I am still exploring the islands of Galapagos, searching for plants, animals, great views and adventure, taking a week off from the conservation project.
1. April. We have to be at the ferry at 5.40, and it is a long walk with the huge luggage we are travelling with. Luckily, our old hotel owner is picking people up. The rest of the gang managed to spent the last of their money last night, and he does not get the one dollar from them.
It is a bit worse at the harbour; the municipal want five dollars in harbour fee from each. I still have a tiny reserve, and we make it. Smooth two hour tour brings us to Santa Cruz, and we are in our hotel room at nine in the morning. Breakfast at the local diner, and then out to find some cash. The ATMs does not like us, but finally we success.
The girls want to go snorkelling, and we find a operator that cut us 20% discount on a tour at two. Mean while, we walk out to the Charles Darwin Research Station and see their huge tortoises and yellow-orange Land Iguanas. One of the giant males are awaken by Bens apple, and in desperation of not getting anything, he mounts one, even bigger male. A lady say: "There is something you don't see everyday" (thinking it is a male and a female). I can only say: "I saw it yesterday".
Just as hermit crabs usually are found in groups, Lonesome George have lady company in his enclosure. Not that he care at all, he is only into food, and it is, after all, not entire the right species either: The chicks are from Volkano Wolf on Isabella where he is from Pinta island, but they are real close related.
The Land Iguanas are in part shade, part sun and real hard to get a descent photo of. The rest head down town, while I try to find their botanist. The former, which I had a name on, stopped fourteen days ago, but the other one; Ann are still here. We have a short chat about my and their problems, and I promises to get back, when I'm free after the 20. of April. I run down town, passing the Land Iguanas who are in full shadow now. Find an ice and some more water on the way, and have to wait a bit for the gang and some more for the captain.
We join some other people at the harbour, and sail out to a tiny island, fare out at sea. The only thing to see here is two sea lions, and it take some more to amuse us. No one like to snorkel, and we head for a small canyon between the main island and a tiny one.
We get geared up, and start swimming some way out to sea. The crack we are heading into are six to ten meters wide and around five deep. In some areas, it is really murky while others are clear. On the button of the more murky part, Ben spots four sharks. It looks to me like White Tipped Sharks, around two meters or more. I swim a bit ahead, and are visited by yet another, even larger one, but it head on, while I try to get my heart started.
I climb the rocks a few places, but it is a bit hard with flippers on! We head back, and I go the whole way back to the boat. There are some rocks, teeming with life like surgeon fish, morays, sea ouches and other creatures. We collect the rest, and head further west along the shore.
Next stop is a lagoon in a canyon with layers of fresh and salt water. It is a long and interesting walk through a swampy area. I test the lagoon with one toe - and decides the swamp might be more like me. I head slowly back and find herons, finches and a lot of interesting plants.
The rest catch up at the pier, but Ben is missing his camera. No one have taken it for him, and the two of us head back to have another search. Real bad luck: No camera: Not photos from Galapagos. All I can do is to offer him a copy of mine and my spare camera till he leave Galapagos.
The others have waited 20 minutes, but we returns to harbour in time anyway. It will be dark within half an hour, and we get a taxi to drive us the short - but unknown - way to Totuga Beach. Unfortunately it literally closes at six: Big iron gates. We walk back to the hotel, showering and the girls packing.
We decides on a rather expensive restaurant, just down the corner; The Rock. I get a Penne Gorgonzola and a Almond Semifreddo, both absolutely perfect! The price, along with an American coffee is $ 18, but it was worth it. I guess the others are happy with their chooses too.
Our plan was to hit some bars, but at eleven - after some serious internet misuse, we are more for an early night. I have a little energy left, and start cropping the photos from the last two days. At one, I have cropped yesterdays photos, but not fine sorted and tagged them. Well, I figure I eventually will get through then.
2. We get up at half pass seven, everybody slightly tired still. While the others pack the rest of their things, I find a laundry for Ben and my own cloths. I can't find any in the street they should be in, but I end up at the local marked. A few streets back, I finally find one. The owner have not turned up, but one of the employees promises to take care of it. I don't have much spare time, and hurry back to find the others. Later, I find out there is one in the same building as our hotel, just to the other side.
A rather expensive and not that great breakfast turns real expensive when we have to pay additionally two dollars for each glass of the not-that-great juice. We get a taxi to the Baltra harbour on the other side of the island. It is fast, and cost only twice the bus ticket, when we are four to share.
We head north out of town, passing farmland and green nature in general. In the heights, it starts to rain, and the suitcases get a cower on the bed of the taxi. We passes through a rather large Scalesia forest, and on the down hill part, it is more wild nature.
