Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Beautiful Floreana

Floreana was amazing. It’s what you picture when you think of a small beach town in the middle of nowhere. And in fact, that’s exactly what it was, a small beach town on an island with only 128 people. I can’t imagine a more peaceful place. It was perfect. I will always think of that island as paradise. The first day we saw giant land tortoises, rode on the top of a van, took a hike, and watched the sun set on a black sand beach. I couldn’t have asked for more out of that day. Our second day on Floreana was equally full and enjoyable.
            We started our second day on Floreana by going to the school. When we got there it was recess time so we joined the kids in their games. We played soccer and volleyball. And I played on a seesaw with a little girl. Then a couple of the other girls joined me playing on a piece of play equipment that was similar in concept to the merry-go-rounds that some people sat on while others ran to spin them. Unfortunately, before long, recess was over and it was time to go to class. I still think that recess is the best part of any school day. I miss recess.
            The children split into their three classes that were determined by age group. We divided into our three project groups who had all developed lesson plans for the students. My group made a lesson plan about water, it’s importance, and how the water cycle works. We tailored our lesson plan differently towards the different age groups. With the younger kids we did some interactive activities that allowed them to move around while learning about the different forms that water comes in. With the middle aged kids we had a more straight forward and basic lesson about the water cycle. And with the older kids we had an interactive conversation in which we discussed the water situation on the islands. After talking to all of the age groups we left them to continue the regular studies and challenged them to a soccer game later that evening.
            After lunch and a class with our professor we were on to our next adventure: snorkeling. We had to walk about one kilometer to get to the cove that was a good place to begin snorkeling from. It was a really rocky beach, but we weren’t there to sunbathe so it didn’t matter. While snorkeling we saw a lot of fish (a few that looked like Dorey) and a good number of sea turtles. A couple of people and I followed a sea turtle relatively far into the ocean. It was a tough swim back, but following the turtle was mesmerizing and entirely worth it. Once we were back to shore there were three sea lions playing in the cove that we were swimming out of. It was breathtaking how close they got to us.
            By the time that we were done swimming it was time for our soccer match with the school kids. It was all of us against the kids, aged about 5 to 16. Everyone got super into the game. And it was neat because a handful of people from the town came to watch us play. The game was close, and for a while it looked like we were going to win. Ultimately the kids beat us, by a lot. It was not for a lack of effort on our part.
            We separated from the kids to go to dinner, but we invited some of the older kids to join us for our bonfire that evening. After dinner we went back to the black sand beach where we went on our first night to watch the sun set, but this time it was to make a bonfire. There was initially some difficulty getting the fire started, but Phil saved the day and got the fire going. While the bonfire burned, we took the time to look at the stars. It was amazing how many of them that we could see. Whitman pointed out a number of the constellations that we can’t see from the northern hemisphere. Santos, a guy who lives on Floreana, told me that we were only seeing a portion of the number of stars that we would otherwise get to see, because the moon was so bright. We should have been waiting for the sun to set. As the night was coming to a close some of the Global Scholars took a starlight swim. The local boys who came to the bonfire called them “crazy” because the water was so cold, since it is winter in the Galapagos. Those who swam didn’t seem to mind and had a good time.
            It was an incredible day.
(Expect an update with photos)

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