Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
To my dear friends and fellow Galapagos explorers from Preserving Nature’s Wonders,
I can’t believe summer is over and it’s already been so long since our wonderful Galapagos adventure came to an end. As I’ve continued my travels through south and central America, I often find myself reminiscing and sharing (ok bragging) about our experience on the islands. This past summer, like the Galapagos, was truly unique and extraordinary; something I will always remember.
I still get excited (and make lots of excited noises) thinking about all the incredible animals we got to live and work besides – marine iguanas, sea turtles, sea lions, tortoises, flamingos, and so many more. I still can’t believe we were walking and working amongst giant tortoises! However, the best part is knowing how much we helped those animals, and all the native species of the Galapagos, through our service work. I can’t believe we were actually able to almost finish clearing the entire tortoise enclosure at Campo Duro, giving the tortoises there the room they need to happily roam and graze. And finishing the baby tortoise enclosure so Campo Duro can begin taking in younger tortoises was a huge accomplishment – we worked on that project all summer! On San Cristóbal, it was so rewarding to see how much progress we made on the tree nursery project and the green house; that was just wild land at the start of the summer. I am also so impressed with how much mora and guava you guys were able to clear. Though the work was hard and sometimes tedious, we are now one step closer to getting native Galapagos species back in their native habitat. I know Wilfredo from Campo Duro, Carlos and his family, and all the other locals we interacted with are grateful for your service and all that you did to help restore and preserve their beautiful home.
I want to take a moment to let you know how appreciative and grateful I am as well. Working with your group was truly inspiring. You are such strong, smart, fun, passionate, and aware individuals who can and will have such a positive influence on the world; you already do. I will always remember the breathtaking beauty of the the islands, whether it’s in the mangroves, below the surface of the ocean, or on top of Volcan Sierra Negra. I will always remember the taste of fresh, juicy oranges picked straight from the tree (and eaten Ecuadorian style of course). And I will always remember playing with sea lions literally inches away from me in the beautiful Galapagos waters. But mostly, I will always remember you guys, and the incredible impact you had on both the islands and me. I will remember your unprecedented work ethic, your strong leadership, your acute environmental awareness, and your great drive to make positive changes in the world. Thank you for being a part of the most phenomenal summer I’ve ever had.
Here are some of my top recollections from our trip:
- When Iggy threw all his clean laundry into the harbor
- The tiny and adorable two-week old tortoise that the man at the breeding center brought out (casually in his pocket/hand because it was so small) for us to see up close
- Our first chow circle as one community – not individual groups. Shout outs left and right
- When Becca fell out of her handstand at the equator and the whole group was watching
- The snorkel relay (musical chairs, but with snorkels) and your dedication to winning house points
- When Audrey took out Iggy with the hammock in the middle of chow circle
- Your incredibly hard and consistent work at service throughout the whole program. You may not have realized, but overall you were the hardest working group we had all summer.
I wish you all the best,
Summer Blog Posts
“The whole group over looking Quito before their flight for the Galapagos”
Sunday August 7th, 2016
Our first morning together was full of breaking-the-ice games and an overview of the general rules/ the outline of the next two weeks. We then spent our day exploring old town Quito with our incredibly insightful tour guide, Diego. The adventure began with a bus ride and a long walk to the first jesuit church to be built in Quito, Compania de Jesus. The interior of the church was absolutely breathe taking with elaborate gold detailing and fascinating art work founded from the Ecuadorian revolution. From there we continued our tour to the El Panecillo Hill to view the incredible statue of the Virgen de Quito. Our busy day ended with ice cream and a relaxing evening at home base.
Monday August 8th 2016
Trecherous travel day began at 3 in the morning, with a full day of flights, buses, and boat rides. We finally arrived in the beautiful island of Isabella around 4 pm. We were all beyond ecstatic to see the sleepy sea lions, the active iguanas, elegant friggett birds, and the brilliantly red crabs surrounded in the volcaninc rocks and the clear blue water. It was an exciting first day on the island and we cant wait to get working!
