Global: Session 1 - Darwin: Galapagos & Equador

Posted: Mon, Jul 14, 2014

The Final Hours

Location: Quito
Author: Isabelle T.
Four score and three weeks ago, we were all strangers and now we are sisters. To end our trip we went white water rafting today. From 5:40 am to 8:45 pm everyone had a smile on their face. We went under a water fall and jumped off a 15 ft cliff while laughter filled the air. The adventures and activities on this trip have been out of this world. From swimming in the Amazon River to hiking Quilotoa Crater, no one was left behind. We always have each others back. The memories we have made will never be forgotten. Whether it was crying from laughter at dinner or getting sea sick or working for hours in the hot sun, we always found a way to have fun. From my point of view, I have never seen a group of girls as close as we are. We got very lucky. For our closing ceremony we each picked a name out of a hat and made them a bracelet. When we presented these bracelets, everyone had something nice to say about their person. From first to last, tears were streaming down everyone’s faces. After, the staff put together a slide show of the many times that were spent together. From the awkward first day to the final goodbyes in the airport, we will always be friends no matter how far the distance.

Posted: Sun, Jul 13, 2014

Goodbye Galapagos

Location: Galapagos to Quito
Author: Robin K.
Today we traveled back to Quito. We woke up early to take an amazing boat trip through Black Turtle Cove. We were able to see tons of cool animals like sharks, turtles and spotted eagle rays. It was the perfect way to wake up. The turtles were resting on the sand under the water and one huge one actually woke up to follow our boat out of the mangroves! The eagle rays were probably the most majestic creatures we’ve seen in the water so far, the way they move through the water is truly comparable to the soaring of an eagle. After that, we said good bye to our boat Guantanamera and made our way to the airport. The flights were full of laughs and games because for the first time we got to all sit together in two rows! Fortunately, the other passengers didn’t mind our high volume. After the flight, we came back to Hosteria San Carlos where we were able to catch the last couple minutes of the final for the World Cup. Afterwards we went out for the end of trip dinner. It was so much fun. We ate tons and tons of pizza but saved room for a dessert of chocolate cakes and a surprise birthday treat of ice cream (Victoria told the waiter it was her birthday much to the amusement of our tribe). We are all so excited about rafting tomorrow, but are getting very sad about leaving. As we begin the closing program activities, we’re truly starting to realize the value of the experiences we’ve had this summer. We have had such a fun trip together!

Posted: Sat, Jul 12, 2014

Another Awesome Galapagos Adventure

Author: Julie M.
It was a new day in the Galapagos. We awoke early to the gentle rocking of the waves and headed downstairs for breakfast where we were greeted by delicious smells. The aroma of eggs, potato pancakes, fruit and cereal filled the air. We quickly engulfed our breakfast and headed out for today’s activities. We began our morning with a ride to a beach where a scenic nature walk followed. We spotted blue footed boobies, flaming pink flamingos and yellow iguanas. We also had another penguin sighting! Cameras were snapping and the smiles could be seen on everyone’s faces. Our tour guide, Javier, drew us a sand map of the islands and provided us with the history of the Galapagos. The animals, he informed us were super friendly because the island was so protected which is why it is so important to preserve it. Demonstrating this the sea lions came incredibly close and seemed to pose for pictures. We even got to see baby sea lions only a few days old! After this exciting start to our morning we headed back to the boat where we put on our wet suits and got ready to go snorkeling once again. Diving into the water was a cold start but a refreshing one. To everyone’s shock we saw even more penguins. One even swam near us! It was definitely a special moment I’ll forever look back on. While snorkeling we saw not only penguins but tons of amazing sea life. Fish displayed their colors including the parrot fish which seemed to gleam like a rainbow. Starfish were sprawled out on the ocean floor and stingrays were everywhere! As if the ocean wasn’t amazing enough, suddenly Isabelle spotted a gigantic reef shark. All the girls swam over as fast as we could to get a look and watch this majestic and gigantic creature. We continued snorkeling until it was time to head back to the boat for lunch. Lunch consisted of delicious shrimp, rice, fruit and veggies. Everyone could not stop eating the shrimp, hungry after an adventure packed morning. After lunch, we had some downtime in which we all hung out on the front of the boat talking and listening to music. Mariela, Alejandro, Jayisha and I also played some cards (or beat Alejandro at cards 😀 ) We headed back out to land for a mini hike over the rocks. We watched yellow iguanas eat cactus and visited some scenic points on the beach. The landscape was beautiful and the waves hit the rocks in a way too beautiful for a postcard. Once back at the boat the staff held a forum where we explored and talked about our past, present and future. It was a great way to look at ourselves and learn more about each other. Our last dinner was chicken, rice, potatoes and cake! The chef had baked a cake in our honor and we all couldn’t be happier-until the staff pulled out a hat with names inside. We learned that we were each to draw a name and then make a string bracelet for that person. At closing we would present the bracelet as well as what we admire about them. All the girls went to work creating their bracelets, preparing what they were to say and packing for the days to come.

