Friday, October 25, 2013

We made it back

I just learned that my last post was about letting people know when we got back from Galapogos!  We made it back a few months ago!  I am just a little slow to post.

I am also going to try and blog more through our move and transition.  Thanks to all the people who have helped us and loved us!  We are so blessed!

Grace and Peace

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Last Day Recap- 4-21-13

The last morning we got up, had breakfast and headed to the Charles Darwin Research Station.  Here we are at the sign.  I really did not know what to expect.  If I had any expectations, it was not what I thought.  The population of certain types of torises has struggled to survive recently due to people bringing in species of animals that are not native to the islands.  The biggest ones are rats, pigs, and cats.  The rats eat the eggs and pigs eat the toirists when they are first born.  So, after the eggs are laid in the wild, they bring the eggs here, incubate them, let them grow for 5 years and then release them into the wild.  It is a really cool program and they are having huge success.  They believe that most of the species of tortoise could support itself in the wild.  

This is also where Lonesome George was brought to see if they could get him to breed.  He was the last of his species.  Sadly, he died last year and was not interested in breeding at all.  they have no idea how long he had been alone on the island when they found him.  They believe he was not interested in mating or even having other toriteses in his habitat because he had been alone for so long.  It was fascinating to hear and learn about.  

Here we are at the entrance.

Baby saddle back.  George was a saddle back but a different species.

More babies.

Map of the galapagos

They also had bigger toirtises for people to see.  The guide said that they come in for a couple of weeks and then back out to the wild.  They have a rotation of sorts so that they do not live their entire life in captivity.

All in all it was neat and I am glad that we made it.

After that, it was back to Baltra Isalnd, got to the airport, and flew back to Quito.  We went to a small market and shopped a bit, ate dinner, and are now getting showers and watching some TV.  Our ride to the airport picks us up at 5 am.  Our flight leaves out of Quito Ecuador at 8:15 am Central Time.  We fly to Miami and then to Phoenix and are supposed to be in around 6:30 pm at Phoenix.

It has been an amazing week!  We did not want to leave the Galapagos.  Caleb and Cully were sad.

But, time to head back.  Sometime this week, I will try and write a reflection or two on my week and things that I saw as we got to see so much.

I will post tomorrow night when we get back so everyone knows we made it ok.

So, until then...

Grace and Peace

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Recap of 4-20-13

Today we started a little earlier.  We had a 45 minute bus ride to the north side of Santa Cruz, then a 2 hour boat ride to the island we were visiting today.  On the way, we had several surprises.  The first was a group of dolphins (maybe herd, I am not sure what you call it when a lot of dolphins are swimming together).  There must have been close to 100 of them.  It was nuts!  They started playing with our boat and the wake our boat was leaving behind.  You would look down at the front of the boat and see 5 dolphins swimming along with us.  They were jumping like crazy as well. Tera and the boys got soaked like you would in the splash zone at Sea World from one of the dolphins jumping.  It was fantastic!  Here are some pictures Tera got of the dolphins jumping and swimming with us.

This shot is amazing!  3 in the air at one time!  Good job Tera!

This was our destination.  This island is one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos.  However, it has the most photographed formation in all of the Galapagos...Pinnacle Rock.  You can see in a few of these pictures below.  It looks like a triangle at the top.  It was big and the landscape surrounding it was beautiful!  We hiked to the top of a mountain and had an awesome view.  Here are some of the pictures we got!

 After the hike, we got back in our dingy and headed to try and find some Galapagos Penguins.  We found out they are the 2nd smallest penguin in the world.  This penguin you can only find in the Galapagos.  We were blessed and found 2 standing right beneath Pinnacle Rock.  Here they are.

After we saw the penguins, we went snorkeling again.  We saw another shark and many other fish.  At one point, we got the dingy to pick us up and take us to beach.  We were there for about 30 minutes while the others finished up.  We saw a few sea lions there and just hung out on the beach.  There is a picture above that has two beaches.  We were on the beach on the right hand side.

We then returned to the boat, ate lunch and headed back.  When we got back, we did a little more shopping, ate at a local pizza place and came back to pack up.  We get up early again tomorrow and head to the Charles Darwin Research Station.  They have a lot of tortoises there including baby ones.  They are doing a lot of research on the islands and we are super excited to visit and see the animals they have there.

It was a great day and everyone had a good time!  We hate that we have to leave tomorrow.  There is so much more we could see here.  But, we must leave.

