I have gotten into a rhythm, but here are still new plants and animals to discover, and new girls arriving in the house.
7. Marts. Jorge leave real early in the morning, for some serious walking, Kirsten is roasting coffee in commercial amounts and Mckenna, Kristine and I just relax and enjoy the sunshine. A tiny gecko falls down on me, the hen with the small chicks passes bye and the cat is sleeping on the doormat.
We have ordered a taxi for two o'clock, and surprisingly; it is on time! We head down Port, the girls are starched in one internet cafe, and I head for my favourite one: The Mockingbird. Unfortunately, it is occupied by a Danish family who use the internet connection to the full extend.
The next one does not allow me to access my own uploading page, the third is where the girls are, but that does not work for me either. The forth have a virus fighter that find a virus I have gotten on the cafe before: The folder I have with the things I would like to upload; is a .exe "folder", and the true folder is hidden! I can't figure how to display it; all computers are in Spanish, and I can't change that. I end up the only place I have not been disappointed yet; the smoothie cafe upstairs.
I meet Kirsten, and we both have a shopping list. Unfortunately, the town is pretty much closed, even the public toilets! We walk desperately around with so many dollars to spent, but no one wants them. We meet up with the two other girls, and now, a few shops are open. We buy some basic groceries and head home. After we have had dinner, a real tied Jorge comes home, but he is totally warn out, and we hear nothing from him.
8. I get up early, and give the kitchen a well needed clean. Sweep the living room floor and then half an hour in the nurseries kindergarten maintaining cutting. It is getting way more direct sun than I have hoped for, but all I can do is to cross my fingers. The rest starts to wake up, and we all say goodbye to Kirsten, who is heading home to Canada.
With her out of the way (she will missed, for sure!), we head down to the huge area we are clearing for Guayabo trees and bushed. It is not raining, but the sun first brake though, late in the morning. Then it turns real warm and humid! We work for almost four hours, clearing a significant area. I find a real big predator grasshopper and a even bigger dragonfly at the field.
Soaked by sweat, we tilt in each one chair, drinking water in gallons. Some gather energy enough to cook some dinner, I feel more like a cup of coffee. The afternoon is slightly lighter work; cleaning the nursery and weeding the old bags. Once again, we empty way too many bags from the massive clay. I sure hope this will end with my mix.
We drive down Port, the girls are going swimming, Jorge and I at the internet. I have more success this time. The luck continues while I go shopping; I find both breakfast and milk. Pass the favourite smoothie cafe to store the grocery, and then a walk to find something interesting to see and photo - and twelve litters of milk.
Back to catch my grocery and a smoothie with pineapple. More than half a litter, $1,25: Great! Meet the rest of the crew, and back to the hacienda to cook supper, watch photos and write diary.
9. Jorge is having his last day, and he have chosen to spent it alone. He leaves at eight, and Kristine, Mckenna, Carlos, Luis and I are digging a drench for the community waterline with two of the local men. I use the tools in another way, and end up with a twice as wide and twice as deep drench, four time longer than each of theirs. But I have to admit; I am sweating much more!
It is a bit strange; no one are working on the pipeline the rest of the week, and here are only two of the locals? One might get the feeling they are not in that strong demand for it? The two who have turned up are keeping a easy phase, but you might learn that living here.
After lunch, we remove some old tomatoes plants, and replace them with some new seedlings. Then we weed, crawling around on all four. It have not rained since the early morning, but the sun is not that strong. Kristine decides to run the 11-12 kilometres down to Port, while Mckenna and I share a taxi.
I show Mckenna my favourite smoothie bar while we wait for Kristine. Then we head for Playa Mann, and while the girls go for a short swim, I watch a brown rat; Rattus rattus on the beach. It is getting dark, and we head for the internet. I can download my favourite virus fighter, but only to run it on this computer - not good enough!
I go for a walk on the promenade, and it look so changed: It is half passed six, and almost all the shops are opened for the first time. Carlos turns up, and while we drive out of town, we pick-up Jorge. It is raining up on our mountain, but it have turned night anyway.
The girls are totally warn out, and at half pass eight, and the only other activity is Jorge trying to get his things fitted in to his big backpack. I make a cup of tea and relax in a hammock with my book.
