Category Archives: Galapagos

First day of school

Monday 27th October

Day one of school… We had breakfast, scrambled eggs, rice and a piece of bread with Piña (pineapple) marmalade.

At 7:15 we were off to school. At the first stop Leendert and I got out. We walked through the courtyard and met with Mathilde Cartagena. She us a charming lady from Isabela originally.

We walked into the first class. Concrete North and South walls, East and West are ½ wood, ½ open to the elements. The roof is corrugated plating. Old furniture from the 70-ies, probably repainted 3 to 5 years ago. One white board, teachers bring their own pens and erasers.

The first class consisted of about 24 kids in ‘free flowing’ uniform. Leendert and I got introduced, and after each kid stood up to say “good morning my name is…” . 20 min later we sat outside on small benches under a tree to help them read and pronounce the words correctly.

After this first class we had a short break and I discussed with Mathilde what was next. She showed the English lab. It was undoubtedly modern in the 70’ies. Cubicles with old headphones but clearly in disrepair.

Class two, after the obligatory intro, Mathilde tried to get a discussion (question and answer) to take place. Lots of laughter, simple exploratory question. Eyes quickly diverted to Leendert, with much giggles from the girls. The session went so well that she abandoned the ‘describe your house’ exercise. Time flew past.

Next we were off to another government school (two blocks away over sandy road). We arrived during their break and awaited the start. Already on the playground it was clear this was a slightly rougher environment.

The forth and final class Leendert sat in the back doing his homework. It took place in a dilapidated language lab, but the group was very smal (about 7 kids) and it was filled will laughter and girls eyeing Leendert again.

Upon return home we had lunch. Lobster soup, followed by rice and some fish & gue which I did not care for too much. After an afternoon nap, we went to the beach. Kids playing in the sand and in the waves, while pelicans kamikaze dive next to them, sea lions play in the vicinity, and a stingray and iguana saying a quick hello.

After a tuna (and rice) dinner we took a small stroll through town and went to bed. Not bad for a first day on Isabel!

Sunday part 2

Sunday 26th October (from Isabela)

After we get breakfast served in our room, and decide to go for a walk to tortuga bay. It proves to be a 2,5km walk of which the first two are over a beautiful laid path, two meters wide through the mangroves. Particularly interesting were the cactus trees. They are true trees, and their inside is like a honeycomb and fibres, such that they can store water. The last 500m are over the beach. A wide, white, flat beach with fine sand over which strolled several sea iguanas. Idillic in many ways. The kids started with walking in the water, but 15 minutes later their clothes are drenched.

As we are on a time schedule, we spend only 15 min at the bay before tracking homeward. We pack our backpacks, pay, and drop our bags in the centre of town where we bought the tickets for the boat. We have a quick lunch, an happy for the Internet connection we up- and download mails and web blogs.

At 13:30 we picked up our bags and walked to the pier. After a baggage check for animals/plants we wait between 60 odd people for our boat: the Julet. Heidi opens the seasick medicine bag, and the kids get acupuncture bracelets, some oil behind the ears and one earplug in the non-dominant ear. We see how many small yellow boats get packed and depart. After a while it is our turn. We get loaded on board and are amazed that the luggage is loosely placed up front.




After about 4 minutes and the request of each of us to pay an additional 50 cents all becomes clear. These yellow boats are merely taxis taking us to the main boats. The Julet is a larger boat with three 175hp engines. Once we are all installed (20 people), and lifejackets handed out we reach open sea. It does not take more than 10 minutes before the first passenger gets sick.

The passage takes a bit over 2 hours, and several people get sick, filling little grey plastic bags handed to them by the shipmate. Part of the discomfort is the smell and the noise of the engines as well that we are sitting in the boat quite packed, hence it is warm.

Heidi feels quite squeezy for a while, and Leendert too looks a bit pale in the middle of the trip. Both fortunately hang in well, and Leendert even perks up towards the end. There is a sense of relief by all once we pull into the harbour.

We transfer again into small boats, which for $1, bring us to terra firms. We go through ‘customs’ and for another $20 we finally are on Isabella. Julio the local English teacher awaits us on the dock, and as we wait for our luggage, see lions play and entertain the kids in the water below us.

A short wait after we get the backpacks, ‘Alfredo’ picks us up. He brings us to what will be our abode for the next 2 weeks. We stay in a sort of hostel ‘flamingo’. One big room with brown tiled floors and two single and one double bed. Julio promises introduces us to the host family, which consists of an elderly couple; one of them is Alfredo.

Julio promises to be back later, right after dinner. The kids jump in the hammocks upfront, and Heidi and I unpack our backpacks and stroll to the local supermarket to buy some drinks. We have fish, rice and beans for dinner, and get introduced to bright orange lemons. Leendert thinks himself in heaven.

Following that we get the tour of the town by Julio. 30 minutes later we have seen the town in all its glory. Tomorrow at 7:15 we are expected to report for duty. Heidi and Alicia will go with Julio, I am to report in another school with Leendert, asking for Mathilde Cartagena. In all honesty, I am a bit nervous. Helping to teach, in a school of 8-14 year olds, a school where even the principle does not speak English,…


Sunday 26th October

The little town of Puerto Ayora stays lively till late. Had it not been for earplugs and eye-mask I am sure Heidi would have been up all night. The singing went on till 4am, despite the rain coming down. The rain petered out into a light drizzle around 6:30am, and the sun made an attempt to shine through it, albeit faintly.

While the Internet connection was ok yesterday, it seemed to have abandoned us the evening before and remains unavailable in the morning. The feeling of non-connectivity for more then 12 hours is amazing. While sitting in a simple hotel/guesthouse this electronic aberration makes me feel like we are ‘roughing it’. Total silliness. Surrounded by a stove, coffee pot, a fridge and an old, old TV the lack of Internet seems to define my Robinson Cruso sense of being isolated. Perhaps I am also influenced by the fact that I just finished the book Floreana, which describes the first settlement of the so named Galapagos island. Either way, as we go to Isabella I am sure matters won’t improve!

As the rest of the family awakens, Heidi puts together the cost spreadsheet and the study plan for Leendert.

NOTE: we are about to leave Santa Cruz. It is our expectation that we will have less connection on Isabella island. We’ll drop a message as soon as we can.