Saturday July 7, 2018
Greetings from Ecuador. We welcomed to our first group of Galapagos PNW-B. 17 out of 20 students arrived already and had some empanada for dinner and they are on the way to the home base. Maria Fernanda is waiting for the late arrivals of Emma Price, Jackie Cohen and Jacquelyn Rivers.
Sunday July 8, 2018
Today was our first full day in Ecuador and man, did we have fun! Although we had a few late arrivals last night (arriving to the hotel around 2am!) everyone was up and ready to start the day at 8:30. In the morning, we had orientation where we started off with some teambuilding activities, went through what the program will look like, and reviewed everything we need to know to have a successful program. We enjoyed our first Ecuadorian “almuerzo” of potato soup, salad, lasagna, and bread. It was delicious!
In the afternoon we took a bus to explore Old Town Quito. The city is beautiful! We visited two cathedrals and learned about the style of the architecture along with how the Spanish utilized paintings to communicate messages to the native peoples. We went to the famous La Ronda street and experienced a chocolate making demonstration.
This was fascinating because we learned about how chocolate is made from start to finish, and even was able to sample cacao and chocolate along the different steps of the process. Ecuadorian chocolate is quite tasty! We ended our Quito tour by driving up to the top of the El Panecillo hill where there was a giant statue of the Virgin Mary and a beautiful view of the city. We climbed up the statue, though completely out of breath as we are all adjusting to the 9,300ft elevation of the city!
We finished our evening with another great Ecuadorian meal, then some goal setting and journaling with the group. We have an early morning tomorrow as we head out at 6am to head to the Galapagos but we are so excited to get there and for all of the fun adventures ahead!
-by Amy Lepp, Mentor
Monday July 9, 2018
Today we had an early breakfast at 5:30am. We immediately took off and headed to the airport with all of our luggage. At the airport some of us worried and hoped our luggage weighed he right amount. We all made it through, so some of us got food before our flight. Our flight had one stop, but overall it was pretty short. When we landed in the Galapagos we got off the plane and went into the building where we discovered our luggage didn’t make it. We all took it pretty well and shortly after we got onto the bus so we could head towards the boats. From boat to boat we finally made it to our next stop where we got some lunch and got on the next boat.
This was the last boat ride of the day, and it was a tough one for everyone, but thankfully dealing with all the luggage on the boat was not an issue. Dealing with sea sickness, many had a difficult time however we helped each other out to ensure everyone was okay. Finally when we arrived we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and left to buy some clothing, which was fairly difficult. After spending hours at stores, we made it back to home base for a much needed dinner. We talked about our day, and everyone headed to bed to get enough rest for the next day.
– Jules Weeden. Leader of the day
Tuesday July 10, 2018
Hello GLA Familes!
We are now finishing our fourth day on our trip! We started our day off by heading to the beach to go kayaking and snorkeling! Everyone had a remarkable experience seeing Sharks, Turtles, Sea Lions, Blue Footed Boobies, and many more exciting creatures. In the afternoon we headed to a local school on the Island to begin our community service. We helped paint the schools basketball court for four hours straight. After painting we spoke to the teachers of the school and they thanked us for our work. We then headed back to Home Base to eat dinner. All the students got their luggage on Tuesday afternoon. We look foward to many more exciting days to come!
-Bridget & Mia. Leaders of the day
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Today was our 5 day on this trip and it was only filled with fun. We were kept hard at work and busy all day which makes time fly by. We started off with breakfast which included this delicious pancake things. We then ventured off to our second service project at the tortoise sanctuary to help clean up around there. It was a lot of strenuous activity but hey rewarding. Knowing that that the tortoises had a safer environment was a real prize.
We played some games during our break and drank fresh orange juice which was muy delicioso. Once we left and got back to home base, we had lunch then went off to the tortoise breeding center and learned all about how they mate. We then took a beautiful walk to the beach and saw some flamingos up close.
The beach was so beautiful and the waves were huge. A friendly soccer game took place with another program that was there and we then went back to home base for dinner. The day ended with some journaling and reflection about privilege and the power we have to transform the world around us.
-by Tabitha and Emma – Leaders of the day
Thursday July 12, 2018
Today was a great day! We went on a challenging 6 mile hike to The Wall of Tears. We went up and saw almost the whole island of Isabela. It was so great seeing us all work together to achieve a goal. After that we went to the town to go explore and then to the beach for a little swim. We saw a baby sea lion too! Then we went to play soccer with the locals. It was so much fun and cool to interact with the people that live here. After we went back to the beach and waited for a concert with a Spanish singer. Waiting for it we played tag and played on the playground. Some of us left and went back to the hotel and hung out in the terrace and sat in the hammocks.