We head back to Quito, Ecuador tomorrow after the tour.  Then, back to Phoenix on Monday.  We will have some free time tomorrow afternoon in Quito so we are trying to figure out what we are going to do.  They have a huge gondola that heads to the top of one of the mountains so we might go over and ride that to the top and check out the view.

I will try and post more tomorrow.  Off to pack a bit more and then head to bed.

Grace and Peace

Friday, April 19, 2013

Recap of today- April 19th, 2013

So, today was an amazing day!  We started again at 7:45 am and traveled by boat to a different island.  Once again it was about a 2 hour boat trip.  We went to South Plaza Island, just off the east part of Santa Cruz.  The island is very small.  It is only about 425 feet wide and not real long.  We walked over the entire island.  Although the island is small, it has a lot of wildlife including: land and marine iguanas, sea lions, blue footed boobies, crabs, and many other birds.  We probably saw close to 100 iguanas and probably that many sea lions as well.  I wish these pictures did it justice, but it is no where close to what we actually experienced in person.  But, enjoy seeing just a bit of our day today.  

Cully with an land iguana.

Caleb and Cully with marine iguanas hanging out on a rock!

Up close and personal with a land iguana!

Caleb chilling with another land iguana.

 Blue footed boobie!

Here we are on the cliff.  Santa Cruz island is in the background.

Baby sea lion.

Caleb and a land iguana...don't tell anyone but I think he touched it after this picture!

Two marine iguanas having a moment!  I guess they are there for each other!

 This might have been the most amazing part!  Caleb, Cully and Tera got kissed by a sea lion cub!  It was awesome!  It just came up when we were about to leave and wanted to check things out.  Maybe I should say check us out!

After we left the island, we went snorkeling again.  Today, we actually swam with sharks.  There were about 3-4 White Tipped Reef Sharks that were swimming around, under, and close to us.  It was crazy cool!  I never in my life thought I would swim with sharks!  Caleb and Cully thought it was awesome as well!  We also saw a few other fish.  The water was pretty rough so it wasn't as clear as yesterday.  

Once again, we have so many more pictures and they hardly catch the essence of this place.  We are having a blast and enjoying God's creation as well as each other.  

After we got back, we did some shopping in some local stores.  

Tomorrow, we are starting earlier than today and heading to a different island.  There are more animals on this island that we have not seen yet.  We will post more of our adventures tomorrow.  Off to bed to get some rest!

So, until then....

Grace and Peace

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pictures from yesterday and today- April 17th and 18th

As promised, here are some photos of our day yesterday and today.  Please know that these are a little sampling.  When we get back, I will try and post more.  The internet is so slow that it takes forever to get these to download.  

Here is one of the sink holes that we saw.  It was huge!

Here is the lava tunnel that we got to hike in a bit!

Here is the 1st tortoise that we saw.

Here is another one we saw.  This is Caleb and Cully with our tour guide.  He is actually one of the few natives of the Galapagos Islands.  His name is Mario and he is a lot of fun and has a lot of knowledge about the islands.

He is the tortoise in the above picture.

Here he is starring Caleb and Cully down!

Here are pictures from today.  Today we went to a different island called Santa Fe.  Here is a Blue Footed Boobie with a marine iguana.

Here is the boobie again.

Another shot of the marine iguana!

Here we are on the island beach with sea lions.

 This is a land iguana called the Santa Fe Iguana.  It only lives on this island!  We saw about 10-12 of them today while we were on the island.

Cully with the iguana.
 A baby sea lion.

After we were done on the island, we went snorkeling.  We saw a lot of cool things: several sea turtles, a lot of fish, a sting ray, and we also swam with a couple of the sea lions!  It was awesome!  

After we were done snorkeling, we got back on the yacht and headed back to Santa Cruz.  Swimming with sea turtles and sea lions was amazing  We did not know how Caleb and Cully would do with snorkeling, but they both did great.  I swam with Cully and Caleb swam with Tera.    

The yacht ride to Santa Fe was about 2 hours, so we got to hang on the boat with our group.  We are getting to know them better and learning a lot about their story.  I was talking with Caleb today about creation and one of the guys overheard and joined in a bit.  Not sure what he believes, but we had a good talk about how God who created everything and what that might have looked like.  We were also talking about Darwin, what he found, and how what that looks like for us as Christians.  It was a great conversation.  It is so fun to hear and learn other people's stories and then to realize that we are now a part of that story from this point forward.    