10. We all give Jorge a warm goodbye, and welcome an American woman who are going horse back riding with Carlos and Luis this morning. That leaves the three of us back at the house. While the girls clean the kitchen, living room and porch, I concentrate on the exterior.
Suddenly some cows are roaming our garden. I yell at them, and they get the message clear, and returns to the road. The owner; Carlos' brother hurts them back to their field a bit later. An hour later, they are back at the road. I yell them in on one of our fields and shot the gate. They made a pretty mess in out garden and patches before, and I fear what they can do in the nursery!
I gather concrete bricks, branches, empty bottles, flat footballs, boards, tools, old shoos, rubber boots, litter in general and Buddha knows whatever, in the what I decide are their respective piles, hidden away. A small, yellow headed gecko runs at the wall outside the kitchen, and I manages to get a bad photo.
The riders returns, and I have a short chat with the American woman. After lunch, we get rite of a small mount of clay, left over from making a sour storage tank. We fill it in the holes in the area, making it nicer and more secure. It have turned real hot; no rain the whole day, and I get real hot! Finish rather early, and head down Port.
I bring my computer to download a virus killer direct onto it. We try a new internet cafe Luis recommend, but it surely don't work for me. All I accomplish it to know I have mails, locking on my bank account, but not seeing my statements or saldo, know the tax office plans to draw more money from my account than I have, but not why, download the main software for the virus fighter, but not the updated and needed newest updates, and the list continues - rather frustrating!
I show the girls the shopping places I have found yesterday, and after some intense shopping, we drive home. We arrivals just before sunset, and I predict it will be great. Mckenna buys it, and we head for the church and the Mirador. It could have been better, but it is not bad at all.
Home again to make new variations over rice, potatoes and pasta. I guess the local don't eat as "healthy" as we are raised to, nor as interesting as we would like to. The lack of oven does not help. I can easily come up with some delicious courses, but they will contain way to many calories - even considered how much I work. As usual, the house quiets down at nine, but I stay at the computer and then my book. A small excursion the the garden, chasing one of the horses out.
11. The mission of the morning it replanting Miconias on "Mount Mora". This time, we have a horse to carry the seedlings, and Luis and I uses the machetes all the way up, to keep the path open. While the girls and Luis plant the tiny plants, Carlos and I chop down a tree at the swamp, and uses the stem for the sign; Miconia Zone.
Then we continue the clearing of blackberries on the hill. I work on the edge, and drops my machete - better it than me! Have to do a real long de-tour to get down there, and on the way, I find a cave - little, but all the way through - which no one knew about. I can't get all the way through, but several metres in. There are no known cages on this island, and I'm sure the kids that visit the hacienda will find it entreating.
At the foot of the giant boulder that forms the little mountain, I have to chop my way through 50 metres of dense blackberry bush. I end up using my gardener's scissor; no room for the machete chopping. Finally, I reach my machete. Here was not as deep as I thought, and I climb up, on the overhanging rocks. Carlos and Luis pulls me up the last bit.
On the way back, we chop down some small trees to make sign of, marking the trail. All the way back, Luis and I once more cut down invasive plants along the trail. Here are not much else, but we leave the three to four meter tall grass and of cause the few native plants.
Just before two, when we should have gone back to paint the sticks we dug down, it starts to rain quite heavy. We wait until three, and plan B is wheeling some gravel back, to be used in the nursery. Luis drives off, and the girls expand their break considerable.
I get to drive the wheelbarrow, although I am almost half a meter too tall for this children's toy. Well, the barrow is large enough, but when I lift it on its real short horns, the bumper hits the ground in front of the semi-flat wheel. If I bend in my knees, I hit them on the barrow, and I have to bend quite a lot for over, in my back. That does however not prevent me from kicking a iron bar between the legs of the wheelbarrow. It is not perfect soil, but considerable better than the clay they used to use.
At half pass four, the girls and Carlos head for Port while I stay behind to treat my self with some pasta, champion sauce and fried tuna. I am sure I can get away with all the salt I am using: All my cloth are soaked completely after one hours work, and that causes for not only water, but also the intake of salt. Even my camera bag in my belt is soaked!
At seven, the large fowl is once again in our garden. While I chases him out, I spot an owl in a tree. I try to imitate its call, and it gets closer - sounds like a TV out of tune. My camera it not made for bird photo, it is not made for night photo either, but never the less; I get some dissent shots of it, with a little help from my diving lamp. It turns out to be a Galapagos Barn Owl; Tyto punctissima.
