Today we had to wake up at 3 to get on a bus and catch our flight. I had 3 hours of sleep and I was in that weird state where I wasn’t tired and had energy because I was sleep deprived. We said goodbye to Sam and Taylor and got on our plane at 6. I passed out like right when we took off and was awoken by one of the flight attendant’s butt hitting me in the face…thank you. I finished my book on the plane ride and listened to the Maroon 5 album the entire time. Overall, the trip was amazing and was a once in a lifetime experience.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Today we left Santa Cruz and took a plane to Quito. We said goodbye to Julian and the hostel we were staying at and boarded the 2-hour plane ride. When we got back to the same hostel we have stayed at in Quito, we packed and worked on our on assignments. We all put them on a flash drive and presented them in front of everyone. After presenting, we went to dinner and ate one of the wonder pets. It was a guinea pig and his name was Tuck. I also had wings and after dinner we had ice cream. After, we all hung out for our last night in Ecuador and went to bed at midnight.
Today we saw the extinction of a species. We went to a tortoise museum outside and saw lonesome George in the habitat they put him. There were also two females in hope of them mating, but that never happened. Later that day we were told Lonesome George had died. After the museum, we had a 40-minute walk to Tortuga Bay and swam and hung out at the beach. We stayed there for a while and after went to dinner where we ate slipper lobster and coconut sauce, which was extremely good. This was the time where we were told that Lonesome George had died and they think it was because of a heart attack.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Today we left the island of San Cristobal and took a boat to Santa Cruz. The boat ride was about two and a half hours and I slept for like thirty minutes on the boat. When we got to Santa Cruz, we went to out hotel and dropped off our stuff. We then had some free time to roam around the town (which isn’t that big). I bought a shirt and we had some ice cream. Then we had lunch at a pizza place, which was really good. We then went to a sinkhole place and then saw tortoises and took some pictures. After, we went in a lava tube, which was pretty much just a big tunnel underground. Then we came back and ate dinner and then did some cool stuff with lights in the dark. I was also still hungry and had some extra food, so I shared my Oreos (I think it was like 44 oreos but I had like 30). After, we went to sleep.
Today we woke up at 8 and ate breakfast. We then went on a boat and rode to Kickarock to snorkel again. The boat ride wasn’t that long and snorkeling was really fun. The water was about three hundred meters deep, so most of the time we couldn’t see the bottom. We did see quite a few sharks and some cool fish and a turtle, but a jellyfish also stung me, which wasn’t really all that bad. After snorkeling, we got to eat chocolate rolls and took a break. We then went to another place to snorkel. At this place, we could see the bottom a lot easier and at some times it was a little too shallow and I could stand, but I didn’t because it’s bad for the flippers. We saw a lot of sea lions and one came over to me and started to bite my flipper, which was really cool. In my opinion, the second one was better, even though we saw sharks in the first one. I just like being able to see the bottom of the water. Next, we rode to an island and got off and chilled there for a while, which was part of the national park. We then ate lunch and went back to the hotel. Once we got back, we had about two and a half hours to do whatever we wanted, which was awesome. I took a shower and then walked around the island with Haley and Sarah Jane (and Clara for a little bit). I bought a bunch of Oreos and some skittles, we all got ice cream, and near the end we just chilled on a bench on a bridge. We then all went to dinner. This place grilled their food and it was AMAZING. I ordered the shrimp, but some of the other people didn’t eat their food, so I ended up eating a ton of food. I had shrimp, rice, beans, chicken, steak, beef, and salad. And after dinner, we got ice cream and I ate that too. When we all got back we had time to work on our on assignment and do our blogs and stuff like that. After, we all went to sleep.
Today we flew out of Quito and went to the Galapagos Islands. The plane ride was two and a half hours and I sat next to Callie. We started to watch the Green Hornet on my computer, but it got boring so we watched movies on hers. Saw IV was confusing since neither of us had seen the previous ones and we had no clue what was happening, so we changed it to Arthur. I started to get into it when we landed, so I never saw the ending of it. When we left the airport we ate lunch and then went to the hotel to put all of our stuff up. Next, we walked to a shop to get all of our snorkeling gear and took a tour and learned some of the history of the island and some of the animals and then walked to a pier. It was my first time actually snorkeling in water (besides my grandfather’s pool) and it was really fun. We saw sea lions and swam with them while we were in the water. Actually, there are a ton of sea lions all around the Galapagos. I took a shower when we got back and then we all went to dinner. By the time we all got back, I was worn out and went to sleep the second I hit the bed.
