so were the islands from above. We landed on Baltra smoothly around noon where our luggage was tagged and our veggies were certified as clear to enter.
We went from bus, to boat, to another bus, to a smaller boat, before finally arriving at the speedboat that took us across from Santa Cruz to Isabel. Along the way we saw pufferfish, sea lions, and many types of finches. Tired, hungry, and a little unkempt, we arrived at our final destination: the hotel. After a great dinner and some group meeting time, we headed to bed in order to prepare for tomorrow!
-by Jess N.
Tuesday August 6, 2019
As the leader of Day 3, it was very fun describing and planning out the day for my mates. In the beginning of the day, I felt like a true leader when others would ask me about the structure of the day. The first activity was taking an 8 mile hike in a beautiful trail near the ocean. We began on the beach and walked toward the center of the island. We learned a lot about endemic animals and plants that grew in the island, as well as very entertaining stories about how the islands reached their independence.
During the hike, our guide decided to let us go up a mountain to see the island from a bird’s eye view. It was astonishing how amazing the view was; other islands and the unique terrain was very nice and rewarding after hiking so much. After experiencing other landmarks, we began to head back to the hotel.
After some free time, that I decided to take a nap during, we had a delicious lunch consisting of soup and fish. Following lunch, a very fun activity was organized by our mentors discussing how to solve the problem with invasive species in the Galápagos Islands. We spent an hour on this activity debating the priorities of saving native species over invasive animals that were sent here by humans, without consent.
The second to last activity was definitely the most fun activity that I experienced the last few days. A soccer game between a local team and us was held during that evening. It was very enjoyable playing with a good team, even though we didn’t give them much competition. Everyone played their hardest and our team managed to score at least 7 goals against the locals.
The last activity of the day was very exciting, it was a speed name game against each other. After a lot of laughs and excitement towards our friends’ forgetfulness when under pressure, we were soon dismissed; and got ready to sleep.
Leader of the day: Marcelo
Wednesday August 7, 2019
What an adventure we had today! Today we went to a tortoise sanctuary and headed out to the shore to snorkel and kayak. At the tortoise sanctuary we learned about tortoises, saw baby ones and lots of grown ones. Plus it was feeding day!! Then, while we were snorkeling we saw sharks, different types of rays, lots of fish, and tons of sea turtles! Overall it was an amazing day with lots of new experiences.
– by Madison
Thursday August 8, 2019
Bright and early this morning, several of us headed down to the beach for yoga. This relaxing session of morning beach yoga prepared us for the busy day ahead. Following breakfast, we departed Isabela Island at 10:00 AM and headed for Santa Cruz. Just when we thought the 2 hour boat ride was almost over, we ran out of gasoline and the boat came to a stop. The combination of the rocking boat and the smelly gasoline made many people feel nauseous.
Eventually, a taxi boat came to the rescue with a full load of gasoline, and we carried on to Santa Cruz. Luckily, none of us had gotten too sick. Upon arrival to the island (1:45 PM), we took a quick bus ride to our hostel. As soon as we got to the hostel, we had lunch and got ready to go to the service site, El Chato. It was a quick 30 minute bus ride to El Chato. Once we got there, we all enjoyed some free Galapaguean coffee and tea under the pavilion before heading off to work. For the service work, our goal is to cut down invasive tree species and replace them with endemic tree species.
While we were working along side the giant tortoises, not many of us had much time to notice as we were either collecting rocks to surround the new trees with, or cutting and removing the invasive trees. We worked at El Chato for about 3 hours before heading back to the hostel. The fun ride back was full of music and singing. As we were all very dirty and sweaty from working hard, many of us took showers before it was dinner time (7:00 PM).
Following dinner, we previewed our schedule for the next day and took a little survey on how we feel about everything so far. Then, a majority of the group decided to go into the town to shop and eat ice cream. Bed time was as soon as we got back from town as we have a full day of service work tomorrow!
– by Anna
Friday August 9, 2019
Full service day!!!
After our brief (but delicious) mini-pancake breakfast, the group headed out to the reserve. We continued the bush clearing and rock moving work we started the day before. It was hard work, but the difference we were making felt good. After the delicious lunch, we toured the expansive lava tunnels snaking beneath the ranch.
After that, back to work. A planting group moved behind the clearing group, filling the area with local saplings. Finally, when the service day was done, the group visited the magnificent twin sinkholes. Everyone is tired, dirty, and covered in bites, so we’ll need to rest well for the final day tomorrow.
Today we started with a bit more rest than usual due to a long days work yesterday and a late wake up today. After wake up, we headed to a beautiful swim spot, los grietas, and swam around for an hour before we had to sadly leave due to national park regulations. We also visited an açaí café where we enjoyed rest and games. After lunch, we headed to do our final day of service in the island of Santa Cruz. By the end of the day, we ended up planting eighty endemic plants. After dinner we went back into town where we enjoyed our last night in Santa Cruz and a scavenger hunt to celebrate one of our fellow service members birthday. Happy birthday Andrei.
Written by Alex and Caroline
Sunday August 11, 2019
Today, we woke up bright and early for our boat trip from Santa Cruz Island to our last island, San Cristobal. We then settled into our home base and enjoyed snacks and lunch with our beautiful new view. After lunch, we hiked to the interpretive center where we learned about the history of the Galápagos Islands. Our hike then continued to a beautiful snorkel spot where we saw sea lions, sea turtles, a sting ray, sea cucumbers, and other fascinating marine life. Following our hike back, we watched the beautiful sunset from the roof of our new home base, and then enjoyed dinner. After dinner, we planned what we are going to bake tomorrow night and enjoyed a family game night. What a fantastic day!
Written by Jessica Cohen and Alfonzo Almaraz