Day 3: Puerto Villamil and IOI!
Today we made the trip from Santa Cruz to Isabela, where we met our host families for the first time and got to see the Intercultural Outreach Initiative.
Today was a unique day, focused less on the ecology of the Galapagos and more on the culture. We started our day in Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz, with an boat ride to Isabela scheduled for 9am.
As things tend to go when traveling, the unexpected occurred. Four students, Kristen, Rosa, Carolyn, and I ended up in a taxi that brought us to the opposite side of the island from our destination. Upon arrival, which took about 45 minutes, it became evident that we were at the wrong destination.
Worried and confused, we had to struggle to recontact the group in a foreign country. To me the hardest part was how unhelpful I was to the group in this situation being that I did not speak any Spanish. Luckily, Rosa was fluent in the language and could manage to communicate with the local Galapagonians. We arrived at our real destination only forty minutes late, but all worked out in the end and we were off to Isabela!
The boat ride to Isabela was short and rather uneventful, but we still managed to enjoy the exotic sites the archipelago has to offer. On the trip, we passed by the sites of Isla Tortuga and Concha y Perla, which were both very unique in their geological formations and ecology.
On the journey over, we observed more of the same bird species seen in the previous days, including the Galapagos petrel and the Blue footed boobie. On a side note, I thoroughly enjoyed observing a flock of boobies feed, and was fascinated by the way in which they all dive bomb from very high heights onto what I assume was a school of fish. What was a first to me was spotting a soaring albatross.
It was good to finally arrive at Isabela where we would be spending the remainder of our Galapagos journey. As I waited on the bus as we dropped each group off to their host family, I got to watch other groups be united with their host family in which was an exciting moment for all involved.
One thing I specifically noticed was the unique greeting the first family had, as a young boy kissed the cheek of all in the group. These families seemed especially inviting and happy to meet us. Before arriving on Isabela, I was anxious to meet my host family and knew that the language barrier would be a big struggle to me. But this made me all the more excited and removed any nerves I had about my host parents.
My host parents live in a three-story house, which is partially open to the outside on all floors (this seems common to around here but nonetheless always surprises me). The bottom floor is a clothing store, which Maribel runs during the day. Flavio is a fisherman, but unfortunately due to the rush I did not get the chance to meet him much more than that. Also at home was their son Chris, 11, who seemed both curious and happy to meet Austin and I.
After our short introduction, Maribel walked us to the IOI for our classes afternoon meeting. I was pleased by how well I was able to communicate with her. I look forward to getting to know the family better at our first dinner tonight and the basketball game which will follow dinner, explained to me as the “chubby man competition.”