August 2

We were on our own for breakfast and got ready for another day of work. We wore our rubber boots and we were out from 8 to 11:20 chopping wood and moving brambles into piles that will later be turned into compost. We are clearing the area to make room to grow food for the tortoises. I apologize for the lack of pictures today, but I decided against bringing my camera to work today thinking it would not be a safe place for it.

 

At 2, we were split into our respective groups: Work and cleaning. Paige, Soz, Naomi and Georgie cleaned La Hacienda Tranquila while the rest of us cut bamboo and moved it over a fence. I did bring my camera to this venture.

 

Pepe took a chainsaw to chop bamboo and we moved it over a fence. Tomorrow, they will be used for hippotherapy.

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Sydney and Jacob prepare themselves for the bamboo cutting. Watch out, when it comes down it smashes to the ground. Timber!

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August 3

 

We began work at 8:30 today. We worked in the cloud yet again. We were split into two groups: one went with Pepe and cut down bamboo like yesterday, and the others stayed at Hacienda Tranquila and did hippotherapy with the handicapped children. Toby ended up getting hurt moving the bamboo out because it kicked back and hit Toby in the chest, full force. He took the afternoon off. Adam took a sick day today. I did not take pictures to respect the children’s privacy.

 

We walked around a closed-in area with the horse. They use a horse who is small and masticated. For each child, there were 2 spotters and one leader. The spotters held the child in place while the leader led the horse around the ring. We walked around in circles for a while, every 3 complete circles we would change up the child’s position on the horse. All three positions help to build trust between the child and animal, a necessary skill in life.

 

After lunch, we were split up into two groups again: cleaning squad and working squad. I cleaned Hacienda Tranquila with Shade and Soz. Others who are also staying at the Hacienda helped as well. We finished cleaning in a record time and I began the long adventure of blogging, sitting on my bottom bunk listening to my music.

 

During this time, the sun has set a bit more and some of us have ventured into town yet again.

 

August 4

Naomi is off scuba diving until early evening! How exciting.

 

Tomorrow is Paige’s 18th birthday so I imagine we will be getting her vegan quinoa cake ready tonight in preparation for tomorrow.

 

Today, half of us did hippotherapy and the other half climbed to the lookout and promoted germination.

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We tied strings to the tomato plants to encourage vertical growth.

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We planted some lettuce as well.

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There were amazing views from atop the hill.

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A view of Hacienda Tranquila from the lookout path.

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You can see Hacienda Tranquila in the distance from the lookout point.

 

The man who is writing his thesis about snakes on the Galápagos finally caught a snake so today he counted its scales. The snake’s genus and species is Pseudalsofis biserialis. Its common name is the San Cristóbal Racer Snake.

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The snake is small and non venomous. I got to touch it- it was very smooth.

 

After work, Shade, Paige, Sydney, Henrik and I went on an adventure. Our taxi driver took us to El Junco, La Galapaguera, and Puerto Chino. La Galapaguera was the only site we wanted to see. The other two were fantastic surprises. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to visit them on our second-to-last day in the Galápagos. I hear El Junco is a beautiful lagoon, but today it was covered with a thick layer of fog. It was pretty cool even though we couldn’t see anything. The mist gave everything a heavenly appearance.

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Here we are at the entrance. It was extremely foggy.

 

La Galapaguera is a tortoise reserve where they are raised in captivity and then released into the wild on the reservation. There were many poisonous trees and fruit that humans are not supposed to touch or eat – or else it could destroy the intestines. I touched one of the trees before I learned of the danger. Oh well. It’s been 5 hours since then and I’m still alive.

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Paige, Shade, Sydney, and Henrik smile under a canopy of poisonous trees with our tour guide.

 

We saw quite a few giant tortoises at the reservation which we were pleased about.

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One tortoise turned around just for us and posed between gobbles of food.

 

We had a very chill guide. He let us go off the path and hop the fence to take a picture with a HUGE tortoise.

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This photo does not give the tortoise justice. It was massive.

 

Puerto Chino was gorgeous. It’s a beach with white sand, sea lions, and blue waters – what I imagined I would see in the Galápagos.

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Paige running into the water to join Sydney. The water was very clear with beautiful white sand.

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The girls sitting on the aesthetic log. Thanks for the rad pic Henrik.

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Paige, Sydney, and Shade jumping for joy in the ocean.

 

We five had an amazing afternoon. Some of the others had gone into town earlier for wifi and some food and shopping.

 

The rest of the group did their own thing. We came back and hung out for a bit until dinner. Soz and Liv did yet another great job with dinner. We had spaghetti with tomato sauce AND tuna (Thanks Henrik for donating your tuna to the group!).

 

To top off the day and Paige’s last day of being 17, we played Mafia. Toby was the leader and did a stellar job guiding us through the game. Snaps all around for you, Toby.

 

August 5

🎉Happy 18th birthday, Paige! You can officially have a legal drink in Ecuador. 🎉

 

Today begins the weekend (no volunteer work) and sadly, the last day in the Galápagos for The Leap. Luckily, today was beautiful- weather wise and vibe wise.