Within the last two days, true mosquitoes have become numerous, and I'm forced inside again. The house is not that safe: There is a huge hole between the wall and the roof in the kitchen, but I have already flattened 50, and it is after all more quiet than outside. Galapagos was mosquito free until 15 years ago - must have been nice!
12. The MP3/Ipod/radio/alarm-clock starts beeping at tree, just as I finally felt asleep. I do not feel that fresh, when we start work. We head uphill with some more sticks for marking the trail and some yellow paint. I get the last bit at Mount Mora, and find my cuttings of an Asteraceae, which I forgot yesterday.
After that, we head for our coffee plantation the pull up some old seedlings, and bring them back to the hacienda. It have not been that hard work, but we have walked a lot. It have started to rain a bit, but it seems to have stopped the real wild rain for now. Back at the hacienda, we have lunch. I uses the break to swap room. The one next to my old one has windows, they can be opened and there are a fly-net for some parts. That gives me a much less mouldy room - which I in that degree need! It might be a bit smaller, but the fresh air makes more than up for that.
After lunch, we plant these coffee plants around the hacienda's garden along with some mandarin trees. We finish early, which suits us fine; I have promised the girls to show them the marine base and the blue footed boobies behind it, and it closes early in the afternoon.
I bring my computer for one final try to get a virus fighter. I stash it at The Mockingbird Cafe, and we head for the laundry. Next stop is the marine base, where a gala dressed mariner tells us; we can't go in. Bit of a boomer, especially because we managed to be here at precisely three o'clock, which is early.
We sit at the pier and watch the Galapagos Sea Lions, Brown Pelican and a Brown Noddy - a kind of gull. The girls are invited on a bar-crawl by Carlos, and wants to spend the waiting time on Playa Mann. I head back to The Mockingbird, but their internet is down. Finds another internet cafe where I can hook my computer up, but once again; I can not download the needed updates for the virus fighter. I can clean the memory sticks, but I can't find it on my computer
I have nothing else to do down Port, and head home alone, in a taxi. I have tried to keep the doors closed all day, and the amount of mosquitoes are manageable this evening. I use to be able to catch bugs, in the air, with my right hand, but all the machete work have hardened it, and it does not close firmly.
We have gotten some new guests lately; stick beetles. Real beautiful metallic green-blackish, but as Kristine tried yesterday: The stink when you squash them on your shoulder! On anything else for that madder. They tend to crawl onto our feet and bite. I end up throwing fifteen out during the evening. Here are some moths, termite queens and other flying bugs too, but they let us be - in general. No wonder the spiders are so large in the house! Could be neat, if the cat didn't take the geckos but the bugs.
I spent the evening writing diary and mails to former colleagues and school mates who now are facing their last examines. They had one more year in Copenhagen Botanical Garden - and I am not free from envying them. Then again: I'm not in a bad place right now! After that, I read a book I got from Mckenna: Kurt Vonnegut's "Galapagos". Sci-Fi with a twist! Evolution of humans, stranded on one of the Galapagos islands.
I am probably a bad parent: When I go to bed at the usual time, the girls are not back. That don't prevent me from having a perfect sleep.
13. I wake up at the usual time, but there are still no sign of the girls. Guess they got lucky last night? I make a slow start on the day, but at nine, the wilderness draws me. I head over the Mirador hill and down to the mysterious trail, folowering the coastline, way inland.
This time, I head east. The trail is still rather open, but at the same time; large trees and boulders are blocking it. I get closer and closer to Kicker Rock, but the trail heads a bit inland and way up hill. The coast disappears in in low rain clouds, but it remains dry up here. On the higher grounds, I find what almost can be called a Scalesia forest. It is S. gordilloi, and some are real big. Some huge Agavas, probably Sisal, have spread here.
I find a few new plants and see a few birds, but only the usual four species. A single dark brown snake is faster than I, and it disappears before I get a photo. A crab spider, a blue dragonfly and a parasitic plant, I haven not seen before. Here are incredible quiet! A single bird song are rarely heard, and there are no insects sounds. After three hours of hard tracking, I reach the end of the line, marked with barb wire and a field of green, very tall grass.