Posted: Fri, Jul 11, 2014

It Doesn’t Get Better Than This

Location: The Galapagos
Author: Vika H.
For many, including myself, today was a day we will never forget. It’s one of those days that will forever stay on our top ten lists of the most incredible experiences ever. We started off this spectacular day waking up to a wonderful breakfast fueling us up for the adventurous day ahead. After breakfast we ventured to the island of Floreana where we all had our first encounter with the world famous Blue Footed Booby. We were also lucky enough to see a baby booby. Unlike its parents, this little bird is completely white, and fluffy. According to our guide Javier, this particular baby was only about two months old. We were then taken a little deeper into the island where we encountered a group of bright pink flamingos. For a short while, we marveled at the beautiful birds until we crossed to another part of the island. There we came upon a beautiful white sandy beach. Animals ranging from bright and dark colored crabs, to sea lions and stingrays caught our eyes attention in almost every direction. After the morning island visit, we were taken back to the boat where we took a splash from the top of the boat into the clear blue ocean below. Afterwards, it was finally time for what others and myself had been desperately awaiting the entire trip…snorkeling. Javier took us to a beautiful snorkel spot called Devils Crown. Ever before diving into the water we had already began to see one of our most favorite animals…sea lions! Once into the water we were astounded at what lay beneath. The ocean for many, is a wonderfully mysterious place that fortunately welcomes our arrival at any time. As I was descending into the shallow depths I was greeted with many schools of all different kinds of fish with colors ranging from blues to yellows and even purples. My personal favorite is the parrot fish. This type of fish is noticeably larger than most with shimmering with bright florescent colors. After snorkeling at Devils Crown, we were moved to another spot which was closer to shore with flatter, less rocky terrain. There were not as many fish in this spot as before but it was still spectacular. Right before we left heading back to the boat, we saw a pack of stingrays at the bottom of the ocean. By this time our stomachs were grumbling for lunch and this lunch definitely satisfied them. Within only about five minutes, our once colorful plates full of beautifully crafted cuisine, was completely cleared. After lunch we were allotted time to relax in the sun and rest up for the second half of the day. Just when I thought the vision of paradise could not be defined any better, we all got to swim with sea turtles for the first time ever. Snorkeling for the second half of the day was from the shore and aside from the beautiful multicolored fish, we saw so many sea turtles. Few even saw a sea lion swim right in front of them! On shore we entered Post Office Bay. In Post Office Bay, travelers write to either themselves or family on postcards and put them in a wooden barrel. The postcards then await its hand delivered arrival from another traveler whose hometown is the same as the card is addressed. After snorkeling and Post Office Bay we all rode in the dinghies to another part of the island were we saw many lazy sea lions resting on the volcanic rock. At one point we saw two penguins resting as well. Overall, it was all truly a breath taking sight. In fact, everything here in the Galapagos is truly outstanding and simply jaw dropping. We all continue to look forward to what the next few days will bring us.

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