Friday July 26, 2018
Today was the first full day in Quito (at least for the half of the group that arrived yesterday!) because of late arrivals, we had a relaxing morning and with a few games, get to know you activities, and a mini orientation. The 7 who were here continued on with the schedule as planned and visited the supermarket for snacks, ate a traditional Ecuadorian almuerzo, then headed off to the city to explore central Quito. We got to go up to the Panecillo, which is a statue of the Virgin Mary which sits at the top of the hill overlooking Quito. It was a beautiful 360 degree view of the city and although it was a bit windy up there, we were all impressed by the view. Following this, we stopped by the Basillica which is the biggest cathedral in the city. We also visited La Compañía church which is a Jesuit Church designed in Baroque style and the entire inside shines brightly of gold. We visited the central square and presidential palace, and then got to go to a chocolate shop where we learned about the process of making chocolate. We even got to taste a few! It was delicious!! Back at the hotel, we ate a chicken, rice and lentil dinner and then played telephone Pictionary while we anxiously awaited the arrival of the rest of the group. The group arrived late in the evening, exhausted after a rough two days of travel, cancelled flights, an overnight in Miami, and delayed luggage. But we are all so excited that the group is together, including Zixuan who arrived passed midnight, and that we are headed to the Galapagos in the morning!!
Next post will be from the Galapagos.
Amy and Maria Fe
Friday July 27, 2018
Today we spent the day traveling and we were tasked with bringing a bag of vegetables. This is because vegetables are hard to come by on the island. To start our journey we flew to the Galapagos. We were picked up from the airport to be dropped off at a location where a boat would pick us up. While we waited for the boat, we observed iguanas stacking on top of each other, sea lions chillin in the sun and a couple of sharks. We took the boat to the island we’d be staying on and after another short bus ride we arrived at hostel we’d be staying at. All the while protecting our bag of vegetables. It was a long day but the beauty of the final destination made it worth it.
Aidan Wolf – Leader of the day
Sunday July 29, 2018
During breakfast, anticipation filled the dining room as we prepared to experience snorkeling in the Galápagos for the first time. Soon enough, the bus arrived and students rushed out the door with snorkels, sunscreen and wetsuits in hand. As soon as we arrived, the group was split into two. Half of the students started their day by kayaking out towards the reef where penguins, sharks, stingrays and parrot fish greeted us. The other half snorkeled in a small lagoon filled with massive sea turtles and benevolent sea lions while waiting for their turn on the kayaks.
After an active morning watching sea lion pups on the sand, we headed to Home Base to prepare for our second day of community service and a delicious lunch on the worksite. There, we rejoined our team and set to work. The teams pulled weeds, improved the tortoises’ enclosures, and impressively uprooted colossal dead tree trunks. After the tree trunks had been rooted and the holes refilled, the tortoises hurried to lay in the soft, freshly churned soil. It was very cute.
We were famished and covered in dirt after the active morning and productive afternoon. Soon after returning to home base, the group joined for a lovely dinner of fried plantains, avocado salad, and fried fish. When the evening ended, the group could all agree that the day was all roses and no thorns.
Jenna Holbrook – Leader of the day
Monday July 30, 2018
Today in the morning we went on an 8 mile hike. The hike started out on flat ground, and we walked through many cool plants, including cacti. We also saw many iguanas, lizards, and even some large tortoises along the side of the trail. Along he way, we played many fun games and riddles and got to know more about each other. We trekked for three miles until we reached a large hill. Many of us decided to climb the hill to the lookout point where we had an amazing view of the land around us and the ocean.
We then went back down and kept walking until we reached the Wall of Tears. We learned about the history of the wall and took in its historical importance. We finally walked to another hill, and some of us climbed it to another incredible lookout point. We climbed back down and hiked back together. At the end of the hike, we went to a beach on the side of the trail and relaxed there for a little bit.
We got back to the base house and all napped since we were very tired from long hike. We ate lunch, and then prepared for our soccer game against a local team. We got to the field and started warming up. The local team was very good and so we lost, but we put up a good fight and played hard and it was very fun.
We had some free time before dinner so many of us decided to go explore the town near our base house. We saw all the local stores and people hanging out and also sat on the beach for a little bit.
That night after dinner, we all got together and took turns sharing our life experiences and things in our lives that shaped us into the people we are today. It was really great getting to hear about everyone else’s experiences and getting to open up to everyone else.