I search around for a farm and view of Kicker Rock, which I have passes, but no luck at either. To my big surprise, I find a tall Eucalyptus tree, the first I have seen on the island. There seems to be no other way back, than the trail I came from. I passes a few side tracks, but they only leave to giant cut-down trees. They are only 30 centimetre tall but 60 centimetre vide stubs.
I have stuck the camera away, and make the return significantly faster, but the tour have taken me four hours in total. I get a well deserves shower when I get home, and sit and read in a hammock for a while. Then I starts on the photos and diary: I have taken 200 photos, but only half make by the first look through. When the plant documentary are away, only 26 are left in the end.
While I work, the girls returns - or the sorry remains of them. They partied till the last taxi driver had gone to bed, and had to take a room at a hostel. In the morning, they went to the beach in the rain, and brought it back with them. Mckenna disappears to her room, and Kristine get real quiet in the living room hammock. When Mckenna returns, she is glowing red! Even though the sun was not clear, she have gotten way too much of it.
I realizes I have been here one month; half the time I will spent at the project. I am rather convinced I have seen most plants and animals in walking distance from the hacienda, and if I am going to see something new, I either have to dive/snorkel or go to another island. I have been at the ends of this islands roads, and the rest can only be reached by boat - and I doubt it changes much.
14. One of the girls have left her cell phone at the living room table. Some rude moron calls it at six in the morning. "Moron" for calling someone at six, Sunday morning, "rude" for not even apologise, when I answer with "good morning". I returns to bed, but the same happens ten minutes later. I shot down the phone, but are not able to fall asleep again. The girls, on the other hand, first returns from Morpheus's world at nine.
There are a severe Sunday atmosphere over the hacienda. We chat, read and write in-between naps, but at five; Kristine calls for a taxi. Internet and a bit of shopping, then back again for supper. I have bought two plantains which I once again fries in different ways. This time, they actually come out fine, both the one with salt and the one wrapped in caramel.
15. We walk up to our coffee plantation, and a bit beyond it. Guayabo, blackberries and five meter tall grass are one entanglement. Last Jorge and I worked here, we were told it was for more coffee trees. Luckily, it is now our official new Miconoia area.
Kristine, Mckenna, Carlos and I work hard for three hours, and we get quite a a descent area cleared before the lunch brake. It start to rain a bit in the end, but not enough to give me any coolment. After lunch, we walk up on the Mirador Hill to clean the ground around the small trees.
Luis arrivals with a new volunteer; Ben from The Netherlands. Cheerful guy which are real welcome male company - for me: The next six to eight people will be chicks, we are told. We finish the hill, and after the normal shower, we head down Port for internet, followed by a dip at Playa Mann. Bit of shopping, and we are back for dinner.
In the evening, the owl are back. We figure it is after our chickens. It lands on the roof, and walk over the real thin tins plates. It makes it call - bit like a radio out of tune, and I'm told: This is NOT the time for ghost stories! The girls go to bed while Ben I and remain chatting till late.
16. Once more, we have reach Tuesday and the community pipeline-work. We head for the Mirador hill, and work until ten, before the first - and only - member of the community turns up. We accomplish quite a long stretch, and I'm sincerely hope it won't be filled with mud by the rain before they get the rubber washers for the pipes.
Then again, I am getting pretty sure it won't stand the pressure anyway. As fare as I can calculate, the pipe will have a drag/pressure of one kilo per square centimetre per bar. It is 63 millimetres in diameter which equals around 20 kilo per bar! Laying only five centimetres deep - or hanging over a river, I'm pretty sure they will serpentine and go apart.
We get the traditional shower in the lunch brake, but is stops at two, and we head for the new plantation of native plants on the other part of the Mirador hill. I clean the two meter vide patches while the others clean the area around the tiny trees.
Once again, we head for the beach after work. A short stop at the office; Casa Verde, reveals; we are not going to borrow the snorkelling gear today. Never the less we head out in the cold but pleasant water at Playa Mann. A pit stop and a nearby cafe for ice, smoothie and beers.
I spot Geovanny returning to Casa Verde, and we head over to have a chat about different subjects. One is that the girls and I want to go on a island hopper tour in the ending of this months. The hacienda will be almost filled with volunteers, and Geovanny see no problem.
We continue down Port and find a restaurant with a $2,50 menu. Geovanny pops bye, and we get a nice and cosy meal. The four of us of goes back at the hacienda for more chatting, fried bananas and general relaxation. The photo section is on a hold these days. I figured I could spare my camera the humidity, and I have not seen anything worth taking photos of anyway.
