I cannot believe that today marks exactly one month since we left Quito and arrived in San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos. I’ve passed the halfway mark of my time in Ecuador. Life on the island has been amazing. How bad can it be when your school is across the street from a beach covered in sea lions? Right now, I am sitting on the third floor of the university looking out through the open doors at the cloudy sky over the Pacific Ocean.
It has been fairly overcast and misty lately, both because we are currently in the misty season and due to the coming of ENSO, which brings warm waters and rain to Galápagos. Sadly, this weather has not made for great beach days, but I have had so much school work lately that it has been irrelevant. However, not even the dreary weather can dampen the incredible nature of the island.
Most mornings, I wake up around 6:15 a.m. whether I want to or not — even if my eyes desperately want to remain closed, the incessant barking and cock-a-doodle-dooing will force them open. I usually try to get in a quick morning workout before breakfast — either plyo or swimming — which is with my host family Monday and Friday and at the school at 8 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
Breakfast usually runs until about 8:30 a.m., when I either hang out with my friends or rapidly try to finish my homework before class begins at 9 a.m. Currently, I am taking Marine Ecology, in which we focus on various marine ecosystems and climate change and how we can address the issues facing our oceans today, which are numerous and extremely challenging. The material can often make for a pretty depressing class.
Class runs from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. After class, we all usually trek into town for
lunch. In Ecuador, most restaurants have a specific “almuerzo” (the Spanish word for lunch) which is usually composed of a juice, soup and main meal. The main meal is usually some kind of meat with a heaping portion of rice and maybe a small “salad” (i.e. two slices of tomato and maybe some cucumber). The food is all pre-prepared; they bring you whatever they are serving that day. It can be a nice way to taste a lot of different dishes, but over time it becomes a bit redundant. The best part? It never costs more than $5.
Lunch is usually followed — or sometimes preceded — by a
chocobanana, which is just a frozen chocolate covered banana. They are so delicious and a perfect way to combat the stifling humidity, especially for someone like me, who can only stare longingly at ice cream cones. Then, depending on the amount of work we have that day, we may go snorkelling or hang out at the beach or begrudgingly remain inside to do work (which basically means sit at the school waiting for the prehistoric Internet to load).
One of the perks of being a marine student: sometimes I get to do school work and go snorkeling at the same time.
Usually by 5 p.m., we are fed up with being inside while the beach taunts us from outside, so we go down to the beach to watch the sunset, usually stopping by the street food stand to buy a chicken stick or choclo (big corn) as a pre-dinner snack. Sometimes we drink beers on the beach. The beach faces directly west, so it has an incredible view as the sun sinks below the horizon to the symphony of honks and barks of sea lions.
After the sun sets, we usually all go our separate ways to have dinner with our host families, which is always delicious. Dinner is usually followed by hanging out with my host family, more homework and eventually bed. Every day is so full that I am constantly exhausted, but I would not have it any other way.