Friday, June 24, 2011

Galapagos Post Dos

Hey all! This week was a week of hard work volunteering. I have blisters and a sore back for sure. Life at the site is interesting, fun, and challenging. There are so many interesting people to meet, but you spend every minute of every day with them. That's tough for someone like me that likes quiet time. In our little mosquito infested jungle, there is is always music or something loud on, and even though we are in the middle of no where, I am surrounded by people. Yet, I feel very solitary.

What's most shocking to me is that I assumed that other volunteers were coming for the same reasons I was. Silly in retrospect, but why choose to come to the Galapagos if not for the history and biology? Most volunteers are 19 and are much more interested in being away from home to do what they want (drink, party). Many are very nice, but it feels like being at high school. Thank goodness no drinking is allowed on the site! The weekends are another matter for those young volunteers. I'd say, what a difference 10 years makes, but I wasn't interested in those things when I was 19 either. Yes, I think learning is awesome. And yes, it is what I like to do in my free time!

Julia is an excellent balance between both worlds. I envy her ability to partake in the social scene in not a weird way and then be great company with me as I tell her random facts about birds. She has been a wonderful travel companion and friend. We have our grumpy days, but so far we have been able to help each other out of them.

My favorite birds are hands down the mockingbird and the BF booby. They have such personalities and are a delight to watch. The finches are crazy hard to differentiate, but I an starting to notice differences. I can't find a nature guide in town to help ID them. Crazy! I also enjoy the vast quantities of Lava Lizards hanging out.

This next week I am going on a four-day tour to some other islands to hopefully see some new things. It will be with 8 other volunteers and starting Tuesday. That means we'll miss most of next week's work, but this tour seems to be what every volunteer does, the station director even signed us up!

Last week, I swam with sea lions (so swift!) and sharks (terrifying, thenks for making me watch Jaws, Dad!). I have not seen a hammerhead, which is a bummer, but it sounds like they are really hard to find. My favorite snorkeling moment was watching a marine iguana munch on algae underwater. They are oddly graceful there!

Love you all! Pets to the kitties!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Galapagos ahoy!

So, I am in the Galapagos finally! Julia and I perused Quito, but I am glad to be out of the big city. I get nervous and always feel like I am watching my back! It was pretty nice there, and our hostel room had a lot of random doors. One was converted into shelves.

Now in the Galapagos, the Jatun Sacha site, pronounced Hah toon Saw cha, is in a very jungly place. Clothes never dry there, so we need to take them to town on the weekend to get laundered. We work during the week cutting back invasive mora, blackberry bushes, and other misc activities. Insects are EVERYWHERE. It's a bit of a hopeless battle actually. No matter how much you cover and spray, you get bit. Oh well, it's stylin' out here. The evenings involve hanging out with the volunteers. There are about 24 of us right now, and it is a mixed bag of characters. Last night we played movie charades for hours, but since we are from so many different places, US, Germany, UK, etc, it's hard to find a movie we've all seen. I thought everyone had seen Die Hard! Apparently not!

The weekends we head to the Puerto to do laundry and chill. No one stays at the station to be eaten alive, and the shore does not have the vile insects. We just arrived after visiting Puerto Chino, a beautiful beach where I saw my first Blue Footed Booby. Oddly enough, most of the volunteers are not obsessed with organisms like I am, so it was unusual for them to hear someone scream with delight "BOOBY!!!" I saw it catch fish and everything! My favorite animal so far though is the endemic Chatham Mockingbird. I thought he was going to be super secretive, but he hangs out with us at the station and is just as entertaining as a mockingbird should be. Except a tiny bit smaller, which makes him that much more adorable. I call him Checkers.

Next weekend, we have the option to go on a four day tour to the islands, and volunteers get a serious discount. Sweet. Locals like the Jatun Sacha volunteers. By going on this tour I hope to check out the other islands too! I'll update the next time I can! Buenas tardes a todos!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Prep for the trip and sleepin' cat

Jazzercise, normally Jazz, likes to flaunt his 1980's leggings. He is the lankiest cat ever!

This was my test with a new Altoid's tin filled with higher quality paints (Winsor and Newton). I've been backing off the painting to be rejuvenated for the Galapagos trip. I hope to go all Potter on nature and record it with watercolors.