Wednesday June 12, 2019
Hello friends and family! All trip participants for Galapagos: Preserving Nature’s Wonders have arrived! After a long day of travel, students were greeted at the airport with empanadas and excited staff before heading back to our home base. Tomorrow we will explore the city of Quito – for now, we sleep! We can’t wait to get started on this adventure. Check back soon for more updates!
Thursday June 13, 2019
First day orientation today where we’ll learn more about Ecuador and where we are going – the amazing Galapagos. We are all a bit dozed off after the late arrivals last night but the group is in great spirits, and we are so excited for the next two weeks together!
Hakan – GLA Galapagos Staff
Thursday June 13, 2019 – Part 2!
This morning we were all a bit tired from getting to our hotel very early that morning (around 12am). We had breakfast around 8am. Then, we headed up to the patio on top of the hotel we’re staying at to do orientation. During orientation, we discussed the overall schedule, got to know each other with a name game, and then learned a little bit more about Ecuador! Around 12:30 we had lunch which consisted of soup, a common dish of Ecuador, and rice with some type of protein (depending on the individuals diet).
At 1:30 we headed to the capital city, Quito! We were greeted in a tour bus by Carlos, the most enthusiastic, kind, and funny tour guide ever! The city is surrounded by two volcanos and is built up and down on the hill-like surface. Ecuador’s buildings are very diverse, close together, and the streets are filled with performers, locals, and some tourists. Ecuador is beautiful, colorful, authentic, and full of new incredible architecture every turn you take. We went to the giant virgin Mary statue overlooking Quito!
There were many dogs, shops, and beautiful churches made of gold or stone. Then after exploring the streets, we headed to the main square of Quito. After that, we went and learned about cocoa plants, saw demonstrations of how they make chocolate, and tasted it (it was incredible)! Then we headed to the store to collect snacks to prepare for heading to the islands tomorrow! Finally, we walked back to the hotel for dinner. We ended the night early because we have to leave for the Galápagos flight at 6am!
Learned: today I learned that the currency of dollars is the same as the US, however they have some different coins in addition to the American ones! Thanks Kate!
Friday June 14, 2019
Today was full of travel, sleep, beautiful views, clear waters, boat rides, plane rides, bus rides, and exotic animals belonging to the islands! This morning we had breakfast at 5:30 am at the Hotel in Quito, Ecuador. Then, we packed up and headed to the air port to start are journey to the Galapagos islands! After going through security and exploring the airport a bit, we headed to Baltra Island (which was surprisingly desert like and full of cacti.
After, we took a bus and ferry to Santa Cruz. While waiting for the boat that would take us to our final destination, we saw a large sea turtles, large black iguanas, plenty of sharks, bright red crabs, and a sea lion through the clear waters! Finally came the long boat ride to our destination, Isabela Island! Where we immediately spotted penguins, fish, and many playful sea lions that swam right up to us!
The land on the island is plentiful in tropical plants and flowers, and black lava rocks. Next we headed to the hostel where we are staying for the next few days, where we finished the night with diner and a group activity! Everyone is starting to bond and make new friends which makes us exited!
-Ash the leader of the day
Tomorrow’s leader: Sarah
Saturday June 15, 2019
Today was our first full day in Galapagos and though it looked like a dull day with gray clouds in the morning, it cleared up and turned out as a great welcome to our Paradise in Isabela island. We have just finished our kayak tour with snorkeling where the group had the pleasure to see the White-tipped sharks and penguins so the group returned happy.
Saturday June 15, 2019 Part 2
We started out the day with a leisurely bus ride to the beach to start out our day of fun. We went kayaking and saw penquins, sea gulls, and blue footed boobies catching fish and sitting on the nearby shore. Then we hopped off the kayakas and did some snorkeling. We saw blacktip reef sharks, big sea turtles, parrot fish, stingrays, and a sea lion. Once we were back on shore we enjoyed the sun on the beach next to the sea lions who were lounging on the benches and playfully body surfing the soft waves.
Some of us went snorkeling again at concha perla, a beautiful secluded lagoon surrounded by mangroves. After getting some ice cream and playing some volleyball we headed back to home base to eat lunch. We were all exited about our next activity, we were going to see the galapagose tortoise breeding centre. We learned about the tortoises’ importance and how the anamals that were introduced into the islands ecosystem effected the tortoises habitats.
