Day 2 — We headed to North Seymour Island. We saw a bunch of endangered species such as blue footed boobies, frigate birds, a bunch of sea lions, iguanas, and more. The climate was hot and it was necessary to have water at all times to avoid being dehydrated. We then snorkeled through the coast of the island in which the waters were super rough. I was able to see a bunch of different species though.
After snorkeling, we headed out to the hotel for dinner. We then had a group night out at one of the local bars where we had some Pilsener, Ecuadorian beer, and enjoyed each others company.
Day 3 — This by far has been my favorite day! We started out at the boat at 7am and headed out to South Plaza Island. There we saw a whole lot of cacti and unusual rocks, along with some more sea lions and land iguanas. The view from the top of the island was spectacular. One side you have a serene view overlooking the calm waters and another island, and on the other side, we were on a high edge of a cliff overlooking rough waters.
We then headed off to snorkel about 45 minutes away. We saw some sharks but of course as soon as I saw one, I would swim in the complete opposite direction. After snorkeling, our tour guide had mentioned a place not too far called Las Grietas where locals go cliff diving. Upon returning to the hotel, a couple of us from our group decided to take a water taxi to the other side of the island and take a hike to Las Grietas. The hike was about twenty minutes long, which wasn’t what we were expecting, but it was well worth it when we came across a bunch of locals swimming in the grottos. A few of us jumped off, including myself. It was such a refreshing experience that gave me a big adrenaline rush.
Upon returning to the hotel, there seemed to be a political rally passing through the main street from our hotel. Natives were driving around in buses, motorcycles, pick-up trucks, waving flags and honking their horns while being escorted by police. They seemed just as thrilled to see a dozen of American students standing outside cheering for them as we were just as thrilled yet confused trying to take in what was exactly happening.
We then took a tram car ride throughout the city and found a local festival going on. Galapagos natives were dancing around and the crowd was expanding as the night went on. Towards the end of the festival, the whole crowd got out of their seats and began dancing through out the street. Footage of both the rally and festival can be seen on the video I posted a few posts down.
Day three was my favorite because I felt the most connected with the culture at the Galapagos. Instead of just hanging out at the hotel after the set excursions, I was able to wander off and meet locals. I befriended a nice old lady named Norma, who ran a corner store no too far from the docks and a couple of guys my age who worked all over the island.
During my time in the Galapagos Islands, I would jot down my experiences for the day in a journal every night. The next few posts will be some excerpts from my journal along with some pictures!
Day One — After a long day of traveling, delays and layovers, we finally made it to the Galapagos Islands! On the way from the airport, we stopped to see Los Gemelos, which are two twin craters on Santa Cruz Island.
Steve and I at Los Gemelos
We soon got to the hotel, settled down for a bit and had lunch. We then headed off to the Charles Darwin Research Center, which was walking distance from our hotel, and checked out some land iguanas and large tortoises.
Excerpt from journal — “In these past 24 hours, I’ve probably had about ~2 hours of sleep. Although now I’m exhausted, this whole day has been filled with such excitement. I’m getting to know all of my fellow classmates and I’ve been on such a high for the sole reason that it is my first time in South America. I’m extremely happy that I’m here and can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!”
Exactly a year ago today, I was embarking on a journey of a lifetime. For those of you who have followed this blog since day one, you’ve all been able to experience this journey with me. Barcelona is a city I fell in love with. I fell in love with the culture, the food, the people, the football culture — everything. I’ve been able to meet some amazing people that come from all walks of life around the world. Spring 2013 will always be close to me.
This past fall semester was viewed as a “transitioning” semester. I was transitioning back from an amazing spring semester and fun-filled summer. It was also my hardest semester. I was taking 18 credits and had a handful of jobs/internships to juggle. Throughout all of this, my experiences from abroad always came to mind at least once a day.
From taking the metro everywhere, speaking Spanish everyday and traveling to different cities frequently with all of my new friends to returning home and being thrown with a bunch of responsibilities — let me tell you, reverse culture shock does exist. My internship in Communications with the study abroad office (Center for International Education) has exposed me to a plethora of international students and a bunch of students who have recently studied abroad whom I could connect with about our experiences living and studying in a different country.
Although my study abroad journey may be over, it’s not something that I just left behind at the airport. The experiences and lessons I’ve learned are things that will stay with me forever. All of this has shaped me into the person I am today and have influenced my future and have made more of an impact on my every day decisions than I probably realize.
Tomorrow, I continue my travels to the Galapagos Islands where I will be taking a course called “Documenting Cultures.”