Sunday, June 6, 2010

Having a Big Time

So ends my second week back on San Cristobal, first time teaching English as a Second Language, as a teacher, not an assistant. Classes are great so far: I teach level 5 in the mornings and level 1 in the evenings. Both classes are interesting, although very different in their own way. I try to make it fun by playing games, bringing in music (Beatles "Hello, Goodbye," for instance), and funny activities.

Last Friday there was a minga (community work day) and we took our classes outside and cleaned Playa Mann (across the street from the University) and the road. Some of the strangest items picked up: a fancy Barbie dress, silly string cans, one sandal, one sock, and a tarp. It's great to see the locals taking charge and cleaning up their home. The teenagers really get into it, maybe they don't mind getting dirty, maybe they have more energy to do such work. But I hope that it is because they are making change as members of the community, and that change will occur towards a more sustainable future for all life on the islands.

Last Saturday I joined the groups of Scouts (girls and boys involved in environmental education programs and activities all over San Cristobal) and other school children involved in the National Park's environmental education program and went to the highlands. There, we rode to El Junco, a large, freshwater lake from the rain being trapped between three very tall hills. We hiked around the lake, saw the mist dissapate to reveal the entire lake (first time I ever saw it), watched the frigate birds swoop down to rinse the salt from their feathers (they travel from all the different islands to rinse in this lake), planted miconia plants (endemic to the highlands of San Cristobal) after mora (blackberries) were removed from the hillside.

Next we went to Porta Chino, my favorite beach on the island, which is exactly like a postcard: fine white sand, clear blue waters, and nothing around but black lava rocks, crashing waves, and circling birds overhead. Surfed the powerful waves and soaked up the sweet sun rays on the beach.

We then returned to town and sat in our soggy swimsuits at a cevicheria. I ordered a mixto (cold "soup" with tomatoes, peppers, white fish, shrimp, lobster, and octopus).

Sunday rode with Jose's passengers to Isla Lobos and Leon Dormido, where we snorkeled and saw so much life underwater! Sea lions swim around you, begging to play and showing off their agile moves, fish dart around rocks and mantas are chased by sea lions. At Leon Dormido, MANY Galapagos sharks, fish, and several spotted manta rays. I also watched a sea turtle, which are my favorite. They are so silent and graceful and prehistoric.