After getting back from Tiputini, we had to get to work. We had group presentations throughout the week and our final on Friday. But, Tuesday, we went into Quito to get our CENSO cards. It's basically our we're not tourists, but not Ecuadorians ID card saying we're allowed to be here and one of the things necessary to admit us to the Galapagos. We went to this sketchy building and took numbers and then sat around for 2 hours waiting for our numbers to be called. I was the last person in our group, and people kept getting theirs and then leaving in groups of four to take taxis back. Finally I got mine and we made it back to the university with 10 minutes to spare before my class started- just enough time to grab some lunch to take to class with me. Then, Wednesday morning, we went into Quito to visit the artisan market there. After going around there for a bit, we went to the mall. It was so weird to go from being in a market to a fancy mall.
Friday, we had our exam and it was very anticlimactic. It's so weird to be done with a class after only 3 weeks. It went well though :) Then, Saturday we went to Puente Chiche, one of the tallest bridges in Quito to bungee jump. It was actually a swing jump though. The rope was tied to the other side of the bridge so you jumped out and then once the rope was taught you'd swing over and then go back and forth. It was super fun, although jumping out over the ravine was a bit scary. I jumped out off the bridge and ended up doing a front flip before i started swinging!
Sunday, we met at the university at 5:15am to head to the Galapagos. We had to put out bags through a special scanner to check for organics before checking in for our flight. Then they weighed all our bags, but they didn't charge anyone for being overweight. To go to the Galapagos, you can only have 20 kilos, so my friend Sam and I shared a package to mail all our books. We flew through Guayaquil, but we only stopped for about a half hour and offloaded some people and got some new ones- we didn't even get off the plane. Then we flew onward to San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos. The landing strip was just a runway along the side of the island which was a bit crazy. We landed and then went around a circle and back to the middle of the runway where the building is located. We had to go through a customs area and they checked our IDs and rechecked our bags for organics. The GAIAS staff met us outside the airport and we loaded onto buses that took us to the university. The university is one building on the edge of town right in front of a nice sandy beach full of sea lions. The wildlife here is so tame because there isn't much predation and so they just coexist with people. We had a bit of orientation and lunch and then we pretty much hung out on the beach the rest of the afternoon. We played soccer on the beach and then went swimming.
Then, at 4, our host families came to pick us all up. It was really funny because we were all sitting on the steps outside the university watching the families come wondering if this was our family. My host family is really awesome. I have a 4 year old sister and a 12 year old brother who are both really cool. We live in the back of town and my room overlooks all of town with the ocean beyond it. It's so small! Most of the island is preserved and belongs to the national park, but there are about 5,000 residents in town.