January 27, 2013

Galapagos and Food

If someone had told me 3 weeks ago that I would see the tallest mountain (measured from the core of the earth) in the world, hike one of Ecuador’s active volcanoes, stand on a completely black-sand beach, walk through lava tubes, and swim with tortoises, sea lions, sharks, and sting rays in 3 weeks, I would have thought they were crazy.  I know this was all planned as part of the interim, but when you are in another country where plans have the potential to change like the winds, I never thought it would all actually happen.  Here are some pictures of the wildlife!

Image of an iguana taken during the short-term January study abroad trip in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Sea lion on one of the beaches during the short-term January study abroad trip in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Sea Lion on one of the beaches we visited.

Blue-footed boobies (birds) seen during the short-term January study abroad trip in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Blue-Footed Boobies!

Because a lot of our time on the mainland has been covered, I will talk a little bit about our time on the Islands.  First, let me say, it was hot. And not just normal, northeastern United States hot, but wet, humid hot.  On islands made completely out of hardened, black lava flow, it was hard to believe it could get much hotter.  Luckily, all of the hotels we stayed in had air conditioning, we had clouds on some of the hottest days, and our almost daily snorkeling trips allowed us to cool off!

We touched down on San Cristobal on Tuesday, January 15, the island where Charles Darwin stopped first.

View of the outside of the airport on San Cristobal, Ecuador

Our first view of the outside of the airport on San Cristobal

On our first day we visited a museum that explained the history of the islands geologically, ecologically, and historically.  From there we went on our first snorkeling adventure where we had to clap our way past a very protective male sea lion.  In the next few days, we got the chance to snorkel many more times, hike to a freshwater lake at the center of a splatter volcano completely filled by rainwater, and go to multiple tortoise sanctuaries to see them at different ages and sizes.  Here are some pictures of the tortoises we saw, both on land and while snorkeling.

Tortoise eating in San Cristobal, Ecuador

Tortoise swimming in San Cristobal, Ecuador

Two tortoises in San Cristobal, Ecuador

Other than the rock forms and amazing wildlife on the islands, food was probably our second most favorite topic to discuss.  In the beginning it was how cool the food was and how interesting their meals were and by the end, we could not stop gushing about our first meal back in the U.S.  Probably, the most common request was a huge salad.  Because of the water in Ecuador, many of us stayed away from any washed fruits and vegetables for three weeks.  I am not sure if I have ever been as excited to eat a salad as I was when I first got home.

Now, back to the food of Ecuador: I do not think I have ever eaten as much chicken or fish and rice in my life as I have in the past three weeks.  It was all delicious food, but when dinnertime came around, it was always the question of chicken or fish? (Except the one night when it was fish or octopus.) There was never a question about the fact you would get soup and your main dish would come with a side of rice and maybe two or three carrots, string beans, or broccoli.

The biggest question (besides whether you were getting chicken or fish) was whether or not there was a dessert spoon on the table.  Now, we are not talking about your typical American desserts of cake, cookies, ice cream (all extremely healthy choices) but rather what kind of fruit you would have that night.  We all dreamed of the chance we would actually get a little sliver of pound cake or a dish of ice cream, but it was usually some type of fruit. One lunch, we were served a half of a banana with a drizzle of raspberry sauce on it.  If you were ever to order a half of a banana with raspberry sauce on it in the U.S., the waiter or waitress would probably stare at you like you were crazy.  But, this was the norm and to be perfectly honest, the desserts were great.  That did not mean we did not frequent the local panaderia, or bakery, almost every afternoon and night while on the islands, but the food during the trip was extremely delicious and interesting.

After that, it was off to Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz, but the question always was: chicken or fish?

Megan Young
Civil and Environmental Engineering ’13


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