The ferry harbour is packed with busses, pick-up trucks and taxis, but here are not that many people. The ferries are just covered barges with a small attached engine, but it works fine across the 200 meter strait to Isla Baltra, a $0,80 tour. All luggage it stored on the flat roof, lifted over from the tall pier. A free - or included - bus turns up, and we are crammed in.
It takes us steep up a lava wall, and then inland on this tiny and flat island. Here are not much other vegetation than a few bushes, some Opuntias and a lot of grass. We find the last souvenirs for the girls, and follow them through the cosy airport.
I have read there should be Land Iguanas which sometimes crosses the landing strip, and Ben and I head back towards the ferry on foot. It is slightly clouded and a perfect day for a walk on our forth island. We don't see any Iguanas, but some real red-brown lizards and a few interesting plants. Around halfway back, we get a lift with a bus: We don't expect to see more, and the sun have broken out.
The ferry was waiting, and when all from the bus is onboard, we set off. We take the bus back to Ayora, passing what looks like giant sickholes; Los Gemelos. I see the special Passifloraceae; Passiflora colinvauxii, but only form the bus.
We jumps off at the local food court-street. A good menu for $3, and we are ready for adventures. The rest of the Hacienda Tranquila crew should have landed on Santa Cruz, and we check tree hotels I have recommended to them. No hits, but a real strange feeling: Walking from one to the next and the third without asking for directions, not having a map! Then I check if we can go on the cheap volcano tour, but no. If he have a party, we can join for half price.
No worries, we can't miss Tortuga Beach today! We take a taxi the short - and still unknown - way to the entrance; a small rock bridge, crossing a deep gorge. We register and walk the two and a half kilometre to the first beach. It is a smooth brick track, passing what at least look as pristine nature. Here are plenty of Lava Lizards, these are looking almost green.
We reach the beach everybody have said; you can't miss this sight. We can't see anything special in the one kilometre long and perfect beach with real light hour glass sand, but head down of it to get to the second beach.
Just before we reach it, I spot a real large Marine Iguana, crossing the beach. I run around, and get the late afternoon sun just right on it. Down on my sweaty belly on the fine sand, getting it right in eye height. Perfect pictures, even better than the one I pointed out earlier today in the hotel, saying: Mine is not that good. Now it is!
Then we reach some mangrove on a small peninsula, and the second beach is on the other side. Just in-between, we find a group of 60 Marine Iguanas, and I even get the wanted photo of a Lava Lizard on a Iguana! The second beach is overcrowded by locals, but the huge dunes behind are pure, undisturbed nature - and maybe no-go area?
Anyway; we crosses it, and get rewarded by a magnificent view from the top. We walk back, and when we reach the town, Ben spots what he think can be a river. It turns out to be En Nimphas, a beautiful lagoon. Right at the entrance to the boardwalk, we find Pat, doing some real damage to a delicious looking piece of chocolate cake. The rest of the gang is further out: Kunal, Sofie, Shawna, Austen and the two new; New Zealander Jeremy and Spanish Maria.
We head back to town, and I go home for a shower: The fine sand from the iguana shooting are sticking to my body like white paint! Meet up at their hotel, and witness a Easter Parade with corps and sung - and some flashing police cars. We find the local street food court, and order a special soup, only made in the Easter: Fanesca; filled with fish, beans and a lot more. Real tasty, but I lour the rest down the The Rock for deserts. The are totally agreeing: Best food ever on Galapagos!
Further on to another, but slightly dead bar. I meet up with another Dane we have snorkelled with, and have a long chat with him. Then I follow the gang to another discothèque, but it is almost as dead as I feel. All bars have alcohol that are that thinned that much, you can't taste what it is, although they fill the glass 80% - and they still charge $5! Back at the hotel at two for a bit of writing and photo work.
3. We are told to shift to a room with two beds, and end up with a better view, but still only cold water. We meet at the other's hotel little pass eight, and find a good breakfast at Bamboo Cafe. The newcomers want to see Tortuga Beach, and Ben lead the way. I collect our laundry and head home to catch up with some photo- and diary work, followed by uploading of it at a internet cafe.
The girls head off to Isabella for a few days while Kunal have his last day in Galapagos. He, Jeremy, Maria, Ben and I are meeting up for a taxi drive to a 300 meter long tunnel, a tortoise place and the giant sinkholes in the middle of the island.
The others are a bit delayed, and I end up buying a 75 centimetre machete with a good, big handle for four dollars! I sure hope I get my weapon collection permit before I go home! We find a taxi driver that will do the tour for $30, which sound fine for five persons. We squeeze in four at the back seat, and set off on the trans-island road.
