Lizzy Bamber

My third week on the Reserve at San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 10:08 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on My third week on the Reserve at San Cristobal
Feb 212014

San Cristobal my third week on the Reserve

Firstly I would like to mention that I had a good weekend, resting and enjoying the beach (and the showers!!!) and watching the sea lions! I was sitting on a bench and a sea lion actually slithered over and laid on the bench beside me!!! Omg!!! I couldn’t find my camera so I decided to move on as the smell of fish was overwhelming !!!

The town itself looks like a huge building site, lots of half built houses some of which seem to be worked on at night when it is cooler, in some areas you can hear the generators going as the site is flood lite to enable the work to be done. There are new roads also being created quite slowly though! It is election time now and all the candidates are shouting at everyone very loudly as they walk through the streets or ride in taxis with speakers on the back!! so it was an interesting weekend!

Monday 17th February

Today it has been very humid, we really are in a jungle here and there is no escape!!! If we wanted to which of course we don’t!!!! No water this morning again and so that was quite difficult as there is now about 15 in our house all sharing one shower and one toilet!!! I don’t think I need to say more about that!! Some of my new chums have now gone home which is a bit sad as we all got on really well! But there are 20 new volunteers expected tomorrow.
When we arrived in the garden! this morning to do some gardening we discovered that either the pigs or the horse had eaten all the potatoes we planted last week! They left some very good manure behind though! So, we cleared the garden again planted some more potatoes a lot deeper this time and then moved compost from one area to another, there is a lot of time taken up with moving things/stuff around, which is really quite unbelievable! We did the same in the afternoon.

Tuesday 18th February

Today I helped in the kitchen again and I asked permission to cook some oat cookies which went down well with everyone! Even the pig enjoyed some when he came to eat at the back door later! In the afternoon after all my chores were completed I joined some other volunteers for a trip to the town for the big festival, apparently the fisherman return with their catch and the one with the heaviest fish is the winner and of course a big celebration ensues!!!!! Thankfully the taxi driver who drove us back in the evening didn’t take part in the celebrations as he has a tendency to talk on his phone and drink beer at the same time whilst avoiding the pot holes in the road and it is a 40 minute car journey!!!!! Very bumpy indeed!

Very exciting, I have decided to go on a 4 day island hop ( Santa Cruz, Isabella and Floreana) during my last week here with some of the other volunteers, commencing Monday next week returning on Thursday and I will then stay in town for the remaining day as I leave on Saturday 1st for Quito. I won’t see all the islands as that is a very expensive trip but it will be so nice to get a feel for the country as a visitor!

Wednesday 19th February

Today we went around the reserve picking lemons for the kitchen and worked in the garden, thankfully the potatoes are still in the ground!! In the evening we went into town again as it is Election Day, the lady who owns the bar nearby paid for taxis there and back as a kind gesture. * However, when we arrived in town we were all given election tshirts and ushered on to trucks with flags and whistles! I think the candidate wanted a bit more back up!!! So after about an hour of everyone shouting and beeping their horns, the noise was deafening I should say at this point. We began a procession very slowly around the streets, I did ask in jest did we know what his politics were???? The procession continued for 3 hours before we could leave and get some food then back to the reserve in a taxi. The taxis here are not like the ones back in the uk but 4×4 trucks with an open back, three sit inside, if your lucky!!! and also you sit on the back, it can be exhilarating on the smooth roads!!!! They carry up to 11people so it can be a really tight squeeze!

*the lady who runs the bar is running for Mayor!!!

Thursday 20th February

Today is my last full working day on the reserve as I go into town tomorrow.
In the morning we worked in the National Park chopping Morro (black current bushes) and then we tried to move it to another area which was hard work as it was so hot, in the afternoon we all made coffee and I have bought a kilo of beans it smells wonderful! I will be able to say when we drink the coffee at home that I actually made it! In the evening after supper one of the volunteers made some banana cake, it was heaven!!! The mosquitoes were out in force, almost as if they knew I was leaving!! I have so many bites now and I have covered myself in so much repellant that I feel quite light headed most of the time, the mosquito repellant clothes I bought in the UK definitely do not work!!!!

