Category Archives: Backpack 3


Mom and I went weaving yesterday while Leendert and dad went knife making.

When we arrived, we saw two looms outside, one beside each other, mom and I were really happy because then we would not be lonely.

First we had to pick out our colors.
There was:
• Turquoise
• Orange
• Purple
• Magenta/ Pink
• Yellow
• White
• Very light blue
• Light blue
And a few other colors. After we chose our colors (me: turquoise and magenta, mom: turquoise and white), we went to the wheel of a bike, or at least that is what it looked like, and spun the string from the big roll to little bobbinss.
It REALY burns your fingers.

Alicia bobbins

When all the little bobbinss were filled they told us one had to sit INSIDE and one OUTSIDE. I stayed outside and mom went in. Mom and I both felt lonely because there was nobody to talk to.

Towards the end, in total we got a couple of 5-10 minute ‘breaks’ and visited each other. We ended up weaving almost 1 meter of our 1.7 meter scarves.  The ladies will finish them for us and deliver them tomorrow. We asked them also to make me pillows that match my scarf to decorate my bed in Dubai.  What great souvenirs!  It was a fun afternoon.

Alicia weaving 1 Alicia weaving 2

Sea Lions everywhere!

San Cristobal is simply bursting with sea lions and just watching them is such a riot. They all seem so lazy while they are on land. They make great piles to sleep and they will sleep anywhere, even the gutter of the main street.  We watched one which lay on it’s back in the sand, head pointing toward the water watching the waves. He just waited until the surf came in and carried him out. Kind of reminds you of a teenager! They are also big on body surfing and don’t mind sharing the space with the surfers and people on boogie boards. More than once the swimmers got a little shock to see a sea lion flying by!


Craziest of all was the last beach we visited. Apparently, I put my towel on the ground either in a place the sea lions like to sleep, or directly on the path to the sleeping pile. At least a dozen passed by, some so close I had to pick my feet up to let them pass! By the end of the afternoon, they were getting pretty bold. Someone had left their beach bag on the sand and every sea lion had a sniff of that. Alicia was sitting on her boogie board and one curious little guy came up and sat with her. It was more than a little unnerving, since we know that they can bite pretty hard. He decided she wasn’t worth nibbling, but we headed out pretty fast after that!

Alicia and sea lion


Yep, this is Alicia’s leg!!



Lovely Isabela

Isabela is a quiet island.  There isn’t much traffic in terms of people or cars.  You kind of forget about looking when you cross the street.  The only paved road I saw was clearly brand new and headed up into the highlands. Elsewhere, the streets are dusty and speed bumps are made by laying down long pieces of old rope. The only vehicles are pickups and scooters, which are often left running if the owner makes a quick stop – like for breakfast! There is no fear of theft here, since any thief couldn’t escape except by boat – and they all leave from the same little port. Everyone here is so friendly and helpful, especially when Alexander explains he’s teaching at the school, then the red carpet comes out. I can’t believe our amazing luck landing here for 2 weeks, it’s going to be a tough act to follow!

Isabela tree in road


Last full day on Isabela

After school we did some homework at a local café and then rented bikes to ride out to the Wall of Tears. We walked a large part of this trail yesterday and decided it would be fun to go further (and faster with the bikes). By all accounts, the Wall of Tears is just that, a wall, but the trip itself was full of lovely little stops. It’s one of the few trips you can do on Isabela without a guide.

Along the road, there are amazing little beaches and fantastic volcanic rock formations. One formation was a volcanic tunnel where you can see exactly the way the lava can form – and eventually collapse – into tunnels. We’ve seen these formations all over the island, now we understand how these massive rocks can be such a crazy pile up.


Just outside the town, we spotted a gorgeous sea lion, just hanging out on the beach. He looked beautiful in the late afternoon sunlight and even more graceful as he splashed into the ocean in search of a meal. I still can’t get used to the abundance of animals just hanging around in such close proximity to the human population.

Another of the stops was at a mangrove. There is a fresh water source that was used by the penal colony that constructed the Wall of Tears. There was also a beautiful little beach to access the water. In this mangrove forest are some of the biggest mangroves I’ve ever seen and the biggest black mangrove on the island. It was just like walking into one of the fairy houses Alicia used to construct in the forest.


Just down the road from this was the Camino de las Tortugas (the walk of the tortoises). Conveniently marked with a sign and a tortoise just next to the sign. We spotted at least another dozen in the next 4km as we rode up the hill; it was a real tortoise safari. About ¾ of the way along the path, Alexander’s bike chain broke. Fortunately, this path is frequented with guides and tourists, so it wasn’t long before he was rescued by a group of Argentinian travelers.

We still managed to enjoy the lookout, which offered an amazing view of the island. On the way back, the kids and I stopped at the mangroves for a little swim and got back to town just in time to see the most incredible full moon hovering over Isabela. A fitting way to end the day – and our two weeks on the island.


Municipal School

Alicia and I are teaching at a municipal school on Isabela. The students are from 1st-9th grade. The campus is lovely with colorful, round bungalows housing each class. A breeze blows constantly through the large windows as the kids study math, history, science, Spanish, English and art.

school bungalows

We are working with 3 classes: 2nd grade, 3rd grade and one mixed (7-9th) grade. The kids are so excited to learn and they are absolutely enamored with Alicia! Her blonde hair and blue eyes attract plenty of attention. Breaks are filled with making friendship bracelets and discussing the A, B, Cs.

Our small whiteboard has also proven useful as we quiz our small groups on letters. Yesterday, they were clamoring to take their turns reading and writing words while we coached. Such a bunch of quick and keen learners!

Alicia class

Alicia school

After school, we try to make some time for studying. It’s not obvious to find the routine yet, but the kids are progressing quickly on math and reading and it’s impossible not to study geology, biology and ecology when you are in a place that throws volcanic rock and sea lions at you with every turn. We take time to hit the beach each day where there are sea lions surfing and pelicans dive-bombing all around the kids. It’s impressive how they all manage to miss crashing into one another.

We now have a lot of friends in town. On every corner seems to be a student from one of the schools. It’s wonderful to hear them calling out (to Leendert and Alicia, of course!), it makes this lovely place feel a little like home. And talking to these delightful people gives us a lot of insight into their lives and their love of this place. Honestly, it’s no wonder that Isabela is repeatedly talked about as a paradise.