Buen Vivir

Holly Callahan
February 14, 2015

There are many things I get to be grateful for this Valentines Day (even if that is more fitting for Thanksgiving). I have spent just under one week on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos.  I LOVE it here. A typical day: wake up early (roosters make it so an alaram isn’t even necessary) and run with Mariana (my house mate), shower, eat a delicious breakfast at school or at home, class, go for a swim in the clear, warm water, read for class, hike to another beach and swim, eat dinner at home or at a restaurant and fall sleep before 10pm. It is truly my ideal lifestyle.

The past three days I have spent taking SCUBA classes. I will finish tomorrow and had my first two open water dives this morning. It feels so good to finally be diving. We swam with some sea lions, saw tons of colorful fish and the largest hermit crab I have ever seen (I am not even sure if thats what it was). Next weekend my class is going to Lion Dormido (or Kicker Rock), where we swam with Hammer Head sharks last time I was here. It will be great to put my diving knowledge to use and explore the area in a new way.

Photos here will be more difficult as wifi on the island is limited, but I will do my best. Galapagos_San Cristobal_Room_Holly Callahan

My host mom is a wonderful woman named Betty. She is a hair stylist and we live behind her salon in our own rooms with private bathrooms. Our house is beautiful. This is a photo of my princess bedroom (while I was unpacking). Outside there are mango, fig and papaya trees.

Galapagos_San Cristobal_USFQ_Holly Callahan

This is the Galapagos campus of Universidad San Francisco (GAIAS) and the Galapagos Science Center. The school is nice and the science center is fancy. Next week I am going to start volunteering in the Marine Ecology lab there, tagging sea turtles. I am excited!

Galapagos_San Cristobal_Playa Mann_Holly Callahan

Across the street from the University is Playa Mann, where I do most of my swimming. It is a small beach with calm water.

Galapagos_San Cristobal_Sea Lions_Holly Callahan

Playa Mann and the whole island are home to tons of Sea Lions. They all sound like they are barfing or coughing up a lung. It is easy to spend time watching them interact with each other. This is a mother nursing her pup on Playa Mann.

Galapagos_San Cristobal_Parade_Holly Callahan

Last week was the anniversary of the Galapagos and this weekend and week are Carnival. Last week they had a parade through the streets before crowning the Galapagos Queen. It was an interesting, beauty pageant-like affair. Last night they had live music and everyone from the town was out listening to it. Apparently Carnival gets pretty wild, even here, so next week will be full of excitement!

Galapagos_San Cristobal_BBQ_Holly Callahan

Last night my host mom had her family over for a BBQ and invited us (we are not supposed to be given dinner on Fridays or Saturdays). It was great to meet her family and talk with them. The food is always tasty and it was fun to watch it cook.

Galapagos_San Cristobal_Meat_Holly Callahan

There was literally buckets of steak and chicken to cook and they basted it using green onions as a brush! We eat so much at meals that it is a good thing I exercise almost nonstop here!

I truly feel so wonderful. In Ecuador there is the idea of Buen Vivir, which means good living. This idea is the to have a good life with nature and not a good life based on material items and development. As a tourist, I find that here. The island has its fair share of issues (trash everywhere and fresh water shortages for example) but I feel so much more relaxed. In Quito I always found myself counting how many days or weeks I had been there and here I already struggle to remember what day of the week it is.

Although I miss my loved ones this Valentines Day, I am so happy to be here!

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

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Holly Callahan

<p>Hello! My name is Holly and I love nature and the ocean. For four months I will be studying Marine Ecology in the Galapagos Islands. I can&#39;t wait study, live and explore one of the most beautiful and wild places in the world. Adventure awaits!</p>

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