Kyra Resnicow – Leader of the day
Tuesday July 31, 2018
Today is the 7th day that we are in the Galapagos. Only one week left for us to explore nature’s wonders! In the morning, with comfortable sea breezes, we walked to a school on Isabela Island preparing to do community service there. Our job was to repaint the basketball field and walls for the current students. We divided into three groups for painting different areas of the basketball field.
Since the students have a different school session than us, they are still in school now giving us a chance to interact with them and to practice speaking Spanish during our break time. We spent the whole morning doing painting and finished all of the work on time. Most of us found painting a relaxing experience from all the physical activities we have done earlier. The purpose of this community service is to remind us being aware of the residents’ living conditions on this island. Not only the precious animals on this island should be protected and preserved, the current residents that spend all their lifetime on this island are also a necessary part of this program that needs us to consider and help.
Katia Hincks and Zixuan Zhao – Leaders of the day
Wednesday August 1, 2018
Hello GLA families!
Sorry for the delayed blog updates, our internet on the islands was especially challenging in the last few days.
August 1st we started off the day by waking up the boys by banging on their door at 6:45 am. We went straight to the docks to start our refreshing two and a half hour boat ride from Isabela island to Santa Cruz. After the enjoyable boat ride we had a quick lunch and continued right on into our service work. Our task today was to plant trees that restored the natural indigenous plants at the tortoise center. Although half of our group was feeling tired because of the Dramamine from the previous boat ride, we got to work beside the largest moving rocks in the world, Galapagos tortoises.
After planting some trees, we made our way back to our home base. There we ate dinner then we began our search for ice cream in town. We finally found a good ice cream place where we were all able to enjoy something we have been craving this whole trip. After the satisfaction the ice cream brought, we decided to take a walk down to the pier. There we were all staring at 5 black tipped reef sharks as they corralled a school of fish. We then got the pleasure to see a sea turtle swim underneath the dock. The best part though, in my opinion, was the momma sea lion and her pup waddling up to the pier from the docks and walking within a foot of me. Only in the Galapagos.
Emma and Lily – Leaders of the day
Thursday August 2, 2018
Today we worked again at the turtle preservation center. We continued collecting rocks in order to protect new planted trees that provide food for the tortoises. The tortoises are gigantic and will knock over the young trees or crush them which is why we must protect them by surrounding them with large rocks. We worked as a team organizing into different groups digging rocks, transporting them, scouting where they will go. In the day we also visited underground lava canals which were very cool and saw an owl in one. Jorge our guide informed us eventually the canals would cave in but not for millions of years, we just hoped it would not be that day. Later in the day, we swam in a place called las Grietas which was a fresh water stream between Two canyons that was deep and rocky. Some people leapt in with backflips and front flips, but everyone had an amazing time swimming in the rich, blue seawater filled ravine.
Ryan and Zeke – Leaders of the day
Sunday August 5, 2018
We awoke pleasantly to a sleep in for the first time since the trip started and went down for breakfast. The breakfast was made of eggs and bread paired with another refreshing drink. People are their fill and quickly left to the pier where we did an activity about the changes we can make back home.
After the activity ended, people paired off into groups for some free time for shopping and hanging out. After free time ended everyone came back and had lunch which consisted of either breaded beef, fish ceviche or vegetarian. After lunch ended everyone went up and got ready for snorkeling.
After a while we piled onto a bus and rode to the beach where we had a short hike to the snorkeling spot. Half of the group went into the water to snorkel while a few sat on the beach enjoying the sun and the remaining sitting in the water and enjoying the sight of fish and sea lions. After snorkeling we went straight home to home base and cleaned up before hiking towards the science center where we made plastic jewelry out of water bottles.
After the arts and crafts activity we went back to home base to have a small snack before going to an Italian restaurant where everyone ordered pizza and desserts which tasted heavenly. The night was wrapped up with the nightly meeting.
Today was our group’s final day in Ecuador.
Our group took a bus to the equator where we visited the Intiñan museum where we explored replicas of houses built by the indigenous people of Ecuador. We also watched demonstrations on the equator.
Next we took a class and learned some basic salsa steps from some local Ecuadorians. For lunch, we stopped at a restaurant where we enjoyed crepes and waffles. We then had the chance to visit a local market to explore and shop.
We did a few closing activities as a group and shared some more laughs. We also reminisced about the good times on our trip. At last, we said our goodbyes we had pushed off and chatted as long as we possibly could. This was an amazing trip and we all are so thankful to be able to have the opportunity to go on this trip.
Abbey – Leader of the day