Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Hey Galapagos crew!
It has been a while since we have had the privilege of seeing each other’s happy, shinning faces! Our time together in the Galapagos was certainly unforgettable, and as the days of normal life blend into one another I am comforted by the memories of the wild ruckus we raised in Ecuador this summer. Here are some of our favorite moments:
-The moment we started seeing a lot of Galapagos wildlife in Santa Cruz. Arly, and Bailey were some of the first to accidentally encounter a sleeping sea lion. We also saw sea turtles, marine iguanas, lava lizards, crabs, pelicans, blue footed boobies and rays for the first time!
-The beginning of our first boat ride, when everyone was so excited with our surroundings and the unpredictability of the waves. There was a lot of noise, laughter and screaming! But after an hour everyone passed out asleep, and that became the protocol for all our other boat rides. I loved watching everyone zone out in the boat. You all can sleep in some weird and uncomfortable positions! Certainly my favorite were the cuddle puddle crews and when a sleeping person was periodically awoken by a splash of salt water to the fact! We saw Dolphins alongside our boat, as well as Albatross birds. Jewel was falling all over the place, but kept her smile big and maintained composure! Maya always sang aloud during our boat rides, but no one could hear her over the engine! For some it was a great way to pass a few hours, and others couldn’t wait to get back on land!
-We saw so many tortoises on Isabela Island! It was fun to see the breeding sanctuary tortoises as they were all ages and sizes. Remember how tiny the new babies were? And how loud and determined the older, sexually mature tortoises were?! I am sure that the lady tortoises at Campo Duro miss our company, although we do not miss the angry ants! We did a lot of great work for the tortoise habitat on the Galapagos Islands! In fact, later in the summer we saw a wild tortoise on San Cristobal’s service site which is proof that the work you did there was appreciated by the tortoises that have been re-released. You all were machete masters after your service work, and at San Cristobal and the native shrubs are flourishing! I hope your hands still have calluses from your efforts, and that they serve as a reminder of your beastly machete skills!
-Group energizers… geez! Carolyn and I tried to keep the fun alive when the crew was feeling tired or slow. Sometimes we had success, and other times they were an epic fail. We have not forgotten when Shawn yelled “SPIDER!” in the middle of our human knot activity. Everyone quickly disbanded; the energy level was high after that, but not because our energizer was fun and successfully executed! Ironically, Shawn was probably the most afraid of spiders. After all, he refused to sleep in his own bed one night because he didn’t feel safe from spiders on the top bunk. Fortunately Alex was willing to take him in, but I think our group lost a lot of sleep from worrying about those ugly spiders. Bailey got bit, and didn’t freak out or complain! She just used some hydrocortisone cream and shrugged it off. Grace may have been a physically stronger competitor at the arm wrestling tournament, but Bailey’s courage against those spiders is very commendable!
-Soccer games galore! Who knew that Mauro and Eve were such fierce players? That ball was really sticky and I loved watching people fall flat after tripping on it. What ridiculous soccer games we had. It was awesome to see your participation in such a culturally appropriate activity, even if it was full of foul play!
-Mauro’s creepily painted face when we went to go “star-gazing and owl searching” in San Cristobal. That. Was. Absurd! Sorry for those of you who got super freaked out! Mauro, Jose and Hakan are little boys in men’s bodies; they love to prank and make jokes!
-Card games, card games, card games! Until the most epic arm wrestling tournament ever. I suspect that it was all an excuse for everyone to hold hands with Jose, the most handsome naturalist ever.
-Hunter’s commentary and side jokes are still making me laugh. The best part was that Hunter wasn’t even entirely aware of how hilarious he actually is. All the guys had an awesome bond together, and their laughter was totally contagious. Alex always seemed to be the first one to laugh out loud, and I miss that raucous spirit as it brought a lot of joy to our group.
-Our EPIC 4th of July bonfire! Bananas and Chocolate were a great choice (and fish for Cal), and who needs fireworks when you have the best star gazing ever!?
-The epic shopping excursion in Quito. I don’t know if that market has ever sold so many sweaters in such a short period of time, but you all wore them well! I hope you are still enjoying all those unique and fuzzy souvenirs you purchased!
Recalling these memories makes me miss everyone even more! We had such a killer time together, but I hope your time with each other abroad inspires you to continue setting goals and making adventure a regular part of your lifestyle. If you were able to pull off a trip to the Galapagos before you start college, imagine all the other awesome places you can go, experiences you will have and great friends you will meet in the future.
