I would like to start by thanking Sheila, her students and staff for making us so welcome today at Tomas de Berlanga school.
We were flung into the deep end with an English workshop with some 15-18 year old students and their teacher Todd. Our task was to make a drawing of how we had adapted to change. We then had to guess what each other’s drawings were trying to show. Right outside of my comfort zone! But it was a good ice breaker and got everyone talking. I found that 2 of the students were surfers and asked their advice on where I could find a break locally and they directed me to a shop in town where I could hire a board (more later).
We then went and joined a science class – the students were approximately year 9, we tried some puzzles and looked at their preparations for their science fair. Their curriculum was much more relaxed than ours, with no formal exams. The teachers set the students projects and then assisted them when they needed help. The relationships between the teachers and the students were very informal. I suppose a class size of 4-15 helped! (It is a fee paying school).
The Amys had brought books and other presents for the students which were much appreciated, as was the cuddly Welsh dragon that the girls had brought. I uploaded some of my software onto their network for them to use in their biology classes. Our students got to meet more of the Tomas students and quickly made friends, arranging to link up on Facebook.
We joined a tour of the school with a party of mainly Americans from a cruise ship (lots of socks and sandals!) and then had lunch in the outdoor student cafe. The grounds of the school were lovely with open air classrooms and playgrounds with birds hopping in and out.
In the afternoon we went with some of the students to a farm that now specialised in providing a protected habitat for tortoises. Our guides Anne and Freddie (we think we recognised Freddie from the BBC4 program on Lonesome George) were very knowledgable and showed us how they had tagged some of the tortoises (pictured in Flickr album Santa Cruz 20/10/2010 Alf) to track their movements. The males and females had their tags in different places so that they did not interfere with mating! We also learnt about the problems posed by invasive species such as brambles and guava.
Thanks again to Sheila and everyone at Tomas de Berlanga school, Anne, Freddie and Javier our guides and Steve – the owner of the farm, who has been on Santa Cruz since the 1940s when the population was less than 100 (now >30,000)