It was an awesome day!  We are so blessed to have this opportunity and we are doing our best to take advantage of the entire thing!  We are all showering now and then we will head to dinner.  

Tomorrow, we are up for another tour, seeing a few new animals, and snorkeling again!  We are expecting another good day!  

So, until tomorrow...

Grace and Peace

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


So....we made it to the Galapagos Islands and life is good.  However, the internet here is awful (not really complaining, just stating a fact).  It is an amazing place so I guess if the internet is bad then you cannot hold it agains we are in the middle of an ocean.  Because of the internet, I will not be able to post any pictures today.  I am going to try and figure out a way to post them so I can get a few posted tomorrow, but a written report will have to do.

During the night we had a bit of a scare.  Caleb woke up at 2:15 am saying he did not feel good.  We panicked a little.  He was up for a bit, used the restroom, sat in a warm shower for 15 minutes or so, and then went back to sleep.  All day he was kind of acting like he did not feel good, but never threw up.  So, that was a good thing.  We are hoping tomorrow will be a non-sick feeling day for everyone!  Cully had a great day and is back to his old self!

We had a funny moment when we got to the airport...Caleb looked at me and said two things.  The first was that he liked the fact we were on this trip with other people (his social side coming out).  He thought that was pretty cool.  Then he looked at me (I guess in the excitement that we were getting ready to leave for the islands) and said "I need to dance!"  He then got our his ipod, plugged in his ears, and for 25 minutes or so danced like crazy!  People getting off the plane were all walking by and watching.  Other people in the little airport were watching.  The people in our group loved it.   I cannot tell you how hard he was dancing...he was getting down!  I told him at least he could put his hat down and try and make a little spending money.  He was in his own world and it was fun to watch!  

The morning started with some travel.  We made it to the Galapagos around 10:30 am island time (we are now on Mountain Time) and after clearing customs got on a bus.  The bus took us to a ferry (only about 10 minutes) and we went to a bigger island.  The airport is on Bartral Island and our hotel is on Santa Cruz.  So, after we made it across the channel, we boarded another bus and headed toward our hotel.  On the way we made several stops.

The first stop was at two naturally formed sink holes.  These actually looked like craters...they were huge.  There were two of them and they were called "The Twins" in spanish.  

After that, we went to a lava tunnel which was a natural tunnel formed while the volcanoes were exploding and forming the islands a really long time ago.  It was a neat thing to hear how it was formed and we walked through it for a bit.  

Lastly, we went to a place and saw some tortoises.  We saw about 8-10 of them.  It was really cool!  I wish I could show you pictures.  Caleb and Cully were literally a foot from its head as it was eating some fruit.  Our guide had them sit and it came up and was eating right in front of them.  At one point, the turtle looked at them as if to say, "can I eat in peace"!  It was awesome!  We saw several of them and could have ridden on them if it was allowed.  

After that, we headed to our hotel.  We are staying at Finch Bay Resort.  There are no roads to our hotel.  We had to ride a boat in order to get here.  It is such a nice place.  We checked in, put on our swim suit and headed to the beach and pool.  The resort has its own private beach.  We swam for a bit and then came in to get showered up for dinner. 

We went to dinner and ate with a couple of people from our group.  We ate with the people from Omaha, Nebraska.  They are married and are both RN's.  We had a great conversation about Caleb and his treatment as well as hospitals and how they run.  It was a great conversation and fun to get to know them.  The boys are super tired.  Cully fell asleep at dinner (on a couch) and Caleb could have.  It was an early morning.  I carried Cully back and I am almost positive Caleb is asleep.  

We have another early morning tomorrow.  We are meeting our group at 7:45 am to get started with our day.  We are going to another island to see some different animals and then snorkeling at some point.  We will not get back to the hotel until around 4 it will be a long day.

One funny story before I stop...While we were hiking and looking for the tortoises, Caleb was drilling our tour guide with questions and they were kind of walking up ahead of everyone having a conversation.  I did not hear everything they were discussing (since they were quite a ways up at one point) but there was a time when we had stopped and were talking while looking at a tortoise.  The guy was talking about several kinds of species of tortious and Caleb looked at him and said, "I want to see a saddle back tortoise, are we going to see one of those?"  Caleb asked because he knew they were a very rare species that only lives on one island in the Galapagos.  The guide looked at him in amazement and said, "How did you know about that species and how rare they are?"  It was so funny!  Turns out, we will not see a saddle back in the wild but will get a chance to see one on Sunday at the Darwin Research Center.  The look on the guides face was priceless as Caleb was helping him talk about all the different types of tortoises.

