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 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 were able to finish building a lot of the framework for the greenhouse. We also set a lot of the table legs inside the green house, so all the native plants you guys 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. Working with your group was truly amazing and 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 enthusiasm and positivity, our numerous singing and dancing parties, and all the laughter and joy that we shared. Thank you for making this summer the most phenomenal summer I’ve ever had.
Here or some of my top recollections from our trip:
- All bursting out in song on the first bus ride to Isabella. And of course all listening to Eva’s beautiful and impressive rendition of Eminem.
- The insane number of sea turtles we saw snorkeling on Floreana – I have never seen so many all at once
- Our massive group soccer game that everyone participated in – even if that meant forming a human wall in the middle of the field
- Impromptu karaoke before chow circle
- Finger jousting battles
- The surprise birthday/dance party in the dining area on San Cristobal
- The sea lion pup that wouldn’t stop playing with us
- The live meme you guys created
- Our last chow circle when everyone was hugging (and some maybe crying) – it sounds sad, but it just showed how impactful and meaningful our trip together was
I wish you all the best, and really would love to hear from you,
Summer Blog Posts
July 7, 2016
Group singalong on the way to the boat in Santa Cruz. What a great group of students! We can’t wait to have fun here in paradise!
July 8, 2016
Today was a blast.
T’was filled with; beautiful scenery hiking, tree trimming, orange eating, and a competitive fun filled soccer game.
The home sickness has for sure worn off this evening as we proceed into the morrow.
The breakfast was very filling. We had eggs :).
After breakfast we went on a gorgeous hike all across town. Saw the beautiful blue water, the crabs, the birds and of course the giant iguanas. Towards the end of the hike we stopped at a snow cone shack on the beach.
We then headed backk to base where we proceeded to eat lunch and prepare for service.
The service today involved picking weeds and cutting up trees with machettes to provide a more open space for the tortoises to move around.
A few hours went by and we took a splendid orange break. Hakan and Jorge cut them open for us. “Have as many as you want” said Hakan. This was music to my ears as I bit into my 3rd orange.
We ended the day with a wonderful soccer game which I’m not sure who actually won, but winning wasn’t exactly the point.
Mentor groups proceeded on the beach and here I am now writing this blog. Today was a blast indeed. One shouldn’t worry about us. We’re doing just fine.
Noah Tiffany and Ethan Schwartz
July 9, 2016
The GLA group woke up this morning to roosters, dogs barking, and a mix of alarms. After breakfast, everyone spent hours at the ocean snorkeling and kayaking. While kayaking we saw the local animals including blue-footed boobies, penguins, sea turtles, galapagos sharks, sting-rays, and manta rays. While snorkeling we saw different types of colorful galapagos fish and rocks. After snorkeling and kayaking we went to the beach and taught our guides how to do the classic American dances, including the whip and dab, while eating ice cream. Then we went back to our hotel to eat lunch and left to do our service for the day. At the service camp we helped move more trees that the locals are using for building, pulled weeds and cut down trees so the tortoises have more space to walk around. After three hard hours of service we went to pick passionfruit that we were able to eat afterwards. Then half the group went to play soccer and the rest sat in hammocks under the trees. We then went back to the hotel to eat a dinner consisting of rice and chicken. After a long day, the group will go to sleep and await the exciting adventures ahead.
-Arianna Schwartz and Sydney Silverman
Our last day on Isabela was spent in the morning at a local school. We helped to create a border around the campus out of plants and rocks. Then we went back to Campo Duro to make marmalade out of passion fruit, oranges and papayas that will be coming home with the students. We worked together well and every student had a part in making the final delicious product. In the afternoon, we had free time to spend at the beach and explore the town. That night some students helped to prepare a traditional meal that everyone enjoyed for dinner.
Our travel day to San Cristobal consisted of waking early, eating a light breakfast, and boarding a boat for a two hour ride to Floreana. On Floreana we snorkeled in a gorgeous cove filled with sea turtles, and had lunch at a restaurant in the town of only 150 residents. After lunch we boarded the boat again for a three hour ride to San Cristobal during which most made themselves as comfortable as possible and napped. When we landed on San Cristobal, we explored the touristy town for a little while, before taking a bus into the mountains to our home base, where we enjoyed a hearty meal and bonded through the thin walls of our rooms. Before bed, we discussed the differences in our cultures in our mentor groups.
Signing out, Raechel and Anya
Blog by Susie and Devin
Today we woke up bright and early after our first night in Cristobal. We began our service by cutting down invasive black berry trees with machetes, removing the roots. While there were no tortoises present on the worksite, we hope that our work will eventually allow the tortoises’s to re-inhabit this side of the island. After getting at the root of the problem, we hiked back down to home base. After walking back down to the home base and eating lunch, we got on the bus to go snorkeling! Many of us swam with sea lions and sea turtles! After snorkeling in the beautiful water, we had free time to work around the town and buy gifts for friends and family. We left the town around 6 and ate delicious pasta together around the table. The sky was clear tonight and we had the opportunity to go star-gazing. We treked up a big hill towards a church where our group leaders tried to scare us with ghost stories as we lay on the ground, looking up at the stars.
Today GLA was part of reclaiming the natural land in San Cristobal. In the morning, we cleared invasive species with machetes as well as planted new native trees! We hope that our work will attract tortoises to live in these areas again. We hiked back to our base in hopes to save energy and resources. Our afternoon was filled with a hike, snorkeling, and beach time. We saw sea lions, iguanas, and incredible fish. Everything here is so natural and untouched. We also had free time to explore the town. After dinner GLA watched a video on the problems with material goods and the U.S production system. All of our experiences here have been unforgetable and extremely eye opening. We look forward to taking our experiences back home to our family and friends!
Mia and Maggie 6-14-16
July 17, 2016
Written by: Carley Yarbrough, Claire Thomnpson, and Ellie Coppsall
We started the day off by going to the Equator, where we did the tour of the museum and stood on the equator line. We also learned the process of making choclate and where it originated from. After that we went to a surprise salsa dancing class where we all busted some moves. Once we were done with that we got a delicous lunch at Crepes and Waffles and got some free ice cream. Then we headed to the markets where we basically spent all our money. We got back to the hotel where we had our final Peace and Chow, there were lots of tears:( We ended the day by all writing nice things about eachother. We are sad to leave eachother, but glad to see our families tomorrow!
Tomorrow we will all be GalapaGONE 🙁 We all had a great time in the Islands glad we got to spend it with the people we did!