Day 1: Bienvenidos a los Galapagos
We have finally arrived to the Galapagos, and it’s been an exciting day full of tortoises, land and marine iguanas, birds and sweat.
Written by: Rosa Reyes, Class of 2016
I think I speak for most people in our class when I say that when our alarms went off yesterday at 6:30 am, we actually woke up happy.
As we sped off to the airport to catch our flight to Baltra, we glanced back at the colorful city of Guayaquil where we were only able to spend one night. A mere hour and forty-five minute plane ride later we saw the shapes of Daphne Major and Minor, as well as North Seymore and the desolate island of Baltra. Climbing out of the plane, we were greeted by absolutely nothing; the bare and harsh volcanic surface makes this island pretty inhospitable for much to grow or live here.
Once past Galapagos customs, we were greeted by our tour guides Steve and Duncan from the Isabela Oceanographic Institute. We then hopped onto a crowded bus, which then took us to a boat that later dropped us off on the island of Santa Cruz. Once there, we took another bus ride for 45 min. until we reached Port Ayora. Throughout this entire ride, we saw the landscape change drastically from a dry and rocky coast to a lush and green inland habitat.
The bus left us at the entrance of the Hotel Verde Azul, where we got a few minutes to breathe before we were thrust, once again, out into the humid and dense Galapaganonian air. After a hearty lunch, we walked down to the Charles Darwin Research Center, taking out our cameras along the way as we encountered many species of birds, a marine iguana and a hungry sea lion. However, we were pressed for time to see the tortoises.
Once we met them, I understood why Darwin was so astonished by them; large is an understatement for their actual body size. We saw both the domed and saddleback juvenile tortoises that are currently being held in pens until they grow larger and the adult tortoises. They were clearly very pleased to see us as well since they decided to put on a love show for our personal entertainment. We also saw some lazy land iguanas, which happened to be shedding and staying very still in the hot sun.
At this point our shirts were stuck to our backs and our hair was plastered against our foreheads, yet nothing could stop our inner explorer from watching these unique species around us and sharing our knowledge with others in the group. As the day came to an end, we were all astonished by what we had seen, and proud about what we knew. I am anxious to see what lies ahead in our travels, but most of all I am surprised at how much I love these islands after I was sweating for half a day.
Maybe it’s the animals, the red landscape, the culture or the friendly people; perhaps it is a combination of all these things that makes the Galapagos a unique place in this world that only a few get to see. I am pleased that I can now count myself amongst those lucky few. Stay tuned for more on our Galapagos adventure…