What Do a Desert Island and the Rain City Have in Common?

Nina Finley
January 2, 2014

Fifteen days ago, I flew home to Seattle. Since then I’ve reunited with old friends, celebrated Christmas, hiked for three days with my mom and sister, and bid farewell to 2013. It was a whirlwind of a year.

During my first days back, I was welcomed so thoroughly by my city, family, and friends that I almost forgot I ever left. I completely missed out on reverse culture shock, just as I avoided culture shock in the first place. My experiences in the Galapagos have already become stories and memories, and I revisit them often when I show people my photos.

As I resumed daily life, two things struck me about my experience in the Galapagos:

>> Regular mealtimes: In the Galapagos, I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day at roughly the same time, whether I was hungry or not. When I got home to Seattle, I resumed my old habit of eating only after I felt faint with hunger – and my stomach started hurting, just like it used to.

>> Exploration: When I lived on San Cristobal Island, I took every opportunity to explore. A choppy boat ride to spend a weekend on the neighboring island? Of course, I might see a new species of mockingbird! Another scuba dive at Kicker Rock? Yes please, that’s why I got certified! This spirit kept me inspired each morning and exhausted each night.

To keep these two aspects of Ecuador with me, I’m making two New Year’s Resolutions:

1. I will eat three satisfying meals a day so I’ll feel as healthy and nourished as I did in the Galapagos.

2. I will take every opportunity to explore, no matter where I am, beginning right here in my own Washington State.

Resolution #2 was in motion a few days early when my mom, my sister and I spent three days hiking through Olympic National Park. We trekked among old growth cedars in the temperate rainforest, driftwood on the Pacific coast, gravel bars in the Queets River, and river otters in Lake Quinault. Experiencing my drizzly, green home was quite a change from the dry island sunshine of the Galapagos, but a few things felt entirely the same.

Spending time with friends on the beach:

A winter sunset on the Pacific Coast with my mom and sister.

My first camping trip to Puerto Chino with Eco Club.


A song sparrow at a sandpiper wetland reserve.

A vegetarian finch at a giant tortoise reserve.


A bald eagle above the Quinault River.

A Galapagos hawk above the Isabela lava fields.

Impressive megafauna crossing the road:

Roosevelt elk.

A Galapagos sea lion.

Enchanted forests:

The world’s largest western red cedar.

The world’s largest species of daisy.

Breathtaking landscapes:

A gravel bar in the Queets River.

The arid zone of Isabela Island.


Queets Rainforest.

Plaza Sur.


Nina Finley

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Nina Finley is a sophomore at The Ohio State University. She ventured to the Midwest from her hometown of Seattle, Washington to major in Animal Sciences and Evolution &amp; Ecology. She would like to become a livestock vet or marine biologist. When she&rsquo;s not studying, Nina loves to play ultimate frisbee, watch birds and raise meat rabbits. She&rsquo;s passionate about agriculture, nature and Spanish, all of which she hopes to explore in Ecuador. Join the journey as Nina traces Darwin&rsquo;s path and explores the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands!</span></p>

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Ohio State University, The
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