-by Lauren and Greg – Leaders of the day
Friday July 13, 2018
Today was Friday the Thirteenth, but it sure didn’t feel spooky. We began with a hearty breakfast of eggs and plantains to fuel up for our hike. We rode the windy tram to the Galapagos National Park and trekked to el Estero, the inlet. We hiked through igneous rocks, the remains of past eruptions. We reached an outcrop, viewing magnificent blue-footed boobies, and marine iguanas mere inches away. We then walked through beautiful mangroves and waded through clear blue water. At the clearing we witnessed a breathtaking pelican and other animals. Later, we visited two beaches, La playa del amor (the beach of love) and La playita (The little beach).
At the beaches we snorkeled, viewing the elusive black-tipped shark. After having an amazing time out at the beach, we took the tram back to home base, briefly stopping befitting leaving again to Campo Duro- our service sight. When we arrived we ate a delicious lunch and had some free time outside. We started our service with a few groups of students completing several different tasks such as feeding the tortoises, and cleaning their habitat. We ended the service project with a campfire and then went back to home base to eat our last dinner on Isabela Island where we thanked the hostel staff for all of their amazing meals from the past few days. We are looking forward to Santa Cruz Island tomorrow!
-by Jackie and Jeremy – Leaders of the day
Saturday July 14, 2018
Today, we got up at 6:30 AM and got ready for breakfast at 7. After a quick breakfast, we got our bags and got on a bus to the port. There, we got on the boat that would take us to Santa Cruz Island. The trip was about two hours and the water was more calm than the last time so everyone had some resting time and enjoyed the ride, I didn’t get as wet as the previous trip. We arrived about 11, and had an hour to settle into our new rooms in the hotel before lunch. We went out for a walk around town, and bought some snacks from a local store. Then we took another bus to a tortoise center called Chato ranch where we did our community service work. There, we worked until 6, planting trees, carrying rocks, and moving branches so the tortoises have more space to explore and find food. A little after 6, we got back on the bus to home base. After dinner, we hung out, talked, and played games until bedtime.
Lukas and Alexis – Leaders of the day
Sunday July 15, 2018
Day 9 was filled with adventure, volunteering, and fun! We started our day with a short boat ride and a half mile hike to our destination, Las Grietas. Las Grietas is a naturally formed swimming hole surrounded by beautiful cliffs. We could swim, dive, and take pictures of the scenery. Our journey later took us to a small, modest cafe where we indulged in some ice cream and popcorn while watching the World Cup game. Some were ecstatic to see France’s victory while others mourned Croatia’s loss. After, we went back to the hotel to prepare for our final day of volunteering at Chato Ranch. On the way to the ranch we stopped and took in the view of Los Gemelos, the twin sinkholes (they were huge, amazing, and beautiful). Next, our adventures took us to a delightful lunch at Chato Ranch that was followed by 4 hours of reforestation. By the end of our hard work about 100 plants had been planted and surrounded by stones to protect them from the ravages of the 200 pound tortoises that are always looking for meals. As a group, we all agreed that we were proud of our hard work and felt very productive as a team. We ended the awesome day with a meal back at Home Base. Tonight we will pack for our travels to San Cristobal tomorrow. We are excited for what’s to come!
-Julia Hudson & Miranda Vellenga – Leaders of the day
Monday July 16, 2018
We had a very adventurous day. We started off with an early boat ride to San Cristobal Island, considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Galapagos archipelago. We then headed to our fourth home base on the island, a small and rustic hostel close to the ocean.
After lunch, we walked to the Interpretation Centre to learn about the history of the Galapagos. Then, we headed over to Las Tijeretas to swim and snorkel. We spotted lots of sea lions and sea turtles.
We watched the sunset from Playa Mann, ate ice cream and watched sea lions playing in the ocean. After dinner, we had sometime to reflect about our trip and had an exciting round of charades on the pier.
-by Rachel and Megan C – Leaders of the day
Tuesday July 17, 2018
Today we started off with a late breakfast at 8:00. Everyone was happy to get the extra hour of sleep! Then we headed out for a bit to do an activity. We all had “roles” – mediators, scientists, tourists, locals, and the travel agencies. Each group then had to pitch an argument as to why or why not they support tourism in the Galápagos Islands, according to their role. In the end, we came to the conclusion that tourism should be restricted, but still allowed, and that the tourists should be more educated.
