Feliz Navidad!

After landing one of the 19 Galapagos Islands on Wednesday morning and taking a bus, boat, truck and another boat, I finally arrived on Santa Cruz which is where I’m spending my Christmas as a volunteer teacher.The island has 12,000 inhabitants and I’m very lucky to be staying along with other volunteers in a stunning, small house right next to the beach.Our landlady Auriola is a real character – she’s a teacher at the school but also has a sideline in selling Avon! She has three grown-up kids who are back home for Christmas and her ex-husband lives next door.

I can’t believe it’s Christmas and here I am able to spend time on the beach, shaking hands with a sealion and getting up close with a giant marine iguana. Days start early here for me and the other three volunteers – it’s up at 6am and in school by 7am with the children arriving from 7.30am. Classes run until 12.30. The kids are gorgeous although you daren’t stand still as they climb all over you and fight over who gets to hold your hand. The school is very under-resourced but the children – 30 or 40 to a teacher – are very well behaved. I’ve been in class with four to five-year-olds which suits me with lots of painting, singing and dancing.

I’ve been handing out the toys, stickers and colouring books which I brought with me – within an hour the stickers have become currency with kids swapping them for toys.

There have been a lot of Christmas-themed activities with singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a nativity assembly and decorating the classroom for the Christmas Fiesta but, apart from that, it’s hard to believe it’s Christmas.

I’ve just got back from a snorkelling tour with the sealions and our housekeeper, Maria, is keeping us all in check and making sure we’re eating home-made dinners and drinking lovely freshly-squeezed juices.

Yep, I’m here as a volunteer – not leading the life of Riley at all 🙂

Beautiful Galapagos beach

Karen gets up close with a giant marine iguana

Karen greets a sealion

Sunshine and beach life in the Galapagos Islands

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