We arrived to the Galapagos on Sunday and Monday got straight to work. We went to class Monday morning and our professor gave us the syllabus for Evolution and went over it and then assigned us presentation topics and then left the room for a few minutes so we could trade topics if we wanted and we all were hoping he'd come back in and say "just kidding", but unfortunately it was all true. We had class 2x a day from 9-11 and 3-5, had to read 1 or 2 chapters from out textbook every day, and presentations on evolutionary traits of various Galapagos animals and he wanted us to be experts on them. There are 3 different tracks in the whole program, and one of the boys in my class just left and switched to one of the other classes.
For the past 2 weeks, my routine has essentially been:
4am- wake up to a cacophony of roosters
6am- get out of bed and go for a run or go to school and do yoga on the beach
11-12- start reading the next days chapter
12:30- lunch at the restaurant of the week- the program I'm here with includes lunch which is awesome, but it's really segregating because the 11 of us go to lunch and everyone else is back at the university making pb&j, plus Ecuadorian meals are always a soup which may or may not be good and then meat with a pile of rice and I'm getting rather sick of it, especially the lack of fruits and veggies
1:30-3- either finish reading, research for my project or go swimming/snorkeling
5-7- either research for my presentation, study, or hang out on the beach and watch the sun set
8-9- play with my host sister, waste time on the internet
9 or 10- bed
The first Wednesday we were here, in the afternoon we had a field trip into the highlands. We went to visit the first settlement in the Galapagos which is now ruins of a house, el junco which is the only permanent lake on all of the Galapagos Islands. Our professor said we would probably think it was more like a pond, but it was so misty/cloudy that we couldn't see more than 15 feet in front of us so I have no clue how big it actually is. It is in the crater of the volcano that formed the island. San Cristobal is the oldest surviving island of the Galapagos so there is no loner volcanic activity- the islands are formed by a hotspot of magma rising from the Earth's crust and moving toward mainland South America via continental drift. There are older islands that have sunk and are now mounds under the sea. After visiting the lake, we went to Galapaguera, a giant tortoise reserve on the island. It was so cool to see them. There were baby ones which were about the size of the palm of my hand and they grow to be over a meter long! After visiting the tortoise reserve, we went to puerto chino. It is the most beautiful beach I've ever been to with nice white sand and perfect waves rolling in. September is the coldest month in the Galapagos and all the locals think the water is freezing but we all went right in and the water felt great.
We also had a field trip Saturday going snorkeling. We took a boat to islote lobos, a shallow water area where sea lions like to hang out. We saw a bunch of fish, a stingray and swam around with some sea lions. Then we went to puerto grande, a beach, and explored a bit talking about some of the plants and wildlife and then we just hung out. Some people kept exploring, some played in the water, and me and a few others just laid out. Then we got back on the boat to eat lunch. You're not allowed to picnic on beaches, although as we ate on the boat 3 people jumped into the ocean to recover trash that had blown away because there was no where to set anything down without the risk of it falling over from the rocking of the boat. Lunch was this real nasty cold rice and chicken mixed with ketchup and mayonnaise. I ate it because I was so hungry, but it didn't agree with me too well. We sped of to kicker rock, a 500 ft tall old lava cone split in two. In the middle of the two peaks is a popular place for sharks. We got there and the sea was really choppy and I could feel my lunch which was miserable, plus I was a bit terrified to jump out and go swimming with sharks. We slowly made our way around and jumped into the choppy ocean and started swimming through the channel. We saw white or black tip sharks- our guides couldn't agree- and on the other side of the channel we saw a bunch of sea turtles! Then we got back on the boat to head in and on out way we saw a whale! We followed it for a bit and we all tried to convince our guides to let us jump back in and go swimming with it, but to no avail.
The university teaches English classes and has a program called primos (spanish for cousins) where we are grouped with locals to help them with English and they help us with Spanish/getting to know the island. Sunday, I went with my friend Miranda to her prima's house for lunch and they gave us lobster. It was a whole lobster cracked open and the meat was glazed in this delicious sauce. I wasn't really sure how to eat it, which was amusing, but it was delicious- and I don't really like seafood. Then, they took us to el ceibo, a treehouse with a complete working bathroom. It also had an underground dwelling in a hole in the base of the trunk and we climbed the tree like a rock wall on the side. It was amazing!
Next week, I don't have any class which I'm super pumped about. We have to write research papers and study for our final on Thursday which includes reading a whole other book, but I'm really looking forward to hanging out and enjoying the island.