Galapagos Exploring and Goodbyes

One of the highlights of our family gap year is drawing to a close – it’s Week 5 in the Galapagos and our last days in San Cristobal island, most easterly and oldest in the archipelago where we’ve been volunteering and going to school. Now it’s time to say our goodbyes and go exploring!  Having rejected an uber-expensive cruise, we’re making it up and planning a bit of island hopping which actually makes for a very affordable family adventure!

Monday is the girls’ last day at school. Tuesday is Ben’s – but they ask him to come back Wednesday for a goodbye party! Martin and I say goodbye to the head teacher and receive heartfelt hugs, thanks and invites to return. Then we head to the airport to meet Erika, Martin’s Mum, aka Oma (German for Grandma) who’s flown out to join us till February…

She's here!!!  Welcome to San Cristobal Oma:)

She’s here!!! Welcome to San Cristobal Oma:)

Great excitement and joy seeing her and with all the catching up as we head to lunch, she twists her ankle in the first 30 minutes on a crooked pavement! Now there are two of us hobbling! Our plans to walk everywhere for a whistle-stop tour of the local beaches and Malecon of Puerto Baquirez Moreno are somewhat scuppered. More

Galapagos Volunteering – Part Five. Accidents will happen…

Things seldom work out as planned!  Our first week of volunteering was full on as you can read in the previous volunteering blogs. I couldn’t say we knew what to expect, although we could only hope it would be the start of an amazing experience – and in many ways it was!

Our first weekend should be a real treat too! We’re excited to explore and armed with a long list of recommendations, it starts well! We spend Saturday in El Progresso in the Highlands enjoying El Ceibo Treehouse and Cafe. Martin has already told the treehouse story.  Then a glorious afternoon at La Loberia  beach, where the kids play with tiny crabs in the sand with Ben’s friend from school, we chat to a teacher from the high school, watch, listen to and dodge the many sea-lions and newborn pups, see hundreds of iguana trails in the sand.

Friends, Crabs, Sealions and Iguana trails at La Loberia

Friends, Crabs, Sea-Lions and Iguana trails at La Loberia

We try to brave swimming in the cold (yes, even on the equator!)  rocky, low tide water to look for turtles but are too wimpish and headed for an early supper! More

Galapagos Volunteering – Part Four. Five go to school!

You probably read about our arrival and first days in San Cristobal in Martin’s Galapagos Volunteering Part One, Part Two and Part Three. Following on, here’s my own tale of teaching in our first week!

After the frenzy of getting all five of us to school by 7.15am, Ben and Martin have headed off to their classes, whilst the headmistress takes me and the girls to our classes. We take Lara into Form 1, she goes in fairly happily – brave girl!

Zoe is next and is shown to 4a and I’m shown next door to 4b. I’m introduced to the expectant kids and it dawns on me that there is no teacher?!

‘Where is the teacher?’ I ask in my best Spanish!!

The Head shakes her head and says a lot in Spanish very fast – I can’t really follow but I pick up lots of Usted’s (a polite ‘you’) – I reply ‘solo yo??’ (Only me??) she replies ‘si!’ (Yes!) with a slightly sheepish grin!

I can’t think of a polite response in English, never mind Spanish, that will get me out of it so I simply give her my best look of horror and ask if she’ll help by explaining to me what to do?! She hands me four course books, and I think says ‘Just start with Unit 5 in all subjects’, points to the timetable on the wall, suggests something about getting the kids to show me around the school once we’ve done introductions? … She beams and wishes me luck and leaves….

Teacher Mo in Class 4b at Alejandro Alvear school, San Cristobal

Teacher Mo in Class 4b at Alejandro Alvear school, San Cristobal – I may look calmer than I really am!

Twenty five beaming faces are on me, about twenty three voices are shouting ‘teacher teacher teacher?’  More

My Galapagos Family and Other Animals

We have been living in the Galápagos for a month. We lived in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal Island, which has a lovely harbour and promenade called the Malecon where we would see hundreds of sea-lions, pelicans, boobies, crabs and iguanas every day.

Spot the sealion, iguana and crab happy together at the harbour in San Cristobal

Spot the sea-lion, iguana and crab basking together  at the harbour in San Cristobal

Amazing creatures in San Crsitobal - a baby sealion, giant tortoise, blue footed boobie and iguana

Amazing creatures in San Cristobal – a baby sea-lion, giant tortoise, blue footed boobie and iguana

I went to the Alejandro Alvear school. I made some good friends there… More

Settled in Quito! Almost feels like home!

We rent a gorgeous apartment in Quito for the next two weeks in the city, situated in a pleasant suburb just up the slopes from the Mariscal New Town in a wide quiet street. From the street there are great views over the city, the apartment is tucked behind a secure wall and gate, loads of character and is attached to the owner, Sandra’s home. She’s always on hand to help us should we need it and even calls us when its raining to see if we’d like her to call a taxi for us. There is a huge lounge and dining room, good kitchen, separate TV area, three bedrooms, huge bathroom and even an ironing room which is a fleeting novelty for me!

quito apartment collage

Our lovely home for two weeks in Quito

Monday 22nd October 2012

Exhausted from our first day of filming and late night in our new career as movie stars (!) we have a lazy late start in our new apartment, eventually wandering out for great cake and coffee in a local bakery. Then an outing to the supermarket to stock up on provisions! You cannot imagine what a treat this is for everyone and we get terribly excited filling our trolley!!! More

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