Friday 21st February

I woke up this morning and felt pleased that I can now look at the other islands as a visitor. My time at the Reserve has felt very hard often and I think because this is my first time as a volunteer no matter how much research I did it did not prepare me for the hardship i encountered along the way. However, I am so glad that I have volunteered especially on the Galapagos! as it is a very special place, and I feel very fortunate and grateful to all the people I have met along the way for their kindness and goodwill.
This morning we went to the beach and had a barbecue which was lovely and then into town and here I am writing this in the lobby of the hotel as it has wifi, to finish my week. I will write some about my journey around the islands next week?

My trip to the Galapagos week 2Y

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 3:27 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on My trip to the Galapagos week 2Y
Feb 142014

Monday 10th February
Week two on the reserve
Back to work today, it rained a lot during the night but now it is very hot and humid, we have been working all morning clearing undergrowth to start planting seeds for vegetables as at present most of the food on the island is shipped. This project is going to take a long time to complete, not sure why this has not been done before!
Unfortunately I was unwell after lunch so not able to work in the afternoon. In the evening though we were given our instructions for the rest of the week. We were also asked to clean up an area for the community in a nearby town on Friday morning, not quite sure what that involves yet!
Tuesday and Wednesday 11th and 12th February.
Much the same work as .last week although we did plant potatoes on Tuesday morning! Now It is really hot and very difficult to work and we are hungry all the time…..we are told not to have any food in our room as it encourages rats! I did mention that I have already had a few visits from Freddy and I don’t have any food! However …….. I can’t get enough of the yummy rice!!! but I might give it a miss for a while when I get home Though!!!!! And the dogs don’t seem too keen on rice either!!! I almost forgot to mention that I had the biggest beetle in my room last night, I’m sure it was 4 inches long!!!! Apparently they are flying beetles and when they are about to die they land on their back and if you turn them over they turn back again!! I decided to give that a miss and left it to its fate!!!
We have made more coffee today and I shall buy some to bring home as it smells so delicious!it is quite a long process and took most of the day!
Caesar the director of Jatun Sasha has arrived today, he was visiting his family in Ecuador last week,he lives here most of the year, he is a man of many talents, he makes musical instruments as well as playing them and carves beautiful animals out of bamboo!! He loves Ecuador and promotes it as much as he can! he says all the best coffee comes from here! Last night was nice, after supper he and one of the Ecuadorian volunteers played guitar and sang they were very good. Some of the other volunteers then went off to the bar which is in fact someone’s house in the next farm, you phone first to ask them to open it (it is a wooden shack) and then you can play pool drink some beer and have a boogie to some disco music!
Alcohol is not allowed here due to the fact that we work with machetes! However one of the volunteers took a drink from what he thought was his water bottle and found it was in fact vodka, no idea who it belonged to.
Thursday 13th February
Nearly half way through my stay,it has been an experience and I’m glad that I came but I don’t think I would do this again! We have been to the volcano today to cut areas of morro and undergrowth as the birds will be coming soon to lay their nests and they do it on the ground so we are helping to make it ready for them…… Their are lots of plastic tubes everywhere about the size of a drain pipe which the workers at the National Park put rat poison in as the rats go after the eggs as soon as they are laid! One of the German volunteers called Sebstian showed me how to use my machete properly, I asked where he had done this before and he replied that he had just seen it in the movies!!!! He looked just like Arnold swartnager!! Wrong spelling I know!
My turn to help in the kitchen for supper, everyone eats at six and it is usually rice and fish with lettuce ! Or potatoe and fish or chicken nuggets, the chicken is often the underpart! So I helped.  I managed make my self understood in my limited Spanish to ask permission to make some shortbread, oh heaven, I was really popular with the other volunteers!!!

Friday 14th February

Today we went to an area on the outskirts of town to help clear a piece of land that was very overgrown with morro and bushes that apparently the mosquitoes liked. We were told that last year there was an outbreak of Dengi Fever caused by these mosquitoes, we were all a bit alarmed as we were only told about the Dengi Fever after we started the work, however!!! none of us were bitten as it was mid morning!!! and they usually bite early morning and early evening, perhaps we should have been told about this before!
In the afternoon we finished our work and went into town, lovely sunshine beautiful beach and lovely bed, we share four to a room which is ok as it is cheaper that way and we all get on. There is a carnival this weekend and there has been lots of salsa music and dancing oooh la la…..