First stop is the giant sinkholes - or is it craters: Los Gemelos. There are one on each side of the road, 2-300 metres in diameter, 50-70 meters deep - and a tiny but deep one as well. Besides from the holes, the vegetation is real interesting. I find and photo the special Passiflora colinvauxii, or at least its special leaves. Here are a forest of huge leaved Scalesias and to my surprise, I find Orchids. They are not flowering, but there are fruits on. Here are also Peperomias with real tiny leaves.
Next stop is the tortoise place; Rancho Primicias and their Reservade Tortugas el Chato. It cost three dollars to get in the the rather large forest area, but we see several animals scatted around. At the souvenir shop Kunal tries on a tortoise shell, but is don't fit properly. It weights only around 10-15 kilos, way less than I have thought.
Last stop of the tour is the long lava tunnel. 300 metres long, slightly serpentined, and five to ten metres high and so wide as well. Well, except in the part at the end, where is is only half a meter high! We get through with quite some mud on us, but the taxi driver is prepared.
Back to have a shower, and a common farewell meal for Kunal. It have to be good; it have to be at The Rock! I having a hard time deciding: The same perfect Penne Gorgonzola and Almonde Semifreddo or something else? End up with the same, and it is great once again.
Kunal, Ben and I walk through town in search of souvenirs and then a cheap bar. We have heard Bill Gates and Leonardo De Caprio is in town, but we don't meet them. Guess they will be on one of the enormous, polished ships, way out in the harbour area. They sure don't seem to be at the phony Chinese restaurant we find cheap beers at! I head home just before midnight, and Ben follows soon.
4. Easter Sunday, and we having a hard time finding a dissent breakfast restaurant. Ben make sure Kunal get on his bus, allowing him the catch his plane home. Ben and I buy a ticket for the San Cristobal boat for $20 - after negotiating it down from $30. Then I get the hotel for $30, although we actually had agreed on $45.
We walk around town, waiting for the clock to reach two. Ben didn't see the Los Nimfas, and we passes it again. Next to it lies the most nice house, I have seen in a long time. Nearby, a Land Rover have been parked on a lot for quite some time. The Ecuadorian football team; Barcelona is playing, and people are watching the game everywhere.
We sit at the pier and chat for some time, and then it is time to get our bags checked. Bens mussel shells are confiscated, but I get through without remarks - probably because I don't have anything criminating. While we stand there, it starts to rain quite hard, and we agree: It is time to leave this island. A wall have a rather good painting: Wild nature on Galapagos, the bishop that discovered them, pirates, Darwin, whalers and tourists.
We meet up with Maria and Jeremy at the high powered boat. It have three, 200 HK engines, and seats for 20 persons. Must use around 500 litter fuel on a two and a half hour tour like this! I have taken a pill, but starts to get a bit seasick right away. I'm a bit anxious for the little girl on her moms lab next to me - but it is the mom who sacrifices. The sun is coming in real strong, and my left half of the face get slightly burned, while I try too sleep the time away.
I'm pretty pleased when we reach Port on San Cristobal. I remain on the pier with our gear while the other tree check: Yes, all shops are closed. I chat with some girls, one I know from Isabella, another who have work with making farms more efficient. We make an appointment; they are coming to visit the hacienda one of the days.
Back at the hacienda, we have two new volunteers: Cameron and Erin from Australia. I have lost my room - and sheets, and one fritz have been shoot down - with all our food in. I find some that still can be used, and end up with a rather decent meal. Evening starts with the famous card game: Shithead.
We have a completely new situation at the hacienda: Here are, for the first time, more boys than girls. It will equal when Shawna and Austen returns on Tuesday, and Wednesday; thee more girls will allegedly arrival. That means I have to share room with Ben, but only for three days.
Not much have changed, except our chickens have grown immensely! Well, except one with a bad eye; it is small and real skinny: I "cure" it. The grass around the house still looks like spring: Real green and fresh. Normally, this time of year, it is dead and brown, but the El Nino effect is real strong this year.
5. It is back to work. We start clearing an area near the Scalesia forest - which is only four tree at present time, but we have many seedlings, and the area will be expanded. It haven't been raining for quite some time, and the soil is almost dry! The sun is strong and very hot, and I have to take several brakes due to overheating. I get the area with trees, and my new, real large and heavy machete is perfect!
While we are having our lunch, it starts to pour down. I start finding photos for Ben, and it takes forever to copy them. Then again, there are well over 10 GB from the days he have been here. It stops raining right after lunch, and we start weeding the kitchen garden. It have turned into a green blanket during the week we have been away, but we get it cleared. At four, we head for Playa Mann and a rather cold dip. A sea lion pup comes up and splash water at us. It is really interactive!
