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Journals from Galapagos, Ecuador

2010-09-28 Island Life and Gringo Plague...

We arrived in the Galapagos Islands this week. The group is settling into our new host families with gusto and trying to adopt a more studious attitude. Evolution is turning out to me a much tougher class than Tropical Ecology.

               My new host family has been just as wonderful as my family in Quito. I have been very blessed in the people that I’ve been placed with. Sandra, my mother, is a professor of biology at the navy base here on San Cristobal. Her husband is a boat captain who leads tours throughout the archipelago. He is away from home for a month at a time, then returns for two weeks with his family before heading back out again. My host brother is equally elusive in his career as a Navy captain living in Guayaquil on the mainland. My host sister Gaby, however, has become my new favorite person. The thirteen-year-old is precocious, delightful and has a wicked sense of humor that I love to provoke. We have managed to become fast friends in my short time here.

               The islands themselves are stunning! The rocky shores are not what most of the students expected. While we do have our fair share of sandy white beaches, the island is volcanic and actually rather rocky and sparse. Even Darwin, upon arriving, muttered that God must have forsaken this place. The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is very small and one of only two communities on the island. In combination with the highland El Progresso, San Cristobal boasts (on a good day) 6,000 residents. We have been told that people we have never met will be talking about us by name before the week Is out. I have never lived in a community this small, so it should be an experience. It should also serve as a warning to act rather circumspect, since the whole town will known about any indiscretions before the next morning.

               Unfortunately…or rather fortunately, we were unable to get into too much trouble this past weekend as an unknown illness we have dubbed “gringo plague” struck with a vengeance! The group’s entire twenty-eight students were down for the count with a severe gastrointestinal infection/virus/poisoning (depending on which doctor you saw at the hospital.) Pepto and Imodium were passed from one individual to another like candy in a dish. We are now thankfully, and en masse, seemingly recovered for the most part. Our class midterm was rescheduled as only three students could drag themselves from bed to show up, and our class field trip to Kicker Rock, a snorkeling site deep out at sea, was also rescheduled.

               For now we set our sights only on acclimation and recuperation. Until next time, Linfield.

               Rebecca Soderlind


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