 

The birthday girl and a bunch of others from the group left early this morning (before I even awoke) for a 360º Boat Tour around San Cristóbal.

 

Georgie, Liv, Soz and I had a lovely girl’s day out. We hit the bakery in town and got some wifi at a restaurant then took a walk to a museum and learned much about the Galápagos.

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A view of the town of San Cristóbal from the museum balcony.

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After having filled our brains with more knowledge, we walked down a path that led us to an enticing beach. We had the original intention of walking 1 hour and 45 minutes to Darwin Bay, but the beach seemed so inviting that we decided to park ourselves there for about an hour and read instead.

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I found it intriguing that the sea lions make noises that sound like sheep- the “baaaa.” They also “honk!” like a car. Their smell is distinguishable as well. They are interesting creatures.

 

The water was a light blue in places and sea lions decked the shoreline. The sun was out and warming us. Just the right temperature to feel great but not get so hot that I’d have to jump in the water to cool off.

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A “bestie” pic of Liv and Soz upon request.

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The girls posing on the beautiful beach (with sea lions in the background).

 

We then walked back into town for a bottle of cold, refreshing coke or water. The girls had the intention of going to Puerto Chino but our taxi driver tried to separate us from our money by giving us an overpriced bill, so we decided to go back to Hacienda Tranquila instead, which I was fine with because I needed to rest a bit before our outing tonight (Paige’s birthday- the best is yet to come).

 

When Paige and the others came back, they were bouncing off the walls with positive energy. It sounded like everyone had a SUPERB day doing their own thing.

 

The boys went surfing on 10-foot waves that proved difficult, completely different from Isabela. They scuffed up their bodies but they all survived and are well. They even had the energy to boast about “joining a surfing club on the Galápagos.” That sounded pretty sick.

 

Paige and the others went on the 360º Tour of San Cristóbal and went snorkeling at three of the five sites they went to. I heard amazing stories about them swimming with schools of fish and looking down and not being able to see the bottom of the sea. Massive fish swam next to Shade and Henrik said that he saw lots of sharks and some whales. Today was a success all around.

 

For dinner, Paige decided to eat at Giuseppe’s Italian restaurant. That was such a great decision. Everyone feasted on white wine, coke, lemonade, beer, and for me, good ol’ water.

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As my main course, I indulged in the “New York style” calzone which consisted of mozzarella cheese and pepperoni with fries.

 

If you ever go into town, I highly recommend Giuseppe’s. Great food, great service.

 

August 6

Today is a beautiful yet sad day – The sun is shining and it’s warm, however, we had to leave it behind. Although my wallet was happy to leave the Galápagos, I still wanted to spend a little more time at the Hacienda and on the islands exploring what it has to offer. The Galápagos has been a rich experience: full of friendly faces, hikes, fruit collecting, dazzling views, tasty food, and lots of giant tortoises.

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The Leap with Pepe and Giovanni at Hacienda Tranquila. ¡Hasta la vista!

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Today was our traveling day so I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I’m sure you can imagine what the inside of an airport looks like.

 

We left Hacienda Tranquila at 9 in 3 taxis, which were paid for by The Leap, and we arrived at the small airport just in time to realize we had 5 hours before our flight. Check-in “began at 10,” but really it began much later. We waited in line for an hour.

 

We finally boarded and took 2 flights to get back to Quito and “our” Guayunga Hostal. The first flight went from San Cristóbal to Guayaquil then Guayaquil to Quito. Everyone arrived safely at the hostel.

 

August 7

The morning began around 8 or 8:30. For Liv and Soz, it began a bit earlier as they decided to go early exploring and visit Miguel at Yanapuma.

 

The rest of us ate breakfast at the hostel, then at 9:30 Miguel walked over to pick us up and bring us to Yanapuma School.

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A typical street of Quito.

 

There, we had our orientation for the Amazon – where we discussed the Galápagos and what was in store for us during our time in the Amazon. After the orientation, some of us stopped at an ATM/cashpoint and then to the newfound bakery down the road from our hostel. The prices there are amazingly cheap for great quality bread. The place is called Rico Pan if you were wondering. I highly recommend going there.

 

After lunch, we got to see the stunning city of Quito from a cable car (El Teleférico). The skyline is amazing. It was a bit chilly on top of the mountain, but we all managed.

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Just a glimpse of part of Quito.

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A view of a volcanoes from the top of the lift.

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Paige, Georgie, and Adam enjoying the view.

 

Some of us then walked to a church decked with gold inside while others, including myself, returned to the hostel to rest. I heard the church was beautiful, but nobody was allowed to take pictures (and of course everyone follows the rules- sarcasm) so I don’t have any pictures to show you.

 

Tomorrow, we are off on a long drive to the Amazon.

 

¡Buenas noches!

 

August 8

We are off to the Amazon.

 

¡Hasta luego!