Galapagos Islands a Feast for the Senses

Student-Based Trip the Largest from Trinity


photos courtesy of Cian Callahan and Mr. Carlos Cuenca

Trinity’s trip to the Galapagos Islands included communing with the wildlife.

Cole Crush, Editor in Chief

Breathtaking views thousands of miles away from home. Snorkeling in crystal clear water with rare breeds of animals. This was all part of a trip taken to the Galapagos Islands. 

A province of Ecuador known for its diverse culture and wildlife, the Galapagos Islands are rich with culture and wildlife. Trinity teachers Mr. Carlos Cuenca and Mr. Michael Budniak organized the largest student-based trip at Trinity to the Galapagos Islands. Fifty students, three teachers, and five families spent nine days in the Galapagos Islands this past summer.

Cuenca first came up with the idea of this trip after he played piano with an orchestra in Ecuador. He wanted to take a trip with students that integrated both Spanish and science.

“Kids need to be aware of visiting the Galapagos Islands traditions and to be open minded. I have taught this for a while now, so it was time to go,” said Cuenca, who visited the islands once before.

For Budniak, this was the adventure of a lifetime.

“This has always been on my bucket list. It’s the ultimate biological laboratory that I wanted to visit since high school,” Budniak said.

Trinity Senior Class President Cian Callahan heard about this trip when he was a junior and wanted to go.

“I did not know if I’d ever have this chance again to go to the Galapagos Islands for a much cheaper price than normal, so I had to go,” Callahan said.

The trip started off with a flight to Atlanta, then another to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The first night they were there, Callahan and senior Graham Molinari went to the soccer courts and played with some natives of Ecuador and even made some friends.   

Even though this was the largest group, it was the smoothest, easiest, and the most interactively positive group that I have ever worked with.”

— Trinity teacher Mr. Michael Budniak

“It was cool seeing the kids being very kind to one another and where language wasn’t a barrier,” Cuenca said.

Instead of staying at one hotel on one island, the group stayed on the move. They were able to meet many different people from other islands and throughout the world.

“The culture was very interesting. They all rely on one another like a tight-knit family,” Callahan said.

A normal day on the trip was very busy from morning to night, leaving everyone exhausted.

The days were started early in the morning with a breakfast that included organic juices and fruits. After breakfast, the group would explore one of the four most populated islands out of the 21 in the Galapagos.

They visited Santa Cruz Island, where the Charles Darwin Research Station is located. At the research station, wildlife is heavily protected and tourists can come close to interacting with nature.

“I’d recommend going to the tortoise farm there because the tortoise are free and you can get close to them,” Callahan said.

The tortoises at the farm are so heavily protected that some  are 150 years old.

Not only did the Trinity group explore on land in the Galapagos, but they were able to explore the sea as well. They were able to go scuba diving on a tiny island and were even able to swim with some Galapagos sea lions.

Students had the ability to take very neat pictures under water and were able to come in contact with the sea lions, which are exclusively bred on the Galapagos Islands in very small numbers on the Isla de la Plata.

Throughout the trip, the group was ate Ecuadorian cuisine.

“They treated us like kings; the food was fantastic,” Budniak said.

The cuisine was very fresh and organic, unlike many places in the United Sates.

Cuenca ate fish every day and said, “The fish was so fresh that it had no smell to it.”

Along with these food choices came some exotic ones, like cuy, which is roasted guinea pig that tastes like chicken.

The students adapted very quickly and easily to the cultural differences on this trip.

“I was impressed to see the kids adapt so well and to eat the cultural food instead of their normal fast food. It was the perfect trip,” Cuenca said.

Budniak, who has been on many student-based trips at Trinity in the past, said none of them were like this one.

“Even though this was the largest group, it was the smoothest, easiest, and the most interactively positive group that I have ever worked with,” Budniak said. “I loved the whole country and I’d go back in a heartbeat.”


Cian Callahan interviewed about the Galapagos Islands trip…………………..videos by Cole Crush.


Trinity teacher Mr. Carlos Cuenca talks about the trip to the Galapagos Islands.