17. The major task for the day is a new controlling of the invasive plants on the top of the Mirador hill. The blackberries, a Madagascar succulent and the butterfly bush from Madagascar; Subberosa tend to return. I'm not sure what the rest do, but I go through a huge open area, which are not that bad.
After that, I get a totally overgrown area under some huge Poisson Apple Trees. I end up with a huge pile of blackberries and a soaked set of cloths. It is nice to look back on the area I have cleared for invasive plants, and see the magnificent Poisson Apple Trees stand with air underneath them.
While we have lunch, Geovanny arrivals with with our newest member; the American girl Shawna. Some go to re-paint the sign-poles to "Mount Mera", which officially is named Tuna, and I get to go back and forward with wheel barrows of gravel for the nursery, from down the road. I extend the horns, and it work a bit better.
The after-work-swim have gone popular, and we all head for Playa Mann. I get some snorkelling gear from Geovanny, but the water is way too milky for any sights. Some huge waves reach the beach, and while I swim in to shift our cloth to a higher position, I have company by a sea lion.
We stop at the internet on our way back, then the Barracuda Restaurant to have their merianda of the day for $2,50 again. Today, it is a tasty potato soup and beef with rice and salad. Pass a few shops on the way home, and then home for tea and chats.
18. After a morning spent with clearing a area of great boulders, I have discovered two more caves. We get a light shower, but it does not rain fare as much as it did a month ago. At lunch break, Geovanny turns up with our new female volunteer; Canadian Austen. He also brings some Aloe vera plants, which are a welcome and needed treatment to sunburn. People claims it can't be grown in these heights due to the rain, but I make a raised bed with rough lava gravel, which I'm sure will do the trick.
Then we have a walk along the border to the National Park to pull up seedlings of the trees we want. Finally, I get a explanation on this mysterious green "road" I have walked several times. It turns out to be the National Park that spray this line with herbicide, once a year, killing all plants. That is why we with good continence can take these seedlings; they will be killed within the next month or so.
We continue the tradition with a swim after work, and after a stop at the internet, we all head back for cooking - except Mckenna, who are scavenging. I brought plantains yesterday, and fry some for the starving crowds, both salty and caramel style.
Suddenly, the lights turns out. I feel my way to the fuse, but the street light is out too. It is incredible dark out her! We end out on our backs on the gravel road, watching the stars. Austen head inside to write her diary, and I try to make a atmospheric picture of her.
19. We should have around 30-45 three to four years old children visiting us this morning, going horse back riding. I guess it is due to the rain, but they don't turn up. Instead, we plant a lot o seedlings in black bags - much more my ballgame! Afterwards, we clean the house.
Geovanny and Luis arrivals with the new volunteers; Canadian Pat and Sofie. They will only be here for fourteen days, but the hacienda is filling up again. The afternoon, we head up the Mirador hill to clean around our small trees. I have a chat with Geovanny about marketing and alike, but then we join the rest, and I get mean to some huge Agavas and a lot of small, on a vertical wall.
We all head down Port at five, but I'll just watch the others having a short dip at Playa Mann. Mckenna and Kristine have rented a hut near the beach, vice by experience, and we uses it as base. We split up for internet, but meet up again for supper at The Beach. I get a descent deep pan pizza.
The Canadians head home while the rest of us starts the evening at a street cafe. Corry, an English teacher joins us. Luis organises a bottle of rum and a bottle of coke. Although it is not legal, we head for the end of the pier, and sit at the public benches, closely watched by a police officer. Luis have an eye at the officer at all time; experience?
Then we head for a rather large bar/disco in a back street, Iguana Rock. Plenty of known faces, but mainly locals. Their drinks are fairly priced, but does not contain that much alcohol. The half litter beers are only $2,50, and works way better - as fare as I can see. Shawna have made a deal with a taxi driver at two, and Ben, Austen and I head back with her to the meting point.
He is waiting near bye, but suddenly, the price have gone from five to nine dollars. Kristine is not going to use her bed, and we have a plan B, 50 meters down the road. He does not give in, nor do we, and we go to the hut. Mckenna have just arrived, and we get settled in.