Weekend in the town of San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 7:45 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Weekend in the town of San Cristobal
Feb 082014

It has been wonderful to be in the town, I really appreciate the lovely clean bed no mosquitoes and hot showers, I am having a lovely time here, there are so many Sea Lions and all sorts of birds, and it is about 90 degrees had a really good meal last night with some new volunteers that have just arrived very friendly the food was good only 3 dollars for 2 courses!!!!! I may last the full four weeks here!! However I have been thinking that maybe I will spend the last week in town just to rest and enjoy my final time here.  Will try to write more next weekend. Internet is not good and very slow!

The reserve on San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 7:37 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on The reserve on San Cristobal
Feb 082014

Saturday, my first day here!
Flight was good, the cabin and the overhead lockers were sprayed before we landed. A large number of Japanese tourists wore masks throughout the flight and started screaming when we were all sprayed!!! On arrival I was collected by someone who ushered me into a truck with a local family lots of food and  lots of children!! I was told that all the volunteers were in a hotel for the weekend and did I want to join them, not sure what to do  I decided that it was better to get settled in and find my bearings so to speak!! We began our climb up to the reserve and then we arrived……….. I cannot begin to say how I felt!!!! Excitement as well as surprise I think because I had planned this trip for so long and I had checked out the website for the charity and looked at all the photos as well as much more, I had a picture in my mind…… was not quite like that!!! Im sure it will be fine I just need to get used to the differences.   The night was strange as all you could hear were the dogs barking every so often, but I’m here and it’s another day.

We really are in a tropical rain forest, the area is mostly beautiful, there is a wild horse wandering around and two pigs that always seem to be hungry, a kitten has arrived recently which apparently might go as the bird life could be effected if the cat starts multiplying!!!  Lots of chickens….. Not sure how to describe the house as at first glance it looks a bit like a sturdy wooden chalet style but it’s more of a shack! It puts whole new meaning on the description Rustic charm!! Two very basic  toilets and three cold showers a short walk from the house! There are two other similar buildings, one which is another volunteer dwelling and a covered area which is used to cook and eat and play table tennis, the dogs come to eat also as they are fed on our left overs… They have the biggest spiders here that seem to come out to greet me just as I brush my teeth across the way in the shower building, but then they have a purpose too don’t they? to swallow the flys!!!

Sunday 2nd February
Today there is one other volunteer here as he has just come back from visiting all the islands on a organised boat trip which he said was wonderful, the rest of the volunteers arrive back later today and then  we will be given our instructions for the jobs tomorrow… Golly the machetes look huge and there are lots of them, so tomorrow mosquito head net, gardening gloves and repellant and I’m ready to go!!!! Hope I get a lesson on how to use the machete otherwise I could be lethal!!!!

Monday 3rd February
My first working day, it began with a meeting of all the volunteers detailing the day ahead, we spent the morning chopping Morra. (looks like blackbury bushes), it is everywhere, apparently it used to cover a lot more of the island  but now thanks to volunteers clearing areas it is much better however there is a lot more work to do as it has destroyed precious plant life!    It was really hard work and when we finished it felt as though we had barely cleared anything and there was twenty of us…..  Later in the day I was taken down a muddy slope to see a beautiful waterfall, it was stunning, along the way the pig decided to join us and was very grumpy indeed, he just appeared from nowhere and kept nudging and pushing us, he was very big! I think he may have been hungry!!!!!

Tuesday 4th February
It rained all day, in the morning we were taken by truck on a 45 minute journey, (there are a lot of pot holes in the roads) to the nursery  where we planted hundreds of seedlings and moved soil around to get rid of large stones.  Later we visited the tortoise sanctuary, very special indeed… There were baby tortoises in a sort of glass enclosure, to protect them from Rats!!  Apparently you cannot tell if a tortoise is male or female until they are about 20!!!  I have some really good photos of the very big ones, we were told it takes ten people to lift a giant one!!!! When we returned from our work we were all so hungry only to find that there was no water because due to the rain the water pipe had burst in the hillside, three of the volunteers were asked to go into the river and try to repair the pipe,so it was very hard for the cook to prepare our food as it was rice. So no showers or toilet facilities.  Thank heavens for deet is all I can say as the mosquitoes are multiplying as I write this!! Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday 5th February
Water turned back on for a while then off for a few hours. It rained all night, I have never heard rain like this before!!!!
Today we have made coffee, there are coffee plants everywhere and after they are picked and left to dry for a few days the beans are ready to be cooked, firstly we ground them in an old fashioned grinder fastened to the stairs, the shell needs to be removed before cooking also, a fire was made on bits of old concrete the beans were put in a metal container and placed on the fire and cooked till they turned dark brown and smelt delicious, the whole process took about 2 hours with a lot of us taking part, we then ground the beans into fine coffee powder ready for drinking. We can buy the end result for 10$ a kilo!  In the afternoon there was a problem with the water pipe again and Manuel the guy who knows where the pipes are laid could not come up to the Reserve to help us sort it out as he was asleep!