I show the newcomers where our shops are, and do a bit of shopping myself. Back to cook supper, but there are not many taxis, and the first I stop, wound drive up to our home! Finally we get one, and when we passes the gasoline station of the island, we see the answer to the lack of taxis: They are all lined up to get gasoline! We are told they had the same problem last week: The island just don't have gasoline.
Evening used on computer and having fun with Ben and Jeremy, playing Shithead - guess I've having more fun then them, sharing the Shithead hut again and again.
6. Geovanny arrivals quite early with two carpenters who, in cooperation with Geovanny, Carlos and Ben, builds a new tool sheet between the kitchen and the girls rooms. The old one have to be taken apart: It is standing in the new, yet not build, tortoise enclosure.
Geovanny tell us; there is a convention, regarding conservation - world's first - held on National Geographic's Endeavour outside the harbour of Santa Cruz. That is why Bill Gates, Bono, Leonardo de Caprio and a lot other celebrities are here. We passes Endeavour and some huge luxury boats when we left Santa Cruz. Geovanny's brother is on board, but couldn't get his brother in. Too bad, he could have given a great speech!
For the rest of us, it is Pipe-line Tuesday once more, and it is a real warm day too! I have to stop several times due to overheating, but we get the 80 meter stretch done before lunch. Huge boulders, roots and other "fun" causes problems, and the bad tools don't exactly help. Now, we only have the 200 meter stretch in the low part, and it is finish - except we still need the washers and laying the pipeline and cowering it up, for quite some stretch...
Way different afternoon: We check the plants that was planted last week on the Mirador hill. It is the plants we found next to Casa Verde, and they have not passed by the nursery. 50 of the 70 plants are the Bursera graviolens I found, and they are, not surprisingly, doing fine: Even though they don't have roots, the sheath their leaves and can remain alive for quite some time. There lack four plants in total, and I pick them up from the nursery, and plant them.
Then we walk to the nearby official Mirador, and sit relaxing there some time. Back at the hacienda, we relax some more, carry some tools from the old sheet to the new, and then we call it a day. Scrabble, Shithead and diary for me, while some wait for the taxi. I remain, preparing more photos for Ben.
They returns with Shawna and Austen, back from a good tour to Santa Cruz and Isabella. Now, while all are here, Shawna go through the friezes, and a lot of bad fruit and vegetables are thrown out - and brought home by Carlos. It seems like everybody leaves behind a lot of food, but no one know which it is.
7. We were supposed to start early, but it takes some time gathering and saddling twelve horses. We ride up the heights to Carlos' uncle, who have a farm up there. It is a clear day with a nice breeze, and the 45 minutes ride is a true pleasure. Well, except for Ben, who gets a donkey with wooden saddle, and it is slow too.
We passes a swamp, and I spot the real special, tiny floating fern; Azolla microphylla, but find it a bit hard to photo from the horse. Luckily, Carlos' aunt spots tree ducklings, and after helping her catching them, I get a few shots of this interesting spore plant. We tie up the horses, and walk the last bit, steep uphill.
Here are a tiny restaurant building and a HUGE view! All of the southern coast with Lobos and Kicker Rock and the nice coastline. To the north, the highest point of the island and all the way to the eastern heights, 50 kilometres away, to the east; the Port and that coast.
We start macheteing the upper part of the hill, leaving only Opuntias. Here are some Guayabo and Agavas, and they are a tough job. Just before lunch, Shawna berries her machete in her leg. Can't hurt much; she keep laughing. It is bleeding quite a lot, and we got her stitched together with plasters, and the bleeding stops.
She is carried down to the horses, and manages to ride all the way down to the hacienda. Here, Geovanny is waiting with a taxi, and she is brought down to the emergency room for tree stitches. My horse need attention too; it start to limp. I check the hoof, but it seems to be its "shoulder". I have to drag it the half way back home. I am sure: It limps way more, when I look back at it!
The new tree girls have missed their flight, and I can keep my room to Ben leaves. Not that I have anything against him at all, but the bunk-beds are so loose, and I just like a good night of sleep. He have, by the way, gotten too long haired accordantly to Austen, who gives him a haircut.
The afternoon is set off to collecting seedlings from the park's boarder. The vegetation have grown a lot, but our seedlings have not followed, and they are so hard to find. It stats to rain, but it is is still warm enough for me. We are soaked, when we reach the hacienda. I wash a few cloths items - those I would like to keep, and hope for some late afternoon sun.
While some have gone down to Port, the rest of us experiences a power fall-out. I end up constructing an oil lamp of an old kettle, some toilet paper and cooking oil. Bit smoking, but good enough to play Shithead bye. Powers back, but now people are disappearing for their beds.
