Homeward Bound!

Sunday, September 27th         05:57           02° 9’ 27” S, 79° 53′ 1″ W

 On Board COPA Flight 300 – Guayaquil International Airport

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A final Zodiac ride from The Endeavor yesterday, a short flight to the mainland, and suddenly I am in Guayaquil. There was not much time in the city for anything beyond the obligatory wander through the bustling neighborhood outside the hotel, a simple dinner, and some final visits with the folks whom I’ve been fortunate enough to have shared this adventure with–then it was straight to bed. I am on the plane now, after a brutal 3:00am wake up call and a zombie procession from sleep, to shuttle bus, to terminal, and on through immigration and security. In just under a day, following this flight to Panama City, another to Houston, and a final one to Portland—with marathon layovers in between—I will be home. There will be much to make of this experience in the time to come, and there is much to be grateful for. It’s best to begin with gratitude.

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First and foremost, I am appreciative beyond compare of my wife, Francesca, who has held down the fort and cared for our lovely daughter, Rosalie, while I was MIA—all while launching into her new job too. Many thanks as well goes to the good folks at my school, Catlin Gabel, for allowing me to take the time off for this mind-blowing professional development opportunity. I feel very lucky also to have been paired with a teacher as curious, passionate yet easy-going as Mike Presser. I’m very much looking forward to continued collaborations in the future!

All of the Naturalists (Aura, Celso, Christian, Gilda and Juan Carlos) and the expedition leader (Cindy) were incredible guides and vast storehouses of knowledge, passion, and inspiration. An extra special thanks goes to Aura for her mentorship from our first meeting at National Geographic headquarters in DC this past April throughout each day of the expedition.

Of course, we could not have explored the Galapagos at all if not for Captain Hinojosa, Ship Officers (Javier, Marlon, Andres), and the rest of the NG Endeavor crew. Nor would we have been as well housed and as well fed without Roberto Zambrano and his incredible staff. A shout out must also go to our video chronicler, Brian Christiansen for both his phenomenal skills behind the camera (above and below the waterline) and his one of a kind Galapagos-fauna-inspired dance moves!

This voyage and all the lessons learned would not have been though—at least not for me— without the generous and inspired folks behind the founding, funding and day-to-day operations of the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship Program.  A huge thanks goes particularly to the GTF Project Manager, Nina Page, of National Geographic and to Amy Berquist of Lindblad Expeditons for their hard work and support. Above and beyond all else, even the loudest THANK YOU only hints at the gratitude I direct to Gil Grosvenor and Sven Lindblad for their partnership in conservation and education and for scheming up, launching, and supporting this teacher fellowship. I am appreciative and humbled beyond compare to to have this opportunity and look forward to sharing my experiences and lessons with my students and greater community when my plane finally lands. I know Mike feels the same.

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