Straddling the Line

May 21st, 2015 by kono

Wednesday May 20th 2015

Today was our first and only full day in Quito, Ecuador. All of us were very excited after what amounted to several planes; a train and bus ride to the hotel last night. We arrived at 1:00 am Maine time but thanks to the Ecuadorians not adopting Day Light Savings Time it was only midnight here. A few short hours of sleep and we hit the ground running at 8 am. After a quick breakfast this morning we met our guide Eduardo and Marco who took us out of Quito towards the equator and northern hemisphere where we would be spending the day. Our ride was an adventure in and of itself. The area around Quito is literally carved into the mountain side; making for a ride full of twists and turns, ups and downs and narrow roadways. Our first stop of the day lead us to the equator, everyone had an opportunity to straddle, stand on and parade around the equatorial line marking 0°0’0”. The site included a compass similar to those found in ancient indigenous tribal areas, alluding to the rich historic traditions of the country. Later on in our journey we arrived in the town of Otavalo where we were able to venture through a local market full of Ecuadorian merchants selling anything from hats and paintings to jewelry and small trinkets. This gave us all an opportunity to barter for goods… some of us were better at that than others. We also had a chance to explore the food market and town square both of which were unique cultural experiences. Our exploration ended at a traditional indigenous house where we were served a traditional four course Ecuadorian meal. After our meal our host gave us a look into the cultural past of the indigenous Ecuadorian people. We then loaded back onto the bus and headed back to our hotel in Quito to prepare for our 4:30 am departure to the airport and 7 am Flight to the Galapagos. There we will follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and keep you all updated along the way (provided we can find wifi). CHAO for now!

May 30th and 31st: Wait, what day is it?

May 31st, 2013 by kono

I’m sure by this point in time many of those who have been reading this have been reunited with their loved ones or have gotten a phone call telling you all of the wonderful experiences from the last 10 days. Currently, Hayley and I (Royale) are the only two that remain at the airport trying to get the internet to work with us so we can post our last few thoughts. (As a secondary note, Logan wifi is terrible but South Station has excellent wifi.) However, this is a bit of a struggle since neither of us consider plane sleeping real sleep and we made it up for the sunrise yesterday. I have already scampered off down the airport to locate the closest Dunkin’ (never too far away in New England) and am doing one last caffeine fueled post. Let’s do this people!

Most of us got up bright and early yesterday to tie up some loose ends packing and then head upstairs to watch the sunrise with Choco Listo in hand. We then circled Daphne Island on the Floreana in order to get one last glance at some Nazca boobies, red-billed tropic birds, and the crowd favorite, the Sally lightfoot crab. The boat then took us back to Baltra where I was pleased to get a few last glances at some nice sized Galapagos sharks. As we left the boat and waved goodbye to the crew, we all took one last glance of an area that we were not ready to leave. When we boarded the bus, we finally got a fleeting glance at a land iguana, something at least I had been looking forward to seeing.  This is because apparently they sometimes attack people. I had really hoped to see a pastel clad adventurer in a pith helmet getting chased down by an iguana, but alas I must settle for not seeing that dream come true.  After arriving at the airport and struggling to check our bags, we did some last minute gift shopping, since it’s hard to buy people gifts on uninhabited islands.  We then bid farewell to Victor and patiently waited for our flight.

After a brief stop in Guayaquil to pick up more passengers, and cue up Bridesmaids on Hayley’s iPad, we were back on our way to Quito. Upon arrival, we gathered our bags and headed to a day room for much needed showers and a massively impressive dinner. At 9 we returned to the airport to wait for our midnight flight to Houston. The flight was long and boring of course, but a few of us still had to finish up our journals that are included as part of the class, so the time was much appreciated. We quickly boogied through Houston, although the customs line took forever and there was a music loop only about 2 minutes long playing, to get on our flight to Boston. After discovering that not all of the bags made it to Boston we bid farewell to our friends new and old. (Personally I’m glad my bag is getting shipped to my house, because now I don’t have to carry it on the train.)

So that’s it, the end of our marvelous trip to South America and the wonderful world of the Galapagos. We hope that you have enjoyed reading about our times and can’t wait to share all of our pictures with you!

