Hello loved ones,
It feels like it has been quite a long time since we’ve last written, but it’s only because we’ve had many fun filled days. Since we’ve last written, we have experienced, as Charles Darwin famously said, “the mysteries and majestic Galapagos Islands”. The uniqueness and rare beauty of its land and wildlife has been intriguing.
The journey began when we left Banos on July 12th to head back to Quito for one night. The drive to Quito was, once again, breathtaking, as we were able to enjoy the landscape and waterfalls along the way. We also were lucky enough to cross paths with the second Community Service Ecuador and Galapagos Island trip and share some lunch and laughter over delicious pizza. Cody, Jason and Rachel were very excited to see their friends from the other trip. That evening we ate at a good Mexican restaurant in Quito.
On July 15th the second half of our trip began. This aspect of the trip attracted each of us because we were about to embark to a place in our world that few can go to and many wish they could, the Galapagos Islands! Our plane landed on the Island of Baltra and we took a boat to the exciting island of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz has a lot of personality, beauty and character. We walked around the town and spent the afternoon at the famous Darwin Center where we saw tortoises, including the famous Lonesome George, who is a 120-year old tortoise, sadly the last of his species. Haley and Casey snapped a picturesque shot with a tortoise with his mouth open. Even the tour guide was impressed. That evening we ate at a great restaurant where some trip members enjoyed the island’s famous tuna, which was served on a volcanic rock in order to keep it warm. There was live, Ecuadorian street music and dancing going on across the street, which the group watched for a little pre-dinner activity.
The next day began with a drive to an area 45 minutes away where we participated in a reforestation project on a local preservation area. The objective was to plant scalasias trees, which are indigenous to the island, in order to get rid of the introduced blackberries which are ruining the environment. Lauren B. and Meryl got the entire group energized for the day as they sang their hearts out in the bus. That morning we made a true difference for the environment in Santa Cruz by planting over 60 trees. Each member planted a tree for someone. For example, Olivia planted one to honor her late grandfather, Jackie and Jamie planted one for their family and Andrea planted one for her friends. After a delicious lunch cooked with much food from the land, the group enjoyed a nature hike to look at the tortoises and a trip into a lava tunnel. That night we went to a disco where Tristan challenged some 10 year old tourist boys to a dance off…it was a tie!
The next day we went back to the preservation area and helped create informational pamphlets about the tortoises and lava tunnels that future tourists will use when visiting the area. We also made a huge wooden sign indicating that this area was helped reforested by 360 Student Travel and we all signed our names. Anna-Karin used her amazing artistic skills once again to create beautiful letters and pictures on the sign. On the way back to our hotel we stopped by two craters in the Bosque De Scalesia. After dinner that evening the group played a photo scavenger hunt which brought a lot of laughs and good memories.
The next morning we walked around the peaceful and picturesque Tortuga Bay where we went kayaking and swimming. Ryan and Bebe enjoyed kayaking through the crystal blue ocean. After this lovely morning, we headed by boat to our next stop: the Island of San Cristobal. On our way there we stopped at the untouched island of Sante Fe for some great snorkelling. There were colorful fish and the trip members even got to swim with sea lions.
That evening the group was still enthralled by the beautiful and cute sea lions. Alex, Tyler and Peter led much of the group to an area on the beach that was filled with them. Good eye guys!
Today was our first full day on this quaint and peaceful island. We woke up and headed to the Centro de Interpretacion where we learned about the creation and history about the Galapagos. We then walked to yet another beautiful area to snorkel. After lunch we went to the Scout location where we helped in the building of a future scout house to teach the children about the environment and so forth. Carter and Lauren K. worked their strength as they were digging up the rocks. Tomorrow we will head back and mix cement for the foundation. Though we will not see the finished product, our hearts and footprints will be there.
The last few days of the trip are upon us and amazing activities are still ahead. We will be surfing, relaxing on the beach and most of all enjoying each other’s company. The moments and experiences continue to come and build our friendships and our character.
Until our final scribe we send many smiles,
Nick, Jamee and Dana
The Westcoast Blogger