We left from LAX on Friday morning. I was flying with three other students coming from Los Angeles: Amber, Alexa and Jaro. We flew to Panama City and then on to Guayakil, a small city in Ecuador. We met up with two more students, Peter and Tina, at the airport in Guayakil. They had arrived on a different flight but were booked at the same hotel that we were. We spent the night in Guayakil.
Saturday morning, we took an early flight to the Galapagos Islands, landing on Baltra Island, where a former American military base was located during WW2 . From Baltra Island, we took a short bus ride to a ferry and then took a short ferry ride to the island of Santa Cruz, where we would be staying. A second bus took us north on the island. We climbed in elevation as we headed inland and watched the land change from an arid and dry desert landscape to lush green and tropical forest.
We eventually arrived at Semilla Verde, the retreat center, which would be our home for the next 8 days. We were greeted warmly and welcomed to the island by our host, Robert; Rusty, his very friendly dog; another dog and a cat; and several giant turtles, who were roaming the property.
We settled in and unpacked.
Four more students had met up with us on the ferry from Baltra Island to Santa Cruz: Alison and Chris, and Ann and Lucky. More students arrived throughout the day.
I led a yoga class just before dinner. It was our first chance to practice together as a group. A great way to unwind and decompress after our long journey. The first class is always the one that feels the most disconnected. The students don't know each other yet. Some of the students don't know me yet and I don't know them. Usually, by the end of the class, though, everyone is in sync, and this retreat was no exception. It was a great group.
After a fantastic dinner, prepared by the the staff at Semilla Verde, we got to know each other at an evening opening ceremony. I led a sharing circle, introduced the students to a light ceremony, and together we built an alter to create sacred space and mark the beginning of our retreat together.
We had arrived! Our adventure had begun. We were in the Galapagos Islands!