Remember to keep in touch, and keep the memories alive!
Carolyn and Bridget
Summer Blog Posts
June 26, 2016
Director’s note: Everyone has arrived safely today, although we didn’t manage to get a full group photo yet. Tomorrow we are touring the capital city of Quito and we will update the blog with more complete photos of our team!
We finally made it! Although traveling alone might have been nerve wracking and scary at first, it was a good way to learn not to rely on someone else for direction and stability. The flights and layovers were long, but worth the wait! Quito is a wonderful city, wedged in between lush, beautiful volcanic mountains. The people are very friendly and patient when it comes to speaking their language. The hotel is also very nice and the owners are very accommodating. I can’t wait to see what more this trip has in store! It will truly be a life changing trip.
Excited to be off the plane and eating pizza for lunch! After dinner we played games to introduce ourselves and learn more about each other.
– Written by Grace Nolan
June 27, 2016
We used this day as an orientation and Quito exploration day–Cal was our first leader of the day. We spent the first half of the day doing our program orientation, going over some ground rules, creating our own, and using skits as an example of how to prevent bad behavior. Afterwards, we traveled into the heart of Quito’s old town via private bus. We started at the Basilica del Voto Nacional, then walked to the Plaza Grande, and had some fun with the guards at the presidential palace of Ecuador. The last part of the walk was just a few blocks to Plaza San Francisco, where we got picked up by the bus after doing some souvenir shopping. We finished up with a drive up to the Virgin Mary statue on a beautiful hill overlooking the city. At 5:30, the tour packed up and we headed back to the hotel to do some packing and snack shopping before a delicious dinner. Successful day! Tomorrow we are off to Galapagos early in the morning with a big travel day ahead of us–we are all very excited!
– Calvin Rosevear
We finally arrived to Galapagos after some delay with the flight. Everybody is super excited and happy.
June 28, 2016
First we went to the airport where we bonded there because our flight was delayed 3 hours. it was fun to connect with people who I never
talked with before then. After the plane ride we took a never-ending 2
hour boat ride. The waves were
very choppy, but IT WAS SOOOO fun! We listened to music and focused on the fact that we didn’t want to throw up! Watching the shore and waves, we already could tell that we already were in love with the place!
When we finally arrived in the Galapagos we were greeted by sea lions, Sharks, crabs and more!
PEACE and LOVE from the GALAPAOGS ? -Arly And Bailey
June 29, 2016
Today was our first day of real action on Isabela Island. We woke up around 7 and enjoyed a breakfast full of delicious bread, fresh fruit and eggs. To our utmost excitement, we headed out to the beach for the first time to snorkel and kayak. Although snorkeling was a little uneventful in terms of wildlife, our kayak guide was able to lead us to sea lions, penguins, stingrays, a huge sea turtle and even a white tip reef shark. Lunch back at the hostel was the usual rice, beans and chicken. We then left for our first service project at a local non-government owned giant Galápagos tortoise sanctuary. We worked alongside the large animals while we dug holes for fence posts, cut plants down, and mixed cement for new construction. After a well-deserved meal, we broke off into mentor groups to bond and share our different backgrounds with each other.
-Kate and Maya
30 June 2016
The group woke up at 6:30 to a lovely breakfast of fried plantain, bread rolls, marmalade, butter and fruit. Around 7:30 we loaded up in the vans and headed to our first service site, a small school in the highlands. There we cleared out brush from around the school and played with the children. After that, the group headed down the mountain to the Campo Duro. There we met with some locals who helped us in making marmalade! After cutting wood, chopping up various fruits and boiling the mixture over an open fire, the group returned home for lunch. In the afternoon hours, the group went for a scenic hike on some nature trials. There we observed sea lions, iguanas, and various plant species, which is becoming more of a normal occurrence for us. Exhausted from our long day, the crew headed back home and then went to the store to buy snacks for our big hike tomorrow.
-Taishi and Mae
July 1, 2016
Today was a tiring yet fulfilling day proud to see everyone push themselves through what was an exhausting 6 hours. Before this adventure however, we were lucky enough to see a tortoise breeding center. The breeding center housed roughly 900 tortoises between the ages of 0-200 years. Here, we witnessed the five different types of tortoises that the Galápagos Islands is lucky enough to have. On our walk back to the home base, we came face to face with many iguanas and finally met the indescribable flamingos! Their long legs and pink feathers put us all in a great mood. We are looking forward to our last full day here on Isabela island tomorrow, and we can not wait to see what San Cristobal has to offer.