8. Jorge pick us up in a taxi, and we drive through Progresso and in to the central part of the island. Here, he have a waste area of grassland. We are going to help him cutting down small Guayabo trees while we leave the big one for shadow. Here are also an entanglement of blackberries, six meter grass and other invasive plants.
It is not that hot under the trees, and we accomplice quite a lot - if we don't look at the total area, needing clearing. Jorge have brought cheese, ham sausage, mayonnaise and bread roles, and it taste fantastic! Then we walk all the way down to the hacienda, cross country.
While I'm warmed up, I walk up to the "Excalibur Rock" and one of the caves I have found. Bit hard to capture in the midday light, but I just have to try. Back to a rather short lunch brake, and then I lead Jeremy and Maria up to the Mirador hill to plant the biggest plants we found yesterday. We clear holes and pathways with machete, and get the plants in the ground.
Meanwhile, some others are planting the smaller plants in bags and the rest are painting the facade of the hacienda. We are back a bit early, and I continue my work on the bed for herbs and medicine plants behind the house. Hard to find suitable rocks and even harder to did them up and get to the construction site! After I have used the last stone, I am totally warn out.
Ben and Austen are preparing BBQ: Sticks with mixed vegetables and shrimps. The outside barbeque are cleaned and fired up with some old colds, and within a couple of eye-blinks, we have a great common supper. I head the bed early, and get ten hours of undisturbed sleep.
9. I wake up at eight, but that is fine; the kids should be here around nine. Then again; it is raining rather hard, even down in Port, and the kid-thing is cancelled. Instead, we clean a lot of Matazarno; Piscidia carthagenensis seed pods. Kind of boring, but a good course after all.
In the afternoon, Geovanny arrivals with a new volunteer; Gemma from England. Then we all drive down to port, and we are divided up into two groups: One will clean the backyard of the children's place we have been working on before, the other will collect seedlings from Casa Verde's neighbours. I join the last, and once again, I find quite a few. Ben brought all his gear - and my 1 GB SD card with a copy of my photos, and I move back into my old room.
Casa Verde, the project's office is located in a perfect spot: Right outside town, just before the Playa Mann, on a 3000 square meter natural plot. Unfortunately, both undeveloped neighbours plots will become hotels in August. The area will be flatted, and we might as well try to save what we can.
We all join up at the office, and head down to the beach. I start gathering Palo Santo; Bursera graveolens seeds on the sand, and then in the trees. A couple of local women joins in, and we end up with several hundreds. The others have had a short swim, and then; we all walk back to town.
Some for internet, among them; me. I meet Claudia from Isabella. She is here to get her neighbour arrested for attempted murder assault on her ex-husband. He just asked him to turn the music down, and was hit from behind with a baseball bat! 17 stitches and a real bad head ache! Anyway, she will have my forgotten drinking bottle send here by airmail!
After the division, we join up for a BBQ at the dive shop, but it have been delayed, and we split up in several groups once more. I join Ben and Austen, picking out snacks from the mobile stands on the square and the bakery. Sandwich with pork, chicken leg with French fries, coconut top, warm role, caramel cookie and sausage role - all for less than five dollars and all great tasting. Finish off with a smoothie at my favourite place.
The vice precedent of Ecuador is in town, and there is some festivities at the marine. We have a look at small girls dancing to loud music, and two younger women sinning to taped music - still loud. We decides; it is time for a drink, and walk back to the usual shop. Stories from the warm countries, fun with the shy but nosy local kids and sea lions. Some go bar crawling while others head home. I join the last group, still tied after the long night's sleep.
10. While the rest drive down Port for a snorkelling experience, I remain to work on my Santa Cruz and Isabela photos - and enjoy some solidarity as well. After a small shower in the morning, it is turning into a beautiful day. The local mockingbird have started to sing; a bit like a blackbird, and I enjoy it.
I move my "office" out on the porch, and are able to enjoy the wildlife, while I work. Here are hundreds of dragonflies today; normally, I only see a few. A small group of frigate birds passes, the local finches search the grass for seeds, the flycatcher are busy and the cat in coma.
Geovanny and Shawna arrivals at four with our new member of the family; John from England, who will be my new roommate. The house get filled up at seven, and I retire to the hammock with a book.
11. Beach day; most of us jumps on a taxi and head for Puerto Chino, Laguna El Junco and the tortoise place; Centro de Crianza or Galapagera. The day starts with a light rain, but when we leave, it is sunny. When we reach Laguna El Junco, there is not a cloud on the sky, and we rushes up.
A perfect sight, even with a dash of sun! Frigate birds washing and drinking, and a good view to the rainwater lagoon below. I spot a few ducks and water hens at the edged of the lagoon, but besides from them, here are not much life. Clouds are roiling in from time to time, covering the back part of the lake.