I know it is short and there are no pictures, but once again I will try and figure out a way to post some tomorrow.  Just know we are doing good, are very tired, and excited about what tomorrow will bring.  Thanks for your prayers!  

More tomorrow.

Grace and Peace  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A snapshot of our day

So we were wondering how Cully was going to do when he woke up and the short answer is he was feeling better.  We are still not sure that something isn't making him feel bad, but he was able to do everything that we did today and do it feeling pretty well!  So, praise the Lord for that!  Thanks for the prayers!

Our day started with a tour of Old Quito.  Our hotel is in the newer part of the city, so it was a little bit of a drive.  We boarded our bus (with the rest of our group...more on that later) and headed toward Old Town.  

The first part of the tour started heading up the mountain to see a statue that oversees Old Town.  Here is a shot of the city while we were heading up the mountain.  

Here is a shot of the statue.  She was beautiful!  They call her El Panecillo.  You can look up more about her on the internet but she has a lot of symbolism.  1st of all, she stands on a snake and holds a chain that is attached to the snake.  In Catholicism, the snake is a symbol that represents evil and thus she is holding evil back.  There is so much more about dancing and flying and the 12 stars in her crown represent the 12 apostles and such.  Pretty fun and once again, beautiful!

Here we are overlooking the city!

We then headed down into Old Town.  This arch is one of the original arches into the city when it was surrounded entirely by a wall.  They said that this was the gate that the natives would come in and out of from the mountains.  They had to leave at 5 pm, so about that time there was a mass exodus of people heading back to the mountains.  They had to leave because if they did not they could get in trouble for trying to live in the city!  Pretty crazy but true!

Another family shot of a bridge and cool street in Old Town.

This is a soldier that is posted outside the Presidents Mansion and Government headquarters.  There was one on each side of this breeze way.  

In old town, we visited several cathedrals and they were all beautiful!  It was funny because every one that we went into had a mass happening.  There are 7 churches on one street.  Each church has a convent, a boys school, girls school and public square for people to socialize in.  We visited 3 of the four and the last one is the oldest church in South America...San Francisco.  The seven churches are called the seven crosses.

After our tour, we grabbed some lunch and had the afternoon to do what we wanted.  After some discussion, we decided to get a cab and head to the Mitad del Mundo...Middle of the Earth.  We were a little hesitant with Cully and not knowing how he was going to do, but once we got there, it was awesome!  It was about an hour drive from our hotel.  We visited a little museum first and learned about the differences between the hemispheres.  The museum also had a lot of information about the different tribes that live in Ecuador including the tribe that Jim Elliot came to Ecuador to live with and spread God's love to.  They had examples of houses they would have lived in, tools they would have used, and weapons they would have used.  It was quite fascinating!

Here we all are standing in both hemispheres at the same time!

Here they are tight rope walking on the technically they are in neither hemisphere!

After the museum, our taxi driver took us to the official monument on the equator.  Here are a couple of pictures at the monument.  It was a really cool place that had many shops, eating spots, and museums as well.  We visited a couple shops, got some souvenirs, saw some creepy bugs they had on display and then headed back.

All in all it was an amazing day!  I promised a little bit more about our here you go.  We are here with a travel company and thus are here with other people who are here to see the Galapagos and Ecuador. So, for the next 5 days, we will be spending a lot of time with them.  They are all super nice.  There are 10 of us all together.  There is one guy from Nashville, TN, one guy from Denver, CO, husband and wife from Omaha, Nebraska, and two ladies from Houston, TX. They are all super nice and I think we are going to have a great time.  The couple from Omaha have a daughter that lives in Gilbert, AZ.  What a small world!

So, tomorrow we have a wake up call at 4:30 am, leave for airport at 5:30 am, and then fly to the Galapagos at 8:15 am.  We should get there around lunch time they said.  We have to make one stop on another island.  Not sure why, just along for the ride.

So, I will try and post pictures tomorrow of our travels.  Our hotel is supposed to be pretty nice so we should have wifi!

So until then...

Grace and Peace