Maria Elena was born in Quito on a clear summer Andean night in August. From the time she was a little girl she loved to be outdoors and pet and examine every animal and creature she found on one of her family's friends hacienda. María Elena always wanted to know the "how" and the "why" for everything. When her mom realized this wasn't just a game but her passion, she bought María Elena her first microscope at age 10. During her teens, María Elena spent many hours climbing the Andes and studying behind her microscope. She later attended Universidad Católica in Quito, where she got a degree in Medical Technology.
Maria Elena is a gregarious person and has always particularly enjoyed making friends with people from other nationalities. She believes this sort of experience is quite enriching and helps her learn and grow as a person, and so she enrolled in the School of Languages at Universidad Catolica, where she obtained Certificates of Proficiency in both English and Portuguese. She studied four semesters of French as well, but she never got to practice it except during a short vacation in Paris years ago.
María Elena worked in a lab for many years, first at the Ecuadorian Red Cross in Quito, and later at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston. Her first passion, the reason for her first microscope, led her back to school at UMASS where she got a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology.
While working in Boston, she used to come to Ecuador for Christmas. During one of those holidays she visited the Galapagos for the first time and fell in love with the islands; its animals, plants and volcanoes left her mesmerized. She decided to go back to Boston, but had already made up her mind to come back and live in the Galapagos. It took her two years to organize her trip back. She arrived in the Galápagos in 2003, and has been here ever since.
Maria Elena attended a seminar offered by the Galapagos National Park and Universidad San Francisco de Quito and became licensed to work as a Naturalist Guide. After years of learning and experiencing, María Elena found