20. Wake up in perfect time for a pancake lunch at The Mockingbird, laving Mckenna behind. After that, Ben heads back to the hut, and Shawna, Austen and I collect our laundry (and some others?) and we head up to the hacienda and the "Comedians". We forget to make an appointment with the taxi to pick us up later.
That means that we, after an hour rest, have to walk down to Progresso to catch a taxi. First stop is at the laundry to return the cloth which was not ours, and ask for the missing. Shawna, Austen, Pat, Sofia and I have planed to join the rest at the surfing beach in the marine base area, but they won't let us in without surf boards!
As always, I have a plan B; the beach at Playa Carola. We have it all to our self, except from a few sea lions and Marine Iguanas. Unfortunately, it is low tide, and the rocks are slightly annoying. Newer the less, we swim quite a lot in the real warm water, play some with our ball and explored the surrounding nature. We see several huge sea turtles, only a few meters out, feeding on the algae on the rocks.
After almost three hours, we agree; we got sun enough for one day - to say it mild! Taxi back to centre, and I invite the four girls on smoothes at my favourite place. Then some shopping in the almost Saturday closed town, and back to the hacienda with my favourite taxi driver; Alex. The girls get the impression I know most of the people around, but I think there still are a few I haven't meet - yet.
We are back little after five, and after getting rite of a lot of sand and using a lot of Aloe vera, we start cooking. I have defiantly gotten more colour than I ever have had! So fare, it does not hurt - significantly...
Someone suggests Scrabble, but I don't feel like playing Scrabble with four American/Canadians - unless in Danish! The only other game we have is Monopoly, and that is my game. Almost feel sorry for them, when I end up with all plots, hotels all over.
21. Sunday, and a real slow start on the day. We read, write and chat, interrupted by naps. The rest of the gang arrivals, and we make an appointment with the taxi at three. Usual internet, swimming, shopping and a haircut for me, at five dollars. We meet Geovanny who have been out to catch some huge waves, and then we all head home again.
Somehow, I get to tell Austen; I'm going to cook Spaghetti Carbonerã, and she want to join in. She tells Shawna, and Ben hears about it. I makes a little too much, but our scavenger; Mckenna joins in. The girls ad some garlic bread, and I have finally found parmesan cheese. They seems to like it.
There is the usual Sunday ball game going on at the school, and most joins in. Kristine have gone to bed and Pat is sitting in the hammock at the porch, writing her diary. I have the living room for myself, and fine-tune my diary while I enjoy a cup of tea.
22. Today, it is equinox and the sun will be precisely above our heads at noon. Luckily, we don't see much to the sun until we reach the Port. We dig down a new tube for the school's water supply. It starts at our well and head several hundreds meters cross our fields and across the road. It is hard work, and I have to wring out my T-shirt several times.
We have to finish the last bit after lunch. Geovanny bring yet one more volunteer, this time a London guy; Kunal. After a gamble between Ben and I, he get to be the new room mate of Ben's (over/under 30 years). We shift a lot of newly planted seedlings from under a tree to the nursery, where there are quite some room now, and less ants.
While some of the others weed the vegetable garden and plant tomato seeds, I remove the big pile of clay from the dead plants. I clean all the tool of the day, knowing we are going to use them in the morning for yet another water pipe digging.
We all nine head down Port with Geovanny at five. I watch the others take a swim at Playa Mann, but it had gotten too late for me: Cold! Some real huge waves are coming in, and local boys are catching some good rides on their surf boards.
We head bye the frozen, chocolate dipped banana shop - can't figure how to avoid it, and split up for internet and shopping. I find a nice little packet of bacon - for $5,25! All meet up at the usual meeting point, and we head home for some serious cooking. It is real scary; everybody ask me for cooking advices!
While the rest go for a football play at the school, the "Comedians" and I remain to write. At half pass nine, I feel tired, but I know by experience that it will have left me, when I head for bed in a hour or two. At ten, I give in - and then the rest returns from the football. At twelve, the bloody Ipod/Radio/Alarm clock goes off, surprisingly only waking me.
23. I force myself out at bed, and it turns out to be ten to eight! At least, I give the rest a good laugh; seeing my sleepy face. It is Tuesday, and that mean community pipeline digging once more. Jorge are, as usual, the only local to turn up, but due to the fact the girls are learning to use the tools and the share number we are, we accomplish quite a stretch.
