This article was originally published in the fall 2012 Harker Quarterly.
By Diana Moss
Editor’s note: Diana Moss teaches upper school Spanish. She chaperoned this trip and gave us this report.
Eight Harker travelers had the adventure of a lifetime in the Galapagos Islands this summer. Jeremy Binkley, grade 10, Divya Kalidindi, Avi Agarwal, Damon Aitken, Kenny Zhang, all grade 11 and Taiwanese ELI student Winnie Lin, along with chaperones Eric Nelson, upper school physics teacher, and myself, flew to Quito, Ecuador, then to the Galapagos, where we boarded a 140-foot yacht to cruise around the islands for seven days, ending with a day in the port city of Guayaquil.
We visited a total of seven different islands, all of which varied in topography from barren desert black lava flows to scrub, tropical jungles and mangrove lagoons. Each day we went on hikes, raft tours along the coast or snorkeling along with extensively trained and knowledgeable park naturalists. A highlight of the islands was our proximity to the wildlife. We saw adorable sea lions napping, posing and frolicking in the surf, land and marine iguanas, blue footed boobies with fluffy cotten chicks, frigates that floated in the air currents behind the boat, as well as males displaying their distinctive red pouches under their beaks to attract females to their nests, colorful crabs along the black lava rocks, finches, sea turtles, sharks, whales, rays, penguins, flamingos, many varieties of colorful fish and of course the giant Galapagos tortoise, both in the wild and in captive breeding centers. Most of these creatures could be approached without showing them any fear!
Life aboard the ship was also enjoyable; we dined on delicious buffet meals, star-gazed from the top deck, played cards, chess, spoons and even Twister and Jenga (difficult on a rocking boat). Spanish students had the additional benefit of having their land tours delivered in Spanish, as there were Puerto Ricans, Spaniards and Ecuadorian travelers aboard the ship. Additionally, we had the opportunity to visit Colegio Miguel Angel Cazares in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, where students had a lively exchange about their schools and cultures. The trip culminated with a day in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and a tour of the beautiful Malecón 2000, a miles-long riverfront with parks, monuments and museums.