After that, we quickly stopped back at the home base to gather our snorkel stuff and head to Loberia Beach. Once reuniting with our guides Jorge and Edison, and taking a brisk bus ride, we arrived. As per usual, sea lions were everywhere!
At noon we rode a bus back to the home base where we ate a delicious lunch. At 1:15 we left to explore and walk around for an hour. A lot of us stopped at a cute ice cream shop to grab a yummy treat before heading out for a little extra service. When 2:15 came around, we got some trash bags to walk to a different beach while collecting trash along the way. With a little teamwork to get the tough-to-reach trash, we cleaned up the trail and were able to relax next to the ocean as a reward.
We then made our way back to the home base. We had a wonderful dinner and went down to the boardwalk to do our nightly meeting. Unfortunately tonight, we had to say goodbye to Jorge and Edison. We gave them the heartfelt cards we made as we said our goodbyes.
Today was our last day on the islands but it was very well spent. The Galápagos Islands are an incredible place and it has been a wonderful opportunity to go!
-Your leaders of the day, Jackie Rivers and Megan Knoll
Wednesday July 18, 2018
Today we all woke up at the break of dawn, 4:30. We ate a light breakfast and headed straight to the harbor at San Cristobal. We all got on the boat and had a very peaceful boat ride to Santa Cruz, which everybody seemed to enjoy. We headed off onto Santa Cruz Isle and got on a bus headed to the harbor. Here we all were given lunch and everybody filled up for the rest of the long travel day! We took the ferry back to Baltra Isle to get to the airport and we all went through the normal airport experience… When we got through security most of us headed straight to the food court and got french fries, hamburgers, and empanadas.
At 12:30 we boarded the plane and took off to Quito! We made a quick stop to drop people off at Guayaquil and then resumed our flight for another 30 minutes. We arrived at Quito around 6 (luckily our luggage was waiting for us) and headed straight for our hotel which is 30 minutes away. We got to the hotel and settled into our rooms, shortly after we went down for dinner and ate some amazing food. After dinner we had our usual nightly circle meeting and discussed the day. We all dispersed after to our rooms with our new roommates to get ready for the next day!
-Connor O’Sullivan, Leader of the day
Today we got up at 7 AM. After we got everyone ready, we went down for breakfast at 7:30. For breakfast, we had a buffet of toast, fruit, and cold cuts. After breakfast, at 8, we got onto a bus for the drive to Mitad del Mundo, the equator. On the bus, Lance and I did our first head count, which was successful. After about 45 minutes, we arrived and got off. We walked around with a tour guide, who showed us the way of life of some wild tribes. Eventually, we reached the actual equator, where he showed us some unique events that only occur there. One of them was balancing an egg, which turned out to be extremely difficult. A few people managed to do this, and got certificates. He also did an activity with which involved pressure and balance.
Also, he showed us that if you drain water on the equator, it doesn’t form a funnel, but funnels form clockwise and counterclockwise on opposite sides. He demonstrated this by draining a tub on the equator, above it, and below it. After that, we walked back to a gift shop and looked around before getting on the bus at about 10:30. After half an hour of driving, we arrived at a place where we’d be learning how to salsa. The two instructors split the group up into boys and girls, and we each learned different steps. After practice, we found partners and danced. We had a great time, and got back on the bus at around noon. We then drove to a place called Crepes & Waffles, where we ate a delicious lunch.
After lunch, we walked for about half an hour to a market, where we separated into groups and browsed for about an hour. After buying a few things, we started walking back to the hotel, and got there around 5. There, we had free time until 7 to pack and hang out. At 7, we went down to have a dinner of soup, followed by chicken, beans and rice. After dinner, we went outside and formed a circle to give our roses and thorns. Many people said they would miss each other, and the mood was overall very emotional. We also had feedback and shoutouts. Nearly everyone got a shoutout from someone else, and everyone shared what they liked about each other. After the shoutouts, it was about 9:30, so everyone hung out on the terrace for about an hour.
-by Todd and Lance – Leaders of the day
Friday July 20, 2018
After an early wake up of 3:00 am to see 14 students off through to midnight departures, we can now say that all students have safely departed Ecuador. We had an incredible two weeks filled with so much exploration, adventure, service, learning and fun. I think everyone can agree that it was a life-changing two weeks! We look forward to seeing all of the amazing things that these 20 bright, young adults do in their future! Miss you all already!
-Amy Lepp, Mentor