At some point, two workers start spraying pesticide at the school, ten meters away. They are wearing full yellow suits and full masks, but I'm the only one, refusing to work that close. The Americans and Canadians thinks I'm a chicken, but I do, after all, have a license to spray pesticides and herbicides, and therefore an insight in their poisonous effect to people. They also thinks I'm weird because I don't spray cower my self with 50-95% DEET, although it have been proven to give cancer, and are illegal in many countries. I just take my tree to five bug bites every day, itching for an hour or two. Guess it is about choices - and knowledge.
After lunch, Geovanny brings three students from the university, all Americans. They form my platoon, and we start wheeling gravel up from outside the school, to our new medical- and herb garden behind the house. My plan is first to drain the area with gravel, then put 30-40 centimetre lave blocks, connected in the corners, on it. Then fill the created holes half up with a good gravel mix and plant each species in its own hole. We already have Aloe vera and lemon grass, and more will come.
The rest of the gang plant various native, flowering plants around the house, shoving; you can get a nice garden with local plants. Sticks are chopped and placed next to each plant. Once again, our number result in waste progress, and when the National Park takes over, it will look great!
At five, all except me head down Port. Too late for a swim for me, neither a need for shopping nor internet, and the silence of Hacienda Tranquil are not to be reticulated! Coffee, diary and a bit of planning for our tour to Isabella and Santa Cruse next week. It is Mckenna and Kristine's last week, and they want to see some other islands. Ben and I are invited, and I think it will be a good group, going exploring.
I might have to go back alone later, but on the other hand; I might see all I want to see. I doubt I will visit the uninhabited islands: Can only be done on cruises, and they range from one to three hundred dollars a day! You need a licensed boat and a licensed guide - and worse for me: I have to stick to the boardwalks! Further more, Isabella have most of the species of wildlife anyway, and the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz have them in captivity.
I am sure, I can spend these money in a way better way. My original dream was to be able to visit Santa Fe, Bartolomé, Santiago and perhaps Espanola and Genovesa. Realistically, I will be happy to see the Barrington Land Iguana; Conolophus pallidus of Santa Fe and the tiny Bartolomé, which should offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the archipelago. Unfortunately, the last is not close bye!
24. We all are ready for a road trip half pass seven - sleepy or not. It is pouring down, and we are quite a few; the nine volunteers, Paul, Carlos, Lois, the owner, a new worker and Geovanny. That means we are eight in the bed of the taxi in raincoats, under plastic - or/and soaked.
We head down to Progresso, turn left towards Puerto Chino, but at El Junco, we head inland. Here are one farm after another. Even a tomato nursery under plastic. Just before we reach the central part of the northern coast, we reach "Estencia el Cosmos las Goteras".
This is a dairy/lemon/what-ever farm, owned by a foreign couple. He is working in USA, she is stuck here, and are having a hard time finding labour. Three years ago, a new, beautiful plant emerged on her land. It flowered nicely, but not only have it spread tremendously, it is poison to her cattle. It is a Apocynaceae, called "Horse Killer".
We all walk down to a field partly covered in Guayabo, partly this new invasive plant. The Monarch Butterfly have a special preference to this plant, and we do not se many leaves or flowers. To my big surprise, all the butterflies I examine have only four legs! It is important to get the roots up; they form long lines of plants, and I suspect they can spread without seeds.
In some areas, it is back-braking work; the roots are entangled. Ben and Mckenna are walking back with the owner at ten, and after four hours of hot work, we all find the kitchen. Here, we are served a fantastic ox soup with plenty of vegetables followed by ox with rice and more vegetables. Freshly made juice, all from the farm.
After a short brake, we are divided into groups. Mckenna do the dishes, some gather tall grass to cover a real muddy cow-track, some continues the pulling of the Apocynaceae and Kunal, Carlos, Luis and I help a local guy cutting down some huge trees. Then we carry the massive stems to a new construction site.
We stop at three, get a glass of cold fruit yogurt, and head home. The fog is light on the crater lake; El Junco, and most head for the top. Kristine, Mckenna, Carlos and I remains in the back of the taxi. Mckenna enjoys herself, punching Carlos' and my stomach - I actually got mussels!
