Justin Thompson and Sharlyn Hill


Justin Thompson and Sharlyn Hill

We are two curious young souls, with a ravenous appetite for adventure. We grew up in the East San Francisco Bay Area and went to high school together, becoming best friends and then falling in love. Justin just recently got out of the United States Marine Corps, and Shar recently graduated from UC Davis with a BS in Agricultural and Environmental Education. With her love and passion for all flora and fauna (excepting giant bugs!), and his interest in history and humanitarianism, we set out to explore the world, starting with South America!!

South America » Colombia » San Andres September 15th 2012

6 Septiembre This morning we caught a cab to the Cartagena airport, to fly to the Colombian Island of San Andres, located in the Caribbean. The island is 12.5 km (7.8 mi) in length and 3 km (1.9 mi) in width.San Andres is a coral island, "Geographically near Nicaragua, past historically tied to England, and politically part of Colombia". This means that most people here speak a confusing and endearing combination of spanish and english, in a strong "island" tone. It is even hotter and more humid here than it was in Cartagena. The east side of the island, facing the Caribbean, has long stretches of white beaches, while the west side, more sheltered by nearby Nicaragua, had a coast consisting of dead coral. San Andres island was supposedly Captain Morgan's base of operations, back in ... read more
Blue Lizard
Our beach

South America » Colombia » Cartagena September 3rd 2012

3 Septiembre We flew from Bogota to Barranquilla, a coast town, then took a 2 hour bus ride to Cartagena, reknowned for its romantic, old cobbled streets and balconies. It reminded me quite a bit of New Orleans.. except way more humid. We went to a hotel recommended by Lonely Planet, which ended up being really crappy. It was quite expensive, the front desk clerk was rude, and the power went on and off all night. This resulted in the ceiling fan, the only means of cooling ourselves, in being shut off more than half the night, and a miserably hot half-sleep all night. 4 Septiembre We got up early this morning and switched to a nearby hostel, Mamallena, that had a kitchen and extremely helpful staff (and was cheaper). We explored the town, admiring the ... read more
Pegasus Family
Helm's Deep

South America » Colombia » Bogota September 2nd 2012

We took a bus from Quito to Bogota, Colombia, which was an excruciating 23 hours. Upon arrival, we went to the hotel that Lonely Planet had reccomended, but it sucked, was noisy, and had no hot water. After some exploring the next morning, Justin found a new place around the corner, still in the rustic district called Candelaria. Our new hostel, Casu, has incredibly friendly and helpful staff, and through their reccomendations we discovered much about Bogota. We had heard about a salt cathedral in a nearby town, but were unsure of how great we would find it, after the spectacular Salar de Uyuni and the salt hotels there. One of the hotel workers persuaded us otherwise, which I am very happy about. The "cathedral" was amazing! It was originally a giant salt mine, and now ... read more
Pigeons in the Main Square
Mirror Craziness

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito August 27th 2012

After getting back from the Galapagos, we said a sad farewell to Gail and Olin and moved down the street to a hostel that we had read about in Lonely Planet, called Casa Bambu. This hostel was amazing! For $15 a night, we got a private room, free internet, two big kitchens to use, plus there was a giant patio with hammocks, a pool table, and a ping pong table. In the game pile, we found Stratego, a game we had both played as kids and had been talking about playing again. We also played quite a bit of Rumicube. I love playing games that we are fairly even in, in terms of skill. We did some nice cooking and explored Quito. We went to the park that is famous in Quito for having great street ... read more
Carnivorous Plant
Dewy Rose
Me at the top of the Tower