I get the other persuaded in stopping at the stop at the Centro de Crianza on the way to the beach, and it pays off! Before we leave the entrance buildings, I have seen four tortoises, one being the biggest of this species, I have seen. I don't get to walk by my selves, but have to wait for the others, although we are not accompanied by a guide anyway.
On our single tour round, I see 24 adult animals, most active. Last time, I walked three rounds and saw five, more or less sleeping in the afternoon heat. Here are even a little fight breaking out between some huge males; biting each others legs, and another place, a huge male start chasing a female - till he falls asleep...
This time, we don't have Puerto Chino for our selves, and it is high tide. There are occasionally large waves, and I catch a few. We all get a lot of water
and a lot of sun! While playing ecuaball in the water with three locals, I hit my foot rather hard on a lava rock: That gota hurt in the morning! It turns bluish-black, but only for fifteen minutes? The taxi is ordered a bit too late back to pick us up, but Jeremy have brought cards, and we play in the shadows, almost left alone by the horse flies.
On the way back, I finally get a photo of the Progresso church, which I have passes near a hundred times! Once again, Geovanny pops by with a new volunteer; Susanna from Spain. Good at Spanish and almost as bad in English as I am to Spanish. I spend some time sorting the photos of today and writing diary before I join the evenings Shithead game.
12. Real bad night's sleep: My new room mate spend a couple of hours coughing and talking in his sleep. Was awake until around two. Then, at five, Jeremy and Maria had to get up and eat breakfast before they leave for a bit of island hopping. I have been mornings, where I felt more fresh, than this on!
As a result of this, I move into their room, which hopefully will be free the week out. Fourth room for me - all madras' have been mouldy and general shitty (although rather new), but when one go to bed as worked out and tired as I, it does not really madder!
After we have build a new tool sheet between the kitchen and my new room, the chickens are alone in the old sheet. I get a little hammer and permission to tear it down. After an hour, it is gone! The others have been cleaning the boards from nails and carried it to the new place. I feel really bad about the ten geckoes and numerous spiders that have gone homeless, but this is necessarily to prepare the area for tortoises.
We spend the rest of the day building the new, 3,5x3,5 meter sheet. This time, it is high enough for adult men, but we lack materials for the last wall. The tinplates for the roof is only laid on, and a thin wire goes across in each end. Guess we don't expect storms. All, from the Matazarno corner poles to the nails are second - or more likely; fifth hand materials.
I make a small error: Placing my little finger between 20 kilo of failing Matazarno; ironwood and a 20 kilo massive iron tool. Spend the lunch brake with the swallowing finger in ice water. Helps a lot, enough for me to forget it, and hammer my hand down on a almost cut board. Much more blood, more pain.
Down Port to do the last food shopping, and I pop into Claudia, who promises to stash my drinking bottle at my favourite cafe. I try to find a bowl to eat breakfast of for the last three weeks, but are still unable to find a shop, dealing with kitchen gear. I find three dental clinics, but that does not help much...
13. Luis bring one handyman to cut a new window in our kitchen. The old one ended up in the dark tool sheet, and a new will brig light, once again. I shift everything into the living room and shot the doors to the cupboard. It is a fast but very dusty operation!
My finger is significantly swollen, and it hurts when touched. I am sure I will hurt it significantly, working on the pipeline, and decide: It is time to check the rooting and shift my cuttings into bags. A great percentage have rooted, especially the rare and endemic to San Cristobal: Talinum galapagosum. I still haven't seen in the wild, but I hope Geovanny can tell me where to find them.
After planting, I weed, clean and in general tighten up the nursery. Where we usual throw out hundreds of bags which plants have died, I only find four, and they are in the old clay. I can only conclude; my new soil mix are perfect - at least for a El Nino year. In the dry years, it will need watering, but so did the clay.
The rest is still "tubing", and I turn my attention to the vegetable garden. We weeded it last Monday, but it sure need again! I don't finish, but it is easy to see, how fare I gone - for a couple of days at least. The rest of the crew returns, and we re-establish our kitchen. I celebrate with fried plantains for the interested. Then a walk out to the new chicken sheet to photo. There are even chickens in it!
I had planned to keep weeding, but are assigned to Carlos: Austen and I will help planting Scalesias and Cat's Claw around the little garden of the school. We even water the plants this time! After that, I can't find Luis and his gang, and end up clearing the last of the old tool sheet area from leftover trash.
There are still a lot of tile pieces, concrete bricks, old boots, horse things, old toilet, rotten boards, plastic trash and - stuff! I start a fire for all the rotten wood, gather the lava rocks and get the rest sorted and brought out to the parking lot, hoping a taxi will eventually bring it to the recycle centre.
