With bags in hand Team USA got off the plane in Baltra Island to begin the adventure and awaken their senses. Marc, Brendan, Andrew and Scott were amazed by the changing landscape that received them, dry and arid, and later humid and wild. But that only encouraged them even more, so they got ready with their cameras. Everything was ready to start recording whatever they found along the way: landscapes, people and animals.

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Once on the road to Santa Cruz, the first surprise occurred. A turquoise sea opened in front of our eyes. Not blue, not gray… turquoise! It was the Itabaca Canal, which separates Baltra from Santa Cruz Island. We crossed it with Team USA on a boat called “El Soplador”. Everything was great until one of the guides, laughing, confessed that some time ago a seagull that was flying over the canal was eaten by a shark that jumped from the sea. Fortunately, the story wasn’t told in English, so Team USA continued enjoying the scenery.

Arriving at Santa Cruz we made a mandatory stop for tourists – one that the visitors at Las Encantadas should not miss – at Los Cráteres Gemelos.

This natural phenomenon originated millions of years ago and now vegetation surrounds the craters. It is important to remember that Galápagos is a volcanic island, so its composition is mainly lava. Brendan Van Son, photographer and member of Team USA joked about feeling familiarity with the landscape: “It looks like Jurassic Park, the only thing missing is the waterfall, I can add one with Photoshop”, he said laughing. And the fact is that Ecuador has the ability to dazzle and amaze every visitor.

The next stop were the amazing lava tunnels of Royal Palm. These were discovered in 1974 and have a fantastic atmosphere, full of vegetation, water, stalactites and stalagmites. Halfway of the tunnels, we all received a very refreshing cocktail. After enjoying it, the tour continued to the end of the tunnel where a door full of light marked the end of the excursion, but not the end of the tour.

And because Ecuadorian gastronomy is perfectly delicious, the adventure extended to the property of Adriano Cabrera Sanchez. A very visionary man, who knew, that in the past the boats arrived to Galápagos every two or three months, so he began stocking with products like coffee and sugar cane. Under this need the ‘Trapiche’ was born, a handcrafted tool to subtract the juice of the sugar cane in a rapid and effective way.

Team USA helped Santiago with the machine. For those who have no idea how it works, the mechanism is simple: under a large tree branch arranged in a horizontal position is a sort of grinder in the form of a square, where the sugar cane is placed. By turning the tree branch, the sugar cane is squeezed. Thanks to everyone’s support, Team USA was able to try sugar cane juice and panela con queso for the first time.

Finally we all boarded the Odyssey, a luxury yacht that took us to the Española Island. The journey will continue tomorrow!