At an early 5am on Wednesday morning, 16 groggy Ecuador Leapers packed themselves into a bus, haphazardly navigated an airport, and successfully made their way onto a flight to the one and only Galapagos Islands. We are those groggy Leapers and this is our story.
Arriving in the Galapagos, many of us are hit with a wave of heat, despite the cloudy skies, and a wave of regret over wearing our jumpers. We are toted from the coast, where our plane comes in, up into the mountains of San Cristobal Island, to become acquainted with our home for the next two and a half weeks. Hacienda Tranquilla is an organic farm run by a few regular workers, but mostly volunteers from around the world.
Here we get to be a bit more independent- having no team leader with us, having to cook our own food, and having to scrub our laundry outside with a brush and soap. The day of our arrival we are put to work right way, scooping, transporting and raking out gravel for a couple of hours. We all become a bit apprehensive or the hard work, hot sun, shared kitchen, and extensive upper arm work! The week carries on in a similar fashion, and we slowly adapt to life in the Hacienda. We get better at digging holes in hard ground. We learn to stagger our eating times, except for the day we make homemade pizza in the outdoor oven. We shamelessly layer sunblock several times a day.
By Friday night, we are exhausted and ready to take advantage of our time in this beautiful environment. Saturday the group boards a boat and we all head out to kicker rock, a bit off the coast, to do some snorkeling. We all face our fears and swim amongst beautiful fish, sea lions, turtles and, best of all, sharks. Jumping into the water the first time, I think the majority of us were all most determined to avoid the sharks. But the third and final snorkel, we were are searching eagerly for them. Despite the sunburn, we all deamed the day a complete success.
Sunday a group of us took a land tour to a lake volcano, visited some huge tortoises, and spent the rest of the day lounging by the ocean alongside sea lions, who remain quite friendly. They lounge on beaches, benches, in flower beds and in the middle of roads. They pop out of unusual places and scare unsuspecting tourists.
Monday’s conservation project work brought us into the forest with machetes, where we spent the morning chopping down invasive species that were overgrowing yuca plants. As always, every day remains an adventure here with the Ecuador Leapers!
I’m on a Gap Year yo.