What a trip: Gregory Carosi and Luke McDonald visited a nature reserve for giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. (Gincy Carosi)

Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.

Who: Gincy Carosi (the author) of Alexandria; my husband, Nick Carosi III; our son Nick Carosi IV; and four of our grandsons: Nick Carosi V, Gregory Carosi, Patrick Dunn and Luke McDonald.

Where, when, why: I have, like so many, always wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands. Over the last 10 years, I have had 10 grandchildren — one a year! I decided to wait until the first four were old enough to remember a great trip and to go with them.

Highlights and high points: We left the day after Christmas and returned Jan. 4. We spent four days in Ecuador in the capital, Quito, and in the Andes. The Andes were an unexpected surprise! How beautiful! I loved learning so much about the equator and volcanoes and seeing condors in the wild. Everything was green and lush, and the food was delicious and locally grown. We also visited markets, villages, haciendas and schools.

We spent the next four days in the Galapagos Islands — two days on Isabela and then two on Santa Cruz. We celebrated New Year’s Eve on Isabela and experienced the party all night long in the town square — music, fireworks, dancing, singing, etc. Of course, wildlife was a highlight. We saw blue-footed boobies, tortoises, iguanas and penguins. The boys took snorkeling lessons before the trip and got their wetsuits and gear as Christmas gifts. They swam with penguins, turtles and sharks. They loved it.

Cultural connection or disconnect: In the Andes we visited a rural school. We brought school supplies, and our guide brought sweets. We sang to the children and they sang to us. We played “duck, duck, goose” and they taught us to spin a top. One of my grandsons had his soccer ball in his backpack and got it out, and immediately all the kids started to play soccer in an open field. They played for an hour, and we had to stop them when it was time to leave. I asked my grandson whether he wanted to give his soccer ball to them, because it was obvious it was a special treat, and he donated it to the school. This led to much discussion with our boys. These children had so little; they were fascinated with my iPad and pictures I took of them. But they were happy, and their parents were very proud.

Biggest laugh or cry: The manta rays were in a mating frenzy in the water, and the guides said it would be a great experience to swim with them. The water was “boiling” with their activity. The guides all jumped in and encouraged my grown son to join. He sat on the edge of the boat and tried to go in the water for several minutes, but couldn’t find the courage.

Another laugh was one morning at breakfast all the boys but one had on new Ecuadoran soccer jerseys. Our guide, Thomas, asked the one without one where his jersey was, to which he answered, after a slight hesitation: “On the East Coast of the United States.” He is 9 and proud of his knowledge of geography, but maybe was not fully awake yet. It gave us all a good laugh.

How unexpected: The beauty of the Andes. The food was great, and the people were lovely. I was also surprised the cities Quito and Guayaquil were so large and modern.

Fondest memento or memory: I very rarely give my children and grandchildren material gifts — I prefer to give them memories. This is one none of us will ever forget. It was a really great ad­ven­ture, and I will make a hard-bound picture book for each of them.

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