Today we left the amazon. We had to take a boat (which really was just a big canoe) back to the place we came off the plane. It was supposed to be a 5-hour boat ride, but it turned out to be about 7 hours because we had a lot of technical problems. Not only was it really long, but about in the middle of it, it started raining. That wouldn’t have been a problem if it were coming at us from the side. I turned my back so my front wouldn’t get wet and my entire back and butt was completely soaked and I had to sit in it for like 3 hours. Once we got to our destination, we took a plane back to Quito. The internet wasn’t working most of the time while we were there so I only uploaded two days for the blog.
Today we had a hike that started at 6. It was only an hour long and we didn’t really see any monkeys, but we heard a couple of them. We ate breakfast when we got back and it was the usual eggs and rolls and stuff like that. After breakfast we went fishing for piranhas for a couple of hours. I got a really sweet farmers tan. I only caught one tiny fish and the person rowing our boat caught three, and on the second one the piranha bit his finger and the very tip of it was bit off. When we got back we chilled for a little bit and then ate lunch. It was the piranhas that we caught and it was ok. The rest of the day was super chill and I slept for a while and then me, Haley, Sarah Jane, Madeleine, and Clara went swimming in the river. When we got back I took a shower and hung out with everyone for a while. At dinner we ate fish and it was really good. Actually, all the food in the Amazon was really good. After dinner, I showed some more people the videos on my computer about lonely island and stuff like that and hung out and then we had a group meeting. After the group meeting, I packed since we have a canoe ride at 6 tomorrow and then we leave for Quito. After I packed, I listened to some music and then went to bed.
Today we didn’t have to wake up as early as yesterday. Breakfast was at 8, and after breakfast we got ready and went on a hike. Today’s hike did not require taking a boat and we were shown medicinal plants and other cool things on our 3-hour hike. When we got back we chilled and then ate lunch. We had spaghetti and it was really good. After lunch, we went on the boat and rode for about an hour and a half. We rode to an island where there were a lot of monkeys. We had to walk around the island for a bit before we saw anything and most of my pictures are either too dark or too bright because of the sky. After taking pictures of monkeys for a while, we went back on the boat and rode back to the lodge where we uploaded our pictures. Next, we ate dinner. After, we saw a cool whip scorpion and let it climb on us. After that some of us went on a bug hunt (me, Bailey, and Lauren) and we saw some frogs and a stick plant and when we got back we went to bed.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Today we woke up at 6 and went back on the boat. We traveled on the amazon until we reached an area where we could get off and venture in the forest. We all wore our boots and we had to step in water to get to the entrance of the forest. Guess whose boot had a hole in it? That’s right, mine did. Not only did it have a hole in it, but also my entire right foot got soaked in the water. It was a fun way to start a 3-hour hike in the forest. The rest of the hike was fine, and there weren’t really that many bugs. We spotted some Ents while there and took some pictures with them. Our guide showed us some cool stuff like an all-purpose leaf that can be used for cover, a mattress, a blanket, a raincoat, and to make a tent. He also showed us how to climb a tree with making a circle thing out of a vine and putting your feet in it, but all of us failed at climbing the tree. After we finished the hike, we rode back to the lodge and ate lunch. After, we had a siesta (which I confused with fiesta and thought we were going to have a party). It actually means rest and I slept and listened to music for 2 hours, which I guess is cool too. We then canoed in the amazon and looked for monkeys. I got a couple of pictures of the monkeys, but they weren’t really all that great. Once we got back to the lodge, we blogged and uploaded pictures and then ate dinner.
Today we woke up in the hotel in Mindo and ate breakfast (the usual eggs, juice, and toast). I put all the stuff I need for the next 4 days in the amazon into my backpack and took both my backpack and my camera bag with me on the bus to the airport. The plane was originally set to leave at 10:00 am, but the flight changed and it was scheduled an hour earlier. We rushed through all of security (which was like a million times faster than when we took the plane from Houston to Quito) and got on the plane on time. The plane ride was 30 minutes long and I just listened to music the entire time since everyone in our group was seated on different parts of the plane. Once we got off the plane, we took a cool taxi to the Amazon River where we got some cool boots and boarded a canoe boat. It wasn’t that big and the boat ride lasted for 5 hours. On the way I pretty much only listened to music and slept, but I also took creeper pictures of those people who fell asleep. Since there was a cover over the large canoe, I was covered from the sun. However, my left arm got sunburned because I fell asleep and my arm was out of the cover and was in the sun. We arrived at out hotel and got situated in our cabins. For the first time, I actually have a roommate (Sam from National Geographic). It’s a cool change and after we put our stuff in the cabins, we went canoeing. I wore my bathing suit and after canoeing for a while, most of us jumped in the river and swam for a bit. Did I mention that the water contained both piranhas and snakes? Everyone was fine and after swimming/canoeing, I took a shower and I showed some more people how to play palace. We then ate dinner and had the option to go walking through the forest and look for bugs. About half the group, including myself, went on this and lets just say it was an adventure. Although it only lasted for like 10 minutes, the entire time was spent covering our faces and looking for bugs. We saw a snake too. After the bug hunt, I brushed my teeth and went to sleep.
