Location: Galapagos

Today was a great day! It started at 7:00 when I had a great breakfast of eggs, granola, and milk. Shortly after breakfast, we took a bus to one of the three major reforestation centers of the archipelago. There we planted four endemic species of plants in a field. It was difficult to work, but it felt great when I found out we planted over 300 saplings! Knowing that the majority of those saplings will grow to become trees that will provide niches for many native species is a phenomenal feeling! There were some ants that bit, but I was well covered, so I didn’t mind. After we finished planting, we packed soil into little bags that the plants grow in before planting. I found it relaxing and was happy when I found the occasional worm! After we finished our morning service, we took a short bus ride where we ate our packed lunch (PB&J and pears) and relaxed before our next service activity. I had no clue what we were doing for the second half of the day, so I was thrilled when I found out we were going to the Charles Darwin Research Center to help out! I LOVED IT! Before we started our service, we had 40 minutes to look around and see all the animals; the majority were tortoises. I made eye contact with one tortoise for about a minute which was cool. After exploring, we got to help them out! In the tortoise’s habitat, there is a concrete pond that they use to drink, cool down and go to the bathroom. Since it is their bathroom, things accumulate at the bottom, so our job was essentially scraping poop off the bottom of the floor, but it was much more fun than it sounds. The tortoises came in while we were cleaning, and one even bumped into me, so I got to touch it (you aren’t allowed to touch the animals, but they are allowed to touch you). It was so cool watching them hang out, and I felt like they were a part of our group. One was using the drain as a shower! After a fun afternoon of hanging out with tortoises, I took a nice walk back to the hotel and bought some shirts and pizza on the way. It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of time just to chill which was nice. Once free time was over, we had a meeting where we discussed our highs and lows for the day. My high was hanging out with the giant tortoises, and my low was seeing one flipped on its back, which we could not do anything about. I wanted to help it out so bad! Fortunately, the volunteers who are allowed to touch the tortoises flipped it back, so everything is fine. We discussed the motivation for community service at our forum, and then we had a nice dinner followed by some coconut ice cream. I am upset that tonight is our last night in the Galapagos, but I had a great time here. This afternoon was probably my favorite part of the trip so far!