Quote of the day: “I can’t believe no one got arrested!”- Dr. Ono


May 29th: Lotioning and oiling, oiling and lotioning… I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

May 31st, 2013 by kono

Hola from Rabida! Today has been a fun day for island hopping, don’t ya think? We awoke this morning to the view of our very familiar island friend, Santiago, where we have visited twice already. We hiked this morning on Puerto Egas, located on the western coast of the island. We had a possible lesson in the web of life when we saw a young sea lion pup enter the water unattended and, moments later, a shark appeared unannounced. While we are not sure what the fate of the young pup was, we as young wilderness explorers/scientists understand that a fish has gotta eat. We were able to observe some playful behaviors from other sea lions in collapsed lava tubes leading to the ocean, and we saw several species already sighted. This includes the crowd favorite, the sally lightfoot crab. Our last few snorkel adventures were bittersweet, as I know none of us want to admit the truth: our time here is winding down.

We now write from Rabida, a very tiny volcanic island off the southern tip of Santiago. Rabida is famous for its playa de rojo, or red beach. The sand on this beach is a deep burgundy in coloration and it was so exciting to see. Although our hike and time spent here was short, we were able to admire some spectacular views, enjoy the wildlife, and even manage to not get sunburned! We then ventured back to the M/Y Floreana for our last night. The crew of the boat was present at dinner to give certificates declaring our crossing of the equatorial line. Everyone was very touched by the gesture, especially when we noticed that our tour guide, Victor, even wore shoes to this special occasion. Tomorrow, many of us will wake to watch the sunrise for the last time in the Galapagos before departing these amazing islands.

Quote of the day: (singing to the Folgers theme) ” The best part of waking up is Choco Listo in your cup!”

Two quick notes: Choco Listo is like hot chocolate/Ovaltine. The title is a Sandlot reference, that just ended up being said quite a bit due to the amount of sunscreen used on this trip.

May 28th: Turt watch 2013… a success!

May 31st, 2013 by kono

Today was a day for the wilderness explorer in all of us! We began by eating another wonderfully prepared and served breakfast, and then traveled to Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island, which is off the coast of Isabela. On our first hike of the day we saw several new species, such as flightless cormorants, and we even got to see nature take its course when we witnessed a newly born marine iguana being eaten by a great blue heron.

After this exciting adventure we were treated to another snorkel that appealed to the kid in all of us. We were able to observe green sea turtles feeding extremely close by, and even spotted an octopus! After a well deserved lunch, we were off again, this time to Isabela, where we hiked to a glorious, albeit warm, view of Darwin Lake, which is a huge salt crater lake. The crew was then kind enough to take us on a small boat tour of the surrounding area, where we viewed penguins, frigate birds, and far too many other species to name! Each day we wake up not knowing what to expect, but our expectations are always surpassed and we love the islands more and more. Tomorrow we will be writing from Santiago again, where we will have our last full day touring the island. Adios amigos!

Quote of the day: “I guess it’s time for me to go drink my fruity sweat!”


May 27th, 2013 by kono

Hello all! We finally have wifi, which for 21st century young adults is amazing. Everyone is still alive and doing well, no one has fallen off of a cliff and died, we just have been living on a boat;  therefore we do not have internet… EVER. Also, sincere apologies for a lack of pictures, we have limited time and limited internet power, so pictures and videos will be added to posts or posted when we return. Right now, we are enjoying time in the town of Puerto Villamil on the inhabited island of Isabela.

This morning we got up for the normal 7am breakfast and then headed out for a hike around Tintoreras, an islet off the coast of Isabela full of baby marine iguanas and hosting some rocking views of white tip reef sharks. We also got a chance to see more penguins, blue footed boobies, sea lions, and the crowd favorite, the Sally lightfoot crab. After that we returned to the boat to prepare for our snorkel. The snorkel was pretty uneventful though a few of us managed to spot a large male sea turtle, and we once again swam with some curious sea lions.  However, it seems that some of us no longer find the sea lions as amusing as we used to.

Lunch was once again quite delicious and many embraced the siesta time.  We then shipped off to the Puerto Villamil, where we got to see some flamingos and visited a tortoise breeding sanctuary. We saw dozens of young tortoises which was an amazing and adorable sight for everyone. After a short hike  through the mangroves we made it back to the town and found a nice little cafe to do some blogging in.

As a warning for those of you who check daily, we will most likely not have internet until we hit an airport again (which means no posts until Thursday or Friday). Just remember that we are thinking of our friends and loved ones and that we are missing you all very much and wish that you could see the amazing things we have seen so far. Time is definitely flying!

Quote of the day: “I would get naked to save you.”