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volunteering Ecuador

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My journey from Ecuador to the Galápagos Islands was far from straightforward. Firstly, I had to catch a plane to the tiny island of Baltra, which is only the length of the runway and the airport terminal. So if a pilot gets it wrong his plane ends up in the Pacific. I was on a big plane so, needless to say, it was a heavy landing following by a deafening screech of brakes and screams from nervous passengers. Once through the tiny terminal, I caught a bus to the edge of the island where a small boat ferried passengers 200m across the sea to the island of Santa Cruz. This should have been a pleasant little crossing, but the majority of the passengers were short, plump Ecuadorian ladies with massive suitcases and even bigger behinds. I had a suffocating 5 minutes squashed between such two senoras and 4 suitcases, on…

After my unplanned, but most enjoyable week, in the city of Cuenca I started the three day journey to the Galápagos Islands. My first worry was finding a driver I could actually trust to take me on the 125 mile journey to the airport in Guayaquil, my second was how to avoid being robbed en route and my third was the notorious mountain pass I had to cross in the El Cajas National Park. The hotel recommended a ‘safe’ driver who turned up at the correct time, which was promising, and I told him I was going to the Holiday Inn at Guayaquil Airport. He looked at my blankly then said with a with a huge smile ‘Si! Si! Holida Yin!’ Relieved he knew where we were going, I settled down for the trip, momentarily. I have actually no idea how the hotel could describe old Carlos as a ‘safe’…

Once I had recovered from the shock of my roadside encounter with a Tarantula, I arrived safely in Las Tunas, a tiny fishing village on the North coast of Ecuador, to work on a turtle conservation project. Ten years ago the small community became very concerned that so few turtles were laying eggs on the beach there and turtles numbers were dwindling. They realized that this was due to two things; firstly, the amount of plastic rubbish on the beach and secondly, the use of massive fishing nets which caught tuna, the main food of the turtles, and which also killed many turtles who got caught up in the them. Admirably they pulled together to address this issue by launching a campaign under the slogan ‘No nature, no life.’ As a community they cleaned up the beach, sectioned off areas solely as breeding areas and banned the use of nets locally.…