Hey there from Quito!
All of our group have arrived safely with a few flight delays along the way which left everyone pretty tired. Today we learned about our programme and are about to set off and explore Quito. Will keep you posted!
-Eimear, International Director
After spending two days in Quito we said adiós to mainland Ecuador and continued our journey to the archipelago known as the Galápagos. Most of today was spent traveling, we started our day at 5am and headed for the airport and flew to Isla Baltra. Once we arrived we took a small boat to Isla Santa Cruz and then hopped on a bus for an informational ride to our next boat. The boat ride was long and fun for most of the campers but made a few sick. We eveintually arrived at Isla Isabela where we immediately were immersed in wild life such as large iguanas and friendly sea lions. The animals on the islands are not bothered by the people whatsoever and is reminiscent of something out of National Geographic. We settled into our hotel and took a small tour of the town and watched a beautiful sunset on the beach and ate a delicious meal. We are all looking forward to the rest of our journey and service and will continue to keep you updated.
We woke up at 7 and had breakfast and went on a walk to the wetlands where we saw iguanas and saw sea lions in the water. We went swimming just a few feet away from a few sea lions in a pool that was part fresh water and part salt water. We also walked into a dark cave that was filled with water. We walked back and had lunch at the hotel and then we went to service in Campo Duro. We worked on getting rid of invasive species for the tortoises in the reservation. We pulled weeds and cut down trees to make space for the plants that the tortoises feed on. After service we played soccer with our group and then we came to back to the hotel to eat dinner before having mentor groups and going to bed.
Grace H and Grant
July 7th, 2017
Today we were awoken by some lovely outdoor noises including a rooster with a set of lungs and lots of construction. After breakfast the group went to a school to repaint it. We had to sand the walls and exterminate all cob webs, which Alek took control of due to being 6’5″. Then we started painting both the inside and the outside of the story room. Afterwards, we played soccer with the local students and drove them home. After lunch, we went in groups to the beach and to explore the town- everyone had a wonderful time playing in the waves and spending money (sorry mom). Later we played a soccer game against the best local team. The first game against people of similar age resulted in our failure, however we did succeed in beating the 10 year olds. We then returned to home base for a home cooked meal and ended our day on the terrace.
~ Alek & Sammi
We woke up our peers with a motivating message-crazy frog, the most inspiring song in the whole world. Once everyone had arisen, we began our joruney with a healthy & nutritious breakfast. Fueled up & ready to rumble, the youngin’s put on their life jackets & hopped on in that water. As they drifted together using the buddy system, they safely maneuvered through the crystal clear waters of the galapagos. They encountered many new aquatic beings, including but not limited to sea lions, turtles, reef sharks, fish, penguins, & the occasional wild tourist drifting around with their gopros. Once we were all tuckered out, we began our treck back to the tortoise sanctuary-who had some bomb lemonde may I add. As the leaders of the day Hailey & Abigail supported their family by reminding them to HYDRATE & reapply sunscreen. Even though yesterdays leaders were very negative towards our methods of leading-they eventually appreciated our ways and took notes in case they were ever leaders again. We peacefully hand over our torch to Lily & Grace D. who will also be better than Nicholas Robert Daniel Triggs & Isidoro Anderson John Giles Bento.
July 19, 2017
After a long 2 hour boat ride to Floreana from Isabella island consisting of massive waves and nauseas stomachs, then snorkeling in crystal clear waters, while some decided to bask in the sun on the black sand beaches. While snorkeling, our group encountered lots of sea turtles. After staying at floreana for 2 and a half hours, we then set off for San cristobal island. After arriving at San Cristobal, our group had the opportunity to explore the town for an hour. Then We took a bus to our hotel in the highlands!
Grace D and Lilly
(There is very low connectivity, it will get better in the coming days. More pictures soon)
Day 10 arrived with the induction of Kate Uray and Colee Zheng as GLA leaders of the day. They were immediately inducted into the hall of fame for being some bomb leaders. We started off our morning at 6:15 am and woke up our fellow GLA members to nurturing care and unconditional love. Being the dynamic duo we are, Kate gave out caramel candies to people that answered the wake up call while Colee pillaged the rest of the group with the endless supply of horse poop she gathered from the service hikes. We had a beautiful breakfast of banana pancakes, toast, cereal, granola and fruit (all imported from the Galápagos Islands). Some people opted for the alternative of downing the entire Nestle hot chocolate package, but hey, we don’t judge.
