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January Interim: Charting the Galapagos

January 20, 2015

The trip to Quito and the Galápagos is one that I will not soon forget. Leading up to the trip, we learned what made the islands so special and how they were formed.  We arrived in Quito just before midnight, so we went straight to the hotel that first day. The following day, our tour guide showed us the most prominent buildings in Quito, such as the presidential square and the Basilica church. That afternoon we were given some time to explore, during which time a group of friends and I took it upon ourselves to try the traditional cuy, or guinea pig. That afternoon we also traveled to the equator, where we were led through a museum.  Here, we learned about ancient practices and the forces exerted on the equator.

Next, we traveled to the Galápagos Islands.  We arrived in Santa Cruz in the afternoon.  We were taken into the middle of a jungle, where there were tortoises everywhere.  We were taken through the wild, and we saw the tortoises performing many different behaviors, such as eating, walking, and mating.  The next day we took a boat to San Cristobal, where we snorkeled in both the morning and afternoon.  My favorite part of the trip was the afternoon snorkeling, when we swam alongside giant sea turtles, stingrays, seas of fish, and colorful coral.  Sea lions lined the beach, and they even crawled on top of our backpacks.  The following day we traveled to Isabela via boat.  This island used to be a penal colony, and we saw a wall that was built by the prisoners.  Listening to my Spanish teacher asking the tour guides questions in Spanish, I felt inspired to work harder in Spanish, as I realized how much I have to learn and how important communication in one’s native language can be; many details are lost when stories have to be translated to another language.

Isabela itself is picturesque, as it has crystal blue waters, white sand, and lava rocks lining the beaches.  We walked along the beach, watching the iguanas crawl along the rocks and taking in the beach’s beauty.  We went snorkeling again that afternoon and swam beside sea lions and penguins.  We spent the next day on Santa Cruz.  We visited the Charles Darwin Research Center, where we saw baby tortoises and land iguanas. We flew back to Quito that night.  We went to the Otavalo market, where we bartered for many different goods such as ponchos, alpaca blankets, and figurines.  I got to try my hand at Spanish a great deal this day. It was neat to see how much my Spanish had improved from day one.  The last day in Ecuador was spent by going to a history museum, shopping in the local market, and going to the Guayasamín museum.  This interim was a fabulous experience, from personally evidencing evolution to experiencing a new culture. I surely feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.

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