Friday April 12, 2019
Video from day 1:
Saturday April 13, 2019
Title: Two perspectives on Quito, Ecuador
Today was the first day in Quito, Ecuador and it was a blast! We visited a market where group members bargained and tried out their Spanish speaking skills. It was an interesting experience, connecting market place behaviors between Quito and the United States. The people were not as persistent with sales and were very polite. Then after lunch, we took a trip to the equator and observed the change in rotation of water and balance. But my favorite part of today’s travels was the old city and the churches. The beautiful structures and architecture were astounding! And the people that flowed in and out of the doors seemed proud of the buildings and their meaning to the community. Observing the locals opened my eyes to the pride of the city and what they believe in, influencing me and my pride for my home back in New Hampshire.
Today was my first day in Quito, Ecuador and it was a phenomenal experience. The first thing did was visit a market where my chaperone and I tested our Spanish speaking and noticed the different fabrics Ecuadorians use to make their products. It was a very fun experience knowing how the business behaviors varied from the US and Quito- We then took a bus ride to go see where the equator exactly was. Although we had a great tour guide my favorite part was trying to get the egg to balance on the nail but I eventually accomplished my goal. We then traveled to see the San Francisco church, which was absolutely astounding and is definitely a recommendation if you ever visit Quito. My classmates and I learned it took 45 pounds of gold to give its astonishing color. I would have to say that the GLA program has made such a great experience making us feel welcomed but also giving us an educational experience.
Sunday April 14, 2019
Video from day 2:
Monday April 15, 2019
Today after a long day of traveling yesterday, by plane and boat, we experienced out first day on Isabel Island in the Galapagos. Initially waking up earlier than expected because of the intense heat, we all went out into the open hall to sit and talk for a good two hours before breakfast. We then went down and enjoyed out great breakfast before the beach. We walked a couple blocks, but not before stopping to adore a puppy, then we saw the beautiful beach. We roamed around all afternoon looking at the boardwalk and swimming in the water that was warmer than the air.
We then went back to the hostel for lunch before proceeding on a walk. After a short bus ride we walked and learned about Galapagos flora and fauna. We came upon a lava tube in the rock and learned about how they were created. We travelled on a path, which continued us to a mangrove cove where we then walked out to where it met with the ocean and observed some blue-footed boobies. After our swim we walked on the beach all the way home to the hostel where, after re-cooperating from most of our what seemed like second degree sunburns, we ate dinner and retired to one of the room where all the students joined in a movie night.
This week has been full of firsts and I´m so happy that GLA has made this trip possible for me. Despite my annoying allergies, I´ve had a wonderful time experiencing a completely different culture and landscape than back at home. The guides are very knowledgeable about topics other than just the history of the island and it´s animals. They have given me very insightful information about customs and traditions but also laws and regulations that differ from my own country.
I really enjoy learning about the differences in our day-to-day lives and staying here in Galápagos at a family owned hotel has really given me a chance to do so. I really enjoy the things we have done so far on the trip: the market, the equator visit, the beach walk on Isabella Island and the lava tube and much more. I´m going to college for architectural design and this trip has given me much inspiration and new ideas for people in different markets. These are all wonderful things that GLA has made possible for me and I´d say that they have given me a once in a lifetime experience.
Wednesday April 17, 2019
Although today was our last day in Isabela Island, it was one of the busiest. We started off our day with a hike where we got to see flamingos and marine iguanas. Towards the end of our hike, our guides surprised us with a visit to a breeding center for giant tortoises, where we got to see different species native to the island and learn about how the center is working to help increase and protect the population. One of my favorite parts was seeing the baby tortoises that were living in the dark box, which simulates where they would be in the wild. After visiting the center, we returned to the hostal and ate lunch. After lunch, we went to the beach where we kayaked and snorkeled.
It was amazing to see all of the marine life, especially sharks. It was both exciting and terrifying to see them swimming underneath us. Before we left the beach, we all played a game of volleyball, which I really enjoyed because volleyball is my favorite sport. After our walk back and eating dinner, we went to play a soccer game with some of the locals. It was really interesting to see the interaction between the two teams. Overall, this trip has been an eye-opening experience and I´m so happy to be able to be a part of it.
On our last day on Isabella Island we started our morning with a hike through the mangrove lagoons. We were able to see animals that we only used to see in pictures, like the flamingo. Further on in our hike, we were surprised with a visit to the tortoise breeding center. While we were there, we learned more about the tortoises such as their breeding habits, their ups and downs of their population, and interesting facts about their physical appearance.
After visiting the breeding center, we hiked back to the hotel, where we had another delicious lunch. In the second half of the day we split into two groups to go snorkeling and kayaking. I did not participate in either because I have a very bad sunburn, but I was able to swim very close to a sea turtle and a group of sea lions. After we played some beach volleyball with one of the local boys who was very kind. After a couple of games we went back to the hotel and had dinner and the power went out.
Although the power went out, we were still able to play some soccer games against the locals who were very good. It is much different than the type of soccer we play in the U.S. Over all, I had and amazing experience on Isabella Island and I an very fortunate to experience what the island has to offer.
Thursday April 18, 2019
Yesterday was a travel day. We took a two hour boat ride to Santa Cruz Island, leaving the beautiful Isabela Island behind. We got to our new hostel, Arena Negra. We settled in and then we were on our way to our work site. There we had a fancy lunch, it was delicious! My favorite part was when we worked. We cleared a pile of trees and put them along the fence and tree line and then we got these cool picks. We used these picks to dig up rocks to help keep the trees we are going to plant, safe from tortoises. When we called it a day we walked back up, got some coffee and headed back to the hostel for dinner and to sleep for the next day.
Yesterday we traveled from Isabela Island to Santa Cruz Island by boat where many members of the group slept, but I saw some seabirds eating fish. We then took taxis to the hotel, changed, then went to an amazing lunch at the worksite. We then proceeded to work at the worksite by stacking cut down invasive tree species and collecting rocks to protect the indigenous tree species we were replacing the invasive ones with. We then traveled back to home base where some people stayed and others went out to look at the town. In the night we first went to the pier to watch the native aquatic species do things at night. We then stopped at some stores where we brought some touristy stuff. Then we returned and fell into a slumber.
Yesterday we took a five-mile hike to Tortuga Bay in the morning. We passed many lizards and cacti along the way. At the end of what seemed like a never ending red brick road, we reached the shoreline where we discovered the softest sand in the world. It felt like flour!
We made our way down the beach to the cacti. We learned that cacti are like sponges on the inside and that they take years until their spikes fall off of their trunks. From there we swam in a calm section of the bay where we relaxed and cooled down. Though it was difficult to leave, we left the bay and trudged back to the hostel where we enjoyed lunch.
After lunch we took the bus to our work site in Santa Rosa. This was the most fun bus ride; our dj did a great job! At the work site we worked in teams to dig up rocks, plant trees, move trees, and move rocks. It was very hard work but in the end we could see the big difference that we had made in two and a half hours. We were all very eager for dinner, which was delicious. Some of the group went to town to shop while others stayed in. All in all, it was another successful and fun day on Santa Cruz Island.
Saturday April 20, 2019
Today was the last day in paradise. What started off with a simple walk to the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz Island. There we learned about the three different types of iguanas, types of tortoises*, and about evolution. We then proceeded to hike to the Grietas where we swam around and cooled off.
After that and having lunch, we finished off at our work site and got to go through an amazing lava tunnel. At the end of the day we had some chocolate, dinner, and birthday cake where we got to say our goodbyes. I had an awesome time and words will never do no justice. I am the videographer for this trip and videos will soon be up on the blog.