Dear friends and family,
Here we are…our final blog about our wonderful trip. This has been an amazing experience with so many highs, a few challenges and bonding sessions like you wouldn’t believe.
We’re now on our second island in the Galapagos Islands and loving every second. We were in San Cristobal for four days. We worked at a local high school painting and landscaping their property. Julianna, Julia, Alyssa, Jonathan, Chloe and Jordan were dedicated to the painting cause and were on a mission with their rollers and brushes. Max, Jack and Ali were moving rocks and landscaping without a hesitation. The school was so thankful for our hard work, the President and top student at the facility had dinner with us on the last night to show their gratitude.
Besides the volunteering, San Cristobal opened our eyes to the beauty of nature. Sea lions literally roam around the streets and lay on benches all over town. Our peeps were mesmerized by the friendly mammals (especially the baby ones!) and loved learning about them from our nature guides. Leah G had a particular love of the sea lions and made it her mission to take a photo with everyone she could find. It was quite entertaining! We took in some awesome snorkeling and Leah J, Jackie, Dan and Mia really got into swimming with the sea turtles and sea lions. Jacob found a slew of crabs and other awesome marine life around the water. We were never too far from our cameras and definitely loved watching the animals in their natural habitat, completely undisturbed.
Our team was absolutely fearless when it was time to jump in and snorkel with sharks. We all saw black tip sharks and Galapagos sharks – definitely a once in a lifetime experience! Josh even saw a sting ray as big as him! How better to follow up a day of snorkeling with sharks than with a good night of Karaoke. Jordan, Matt and Aspyn belted out the tunes like they were playing Madison Square Garden … they even hit some notes we thought no human could! Our family really got into Jenna and Aja’s Britney Spears and Justin Bieber renditions. Chloe and Jason wasted no time bringing us down to earth with a slow song from the heart.
After a two hour boat ride across the bluest water of the Pacific Ocean, we’re now at our final destination. We’re in Santa Cruz until we head home. We’ve already visited the Charles Darwin centre where we learned about tortoises and iguanas. We went tree planting in a tortoise sanctuary and learned more about the fascinating (and huge) animals. We’re looking forward to kayaking in Tortuga Bay and spending as much time on the beach as possible before we have to part.
This has been a very emotion-filled month together. We’ve laughed, cried and sometimes even laughed until we cried. We’ve bonded and can proudly say that our 21 teen-troop is very loving and inclusive of one another. We are sorely going to miss wake-up calls and dinners together; inside jokes and ridiculous incidents; but mostly, we’ll miss each other’s company and unique selves. Our Ecuador trip has truly brought out the best in every one of our teens and we hope we’re sending back more mature, well-rounded and extremely happy people. We’d like the think they’re all of the above!
A final adios from the middle of the earth,
The Westcoast Blogger