A real short pit stop at the hacienda, and all, but Pat and I head down Port. I give Mckenna $75 to buy boat ticket for Sana Cruz for Sunday, snorkel tour Saturday and a room for the nights before. Then I start on what I hope will turn out to be a delicious and quite original Spaghetti Carbonerã. Got bacon, parmesan, oregano, eggs, fat milk and pasta. With salt enough, it turn out decently.
Ben and Austen make cheese-pasta for the rest when they returns, but way too late for me. Chatting all evening - a bit too late for me: I've been kept awake to one, and then I can't fall asleep! At five, someone's cell phone wants to be fed, and that keep me awake till I get up at half pass six.
25. Considered how little sleep I have gotten, I'm surprisingly fresh this morning. The morning is spent at a local farmers field, cleaning it for weed and preparing it for vegetables. This time, the family helps, and we are able to clear a huge area before eleven o'clock. Good timing; the rain starts to poor down.
A family have booked a horse ride, and they are real unlucky with the weather. They look like drowned mice when they returns, but with wide grins. Later, I learn: They have flown in in their own Lear Jet.
The afternoon is for cleaning the house and shopping for a common dinner this evening. I'm planning to stay two nights in Port before the island hopping. Can't depend on getting a taxi as early in the mornings as we need for the snorkelling and the boat to Santa Cruz. That means two more nights at a hostel in Port. Anyway; that causes for some clean cloths and other gear. I leave the rest of my gear in my big bag up under the sealing, hoping for the gear not to get even more mouldy!
The rain is still pouring down, and as we was seven to go down, I stay at the hacienda. Rather that, than in the back under a poncho. I will get time the coming days to check mail and upload diary, and my biggest problem right now is to get my fresh food used before I leave; no shopping needed!
The menu is, among others, a local delicatessens; raw fish, marinated in lemon: Ceviche. It is served with Galapagos potatoes, huge beans, avocado, yellow rice, fried plantains, popcorn, yucca and tamarine- and tree tomato juices. It is, without a doubt, the best course I have had on this island! Geovanny, Luis, Paul and Carlos are the chef of the day. Pat and I do the dishes.
Then we see some photos from the beginning of the Tranquila Project and accompanied with ice; a surfer film from the Galapagos.
26. It is a perfect morning, and the children are coming for a horse back riding and some playing. We ride the horses down to the school and bring some balls. At nine, a taxi with 20 children in the age of two to six arrivals along with two "caretakers". I join up with Mckenna, me leading the horse, her chatting and having a hand on the child.
Meanwhile, Kunal and Ben are scarring the waiting children with the balls. We swap after some time, and the children are getting more confident, and start playing with us. At the time they leave, they have warn us completely down!
After a long and needed brake, we all drive down to Port. We are four with big bags, the rest with weekend bags. We find a hostel with a ten bed dorm for $90 a night, and we have it for ourselves. Then out to Casa Verde, the office. The neighbour lot are being develop, and we nick their seedlings.
There turn out to be way fewer than expected. Luis find a group of Irontrees, and I stumble over 50 Paulo Santo; Bursera graviolens. We store them in water at the office, and head down town. A stop at the dive shop to confirm our snorkelling tomorrow and then some cafe visiting.
I organise two bottles of Rum; nice 5 Year San Miguel of which Kristine pay one, and Kunal find another one. We start on his at one shop/cafe, buying the freshly made juice at my favourite smoothie cafe, but that is fine with the owner, as long he get a glass.
We try to find a cheep but open restaurant to get a merienda, but even though it is pass six, only Rositta seems to be open. $3,50 is a bit expensive, but it is pretty good. Creamy soup and a piece of chicken with vegetables and rice.
Back at the hostel for some serious rum drinking and guitar music by our Argentine neighbour and Austen. We are staying on the middle of the marina, and having a fantastic view over the whole harbour from our porch on third floor. When we are out of rum mixers, we head for Iguana Rock, and joins up with our neighbours in a taxi.
Once again, I am amazed about how many known faces there are! I have a chat with one of our neighbours, who are a Danish surfer. Learnt by expansive experience, I only have a single vodka and Redbull. To my surprise, I get a rather large glass of pure vodka and a whole can of Redbull for $5. That is sufficient for the whole night!
We head home, searching for other clubs in small groups, but we all end up at the room shortly after, around tree o'clock. It quiets down fast, and I get a good night's sleep.
Snorkelling among sharks and island hopping with Ben, Mckenna and Kristine: Diary 5.