Saturday, Nov. 27
The flight from Baltra arrived in Quito Sucre International Airport. We
were immediately escorted to the Hilton Colon Hotel, where we would stay
for the next three days.
That afternoon, we decided to go to the Mitad del Mundo or the center of
the world. This is the monument dedicated to the location of the Equator.
Did you know that?
We learned that the equatorial monument was not exactly on the Equator
and second museum, which was built later, actually was. We visited the
GPS-accurate one first. It was called the Museo Inti-Nan. We learned
about many native Amerindian cultures in the area, including the Shuar
tribe, which makes the famous tsantsas or shrunken heads and there was a tsantsas on display. How eerie!
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Monday, Nov. 22
We arrived in Floreana, the mystical island. Before breakfast, we had a small excursion to Post Office Bay. This was the post office of the Galapagos Islands. One would deposit mail in the mail box and anyone who could deliver it would pick it up.
After breakfast, we went deep-water snorkeling around Champion Islet, off the coast of Floreana. The waters were pretty cold that day at around 68 degrees F. We did manage to see and photograph fish, however. After snorkeling, we went in the glass bottom boat to see hundreds of different fish we didn’t see while snorkeling.
We went on a mission, by zodiac, to shoot the elusive Floreana mockingbird, now only found on Champion Islet (on Camera). We saw two of them, which was nearly 5% of their total population!
After lunch, we went kayaking in the waters off Punta Cormorant. It was really fun. We saw many turtles. We nearly bumped into a sea lion taking his afternoon nap. He was startled at our arrival. He groaned and then we left him to his nap.
Next was the hike on Floreana Island. This island was pretty green. There was a big lagoon right in the middle where we spotted some flamingos. We learned that these came from the Caribbean and were lost here! At the end of the hike, we came to the other side of the island. There we spotted countless turtle nests. Right off the beach, there were sharks and sting rays swimming. There was also an abundance of crabs on the rocks. Alas, it was getting dark and we had to leave the pristine landscape.
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The Galapagos Islands are located 600 miles off the coast of South America in the eastern Pacific Ocean. These islands are of volcanic origin and most were formed due to a hotspot under the earth. Their isolation has brought about their great biodiversity, where species vary from island to island.
It was a great privilege for me to go to the Galapagos and to retrace Darwin’s footsteps. We scheduled the trip to be during the Thanksgiving week. I was off from school that week and my birthday was coincidentally on Nov 26.