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

My World School – four months in, at school in the Galapagos!

My Mum’s cousin Val is the head teacher at a school back home. She’s read some of our blogs and showed some of our photos to all the children in assembly.

They sent us some questions and these were mine :

Zoe – What do you do when you get bored? What games do you play? We are all jealous that you don’t have to go to school. How is World School school going? Have you been on any more adventures like your jungle journey to the beach?

We decided to use the questions to do our next blogs!

When I get bored, I have a Kindle so sometimes I read. I really like to draw or make stuff and now I have just got some new paints. We have pencils and paper. In Quito we got some scissors, sellotape and glue and more drawing paper!

Reading on a long bus trip – once I thought I lost mine on a bus which was awful but we found it  safely put away in Dad’s bag!

I have beads and elastic too and we make necklaces and bracelets – sometimes for ourselves but often as presents. we got more beads in Otavalo,where we visited a massive craft market. Its a place where lots of people wear traditional clothes.The men even have long black plaits!  I have got quite good at plaiting! We play on iPhone apps too, or play travel games like Rumicub, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo and sometimes cards.

This traditional lady in Otavalo was as interested in us as we were in her and she wanted to touch our hair!

More

Galapagos Volunteering – Part Two

Monday we have a reprieve, we will start on Tuesday at the school and Willy sits us down and talks to us about the kids and what to expect. San Cristobal has a population of 6000 of which just under half are of school age!?! This not so much a demographic problem (young people are good news as they will soon be workers) but a contraception problem. We are told that 13 year old Mums are common place and many teenagers struggle, unsurprisingly with parenting. Some quick maths tells me that I could already be a great grandfather and not just plain old dad if I started so young and my offspring followed in my footsteps. I start to wonder about Ben being 13 years old quite soon but don’t want to go there.

San Cristobal School Sign

Our skool

Willy lays it on and tells us if it is ‘different’ here and not to expect the standard of discipline we might expect. Classes will be noisy and kids often get up and run around. With no streaming the mixed abilities mean it is difficult to target lessons to the brightest and slowest and the large class sizes make much of the lesson about crowd control. Some kids get hit at home or don’t come from loving homes so expect some emotional issues. To be a teacher you now need to have a teaching degree but they have a transition period so some don’t which is apparently a problem. We don’t admit to our shameful degreeless status. But they need help and we can make a difference. I remind myself that if it was easy it would be boring. More

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