The first time I ever heard of the Galapagos Islands was in the stories that my grandpa always used to tell me. He was a hobby pilot and would go on the craziest trips to the world's most remote places. One of his favorites was always the Galapagos Islands. So for me, it's super exciting to be here and experience these islands for myself.
One thing I tried to pay attention to for the past week is the core values that the people living here are upholding in their daily lives. Also in which way these might differ from my personal ones.

A great way to dive into and really get to know a new place is to surround yourself with local people. So we were fortunate enough to spend four days of our first week on a service-learning project. It was at a sustainable farm in the Highlands right outside the main city of San Cristobal that is run by Giovanni and his amazing team, including people like Carlos or Carmen with whom we were able to work with. The objective is to respect the cycles of nature, to be closely connected to the land you are living in, and to live off what you are growing. But overall it's about respecting your surroundings and protecting the natural diversity of the Islands. Every day we had to carry out different tasks, so we got to know a big variety of the work that is happening every day on the farm.

Our work would include things like cleaning out stables, feeding the farm animals, milking the cows, planting various kinds of trees and plants, and many more things.
Volunteering in The Galapagos Islands

A great part of the project is the hands-on approach. You can touch everything, and smell everything which brings you extremely close to the whole place and makes the experience a lot deeper, but be prepared to get your hands dirty!:) It’s extremely important to the people there that you get to know the farm life by being right in the middle of it and by being a part of it rather than just sitting outside and watching. Right from the start all of us felt super included and like a part of this great team of inspirational people.

This is where you can see their big value of community. All of the people we met during our time there had such great energy about them which made the work on the farm so fun and easy. You can see and feel that the work that they are doing every day is really close to their heart and that definitely pushed us to bring in the same motivation. Everybody's working for the same cause and has the same core values which creates a great environment of community and like-mindedness.

By passing on their knowledge to volunteers like us or through projects they started they managed to have a long-lasting effect on everybody in the community. Their leading example is spreading inspiration and change in the local schools and in pretty much everyone that visits the farm.
Volunteering in The Galapagos Islands

All of this connects to their incredibly welcoming behavior as a part of their cultural identity. When our guide Paulina walked with us through the streets of the city on our first day, she knew almost everyone we encountered and stopped for little chats with them. A similar thing happened while we were working on the farm. Whenever people passed by us everybody would greet each other and it seemed like they all knew each other. And even if people don’t know you they are equally as polite and friendly towards each other. On one of our first days in San Cristobal, a woman we met on the street invited us into her home to show us around and to tell us her story. There was a small language barrier but nevertheless, she happily made an effort to explain to us four random tourists in English the stories behind the pictures on her wall.

As well, a part of their core values is respect towards nature, animals, traditions, and each other. A great example of that is a situation that you can witness pretty much every day on the streets here. If there is any kind of animal crossing the street or just laying there every driver driving at whichever speed will go around them or even immediately stop. Even though there is such a huge wildlife population I yet haven’t seen one runover animal.

To conclude, I can totally see why this must have been one of my grandad's favorite places. There is still so much to discover and to learn from the local culture and its people. I’m already so grateful for what we got to know in only one week and also super excited for what is yet to come!!


Written by Tally

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Author Orla O'Muiri Posted

Category Galapagos Islands Departure Summer 2022