– Olivia Stewart and Rosie Hense
Tuesday August 9, 2016
Today was the first day of service on Isabela island. We spent the morning working at Campo Duro in which we cleared weeds and helped rebuild portions of a fence all along side the tortoises. After finishing service for the day we played a game of soccer against eachother at the site. We then got to enjoy a short kayak ride to our first snorkel site of the trip. We saw sharks, penguins, sea lions, sea turtles, blue footed boobies, and lots of colorful fish. Proceeding this, we kayaked back to the beach and hung out with the sleeping sea lions and iguanas while eating delicious ice cream. We were ecstatic to then see a few month old baby sea lion enjoying the sun. At night we sat in a circle and discussed our reasonings for being here and what we will bring back with us. Tomorrow we look forward to another exciting day.
-Carolyn Maslanka, Leila Williams, Christina Orange
*The WIFI has been down, we will hopefully be able to get more blogs and pictures up soon*
Last day at work in Campo Duro. We have cleaned everything as this area in June was full of vegetation and the basics of the baby tortoises enclosure is set and awaiting the National Park staff who needs to see what is needed for the babies and how to put it to follow the guidelines of the breeding program. We have also managed to change a lot of the poles of the fence for the big enclosure that were going bad.
During the morning, had a chow circle at 6:50 AM which was shortly followed by breakfast at 7:00 AM. At 8:00, we were brought to Campo Duro by buses to continue our last day of service with the tortoises. Everyone helped pick weeds from the ground, build fences, and gather rocks to fortify the new fences in order to help both older and younger tortoises live a better life in the camp. After roughly three hours of hard work, everyone including the staff began to pick and juice fruits for the freshly made marmalade that a majority of the crew enjoyed. When we got back to our hotel, everyone was already hungry and tired. Fortunately, the great staff and the hotel had already prepared delicious meals and juices for everybody to enjoy. At 1:30 everyone was required to take a nap or be quiet for an hour because most of the people were tired from working in the camp.
After the nap, everyone was required to go to the beach and take part in the beach games which ended with Demetra, Shannon, and Alyssa’s group winning the clay sculpture of the blue footed booby. After the beach games, we had free time which allowed the people to made groups of three to wander around the beach to enjoy the beautiful sunset or travel around town for delicious food and beverages. After free time, everyone was required to meet back at the hotel to prepare for chow circle. At 6:50 during chow circle, a lot of shout outs were given out by everyone to everyone along with announcements for the night. Quickly following the chow circle, everyone gathered in the dining hall for dinner and had free time in the hotel until 8:00 PM, where the schedule for the next day was presented. After the meeting, everyone had free time again until 9:00 PM, where everyone is supposed to be in their room. Although “lights out” was 10:00, most of the people fell asleep before 10:00 PM due to the amount of energy used and fatigue gained. Overall, everyone had a blast of a day.
-Harvey M. and Ignacio C.
Today we went up to the top of the mountains in San Cristobal Island and started clearing invasive species of plants from the top. Later that day we went to snorkel with sea lions and sea turtles in a cove near town. Afterwards we rode the bus back to town where we ate pizza and went shopping. That evening we ate dinner and for our 8:00 meeting we went up the hill to a little building to go star gazing, along with telling scary stories. We then went into the old church to learn some “History” about the island. We hiked back to the camp and went to bed.
-Kaitlyn and Shannon
Monday August 15th, 2016
Today was the first day that we volunteered at our home base in San Cristobel. We took on many different jobs working to create a greenhouse at our home base.
Some of our jobs included digging holes, collecting plants, and fetching soil. While we were working we were introduced to two Ecuadorian girls who had come to volunteer on their own. After we finished volunteering and had eaten lunch, we took a bus to go snorkeling. The water at the snorkel site was absolutely freezing, but once we saw beneath the water, the temperature became irrelevant.
While we were snorkeling we met the most playful sea lion we have yet encountered. The sea lion was swimming circles around all of us, jumping out of the water, and genuinely enjoying life. When we finished snorkeling, we walked along the beach back to town, where we enjoyed some free time to eat some pizza and go shopping.
Later on in the night, we enjoyed dinner, a dance contest, and an in depth discussion about the state of our environment.