Colville Interact lands in Galapagos

Roger Harnack

From high in the Andes Mountains, Colville Interact took its adventure in Ecuador today from ski level to sea level, making the short flight to Baltra Isla (Island).
Although the club’s scheduled flight was canceled, members and chaperones arrived at Mariscol International Airport in Quito early to ensure members would have seats on the next available flight.
Everyone was booked aboard a 9 a.m. flight.
When the plane landed in the Galapagos, it was on a runway built by they U.S. Army Air Corps for use during World War II. Around the runway, remnants of the old military base still remain as a reminder of the war long ago.
In addition, large prickly pear cacti stood tall on the dessert island.
The club immediately jumped into exploration mode, starting with Rancho Primias, sanctuary to many of the remaining giant tortoises still found in the islands.
But to get to Rancho Primias, the group had to get through customs and immigration, then catch a municipal bus to a ferry crossing at Itabaca Channel.
Ferries are a vital link for traffic in the islands traveling Ecuador 5 highway, which links Baltra Isla and Isla Santa Cruz.
fter catching the ferry, the students and chaperones caught another bus headed to Rancho Primias.
Tortoise crossing signs lined the highway.
Once inside the reserve, the group of 30 from Colville wandered the fields in search of the giant tortoises, some of which weighed nearly 500 pounds, guides said..
The tour group was advised to stay at least six feet from the mammoth reptiles.
Two Interact members, Maria and Colten, took time to try a tortoise shell on for size before lunch.
After a brief visit and lunch, Interact took a five-minute bus ride to a nearby lava tunnel, where they hiked in the lighted, underground tunnel for about a quarter-mile before having to crawl a couple meters to continue their trek to the exit. Only a couple people opted not to make the “army crawl.”But all the chaperones completed the challenge, including tour leader Victoria Broden.
After the crawl, it was off to Puerto Ayora to check into the hotel and relax a few minutes before dinner.
With Internet services sketchy at best, students found ways offline to stay entertained.
Some hiked the few blocks to the beach, where they reported seeing iguanas, birds and even a shark. Others stayed at the hotel to listen to music and dance.
The group continues its adventure on Wednesday, when it takes two yachts to a nearby island to snorkel, see blue-footed boobies and other birds.
Check back daily for updates on Colville Interact’s advertures in Ecuador.
The adventure will wrap up Sunday, June 30. The Statesman-Examiner is planning a special section to showcase student volunteer work in Ecuador as well oa some of the locations students visited.
Look for that supplement in the July 10 edition.