We are back in Quito after an amazing finish to our stay on the Galapagos Islands! Last time we checked in, we were headed to Santa Cruz Island following the completion of our service work and snorkeling on San Cristobal.
We hopped on the boat the morning of the 20th with Santa Cruz Island in our scopes. Following a fun and bouncy ride, enjoyed especially by Robert and Olivia, we docked and headed straight for our awaiting bus. After a short bus ride, we visited some huge lava tunnels, which were dug out in the past, by, of course, lava. Some tunnels reach all the way from the volcano to the shoreline! After snapping some photos of the tunnels, we headed for Las Primicias farm, a protected tortoise reserve. Here we got right up next to multiple Galapagos Tortoises! They were humungous and very, very slow. Sam took some great photos of these guys, and they were very cooperative, posing for long periods of time. On the way back to the bus, we stopped to look at some hollow shells from past tortoises, and Liza T and Marcy were able to fit inside of them with room to spare.
After a little shopping at the local souvenir shop, we got back on the bus and headed for lunch. Here, we all enjoyed soup, and our choice of chicken, fish, or beef, followed by a dessert of flan. Kamran really loved his flan, and finished what others were too full to eat themselves.
Following lunch, we looked in some more shops, bought some ice cream, and finally got back on the boat, headed for our final destination of the day, Isabela Island. Upon our arrival, we headed straight for our hostel and unpacked, showered, and readied ourselves for dinner. Henry lead the way to the restaurant, where we feasted on either traditional chicken and rice, or less traditional options, such as pizza and hamburgers. After a slice of cake for dessert, we walked back to our hostel to get a good night’s sleep before our full morning of surfing ahead!
The next morning, we ate breakfast in our hostel before hopping in a couple vans to the beach. An absolutely gorgeous day awaited us, with the sun shining and hardly a cloud in the sky. We had three surf guides, all of whom were very thorough and clear with the surf lessons. After about 30 minutes of on land lessons, we headed into the water and tried our luck on the waves. Liza B and Nicky really got the hang of it quickly which was great to see. After a few hours in the water, we reluctantly retreated back to land for a tasty lunch. Following lunch, we said thank you and good bye to our new friends (the surf guides), and walked back to the hostel.
After a quick refresher at the hostel, some of us napped or went for a short jog, while others continued to soak in the rays by heading back to the beach for some tanning. With dinner at 7:00, everyone was clean and ready to go by 6:30. We again walked, this time to another restaurant, and enjoyed another dinner of traditional and not so traditional cuisine.
The morning of the 22nd, we rented some snorkel gear and wetsuits and took a very short boat ride to Tintoreras Island where we first took a short hike, seeing sea lions, marine iguanas, many bird species, and white tipped reef sharks! We then hopped staright into the water and snorkeled around the area. Here we saw and followed a sea turtle! It was awesome and everyone was super excited to talk about it back on the boat.
Upon completing our tour of Tintoreras, we returned the snorkel gear and went to lunch where we ate traditional sea food ceviche. This included shrimp, fish and octopus, as well as onions, tomatoes and rice. As an appetizer, we ate lobster soup and for dessert, neapolitan ice cream with banana slices!
We then jumped back on the boat that transferred us to Isabela Island, in route to Santa Cruz. Here we settled into our hostel, ate a hardy meal of fish, chicken or beef, and headed to bed, preparing for our plane flight back to the mainland.
The next morning, we ate breakfast at our hostel and drove to a ferry that took us across a short channel to the airport on Baltra Island. The airport experience went very smoothly for everyone, and before we knew it, we were back on the mainland in Quito. A very special surprise was only a few hours away as well: the arrival of our new camper, Eli! Everyone voted to wait to eat until she was present, a decision we were all pleased with. We feasted on empenadas, fritatas, llapingacho, and even guinea pig! After everyone was stuffed to the gills, we walked back to the hostel and headed for bed.
This morning, we ate breakfast at the hostel and drove to Mindo where we partook in a canopy tour of the jungle! It was a beautiful landscape we got to view from above, very different from anything we have seen thus far. After the canopy tour, we drove to the equator monument near Quito, where the group was able to stand in both the northern and southern hemispheres at once! Tonight we head out on the town again for dinner, which we expect to be just as satisfying as all our others have been.
Until next time!