Today we left Mindo and took a bus back to Quito. On the way there Madeleine, Haley, and I all watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail on my laptop. The 2 and a half hour bus ride went by really fast. Once we got to Quito, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and then went to a market. We split into groups of three and Lauren, Sarah Jane, and I walked around the market looking for cool stuff to buy. I bought some really sweet socks (they’re orange), a nifty key chain, and a fake pair of ray bans. We then went to dinner and on the way to there we saw a bunch of discotecas, which looked really fun. At the restaurant where we ate dinner, we all ate sandwiches. I got the special and it was AMAZING! I also got an orange Fanta and for desert I got cookies and cream ice cream. We got back and had like an hour to upload our pictures and we actually had Internet for the first time in like 6 days. While we were uploading and enjoying our Internet, Callie, Haley, and I had a party downstairs and chilled while we were blogging and going on the Internet. After, we all went to our rooms and went to sleep.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Today we woke up and went back to Luke’s temporary house (the one with the two bird biologists). We took a taxi and then hiked to their house and we helped them clean up and rebuild some of their property. We all split up into groups and I went down to the camping sight and helped clean up the area by pulling plants and making everything cleaner. After, I helped rebuild to stairs that we have to take to get to their house. We hiked back and took a taxi back to the hostel to change shoes and clean up a little. Then, we went into town and ate chicken, potatoes, and rice for lunch. Once we got back, Massimo gave us a lesson. It was his last day here, so after his lesson we took a group picture with him and then a taxi picked him up and he left. We all then played mafia until it was time for dinner. We ate pizza and had ice cream for dessert. During mafia and dinner, everyone was telling scary and creepy stories. After we all finished dinner, we started to walk back to the hostel. We saw a really strange party thing on the way back. I think it was for father’s day or something but there were two people on the stage and they were dancing and lip singing to the music. The creepy thing was that one of the men was dressed up as a woman and had a pink wing and had balloons to make him look like a girl. Not only were they dancing with each other, but also the man that was dressed up like a girl was dancing with men in the audience and it was super weird. Once we got back, we all played a couple games of mafia and then went to bed. This also is our last night in Mindo
On day 7 of our journey, we woke had to leave in our different groups and hike to a house where 2 biologists showed us how they catch and measure different kinds of birds. They use mist nets to catch the birds. When we got back, my group and I all fell asleep on hammocks and I got a lot of bites on my feet while I slept. After, we downloaded all of our photos and then Massimo critiqued our photos. We ate dinner and came back to the hostel and talked and then went to bed.
Today half of the group had to wake up at 6 to see birds. My group, however, woke up at 7:30 and I taught them all how to play palace. We left at 9 to go hiking and travel on a cable car. Once we got off of the cable car, we hiked to waterfalls. On the way to the waterfalls, we discussed biology and the forest. After we got to the first waterfall we practiced with shutter speed and took pictures of the moving waterfall with both fast and slow shutter speeds. Haley and I were the only ones who went in all three waterfalls. After getting in the second waterfall, me feet were cold and I walked to the third waterfall barefoot. At the third waterfall, there was this baby pool next to the waterfall that I crawled into while everybody else took pictures of me. I got out and Haley and I vigorously swam toward the waterfall. The immense force of the water caused us not to be able to actually go under the waterfall, but instead be really close to it. We ate lunch and we met up with the other group at the hostel. We (my group and I) brought a bunch of candy to a table and ate it all as we worked. After Massimo critiqued our photos, it was dinnertime. Like a dumb person, I decided not to wear a raincoat on the way to dinner. My punishment was being poured on and becoming soaking wet. The dinner was fun, and Haley, Madeleine, and I had a hilarious and exciting conversation about Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After dinner, we came back to the Hostel and worked on finding pictures and working on our blogs.
