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. With your help, by the end of the summer we were able to clear almost the entire tortoise enclosure at Campo Duro, giving the tortoises there the room they need to happily roam and graze. We also finished the baby tortoise enclosure, so Campo Duro can begin taking in younger tortoises! On San Cristóbal, we made great progress on the native tree nursery and almost finished the framework for the greenhouse. We also set a lot of the table legs inside the green house, so all the native seeds you guys sorted and put in soil will have somewhere to go once the greenhouse is complete. I also cannot believe 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 Camp Duro, the school children on Isabela, 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. Our trip together was truly incredible. You are such strong, smart, 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. Thank you for being part of the most phenomenal summer I’ve ever had.
Here are some of my top recollections from our trip:
- Watching you guys work together (some effectively, and some not so effectively) in Eyes, Body, Mouth
- Your hilarious and noteworthy commitment to birdie on a perch throughout the whole program
- When we got ridiculously close to blue footed boobies on the mangrove hike
- Playing soccer with everyone on the first day of service, despite my lack of soccer skills
- Chloe’s consistently entertaining sass and her surprise switch to Slytherine
- Watching you guys care for Lucas and take him in as one of your own
- Hearing about your favorite parts of the trip on our last night – so many of your trips were so positively impacted by each other, and that was awesome to see
I wish you all the best,
Summer Blog Posts
Friday July 22nd
We woke up and had chow cirlce and then had a breakfast which consisted of toast, eggs, and coffee. Following breakfast we met up as a group to play ice breakers as well as listed thing we wanted to include and exclude from our trip creating / signing it as a contract. We had free time where everyone gathered on the terrace and played card games. Before lunch we had another chow cirlce where we were introduced to booby on a pirch which is when either Ashe or Sam call “Boobie on a pirch!” the “boobie” has to find their “pirch” and make sure the boobie is off the floor. This can be called at anytime throughout the rest of the trip. For lunch we had chicken, rice, and vegetables in a yogurt sauce. Following lunch, we departed from the hotel and went on a walking tour of old town Quito. We visited the largest staute of the virgin mary in South America which is located on a hill in the middle of Quito. We got to climb all the way to the top of the staute and saw the breathtaking view of old town Quito. After this, we visited a church and learnt about the history of the city that stemmed from the influence of the Spanish, the native people of Quito and the Incas. After a quick stop for ice cream (which was DELICIOUS) our next stop was the center of old town Quito; a monument which symbolizes the independence of Quito from the Spanish Empire. We learnt that the exact center Quito was actually an emblem that was created by the Incas and placed on the floor of the square. Exhuasted from our walking otur of this beautiful city, we went back to the hotel and had a few minutes of free time before we had chow circle and talked about our experiences of the day. We had dinner of soup (with popcorn) and pasta with meat sauce, then went back to our rooms to pack for the busy day of travel tomorrow and get a good night of sleep.-Michelle and Christina
Saturday July 23rd
We had an early start to the morning at 4 am for breakfast and we were on our way to the airport by 4:30 am. It was an hour drive and most of everyone, as you can expect, was asleep. We got there, quickly checked our bags and got our boarding passes then waited at our gate for around an hour waiting for our plane to arrive and take us to our first stop: Guayaquiel (we don’t know how to spell it, sorry). Our second stop was a two hour plane trip away: Barta. After taking a bus to the other side of the island, a quick boat ride to another bus, then another two boat rides we finally arrived on Isabela Island and met our local tour guides. We splashed in the water after a quick meeting then had dinner and concluded with another chow circle led by us! -Michelle and Christina
Finally arrived to Isabela Island as we took a walk to the beach to look around and had a talk about our natural resources such as water and electricity. Beautiful end of a long journey.
Today’s morning hike to El Estero was perfect as the sun came up just in time as we entered the water where we had sea lions playing around while Pelicans and Bluefooted Boobies were hunting fishes just next to us. Amazing!
July 24, 2016
for our first morning in Isabella, we the started with a hike on the beach. The hike ended up at a mangrove beach that lead into the sea. We had our fist chance to get in the water and see blue footed boobies, pelicans, and sea lions. It was also our first day of working. we drove to a tortoise sanctuary 30 minutes outside of our hotel and got to work in their encloser. we got to see many giant torises up close, while we cleared their area of bushes and other weeds. It was amazing to see the animals. during a work break, we picked fresh oranges and squished the juices out. They were so full of flavor. once we finished working we played a game of soccer. dinner was chicken, rice, soup and juice.
