Volunteer Ecuador: I could spend my mornings with tortoises or sea lions and my afternoons helping out at a local dive shop. My volunteering was exhausting but extremely rewarding. I will never forget getting to feed baby Galapagos tortoises or getting to hang out with sea lions on the many pristine beaches.
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local coordinator was wonderful. She offered lots of support by answering all my questions and checking in with me frequently. If I encountered any problems I knew that I had a great support network at my disposal. Karen and Laura were so very helpful and calmed my nerves once I arrived.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The most surprising thing I experienced was how quickly I was able to navigate the town I was living in. After less than three days I was able to get around perfectly well on my own. Granted, it was a small island town.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult thing for me was missing home. Everyone experiences some form of homesickness while abroad. Mine was very mild and since I was only gone a month I mostly found myself missing the food of my home country. Although I enjoyed the food in my host family by this time I could go a very long time without eating rice.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Bring presents for your host family if you will be living with one! It is a great conversation starter if you bring something from your home country. Keep your packing light so you can bring home lots of gifts. And make sure to explore some on your own. It came seem scary at first but it can be very nice to catch a sunrise or sunset alone and reflect on how you are doing and how you are enjoying the country.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Be flexible. Plans change and you should take it in stride.
- Be open. Try new foods and new things.
- Listen to your hosts. They know what is safe to do.
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I worked with Galapagos tortoises in La Galapaguera a semi natural habitat for breeding. I also
monitored sea lions and marine iguanas so that the data could be used in work with local children.
I could spend my mornings with tortoises or sea lions and my afternoons helping out at a local dive shop. My volunteering was exhausting but extremely rewarding. I will never forget getting to feed baby Galapagos tortoises or getting to hang out with sea lions on the many pristine beaches.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
I lived with a very nice host family. I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them everyday. This allowed for bonding and extra time to practice my Spanish. I always felt safe and was given a key to the house. I had my own room and bathroom with a beautiful view of the ocean. I could not imagine staying anywhere else.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory was scuba diving with sharks at Kicker Rock. I had free time on the weekends to do what I wanted. I got to dive with Galapagos Sharks, White and Black tip sharks, and Hammerheads. I also went diving with volunteer to clean up trash in the main harbor during World Oceans Day with the local navy.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
I had lots of great support while filling out my application. They answered all my questions promptly
and well. I never felt lost or confused.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?