In order to get to service, we trekked up the side of a mountain range in our sneakers and hiking boots that we wore on the bus. As we descended the steps of the bus, each of us grabbed a machete and a plant to later be planted in the shape of the GLA Leaders of the Days faces. Working swiftly, we de-mossed and cleared around 20 trees. Finally, the rest of the group put on their work gloves and joined in. After being encompassed by the amazing mountain top view, our service ended with a hike down towards the lodge followed by a delicious lunch consisting of popcorn drizzled with soup, rice, lentils, salad, and something that wasn’t vegan.
We then brushed up on our extensive knowledge of Galapagonean Evolution (?) by visiting a museum that was on the same path as our snorkeling spot. Although the best GLA Leaders of the Day have a reputation of being punctual, we decided to allot some of our time so that the group could enjoy a gorgeous view of the endless ocean horizon and the docks of San Cristobal.
Snorkeling was especially risky but nothing was too much for the GLA Leaders. Always putting our team before us, we individually carried each GLA member down the slippy stairs and into the water where we spotted sea lions, sea turtles, and schools of fish.
We then walked into town where people were allowed to shop for souvenirs or dine at San Cristobals finest restaurants. After a long day, the grind had to come to a stop with a delicious, generous dinner provided by the La Soledad staff accompanied by an adorable, friendly dog.
After dinner, Colee stayed at home base cause the grind never ends. Meanwhile, Kate valiantly went out to represent her state at a soccer tournament with those daring enough to play. Shane and Nick were given the honor of team captains and split the teams up. Shane was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play with Kate on his team. Her rock solid defense even earned her the nickname “The Great Wall of New Jersey”. A few of the locals tried to face her, joining the teams. Alas, they failed like all the others. Feeling pity and caught up in the beautiful view of the Galapagos, Kate decided to let Nick’s team score the last goal and win (though the score will clearly indicate Shane/Kate’s team the victors).
Back at base, Kate bravely fought off every bug scheming in the GLA members room. What a gal. After the best day of the trip so far for everyone, Kate and Colee handed their crown off the Liza and Melissa. History will remember this.
Even though we were still mourning the loss of Abi’s spider babies, we made the best out of day 11. We started off the day with a new meal: ham and cheese sandwiches for our 7:00 breakfast. After breakfast, we had a workshop. We began by watching an eye-opening documentary about the effects of plastics in this age and on future generations. Diana and Eimear set up a “Shark Tank” activity where we were put in groups and presented ideas about how we could solve the problem of plastic. When we finished the activity, we went to tree nursery at home base for service. Some people set up planting stations, some prepared soil for the trees, others watered the plants, and we all helped move them in the end. It was a smooth process over all, with a few bumps along the way in the form of spiders. After a quick pasta lunch, we headed to the beach, where most tanned alongside countless sea lions and a few swam with sea turtles.
After about an hour, everyone headed into town, and people split up to get food, shop for souvenirs, and explore the town. Most met up around 5:30 at an amazing donut shop to try the famous caramel filled chocolate glazed donuts, which were cheap and delicious. At 5:45, we took a bus back to home base for a barbecue dinner! Dinner today was the most unique because everybody got to split one big Galapa-lobster. After everyone settled after dinner, we gathered around a bonfire and each person shared one of their favorite memories from the trip. After all the laughs and nostalgia, our awesome mentors surprised us with s’mores! Sadly, we had to end today with packing and wrapping up our time on the islands, but everyone has lots of great memories to bring home!
-Melissa and Eliza
Today wasn’t much of an eventful day. After many mixed emotions, the group reluctantly yet cheerfully departed from our spider and bug infested hotel. After last night’s bonfire, many of us cherished the memories we shared on the islands as we walked from the terminal gate to the plane outside, and set off on our voyage back to the capital of Ecuador. Our time together is dwindling down, and as the first one to leave (with a flight at 1am on the 23rd), I can easily say relishing the time with my peers for the last time is a very difficult task. Though tomorrow is a new, exciting day adventuring throughout the streets of Quito, many of us dread the parting goodbyes of that night. However, we cannot forget that GLA has taught us not to dwell in the relics and memories of old adventures, but to smile for the stories we can cherish, and the beginning of new chapters. We do not cry because it is over, but smile because it happened.