Thursday July 18, 2019
18 students have arrived to Ecuador! Our last arrival will be arriving Friday.
After a long day of travel everyone was excited to check in to our first home base in Quito! Tomorrow we will sleep in (a little!) before starting orientation and then exploring the city.
The group already has awesome energy, and we are excited to begin this adventure. Galapagos here we come! 🙂
Update from International Director, Allie
Friday July 19, 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 focused on group and individual goals for the next 2 weeks on island!
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 truffles!
Back to homebase for supper before packing and early bedtime! We picked up our last student and we have a complete group with 19 students total!! Headed to the Galapagos first thing tomorrow morning!!!
Saturday July 20, 2019
After two flights and a short boat ride we had finally arrived in Santa Cruz. Everyone was very excited about the day ahead. Some took videos for social media while others watched the passing scenery. The first bus ride was forty five minutes long but the enthusiasm had not dropped one bit, even as rain trickled down during our bus ride. The greenery was very abundant with flora popping up here and there and there were a few chickens straggling from their kind. As we entered a zone, the guide informed us of the chance of glimpsing at wandering tortoises. In fact we saw a couple. Along the way a few cow families were seen in passing and all the girls oohed and ahed in a swooning fashion. The rest of the first bus ride went on in an uneventful manner.
As we arrived in a town we stopped for a break and lunch. Viewing the sea as the waves lightly tapped rocks and a sea lion’s young who fed off the nutrients of the mother; it was quite a sight to behold on a simple wooden dock. The boat ride was relatively calm since most fell asleep within the first hour. Towards the end however, sea lions and penguins could be seen on the jagged cliffside and mini platforms floating aimlessly in the bay. The bus ride to the place of our stay on Isla Isabela was full of serenity but before that, everyone stopped to greet the marine Iguanas lying about sporadically across the pathway.
Later in the day after we unpacked, we went to the beach. The turquoise blue water bounced around playfully making foam in its path. Some decided to buy coconuts from the local store and one even as bold as to chug the coconut water.
After dinner we all did an activity to get to know each other better. The main point was to identify two traits that Identify yourself. This allowed us to connect on a deeper level than just acquaintances would. All in all the day was hugely productive.
-Leader of the day
Sunday July 21, 2019
Today we started with some light rain and a great breakfast. We left for our hike at around 8:00 and saw lots of new animals. The highlight for me had to be when a giant tortoise hissed at Patrick and he jumped a solid 3 feet in the air.we hiked back and got ready for our debate after lunch, arguing a hypothetical situation in whaling, it got very intense. We ended the day with a soccer game against the locals kids, and a great meeting at the end of the day.
Monday July 22, 2019
Waking up fresh and relieved from a nights rest, many of our Galapagos crew joined our splentastic Mentors for some fun yoga. Today was the day we would go snorkeling on the Island of Isabella. We had heard since our arrival in Quito the snorkeling was magical over there, I never knew it would be some of the best snorkeling of my life.
When we arrived we split into two groups, one would Kayak to their snorkel zone and the other would take a bridge to a magical lagoon that had all sorts of critters. Afterwards, we would switch activities. Although the water was cold, the wild life was well worth the suffering. Wonderful sea lions twirling around us in the water, scary sharks creeping along the ocean floor, beautiful sea turtles snacking on nearby seaweed, patches of sting rays looking for a calm swim, and exotic fish were among the amazing things we were blessed to observe this day.
In the afternoon we all went to see the giant tortoise in their breeding habitat. It was an awesome time full of fun, wonder, and excitement. With our guide, Wilson, explaining to us the history and science of these fantastic and unique creatures, we were able to learn and experience the giant tortoise.
They were the cutest little things, always playing around with their brothers and sisters or just lying down and chilling the sun. It was truly an amazing experience and one I will cherish for the rest of my life. Chilling with my friends and walking back to the hotel along the beach was like living in a post card. I will never forget this day and can not wait to have many more experiences like this with the Galapagos crew.
Tuesday July 23, 2019
Hey guys my names Francine Diaz and I was the group leader for July 23! Today, we had to get up bright and early and after a long day to eat breakfast and depart the beautiful Isabella island. We have been at our hostel for a couple of days so leaving the welcoming and lively neighborhood was difficult. Even though we got to the dock around eight, we still left at around nine and began our expedition to Santa Cruz.
After navigating treacherous waters and getting splashed here and there, about 2 hours and a half later we saw land! At Santa Cruz we arrived to our new home base and ate a delicious meal before heading to our first service site! At reserva del chato we split into groups which included bulldozing rocks/transporting,planting endemic trees and cleaning around the reserve. Watching tortoises eat guavas happily while we recreated stability in their environment was the highlight of my day. That and losing a bet to Tyler which ended in him chucking a guava at my white T-shirt. Sorry mom.
After some service, we stopped at a farm nearby and watched the cutest cows spring through their home. We had one more delicious meal before we wrote in our journals and departed for the bay at night. At the town, we all bargained our ways through stores and bought an array of souvenirs including galapagos themed shirts, reversible bucket hats and even matching Ecuador bracelets at only $1! On our way back, we posed in front of a convenience store after exploring its merchandise and headed back to our hostel. After a long day we quickly reviewed our schedule and all drifted away to bed awaiting our next adventure.
Thursday July 25, 2019
We began the day by sitting down to have breakfast altogether before heading out to a cool crack in the earth where we swam and were able to see many fishes, eels and rock formations. Although it was fun we were only allowed to stay in the water for forty five minutes because if the rules set by the national park where the crack in the earth is.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped by the ice cream shop before rejoining back at the hotel to get some lunch before heading out to our last day of service. During service we got the chance to clear a lot of area and plant many native plants. After service we had delicious dinner and headed out into town to do some shopping in Santa Cruz for the last time before going back to the hotel and packing.
Friday July 26, 2019
Hello friends and family!!!
Today, unfortunately, we had to leave the beautiful island of Santa Cruz to start our new adventures in San Cristobal. After many of us were soaked in sea water on another two hour long boat ride, we finally arrived at our new home base and settled in. We then experienced a delicious lunch and embarked on our quest to last service session at a school.
We repainted the gym court as the principal had asked our guides to help the community out with this endeavor. We hung out near the hammocks in our new hostal and had some time to play a game in teams after dinner. We finished the night with a group picture and some great views of the stars. 🙂
-by Richard and Victoria
Today we went to an exhibition after breakfast on our way to the snorkeling spot. While we were walking there Ava D got chased by a sea lion. While snorkeling we saw blue starfish, a sea turtle, and a marine iguana swimming and eating algae (which the guides say they’ve only seen once!).
The sea lions were feeling playful so they swam with us and got super close. The water was cold so most people didn’t stay in long and opted for tanning on the rocks instead. After a nice lunch we went to a beautiful beach with lots of sea lions laying down and rolling in the sand. After dinner we did a group leadership activity discussing our inner critics.
Leader of the day: Whitney!