This past winter break a small group of seventeen HTEA high school students took a trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands. I was one of these lucky few. I went with an interest in nature photography in mind. How many other places on Earth could you go to take snapshots of nature completely unadulterated by human influence? The Galapagos is a cluster of islands formed over a hotspot in the Earth’s crust. It consists of hundreds of islands of all shapes and sizes. They lie about 700 miles West of the Ecuadorian coast, a short plane hop from Guayaquil, the main stop before anyone enters the islands.
I knew this trip wasn’t going to be like anything I had ever experienced; before we even landed we saw Hammerhead sharks swimming along the shores of the first island, San Cristóbal. Every day we were busy, from dawn to dusk. We were either hiking, snorkeling or taking in the sights and sounds of a new a foreign culture. Keep in mind everything was in Spanish. This wasn’t like visiting the Brevard Zoo and seeing a bunch of different animals. We were completely immersed in another culture, language, law, people, and atmosphere.
As the days went on I began to get a sense of how the locals lived; how they interacted with one another and the precious land on which they lived. Treat others how you want to be treated. If the whole world had a mindset like this just imagine how much different the world would be if everyone respected each other. If everyone accepted one another for who they were, what they believed, what they wanted. If we could just accept everyone as himself or herself, we could be so much more. Take for example this picture. The two “ambassadors” of the Galapagos Islands, the Sea Lion and the Marine Iguana. These two are just lounging, one enjoying the cool shade, the other basking in the energizing rays. But imagine sitting down next to a total stranger? No, that would be ridiculous unless you couldn’t avoid it. But we should not be this way. We are who we are and we should not discriminate each other because of it. Looking back on the trip, this is the most important bit of information I learned. And yes, I did get some great pictures. I can’t thank Mrs. Ford, Mr. Lovelace, Mrs. Hendren, and Dr. Bush enough for allowing us all to take this amazing trip.
–Spencer Sperando ’14
Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?