Ben is a student from the University of Miami, he has spent three months living with a host family and living on Isabela as part of his study abroad program. Ben has spent a lot of his free time on the island surfing at El Faro (the surf beach), and has for his Service Learning Project he has been conducting evening walks along one of the beaches looking for signs of sea turtle nesting. Ben was lucky enough to witness a sea turtle heading up the beach to begin nesting.
What do you do in your free time/weekends on Isabela?
I paid to rent a surfboard for my last two months here, so on my free time and every Saturday I make sure to go out to the surf beach and surf as much as I can. On Sundays, I go on trips with my host family where we have picnics and play soccer at local beaches, such as Playa del Amor or El Estero.
What Interested you in the Galapagos? And the Study abroad program?
The Galapagos are famous for being the inspiration for modern evolutionary biology, so as a biologist I have always been interested in coming here and seeing all of the famed wildlife. When I was still in high school, I found out the University of Miami had a study abroad program to come here, so I knew I had to attend Miami and take advantage of this incredible opportunity.
How did you become involved with IOI?
University of Miami and IOI Study Abroad Program
How long are you going to be part of this program?
What are your goals? Why are you participating?
My goals for coming to the Galapagos were to see all of the unique animals and to see the same unique patterns that inspired Darwin's theory of evolution.
How are you liking the experience?
Living in the Galapagos has been an incredible experience. Even though the islands seem small, there is an endless number of things to see. There are so many large creatures in the Galapagos, and unlike other places in the world, you see them all the time! Living in the Galapagos for multiple months has also allowed me to learn about the island culture and puts my life back in the States in a whole new perspective.
Would you recommend this to other travellers?
Absolutely. The Galapagos Islands are like nothing else in the world and you will not regret coming in any way.
For people coming after you is there any advice you’d tell them?
Be ready to eat lots of fish, and overall less calories in general than what is considered normal in the States. Invest in some jam at a local store, and then always have lots of fresh bread from a panaderia on hand.
The one thing you wished you’d pack.
Lots and lots of CLIF bars. I brought 12, but they disappeared fast.
One thing you regret bringing.
Not really anything. I've used basically everything that I packed, and stuff I haven't used is mostly medication just in case I get sick.
Highlight of your trip?
Probably the most amazing part of my time in the Galapagos was when I got to swim with giant manta rays on my way to Los Tuneles. Our boat captain spotted one from the surface, so we slowed our boat down to get a closer look. Once we noticed that there was more than one in the water, the captain told us we could quickly put our gear on and swim with them. When I first jumped in, the one we were following was pretty far away, so I only saw its outline and thought that was it. However, when I looked back to the boat, the deckhand was pointing me in another direction. Sure enough, I turned around and clearly saw a giant manta about 20 feet away! As I kept swimming around, I saw 3 or 4 more giant mantas, and one swam straight at me. It was an incredible, unforgettable experience.