While I remove a pile of very rusty and small tin plates, a snake try to sneak off. I have still not managed to take a photo of one, and feel I got to catch it, and get my camera. Get a few good shots without being bitten. It is said not to be poison to man, but to lizards. Guess it is one of the adders with the poison fangs in the back of its mouth.
The chicken nests and their door are brought out to their new site. Finish off later than rest, but I have had rather light work today. Some drive down Port, others sit starring empty out in the air. I try to finish up my food, and it ends up rather delicious once again. Fried tuna and walnuts, pasta with egg/parmesan, milk, pepper, oregano and other spices.
14. My finger still acts up, and I let the rest do the machete clearing and digging for the 80 plants we found last week at Casa Verde's neighbour plots. I just stick them in, and fill up the hole. It is a real hot day; haven't rained for days, and the sun is on from six to six. We finish off at eleven, and get a longer lunch brake.
In the afternoon, we are split up. The big group help Jose clearing the new chicken sheet building site for the materials we didn't use - mainly because they were totally rotten or rusty. Gemma plants seedlings with Carlos and John and I construct a table for the nursery. Considered it is fifth-hand? materials, it turns out good and strong.
When finish, we join Gemma and finish off watering all the plants in the nursery. They are suffering from the last days of absent rain. Guess it will be worth from now! The taxi comes before we are finish, and I promises to finish up, postponing my ride to town once more.
Spend evening writing a little piece for Geovanny, telling about my experiences at the project. Erin read it through, and find a lot of Grammatik errors she correct. Meanwhile, I play cards with the others. Then I start packing for a week at Santa Cruz - considering extending it with a week on Isabella. Don't want to bring more than necessarily, but also knowing; I can't find much useful at those islands. More than half is made up by my military boots, but they are essential for lava areas.
15. The cows have spend the night around the hacienda, and that is noisy! Don't get much sleep at all, and I'm not the only one. While the rest walks down to the Rosero family to help them out machete weeding once again. I stay put: My finger is still real sour, and I'm not really here to help out farmers weed their fields anyway.
I start cleaning the kitchen completely, then the living room and finish off at the porch. Floors washed, windows polished, chairs and tables whipped off and general order restored. Then I turn my attention to the surrounding area. I flatten out the area the old sheet was on, making it look natural.
The rest of the volunteers returns rather early, and we have a long lunch break. Especially because it starts to rain little before two. We play a card game, new to me: Meld. I pop some popcorns almost without burning any - almost... Then it kind of clears up, and we head up the same track as last, to look for seedlings. To no surprise, we don't do well, until we make a detour into the national park!
Back in time to have a shower before dinner, which contains quite some left scraps of my store. Evening spend with reading and card games.
16. The cat have figured a way to get in through the new, yet not fitted window hole. It have gone into our cupboard and eaten bread and others, and the whole morning, it is steaming on, annoying us, chasing the chickens, climbing trees and hyper active in general. Sure hope it is a one-off occasion!
It have been raining all night, and that pleases me: All the plants we have and will be planting on the Mirador hill have not been through the nursery, and they have only a real limited amount of roots. It is Friday, which seems to mean rain and cancelling of the kids visit, but it clears up, and fifteen kids arrivals in a taxi.
Carlos have prepared three horses, and we bring kids books and balls to the schools playground. This time, there are fewer older kids, and the three to four year old seems a bit more shy. At the end, we get to play a bit with them, and then; the taxi are ready to bring them back.
A long lunch break with Melt card game and general relaxation in what have turned out to be a warm day. It colds down a bit in the afternoon, when thin clouds roll in over the heights. While the others walk up on the Mirador hill to plant additionally seedlings, I remain to plant the smallest in bags, and do the finial tighten-up of the nursery.
The nursery looks fine now: All tables are full, and there are not a dead plant in sight. All, even the floor are weeded, and I have a good feeling, giving it over to others. I finish up washing my rubber boots, planning to bring them back to Denmark once more.
We have a couple of hours before the taxi pick us up for our Friday evening in town. I cook up a little dish, knowing we are going to have a common dinner in town - and it will be rather late after shopping and internetting. Then I start on a Swedish book on digital photographing - you newer know what you might learn, before reading it.
Laundry, internet, searching for my lost drinking bottle, involving a smoothie at my favourite place, then common dinner at Los Playa. We head back to the shop that let us drink booze at the street, providing table and chairs - he get have to get his share. I organise a bottle of rum and cola, and we play Shithead. A group of Danish girls passes - amazing how many Danes there are on these islands! At eleven, half of us drives back to the hacienda, leaving the rest to Iguana Rock.