Today, we had the choice to leave at 6 and go to a hummingbird hotel. I woke up at 5:45 and took pictures of them, even though a lot of the pictures were dark. We came back and ate breakfast and Massimo helped us with our on assignment project. After, we went back to the hummingbird place with the rest of the group. At lunch we were splint into 2 different groups and ate lunch at different place. We came back to the hostel and uploaded and worked on our photos. Next, we wondered around the town, split into groups of three, and took pictures. The entire group met together and we went to a chocolate place where we were shown how chocolate is made and we were oompa-loompas for about an hour. We devoured their liquid chocolate and then had to sprint back to the hostel (I got first place) and got our stuff for dinner. For dinner we had an entire fried fish and we all had a blast playing with the fish and we were all really hyper from all the chocolate that we ate. On the way back to the hostel we went on a bug hunt with our headlamps and I found toilet paper leaves, which are just fuzzy leaves. We went to bed once we got back.
On the fourth day on our adventure to Ecuador, we went to a butterfly sanctuary. We’re still in Mindo and still staying in an inn. Before we went to the butterfly sanctuary, we practiced taking pictures and working with depth of field by adjusting the aperture. I’m no longer clueless about all of the scientific stuff and I’m actually starting to get it. After, we went to lunch at a really good place. I had chicken, French fries, and rice and I literally ate everything on the plate except the bone. It was amazing. We then all went tubing in a river. In like the first minute of getting my bathing suit and life jacket and getting into the rapid river I almost broke rule number one. Don’t die. I might or might not have slipped and started to go down the river, but Sam got my lifejacket and helped me back up. It was an interesting start to tubing. The actual tubing itself was really fun, and also EXTREMELY cold. We went to dinner at an Italian restaurant and it was a good break from the interesting Ecuador food. We had 5 plates of pizza and the nine of us ate 38 8/9 slices of pizza. One of the pieces the leaders took and the 1/9 pizza fell on the ground. I ate 9 ½ slices, so I kind of carried the team.
Today we left Quito and drove to Mindo. On the way there, we stopped at the equator line. We took pictures on the equator and then went to a bug museum. We all took turns holding Hercules beetles (I think that’s what they were called) and the best reaction to holding the bugs was definitely Sarah Jane’s. We also got our picture taken with the bug. After, we got popsicles and I think my flavor was Guanabana or something like that but I do remember that it comes from a sour sop plant. We drove to Mindo, where we’re staying in a completely different environment than Quito. It’s like in a forest and it rains a lot. We were all given money and put into groups and got to choose where we ate for lunch, which was pretty cool. Massimo (the photographer from National Geographic) then critiqued 3 of our photographs and gave us tips and told us how to shoot better photographs. We also had a pretty good dinner. Once we got back to the place we’re staying at, we all went back to our separate “cabins,” and since I am the only boy that is a student, I stayed at a house thing with some other people who were there. I met two boys who where from Ecuador (Andres and David) and one who is a foreign exchange student who lives in Tennessee (Aiden). We talked for I’d say about two hours and I taught them how to play a card game called palace (I also attempted to teach them how to play pelt but it didn’t really work out too well because the game is hard without shoes on). The first impression of Mindo was a pretty good one if I do say so myself. Happy Birthday Mom.
P.S. The internet didnt work in Mindo
Friday, June 8, 2012
If I had to describe the first day in Ecuador in one word, it would be crazy. All of the leaders are super nice and helpful. On the first day, we rode a gondola up to a mountain where we hiked up a bit more. We were at like 12,000 feet above sea level and lets just say that it's a little harder to breath when you're 12,000 feet higher than what you're used to. After, we drove back to the hotel and ate. The food in Ecuador is, to say the least, interesting. We had to order off of a Spanish menu, and since I know absolutely zero Spanish, I just did ene, mene, miny, moe to choose what to eat. Literally, I had no idea what I ate for lunch, but it tasted fine. Once it got dark, we went to a church where we did a night shoot. We brought our tripods, but one of the pieces on mine didn't fit and I couldn't attach my camera. Instead, I had to use part of a statue that was situated in front of the church. It was a learning experience. Once done with the night shoot, we took a tour of a chapel where there were many paintings and works of art. The tour guide was very enthusiastic, however, he only spoke in Spanish. This would have been a problem if not for the translator who was unfortunately less enthusiastic. By the time we got back to the hotel I was completely tired and worn out.
The second day, after eating breakfast, we immediately took a two hour bus ride to a market. I bought a weird hat and pants, but when you're in a foreign country, you have to buy weird stuff. We took pictures of the market and, after lunch, took more pictures of a food market. We drove back to the hotel where I am now writing this and sorting out all my pictures on my computer.