Authors: Mikah and Hunter
The last full day on Isabela island proved both exhilarating and relaxing. We began by spending the morning at Campo Duro, the tortoise “half-way house.” Here, we divided into three groups and continued our work of improving the home for 12 amazing tortoises. We cleared sticks and branches, improved an existing fence, and pulled out intruding grass. We also received a filling and delicious lunch at Campo Duro. We then spent an afternoon at the gorgeous beach near Hotel Sandrita. Here, we also collected trash that was littered on the streets and beach. After this we engaged in a meaningful discussion about the many threats that plastic has on our planet. Tomorrow we will wake up early to go to San Cristobal. We are so grateful for the amazing time we had in Isabela Island, but we all look forward to seeing what San Cristobal has in store for us.
Authors: Eve and Jewel
Today our group began their travels to our last destination in the Galapogos, San Cristobal island. Our day began early with a boat ride at 7 am, which lasted two hours. Even though some people have sea sickness, everyone got to catch up on a little sleep on the boat ride so it was a win-lose situation. We took a pit stop at Floreana island to snorkel and eat some lunch. During the snorkeling the group made a friend, who happened to be a baby sea lion, and got to swim around with it for a little while. After snorkeling we had some lunch, and then got on the boat for a three hour boat ride to our destination. Finally we made it to San Cristobal and it was beautiful, the water was crystal clear and the sun was just about to set. We walked around town for a little until the buses came to pick us up. We arrived at the home base and got nice and comfy into our new home for the next couple of days. Overall today was tiring, fun, shocking, and exciting.
Pictures: Traveling from Isabela to Cristobal with a snorkel stop in Floreana. We had many sea turtles and a baby sea lion swimming with us
Happy Fourth of July! This morning we woke up at 6:30 and were treated to a delicious breakfast before our morning activities. We went snorkeling with sea turtles and sea lions, San Cristobal is called the sea lion capital which was clear today! We also headed to town for an a hour of shopping, followed by a filling lunch to prepare us for the long afternoon of service. At service we removed invasive species which included blackberries and guava. These invasive plants are not good for tortoise habitat. After we walked 2 miles back to base with machetes, we had a well deserved dinner. To conclude the day we had a Fourth of July bonfire with chocolate banana boats and an incredible view of the stars!
Author: Lauren and Rebecca
5 July 2016
Today was a once in a lifetime experience. After breakfast we got right into the community service. A nice and bumpy bus ride to the highlands where the weather was amazing. The slight drizzle cold and light like rain, but full and dominant like the wind. In fact, the wind helped create a movie like atmosphere. The type of weather you stand in an empty field and embrace, face to face. Yes, I did do a little bit of that. I actually lost my hat sitting on a high cliff over looking the land, listening to music, tapping my heel against the rock. The wind stole it.
For service we “cleaned up” the areas where endemic plants were placed so that their growth could be an easier process. We also dug holes and placed new plants down. The work was not the hardest, but it was relatively tedious. In the end it paid off though. A great test of patience this service was, and I believe that the walk back to homebase was better, the shower at the hotel was more refreshing, and dinner tasted better than ever because of that test.
– Authors: Shawn and Alex
July 7, 2016
Today was our last morning together in the Galápagos. After saying goodbye to our local director, Hakan, and our two Ecuadorian Naturalists guides, Jose and Mauricio. We also said adios to our home base family at Hacienda Esperanza. We made a lot of great memories with them all and are sad to leave them!
This afternoon we flew from San Cristóbal, and arrived in Quito in time for dinner. Tomorrow we have a big day of adventures that include the Inti Nan Museum, salsa dance lessons, souvenir shopping and more!
Author: Bridget, International Director
8 July 2016
After getting in last night after a long day of travel, we finally made it to beautiful Quito. After breakfast we headed to the Equator museum and saw the actual equator line, which was incredible to be standing in both the northern and Southern Hemisphere. We then headed over to private salsa lessons, and an incredible lunch. After lunch we went to a huge market and learned to barter. After the market we had dinner and started getting sentimental about leaving.