La Isla Bonita

Trip Start Mar 01, 2011
Trip End Jun 12, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Flamencos

Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

From Montevideo we travelled to Buenos Aires. Our time there was quite brief as we had been there 2 years before. The weather wasn’t the best there which made us yearn for the next part of our journey, Ecuador!
After a two hour flight from Quito via Guayaquil we arrived to Baltra one of the volcanic islands of the Galapagos. Once our US$100 was paid and our bags searched again for live matter we proceeded to take the bus to the port and a connecting ferry to Isabela Island where we would commence our 2 week volunteer work.
The journey was quite spectacular, along the way we saw dolphins jumping in and out of the water, sea lions chilling on boats, penguins swimming past and iguanas basking in the sun. Yes, sun, there was plenty of it, yay!
We made our way to our host family and Olga (host) showed us to our room which was attached to the , (thankfully it’s more along the times we are used to, as opposed to 10pm plus!). The dinner as with every meal since, sometimes even breakfast, contained a big pile of rice. Us, along with half the town were there for this meal and many others served in Olga’s front room as nobody can be assed to cook. The overload of carbs has led us to bare footed jogs on the beach most days. 
The following day we commenced our volunteering at Campo Duro Eco-lodge, on a giant land tortoise conservation project. Well where do we start??? It wasn’t quite as it was sold to us but we enjoyed it. Highlights included tortoises shagging (they are just as slow at doing that, hehe), nice lunches (same every day, including rice of course) and mountains of fresh mangos literally falling from the trees around us.  Campo Duro was 14km from Puerto Villamil the town we were staying in. We would catch the bus with locals every morning at 7am, harsh, on the plus side we finished at lunch time and did bugger all until then, lol. Our duties included feeding the tortoises all the abundant fruit that grew on the property, mangos, passion fruit, different types of bananas, papayas, and plums, and not much else, oh we trimmed part of a hedge once too :) Every afternoon when we finished work we would have to hitch a ride back into the town as the local bus only runs a few times a day and midday ain’t one of them! Along the way we’ll kill time by picking up passion fruits that had fallen from the trees. The rest of our days were spent either sunbathing on the beach or swimming with sea lions in the natural swimming pool, nice! Note to self, when diving into the pool, ensure your bikini bottoms are on tight enough to prevent any future accidents, lol. 
Our time here was quite relaxing. Isabela Island is the biggest but also the least developed of the Galapagos Islands. It's shaped like a sea horse with approximately 4500 people living on it. 3000 are legal residents with the other 1500 former tourists that ‘overstayed’ their visit, and I can see why….The island is just beautiful! On weekends (our days off) we did a few trips. On one occasion we climbed Sierra Negra an active volcano, with the world’s second largest crater.  Then went to Tintoreras, where we got to see loads of wildlife iguanas, penguins, blue footed boobies (that’s a type of bird) but unfortunately no tintoreras ( white tipped sharks). But we did snorkelled with sea lions who danced in circles in front of us and sting rays who floated by. We also did a lot of walking including a 15km walk to ‘Muro de Largimas’ (Wall of tears) which was built by prisoners of a penal colony that used to be here to keep them in, along the way we saw more wildlife including giant tortoises in the natural habitat.
A lot of our time was spent drinking Ecuadorian caiprinhas or fresh mango daiquiris. That is with the exception of the 2 days leading up to the election where booze was banned! Can you believe it?!? Thank god for Olga and her mini bar, lol.  
Our time volunteering is now done and so is our time on the island. Stay tuned for our next stop inland for some Amazon action! 

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