17. A rather late start on the day for most, but we have ordered a taxi for ten, driving us pass Port to pick-up snorkelling gear and then out to the Loberia beach. It is right outside town, near the airport, but I have only been there once.
I spend the morning at the computer and reading, trying not to giggle too much wile the others appears from their sleep. The taxi is slightly early, and the house looks like a bunch of cockroaches in suddenly daylight. We drive down to the dive shop and rent snorkelling gear. Some prefer their own, others, like John, Cameron and I; share one set.
Sandwiches, bakery and snacks in general, and then a new taxi to the beach. It is a magnificent day with bright sun, and we are lucky to arrival at low tide. That means it is a almost closed lagoon with half to two meters of water, heated just right by the morning sun.
I am first in the water, and swim all the way out to the barrier with the huge waves. On the way out, I see schools of striped "herrings" with more than 1000 members. Here are quite a lot smaller fish and some heavy ones, around half a meter.
On the way back, I swim with several turtles within hand reach. They seems to be in here for the calm and warm water, just idling and relaxing. One is a huge male, almost two meters long, including the large tail. I meet Cameron near the beach, and over the gear, and direct him the way to the turtles.
A group of mother and baby sea lions are in the shallow water, and interacts with us. I get some great shots, and the poppies a bite at our flippers. In the water, they are so gracious and fearless. On land, they are a bit clumsy and grumpy. Guess they feel the same about us in the water.
The endless lava beach heading away from the Port lours me, and I have heard stories of Marine Iguanas. I find a narrow track, but it ends quite fast. Then it is cross country on lava boulders and green vegetation. And sure enough; here are groups of Marine Iguanas!
I get some great shots with the huge waves in the back, and returns before I get washed out. A bit more of snorkelling with sea lions and more turtles, some Frisbee throwing and after four hour, we agree: We have gotten sun enough! Have to walk a bit in towards town before we are lucky to catch a taxi.
Daily internet and shopping, and I meet a Finish guy I have chatted with before. It is almost creepy how much our lives have followed a identical series of events, and as so, no wonder how well we agree on how life shall be enjoyed.
Back at the hacienda at six for supper and showers before heading back to the night life at eight. Cameron and Erin stay put while the rest of us make the rum-store trick: Rum from one store, cola from the one with chairs. While the other generally drink beer, Shawna and I share the rum with the shopkeeper, who apparently have started a bit before we came!
Next stop is Iguana Rock, which seems a bit empty this evening, but cosy anyway. I get to play pool several times, even with success! We stay there till they close near three, and all taxis have gone home to sleep. We ask at the police station, and they say one will be there within ten minutes - and it is! Ten dollars bring us home to some needed beds.
18. For most, it is a slow but never the less a hard start on the day. Susanna an Jon have ordered a taxi at ten to bring them to El Junco, tortoises and the beach. John been there before, but forgot his camera, and joins in. At twelve, Austen and Gemma gather energy enough to start walking down to Port - bet they get a lift.
I have made a appointment with a taxi at four, and I just enjoying the Sunday atmosphere at the hacienda. Well, except when I have to release a cow from the barbwire it thought it jumped over. All my gear is sorted: Big bag remain at the hacienda for later pick-up, small bag with all essentials for fourteen days island hopping - I hope.
The rest of the gang joins me down to Port, and after I have found a room at Hostel Albatros, we walk out to Playa Mann. Where the rest of the city was dead, here are teaming with life! We meet with the last volunteers, and remain on the beach, enjoying the low sun.
When it disappears beyond the horizon, we head back to town to do the usual internet and shopping. I find a ticket to Santa Cruz for tomorrow morning, but have to pay $25, not sure why? Try several places, but can't get them below. Then I bring my computer to one of the few open internet shops, but I still fails to get a virus fighter and my mails downloaded.
Meet with the rest of the gang at the public toilets, but is goodbye for me. Bit of a strange feeling seeing them all driving waving away, home to cook supper. I start my hunt for a meal, and it is not easy on a Sunday! All the usual merianda places are closed, and I end up at my smoothie place. Two big hamburgesas and a smoothie for $5,50, and both the one with chicken and the one with beef tasted good.
Back at the hotel to try to get some fresh air into my three bed dorm room. Meanwhile, I sit at the third floor balcony, facing the marina and work with my budget. Not much to work with for sure! I have already spent 2000 dollars more than I thought, and now, I have to entertain my self for three more weeks!
The city is so quiet, and that suits me fine; I have to be at the pier at 6:50, and would appreciate some breakfast before the two and a half hour boat tour. Early to bed must be a good start. No mooing cows and crowing roosters another big step.
The time have come to leave the project, and start exploring some of the more remote islands in Part 7