Hello everyone! I have been on Isabela for the past week. You may or may not know that this is a volcanic Island. Do not feel bad if you did not know. I did not know it until the 5th day either. It is composed of 6 different volcanos. 5 are dormant and the last one is dead. It is dead because there is only half of it left. This volcanic island has been created about 700,000 years ago by a volcano. I got to go on to the top of one of the volcanos. It was called the Sierra Negra. Sierra means mountain and Negra stands for black. So in English, you would say ‘mountain black’. This is something really cool. This volcano last erupted in 2006 but there was no damage done. “What! How is that possible?” you may ask. But this volcano, people could watch explode and not get hurt because the lava stayed in the very, very large crater. And by very, very large, I say that because it is the second largest crater in the world. It is 10 kilometers in diameter. That is very long I have to say. There are also a lot of different kinds of volcanos. This one is a shield volcano. This volcano has erupted 12 times since 1800. Not a single scientist is trying to predict next time it will erupt because no damage will be done! There is something really cool. The lava will cool down, but it will not always go very fast. The lava on top will cool off because it is exposed to the cold air. The part in the middle and the bottom will stay warm. So the top part will harden into rock but under it, the hot lava will still flow. This will form a tunnel tube type of thing. The problem is that at some parts it is thinner than others. The animals around will walk over the thin parts and fall in. Sometimes they will not manage to get out. That is why people are finding bones in these tunnels. I loved the experience of going on to this volcano (even if all I could see were clouds and clouds and clouds), it was really cool. You should go on one too if you have not yet -or even if you have- to see if any of this makes sense.
had a long walk (reportedly 16km) to see the Sierra Negra Vulcano. Unfortunately we were in the clouds and could not look further then 200 meters. This means we did NOT get to see this:
We did see however a beautiful lava landscape , but only Leendert and Alexander. Alicia had pains in her heel so stayed with Heidi behind in the mist….
Internet connection has moved from ‘slow’ to ‘no’. Expect improvement tomorrow. Did have great day snorkelling and swimming amongst turtles, sea lions, rays, and white tipped sharks. Pictures to follow once bandwidth re-established.
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.
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!
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.
We are present at 7am when the students line up at a countdown done through a microphone and a portable speaker. In front of a Maria and Jesus statue the children recite the Lord’s Prayer and get some instructions; next they file off class by class.
I did a repeat of the day before, Mathilde handed over the pens right from the start. Today was a bit more challenging on the one hand as the novelty wore off, on the other hand it became easier as I knew what to expect.
As we walk from school to school, Mathilde asks if I would work with her on her English. I say I would be delighted, and she proposes to do so 1-2 hours a day if that is ok for me. She proposes to get together at her farm in the afternoon. She wants to make sure Heidi and Alicia will also be ready at 14:00.
We get offered a ‘bric’ of school milk and cookies While we wait for class and Leendert plays football with the kids. The next class is great (on tourism on the island). At the end the focus returns on Leendert and his height. Though the kids in the class go up to 18, none is taller than Leendert. Laughs all around, especially when the 16 year old girl comes only to about mid-chest.
We return home, and at exactly 14:00 Mathilde is in front of our door with a car/pick-up truck. Her brother is driving and about 15 min later we find ourselves in the Highlands (a stunning view, see picture tab). Upon arrival we were welcomed by an sweet smell of citrus blossom. We shake Mathilde’s husbands (sweaty) hand. He’d been working hard to get the property looking nice. The house is surrounded by fruit trees; mango, papaya, guanava, lemon, bananas (regular, small and black) and tons of oranges. Soon Leendert and Alicia were also picking oranges.
We visit her neighbor. As it turns out it is actually a very known site: Campo Duro. Today Mr.Wilfredo runs a restaurant/camping ground/tortoise reserve on it, and is a good friend of the family. He lets us freely roam the terrain, and as we step through the oranges on the ground we see at least a dozen tortoise.
The kids take their afternoon dive in the sea, and we have dinner back at home.
The typical piece of clothing in Ecuador:
The way that the girls where their hair is by getting a piece of ribbon and twist it in the hair. After they have done that, you cannot see the hair in the middle of the pony tail but only and inch or two at the bottom. The dress they wear is from their knees to… Well longer. To what I have seen from pictures AND seen myself the tops are white, embroidered with a lot of colors and the skirt ( the bottom part of the dress ) is often times… Well all most all colors. Not on one but there are a lot of different colors. No doubt, you will have the color you want.