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island August 16th 2012

This morning we had to say goodbye to the Queen of the Galapagos and her wonderful crew members. Primicias Ranch We rode the bus up to the island to go to a privately owned ranch which allows wild Giant Galapagos Tortoises to roam free in and out of the property. Javier showed us some giant shells from some tortoises that had died in previous years, and we tried them on. They weighed about 60lbs. The whole tortoise could weigh about 500lbs on average (most of the weight coming from their 30% bodyfat), and could live to an average of 150 years. We explored the ranch, finding tortoises having mudbaths or snacking, or inviting Galapagos Finches to come clean them of pests. The Twins Next we visited the twins, where giant underground caves ... read more
Justin Hiding
I like toitles
Galapagos Tortoise & Finch

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island August 15th 2012

We got up early this morning to watch the sunrise, and observe the boat pulling into the spot where we would spend today. Justin and I argued over whether the island was called ''Chinese Hat'' Island or ''Chinese Hut'' Island, until the capitan came out, pointed to the island and said ''Sombrero China!'' HA! I win Chinese Hat Island We had a wet landing on this island, jumping out into the surf on a gorgeous white sand beach. We then walked over lava flows around the island, spotting more Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Galapagos Sea Lions kissing, and an American oystercatcher. On the other side of the island there was a cliff down to the water, and right after we got over there, several huge waves hit, spraying up 20ft into the sky. One was bigger than ... read more
Brown Pelican
Gail being swallowed by wave
Galapagos Flamingo

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » South Plaza Island August 14th 2012

We got up early this morning, ate breakfast, and then had the emergency drill. We then landed on South Plaza Island South Plaza Island This skinny Island had beautiful red and green plants growing on it, sort of like our ice plants back home. There were lots of Sea Lions here, too. The Galapagos Sea Lion originally came from the California Sea Lion, but it is now considered endemic. We saw many Swallow Tailed Gulls, the only nocturnal gull in the world. It has a bright red ring around its eye, so it is very distinctive. There were Marine Iguanas everywhere, but we also got to see our first glimpses of Land Iguanas. There were many birds flying about- Brown Pelicans, Tropic birds, and more Frigatebirds. We even saw a Frigatebird catch another small bird and ... read more
Female Galapagos Finch
Swallow Tailed Gull
Sea Lion

San Cristobal Island We flew in to the Galapagos at just about noon today, and headed straight for the boat that would be our home for the next 3 days. Our naturalist guide, Javier, grew up in the Galapagos and knows everything about them. We had a great lunch, and checked out our nice rooms, complete with a windowed side for optimal viewing! Sea Lion Island We landed on a small island here, covered with Sally Lightfoot Crabs. There were Sea Lions everywhere! It was hard not to step on them... they don't move and don't even wake up from their naps when you step right next to them. We saw many Blue Footed Boobies, who nest on the island. They always have two chicks, but spaced several days apart, and its ... read more
Sally Lightfoot Crab
Sea Lion
Blue Footed Booby

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito August 12th 2012

We flew this morning to Quito, Ecuador. Its nice and warm here, which is a nice change. We went to the Mitad del Mundo, right on the equator, and did some cool experiments, like balancing a raw egg on the head of a nail. We also found out about some anomaly where you're not as strong when you're standing right on the equator...crazy! We played around with the way water drains in the north and southern hemispheres.. I never thought that only 5 feet on either side there'd be such a difference! Ecuador actually got its name because its right on the Equator. Equator...Ecuador We visited the Old Town section of Quito and checked out a cool cathedral. We had lunch in the square, and the musician was really awesome. SO EXCITED for the Galapagos. We ... read more
Sun Dial

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu August 9th 2012

Today we got on the train to travel up the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. The view was very pretty, and I was glad to see green again. We got up in the afternoon, and hopped on a bus up to Machu Picchu park. They limit the number of visitors to about 3000 per day, so you have to have your ticket ahead of time. Getting up there, we left the rest of the slowpoke group behind (good thing too, because they didnt even get through all of it) and took the extra guide for just us four. The view was spectacular, and learning about the history was so fascinating. They have one temple, the sun temple, which has two windows- one sunlight comes in during the winter solstice (June 21) and the other during sunrise ... read more
The Family
Face in the Mountains

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