Ryan Dunleavy

Galapagos: An Unexpected Journey

Galapagos: An Unexpected Journey

 At the start of 2017, I had the feeling that the year was going to be an uneventful one.  However, I am very thankful I was wrong. Near the end of January I received a notification from my management that I would be traveling on Road Scholar Program 6043-03097–The Galapagos: Cultural and Natural History.  Despite my severe lack of experience in international travel, I was ecstatic that this opportunity would be my inaugural adventure for seeing life beyond the United States. 

 The month of March approached as fast as our plane had landed on the foggy runaway of Quito’s International Airport.  Before I knew it, I found myself touring around the city of Quito, Ecuador.  Everybody in the city was well-dressed and busy – either going to work or trying to sell their products to pedestrians walking by.  I saw a copious amount of Quito’s history in a short amount of time.  We visited Quito’s colonial district where there is a museum that houses Pre-Columbian art and artifacts. We also made visits to Convento De San Francisco, Iglesia del Compania de Jesus, and Guayasamin Art Museum.

The highlight of the entire trip was the Galapagos Islands.  We arrived at the hot, arid climate of Baltra Island and immediately crossed the channel to transfer to the highlands of Santa Cruz.  Within an hour, the landscape abruptly changed from arid to full of vegetation and wildlife.  We were greeted by Giant Tortoises, and walked through a long, fascinating lava tunnel.  Going up one side of Santa Cruz, we came down on the other end of the island to Puerto Ayora. The port was a beautiful hub where most Yachts greet their new travelers. Our group, along with our leader and the boat crew, toasted a welcome-aboard cocktail after our anchor-lifting as we set sail for Puerto Villamil, Isabella Island.  After dinner I went upstairs almost every night to feel the tranquility of the atmosphere around me.  The night sky in open water is better than any planetarium.  

The next six days would include sights one sees on a nature documentary.  If the remarkable varied geology wasn’t enough, each island we visited appeared to have its distinct characteristics of wildlife. Fernandina Island was the prime habitat for marine iguanas, while Santiago Island hosted whitetip sharks. To see it all, North Seymour Island is the place.  During the spring months, it is the perfect time to witness Magnificent Frigates and Blue Footed Boobies conducting their courtship rituals to attract other mates within the location.

   

Upon departure, I was so thankful to receive this opportunity.  Everything about this trip was flawless, which drastically increased my desire to travel internationally.  I thought I would never get the chance to witness the happenings of the capital city of Ecuador, or see the inflated gular sac on many of the frigate birds. This trip is something that will make me look back and smile, and I look forward to my next adventure ­­– wherever it may take me.

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