Though humans are still the number 1 cause cause of these animals populations to drop, at the centre we are doing our part to right that wrong, and keep these wonderful creatures alive. After that we did a small mile and a half walk through mangroves wetlands and the beach, to get back to our hotel. We wrapped up the day with dinner and a leadership activity. All and all I think all of us would agree it was a pretty great day.
Sunday June 16, 2019
Happy Father’s Day! We began the day early with breakfast at 7:00 am. At 7:30 we hopped in the busetta and headed to the trail leading us to the Wall of Tears. some highlights of the hike included:
multiple wild giant tortoises (they were amazing), the view point (a high point up a mountain where you could see the ocean and surrounded tree covered mountains), walking through tunnels of branches, a surprise walk through shallow, clear water during low tide, trying wild passion fruits, a cavern under lava rock, blue footed boobies, and a walk through the beach picking up plastic. Summing the whole hike up to nine miles (it felt like more) by the time we arrived back at home base for lunch. Lunch consisted of your average soup, rice, some type of meat (unknown), and plantains!
After lunch we did a leadership activity, debating on whether whale hunting should be legal on a small island based off of culture. Many people had strong opinions which lead us into a good discussion on relating topics. Around 4:00 we headed to the soccer fields to play soccer with the local boy’s team. They 100% flexed on us with their amazing skills, but we ended up winning in the end (Unsure if they let us… I think they did….. but GLA still did amazing)! The GLA team consisted of Will, Leland, Kate, Ash, Charlie, and Sarah/Ash. Afterwards we headed back to home base and a few headed to the beach! Overall a long exhausting day full of unforgettable fun and educational experiences:)
Leader of the day: Will
Monday June 17, 2019
Buenos dias! Today was a very long day. We woke up for breakfast at 7 and had a special meal, pancakes! Then we packed up and got on the boat to the island of Santa Cruz. Only this time, the boat ride was wayyy easier because we had chairs. It went by very fast, and then we hopped on the bus to our new hotel.
We had about an hour of rest, then had lunch, which was cheesy soup and ceviche- very delicious. Soon after, we took a 30 minute drive to our work site. Before we worked, we had some lemongrass tea. Then we began our 4 hours of work. We cleared branches onto the side of the clearing, dug rocks out of the ground, and transferred rocks from place to place.
It was very tiring, but we had good conversations the whole time. We also learned about fire ants; a few people got bit by them. Finally, after 4 hours we came back to the hotel. We stopped on the way and bought very good pastries and meringues. At the hotel, we had dinner- steak and rice. Then we were told we could shop in the town!
So at 7:45 we left, and started at the ice cream store. The tables had swings as chairs which was very fun. Then we walked around and found cute things to buy for home. By 9 we were exhausted and came back to the hotel, did shoutouts, and got in our rooms. Tomorrow will be a long day. Goodnight!!
PS. Love ya fam
Wednesday June 19, 2019
Hello families! This post was added for June 19:
Today we went to Las Grietas and swam in a natural pool in a valley. We then went back to the Homebase and ate lunch. After lunch, we went to el Chato and planted small trees to help restore the natural ecosystem.
Thursday June 20, 2019
Hello families! We have a very special blog post today. Our beloved Galapagos Local Director, Hakan, has filmed and prepared a couple of VIDEOS for you to enjoy! 🙂
Today we had a relaxing morning with a visit to Las Grietas for a swim at this special place. On the way there we hiked shortly through some wetlands and the salt fields of Puerto Ayora, a great way to gather some strength for our last day at the project in Santa Cruz this afternoon.
After hard work we managed to plant 81 endemic scalecia trees that each was protected with 2 or 3 rocks untill they grow up so that the giant tortoises don’t walk over them and kill them. Very hard-working group that now is ready for dinner and maybe an ice cream in town tonight. Dan Cristóbal next.
– Blog and Videos by Hakan – Local Director
Friday June 21, 2019
We started our day with a bus ride to the beach. We had a short walk on the beach until reaching the area where we could all enjoy snorkeling, swimming, or even just chilling by the sea lions. After spending some time at the beach we were able to go back to home base and rest before lunch and our afternoon activities.
After lunch we went to the local school for a service activity. We spent our time repainting the basketball court floors, and we even got to meet Wilson’s kids! We spent most of our afternoon at the school but after dinner we were able to go out into town for a while and see some stores by the harbor.
Today we went to the beach and played survivor then we walked back to the home base and got ice cream on the way to lunch. After lunch we played spoons and wrote letters to ourselves. Then we all got the chance to go out to dinner on are own and walk around town after. Our last day in the Galapagos!!!! Now we are headed to Quito.