Another early morning for me. I woke up at 5:30 so that I could shower and collect myself before having breakfast with Argentina at 6. After another meal of (ricos) ham and cheese sandwiches with milk – I added coffee powder today – I hurried out the door and walked to IOI.
Amanda and some other students were there, and at about 6:30 we all walked over to the pier to meet our guides for the day. My group was paired up with Fernando and Matteo, who brought us out to the wall of tears area of the national park. My team split up into two smaller groups so that one could patrol the beach while the other searched for trash on the trails. Mattheo spoke English fairly well, but also helped explain some Spanish words that we didn’t know. He hails form Spain, and is only in the Galapagos for a few weeks to volunteer under Marco’s direction.
It didn’t take us too long to cover our designated area, so we had the privilege of spending the next hour or so lounging on the beach in the sun. We spotted several marine iguanas and lots of crabs, and I took the free time to sunbathe, do a few yoga poses, and dip my feet into the surf.
When the other group finally arrived, we made the trip back to town together, and waited to hear about the competition. All institutions that participated would compete in a relay race of various events. Apparently, IOI usually places low among the institutions. The first place prize was a cruise, and even though we knew we probably wouldn’t get the grand prize, we wanted to win. The first event was a sack race, during which participants had to hop a certain distance in a potato sack and tag the next members of the team. The second event was a kayak race. Two members of each team had to carry a kayak to the water, paddle around Iguana point and back to the beach, carry it back onto the shore, then tag the next teammate. The third event was a bike race, which Fernando already claimed as his own event. Finally the competition ended with a running race, and we nominated Kevin (a former UM track and field member) to compete.
After much deliberation, the competition began. We cheered loudly from a viewing platform, and ran back and forth to get a better view of our friends. Brian made it through the sack race in second or third place, and despite a slow start Chris and Phil completed the kayak race unscathed and in second place. Next was Fernando, who finished his own segment in third place, but the “surfer” team had a hefty lead for the last part of the relay. We eagerly watched Kevin dart off behind the buildings, and waited impatiently to see his form appear on the beach in the distance. Being the star runner that he is, he ended up passing the two runners ahead of him, and won the competition with plenty of time to spare. Afterwards, some of the locals claimed that Kevin didn’t run on the designated path, and that he should be disqualified. We didn’t care much – we knew that we wouldn’t be able to officially win, but we were proud of our teammates. It was the first time in history that IOI finished higher than third place.