Welcome to another addition of our blog.
It is currently 5am in the morning, I cannot sleep...due to the mosquitos. Lindsey is sleeping, but I don't know how!!
We have now finished volunteering with GVI in Otavalo (a week ago). We had an amazing experience, which we will never forget. A big 'thank you' to all the fantastic people that we met.
On Wednesday night we had our leaving meal. All twenty volunteers came out for pizza at a restaurant called Oscars, which was very nice, then onto a pub called the Red pub. We were not the only volunteers finishing our placement so it was a good night. Thanks to our family for making us feel so welcome and part of their family. Thanks also to all the volunteers for making it such a fun and enjoyable experience, we will miss you guys!
We left Otavalo last week and headed for Puerto Lopez, on the coast. We had heard about 'Poor man's Galapagos island' - Isla de Plata - and thought it would be a good compromise for us. We were hoping to see lots of animals and plants despite it not being the real Galapagos Islands. How wrong we were!
We arrived in Puerto Lopez on Thursday and found a nice hostel right on the beach front. Puerto lopez is a very quiet fishing town and it was the low season so not many Gringos around. There were only a few day visitors going to the island to see the Blue Boobies ( a rare bird huh hmmm). It was a very pleasant town with beach bars along the shore.
We checked out a variety of tours guides for isla de Plata dotted along the seafront, there were so many to chose from! But they were all the same price and on the same boat as it turns out! We booked our tour for Saturday.
Friday we walked along the beach and just chilled at a bar drinking cocktails - its a hard life. We also booked surfing lessons for Sunday.
While we waited for our boat we watched the fisherman carrying their boxes from their boats to land loaded with fish they had caught that morning. The cheeky birds took full advantage and swooped down to steal the fish straight out of the boxes. It was very entertaining to watch and a little scary, there were so many of them.
To get on the boat we had to wade into the sea, so we all took our shoes off put them into a big bag. I thought this was very trusting of everyone and I wondered if it would be the last time that I saw my shoes? (some of the other volunteers had their shoes stollen when they were on the beach in Atacame!) We travelled the one and half hours to the Island of Isla de Plata on a very small boat packed with people. I was very sea sick, I was not the only one! About 10 miles from shore the engine kept cutting out. So we were drifting for a while, which was making most people on the boat sea sick. What an enjoyable hour and a half!
We arrived at the island glad to be on land again. We had a quick snack and drink before exploring the island. We were hoping to see lots of animals of course... it was not to be.
We saw two types of bird; the blue footed boobie which nests on the ground and pathways; and frigates, the males puff out their big red chests to attract the females. Oh and we saw the odd small lizard. Otherwise the land was very dry and barren, everything looked like it was dying or dead.
We felt disappointed but hoped that snorkelling would make the trip worth while. We got back on the boat and sailed round the corner a bit. We all jumped off into the sea with our masks and snorkels on, in great trepidation. Only to find that it was infested with microscopic string like jellyfish that gave electric shock like stings. Once you were caught up in them you could be stung zillions of times... we got severely stung, within seconds of being in the water. After four minutes we got out. The tour guides seemed unphased by the presence of the 'medusas' (jellyfish in Spanish)! The journey back was as bad as the way out. I think this is why they call it the 'Poor man's Galapagos' - the worst trip we have been on so far. Wish we hadn't bothered!
Next day we went surfing on Puerto Lopez beach. Great fun... but we had to share one surf board between the two of us.
We enjoyed it so much that we agreed with our teacher to do it the next day at a different beach called Las Tunas. In the evening we went for a beer and some food with our surf teacher and his friends. Afterwards we went back to his place for a party; a fun night!
We are now spending a night in Montanita - where the sun actually shines - unlike Puerto Lopez. It is a party town, but unfortunately there are a lot of mosquitos here and we have no nets!
Tomorrow we have to get ready to catch our bus to Quayaquil so I must finish today's blog here.
Soon we will be leaving Ecuador to go to Peru where we will be doing the Inca trail. We will send you another update soon,
Graham and Lindsey