Sawyer and Chloe
We were then greeted by a delicious breakfast of croissants, papayas, and bananas. Following breakfast, we boarded two buses that took us to the harbor where we first landed when we arrived at Isabella Island. As when we were there last time, sea lions laid in slumber on the beach, allowing us to get great photos of them. This is where our guides also took us on a tiring yet rewarding and fulfilling sea kayak tour. The “rewards” included an unusual amount of penguin sightings (SEVEN SIGHTINGS), sea lions swimming next to or under our kayaks, and the first fur seal sighting of the season! Our sea kayak tour ended in a rocky bay, where we hopped off the kayaks to snorkel. Though the water was cold and there were “technical difficulties” causing a few of us turn back to the kayaks, a majority of us were able to spot sea turtle after sea turtle, sting ray after sting ray, as well as schools of fish after schools of fish. Other sightings included puffer fish, eagle rays, and shark fins! On the way back to the harbor, some of us were able to spot even more sea turtles and sting rays. Our morning concluded with ice cream at a an ice cream bar not to far from the beach and sea lions basking in their sea lions ways under the mangrove trees at the beach. Lunch was also delicious, consisting of the typical soup as a starter (kuinua this time), typical rice, and other delicious homemade food. Just like yesterday, we cleared out invasive plants from the tortoise sanctuary during the afternoon. Besides that, we alternated between marking out the pen for baby tortoises and weeding. Our time at the sanctuary concluded with the second soccer game of the trip. This time, however, a few locals decided to play with us and had quite amazing talent and control of the ball. As usual, we all had a fun time playing. The day concluded with the usual awesome dinner and sharing of our reasons for why we came on this trip. A majority of the people shared a common love and admiration of the environment as well as getting out in the world to help out society.
-by Max and Pascal
We awoke at the crack of dawn to journey to the flamingo lagoon. A brisk walk then lead us to the tortoise breading center where hundreds of tortoises ranging from, egg to old age, roamed the grounds. New knowledge of this majestic animal was bestowed upon the growing minds of our captivated group. With the hour of extra time gifted to us, some chose to dip in the cerulean blue waters of the pacific ocean, while others chose to relax in the comfort of our home base hammocks. After a quick and luxurious lunch of vegetable soup and chicken, our next challenge confronted us; a hike to the upper reaches of the volcanic heart of this island, the mountain Cierra Negra. Thick fog engulfed our pathway for the first miles of our journey. breaching the upper limits of the clouds mist, the mountains top was finally in sight. Climbing this beast of a volcano, a view, like none other, was rewarded for our tiresome work. A nights feast of magnificent fried rice topped with plantains and accompanied by a spectacularly sour limeade helped rejuvenate our sore muscles and prepare us for tomorrows surely physically demanding activities of demolition, construction and marmalade production.
Hiking to Sierra Negra volcano with some fog but clear at the end. Súper day and everybody seemed to love the visit
On our last day in Isabella we had a morning of hard work at the school. We got there early to have as much time to do the work they asked. Some were asked to work on making a path where the natural wall would grow and others cleaned out the back. Working alongside the children was more than what anyone could ask for. Talking and laughing with them showed each and everyone of us why we came to do this in the first place. Meeting the principal of the school was amazing and inspiring. All he does for the children is wonderful and looking at how each and every one of them looks up to him was inexplicable. After saying goodbye to the children we went off to make some marmalade! We all came together as a team to grab as many oranges as we could and them start to make it. All of us together really showed how together we have grown. After that we had the rest of the day to ourselves! Playing at the beach and chilling in the hammocks of the hotel! (And eating empanadas…)
Today we had a pretty long day of travel. We had a boat ride from Isabela to Floreana which was about an hour and forty minutes. Floreana, one of the less inhabited islands in the archipelago was truly breathtaking. Its crystal blue waters and its sunny sky made it a wonderful view. We would stay there for about an hour and we made the best of it. We got to snorkel and swim along side of turtles and sea lions (keeping our distance of course). When we came out we were greeted by a playful baby sea lion who let us take pictures of him posing in hilarious ways. We left the beach to go eat lunch at a nearby restaurant where we ate some delicious food. After that we got back on the boat and took a three hour ride to San Cristobal where we would stay for the rest of our trip in the Galapagos. When we got there we had some time in town to buy some stuff and then went to the base where we ate and slept.
Luis and Oscar
July 29, 2016
Today we got up early and took a bus up to our new work site. When we got there we were handed machetes (I know, super cool right?) to help clear the invasive flora that was taking up space for giant tortoises to live. We all worked very hard and almost cleared the entire area. We then hiked back to the base in the beating sun to come home to a freshly cooked meal and to get ready for our next snorkel adventure. Then, we took the bus to la loberia and saw many sea lions (and were chased by a few of them) and sea turtles while snorkeling and relaxing on the beach. Next, we went into town to search for more souvenirs and get our daily dose of ice cream. Finally, we had a delicious pasta dinner followed by an exciting soccer game with our next door neighbors. Peace and ciao!
By Katie and Ayla
We woke up at 650 for breakfast which was toast and cereal. After breakfast, we took a bus to our service site where we cut and removed blackberry bushes from the ground. After service we walked back to our hostel and had lunch. We had some time to relax, about a hour, and then went to a really cool snorkeling area where we saw marine iguanas, sea turtles, and really beautiful fish. Then we hiked to a beach and played a game for about 10 minutes. Many people had fresh empanadas which were really good. Next, we had about a hour of free time around town. Many of us bought snacks and souvenirs. After, we took a bus back to base camp, had some time to relax, and then ate dinner.