Not to diminish all the greatness in mainland Ecuador, but THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS. LAS ISLAS ENCANTADAS. I can easily say that I was looking forward to the Galapagos the ENTIRE trip and let me tell you, it lived up to…no, it exceeded absolutely every expectation.
Our trip began on the island of San Cristóbal. We still had one more two-week class left to take and the USFQ Galapagos extension was on San Cristóbal. This was one of the five inhabited islands on the Galapagos, but it was definitely one of the less populated islands making it very easy to get around by foot and see almost everyone on a daily basis by accident.
My host family there was also amazing! The two weeks spent with them was definitely not enough, however they invited me back to visit and I will definitely be taking up that offer.
My friends Renata, Abby and I also made a pact to get ice cream AT LEAST once a day, every day in the Galapagos. We easily succeeded, sometimes even getting ice cream several times a day. The massive breakouts on my face can prove it, but…worth it.
It was so crazy being on the beaches in Galapagos because it was practically impossible to go to a beach that wasn’t filled with sea lions! The beach right across from our university, Playa Mann, had dozens of sea lions during the day coming up to greet you…or nibble on your toes. For two weeks, we had classes everyday (which sucked) but we were able to visit the beaches almost every day and take field trips to visit El Junco, a crater lagoon, Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), a hot spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, Puerto Chino, an absolutely gorgeous beach in the National Park, La Loberia, a beach filled with marine iguanas and gorgeous views, a breeding site for Galapagos giant tortoises and several other magical locations. AND I CAN’T FORGET TO MENTION THE BEST PART! My host family is good friends with one of the most experienced divers in the Galapagos. I don’t have my scuba diving certification, but they do something called Discovery where the dive masters take you out diving in shallow waters and give you a chance to discover the magic of diving. I am still blown away by the fact that my first time scuba diving was in the Galapagos Islands!! Even more incentive to get my certification.
After completing what seemed like a never-ending class, the last week was dedicated to HOMEWORK-FREE ADVENTURES! THE FIRST HOMEWORK-FREE ADVENTURES OF THE ENTIRE 7 WEEKS! We had the opportunity to island hop, first to Isabela Island and then to Santa Cruz before returning back to Quito. I can easily say that Isabela Island was my favorite island because the landscape was just absolutely incredible, but Santa Cruz, the most populated island, was also an amazing, yet unique experience. Almost everyday of the week we got to snorkel, but we also got to explore the Charles Darwin Research Center and visit the Galapagos Giant Tortoise breeding centers there, go on a 9-mile bike ride through Isabela, take several boat rides, visit Seymour island, and many other things.
The amount of wildlife we had the chance to see was astonishing and I am so grateful for the knowledge gained and the memories made solely on the island hopping trip alone.
Sadly, it did have to come to an end. We flew back into Quito for one last day to say our goodbyes and finish up this incredible trip.
A couple of us decided to visit the TeleferiQo in Quito and take a 20 minute cable car to see one last gorgeous view of Quito, Ecuador. AND they even had a cute little swing at the top! A last day well spent.
Although I am writing this shortly before leaving for the airport, I believe the emotional aspects of this trip and leaving Ecuador deserve its own post.
So keep an eye out for my study abroad recap and all the amazing lessons and memories that came along with it!
Ecuador, you have my heart. ♥
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Till next time ツ