Location: The Galapagos Islands
I woke up to the grieving sounds of my roommates suffering from sunburns from our previous day on the beach. Regardless, we made our way down to breakfast to enjoy a delicious serving of omelets. Almost immediately after our meal, we split into two groups. One was sent to go snorkeling in the deep blue ocean and the other, my group, was heading back to the Charles Darwin Institute to do some community service work. On the walk there, we kept a lookout for a bakery but failed to find what we were looking for. I hungered for their delicious cookies.
When we first arrived we were greeted by our guide Raphael as Isis, our favorite fellow students and Ecuadorian, helped to translate his instructions for the day. A few of us picked up the given machetes and began to hack away at the dead shrubbery on the sides of the paths that were suffocating trees. This was essential ” removing this vegetation not only reduces water usage, but also improves soil quality. We then moved the barren branches, twigs and leaves onto tarps and dumped them on the truck. We heaved multiple truckloads. The local park rangers were amazed at our absurd strength.
As the rest of the group carried on, Isis and I started a very tedious job. We worked hard to pull dead leaves off of an endangered species of plants. We also collected seeds from the plant in order to repopulate and save it from extinction. This was worked on for three hours before we went back into town to find lunch. After scouring downtown for a while we finally decided to get authentic oven baked pizza. Our amazing wannabe Environmental scientist student, Camilla, had an interesting discussion with a Galapagos Environmental Educator, learning about all the contrasting departments.
Afterwards, we endured a long session of planting endemic species. We planted three bins along the paths to replace the previous dead branches that were scattered in their place. The other group, however, snorkeled all day long at Santa Fe, gazing at sea lions, sharks, sting rays, turtles, and jumping dolphins. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by a paint supply shop in order to pick up tins for the group that would be painting a mural the next day. We enjoyed ice cream the rest of the way.
When we finally made it back to our rooms, we all took long showers to wash off the dirt and blood from our hard work. After a few hours, we were reunited with the rest of the kids and immediately left to find dinner by the shore. We sided with Pirates Parrilla, a classy Galapogan restaurant that was along the side of the road. Everyone full-heartedly adored their meal and left the table satisfied. Shortly after returning to the hotel for the last time the group discussed the high and low points of their day prior to a well deserved rest.