On Wednesday my group went up to an eco-tourist operation called Jaturn Satcha. Basically, volunteers go up into the highlands (read: backwoods) of San Cristobal and work hacking invasive mora (blackberry) plants with machetes and working to cultivate and reintroduce native plants. We were planning on staying overnight and we had all heard horror stories about the mosquitoes and spiders, so we were a bit apprehensive of the place.
Once we arrived we realized we were basically at summer camp. Volunteers just come and work there for pretty extended periods of time, so everyone gets to know each other well. We were sleeping in bunk rooms and eating meals all together at set times. And I hadn’t seen any spiders yet so I was doing well.
During the day we went out into the field with them to film the activities they do. While we were there we got attacked by the strangest mosquitoes I have ever encountered. They just look like fruit flies, so you’re not really worried about them, but when they bite it hurts and they leave little spots of blood everywhere they bite. I had bathed myself in DEET so I got away with only a few bites, but some people got eaten up.
After a rousing game of Bananagrams and dinner, the whole volunteer group had a campfire. The director sang songs while we made stick-bread over the flames, and there was a full moon rising above us. It was one of those moments where it is so easy to forget that I have a life outside of right then and there.
After the fire, I figured people would be headed to bed, but I started to hear talk of a bar. We’re in the middle of nowhere, I thought to myself, where could there possibly be a bar. Sure enough, a fifteen minute trek on a muddy dirt road later we were at a bar. Granted, that is using the term “bar” loosely. It was more like somebody’s farmhouse that sells alcohol. And that’s using the term “sells alcohol” loosely, since they had two items behind the counter: Pillsners and bottles of rum with bottles of coke. Our group basically opened the place up, and where the only ones there for the rest of the night, but it ended up being so much fun (and a perfect way to distract ourselves from the spiders that were waiting for us back in our beds). We played card games and pool and listened to a strange mix of South American music and United States club jams.
In retrospect, the spiders weren’t actually that bad I guess. I had a face off with one in the outhouse, but I felt much safer under my mosquito net. After I meticulously gaffer taped all the holes shut, that is. In any case, I made it through the night!
Now we are in our second island: Santa Cruz. It is much more touristy than San Cristobal, and so far I can’t say I like it as much. Apparently our last two islands are the most beautiful though, so good things to come!
I’m out. No pictures today because of horrible internet connections, but I’m home in about a week so there will definitely be a wave after that!