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Destination: Galapagos Islands Cyber Field Trip

Mandy Williams' Expedition Journal
Day One

See Mandy's Photo Album.

Hi, my name is Mandy Williams. I am currently here in the Galapagos Islands with Scientific American Frontiers to be a part of this cyber field trip. So welcome aboard!

Day one mostly involved getting from the mainland of Ecuador out to the islands. We flew out on an airplane, full of other tourists like myself, and landed on the island of Baltra. From the Baltra airport, the rest of the Scientific American crew and I rode on a bus to get to the coast, where our ship was awaiting our arrival.

Our ship, the MS Polaris, is too big to have come all the way up to the natural coastline, so we had to hop onto a few little motored rubber rafts that then took us out to the Polaris. Once everyone was aboard and settled into their rooms, the crew welcomed us with food and beverages. That also gave us the opportunity to meet everyone that was on the ship and get to know each other's names and reasons for being aboard. Everyone we met was very excited to hear about just what it was that we were planning to do throughout the week. Everyone was incredibly friendly, including the boat's crew and staff.

Once orientation was over, we were instructed to return to our rooms so that we could all run through an emergency exit drill. Next on the day's agenda was to get right to work.

We left the ship, along with Alan Alda and the PBS film crew, to go to the island of Santa Cruz. It was absolutely beautiful, just as all the islands are. It was covered in a unique cactus that resembles our own native American cactus. The weather was nice. It was quite warm, but a steady breeze helped keep everyone cool.

We got to watch the film crew film Alan Alda going over his narrations, as well as to begin our own journey. We began filming the landscape and the animals that we found, and also took plenty of pictures as well. We were taken on a nature walk that circled part of the island. We saw beautiful pink flamingos and several colorful land iguanas. Our guide is naturalist Lynn Fowler, and she always has so much information to tell us about each of the animals we encounter and about their habitats as well. That information and more is what will be going on the film each day and in our answers to e-mail questions.

I'm very excited to be here. Everyone is so nice and helpful. The weather is just gorgeous, the animals are amazing, and the islands are beautiful. At night, out here at sea, away from the lights of big cities and suburban towns, the water beams with the reflections of the moon, and the sky is awe-inspiring with thousands of stars showing themselves at once. Stars that I certainly never see back home in Texas.

There is always someone around to meet and talk to, and it's been interesting sharing the new experiences with strangers. As the week continues, however, I hope to meet more people and get to know them better. So far, mealtime has been the best opportunity to do that. Both breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, so that once you have a plate of food you must find a table to sit at. Each day you end up sitting with new and interesting people. It's quite a lot of fun.

I know tomorrow will be another big day and an exciting one as well. I understand we might have a chance to interview Alan Alda ourselves! We will be going to the island of Española and seeing the blue-footed boobies! I can hardly wait. I hope that everyone at home is as eager to learn about this as I am, and I wish that everyone could be doing so firsthand the way I am. I feel very lucky to be here, and I know that I will treasure this experience for the rest of my life.


Click on the photo to see an enlargement.
Mandy Williams Here I am on Santa Cruz Beach.
On the beach at Santa Cruz with Sherri Steward. Mandy Williams and Sherri Steward
Ground finch This yellow warbler allowed me to get very close. It wasn't afraid of people. Amazing.
And really yellow, too. Ground finch
Cactus This apuntia cactus is everywhere!
It's a bit odd to see cactus and sea together, in one view. What a strange environment this is. Cactus and the Sea
Sunset on the Galapagos Sunset on the Galapagos Island of Santa Cruz.

Read Sherri's Day One Journal

Back new entry Day 2


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.