Thursday 6th February
Raining again! up early, off in the truck  to the nursery to move soil and planting.  The sun came out and it was very hot.  We went to the see the tortoises too they are magnificent.  The truck collected us at lunch time then back to eat, I am hungry all the time!!! I dream about a really big bar of chocolate and a Sunday roast I will so enjoy it it when I go home!!!  It’s a shame that some of the friendly volunteers are leaving tomorrow but there are ten new arrivals on Sunday so hopefully they will be friendly.  It is very hard work here and maybe because the conditions are so basic and the weather so hot it feels really tough still I’m sure we are doing a lot of good work. Tomorrow we are off to the beach to have a group activity with a barbecue, yummy!!! then we will stay in town for the weekend til Sunday afternoon I am so looking forward to contacting my family as there is only wi fi in the town! And there will be NO Mosquitos!!!!

Friday 7th February

Beach today very hot lots of sea lions on the beach when we were changing I nearly sat on one mistaking it for a rock he was a bit grumpy with me, I have some lovely photos, all of the volunteers have booked into the hotel in town for the weekend,,,,,,, hot showers, no mosquitoes!

Sent from my iPad

Sent from my iPad

I stood on top of the world

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 4:00 pm  Ecuador  Comments Off on I stood on top of the world
Jan 312014

Tomorrow I go to the Galapagos to work but today has been wonderful, a friend of the family I am staying with offered to take myself and another volunteer on a tour to the Andes! We drove for about an hour through Quito and other towns until we drove into beautiful countryside and then up into the Andes!! George our guide stopped at a friends house who has a farm in the mountain and she offered to take us off road in her 4×4 to the very top of the mountain..!!! It was so exciting and a bit scary  at the same time as we climbed so high and there was very little road when we finally got there we stood on the Equator! Longitude  0. Latitude. 0…… I’m so tired now I can write no more up at 4am tomorrow for my flight to the Galapagos! Not sue when I will write again as there is no reception , but will try to get a SIM card ! What a very exciting day it has been.  Ps. I have photos and will put them on shortly. I forgot to mention the lovely lady who took us up the mountain was called Eva Peron!!!

I’m here in Quito

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 1:45 pm  Ecuador  Comments Off on I’m here in Quito
Jan 302014

The plane journey was long but ok, it was a bit strange to arrive in beautiful sunshine when at home it is midnight!! the family I am staying with are lovely, very kind and friendly, there are four other students also who have been here for a while , one who has broken both her arms while working on the Galapagos and had to be flown over to Quito!she said that this has not happened before and told me about the work she had been doing on the coffee plantation. She is going home tomorrow.  This morning I went for a walk with one of the students into the town, I have never been any where like this before, Im not sure how to describe it….. most of the people are friendly, they are very poor, one family I saw were going through rubbish bags outside someone’s house the children as well,a lot of stray dogs and buildings that are empty and some that are lived in but look as though they might fall down anytime!  I will write again..there is a lot to take in.

On my way to San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 4:51 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on On my way to San Cristobal
Jan 272014

Well  it’s time to go, I’ve packed just about everything and I can barely lift my rucksack!!! I have wanted to do something like this for so long,  to be honest I thought perhaps I needed some sort of qualification, and that I might be to old!!! but no,  I wrote to GVN told them about myself and they said yes, happy to have me,  and now here I am , retired, going on an adventure and  hopefully I will be helpful too! I leave at 7.30 Wednesday morning, change at Madrid and then 11 hours and I will be in Ecuador …..golly that sounds a long way! bit apprehensive but I’m sure I will be fine.  Will write again when I arrive.

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