To get to Isabela, the third island on our epic volunteering adventure, we had to take two boats across the wild Pacific Ocean. One from San Cristobal back to Santa Cruz, then one from Santa Cruz to Isabela. All in all about 4 hours. To avoid any form of sea sickness, W and las chicas took appropriate tablets. Sadly, instaed of just taking one, they doubled the dosage and spent the whole time sleeping. Okay, they weren’t sea sick, but if the boat had capsized your correspondent wasn’t planning to hang around to wake them up !!!
Thankfully neither happened and the journey passed uneventfully apart from the kraken that attacked us.
Our voluntary work on the island this week, consisted of absolutely nothing. Just relaxing, looking around the island and drinking beer on the beach. Well, drinking beer in many other places as well, but the beach sounds the best way to describe it to my dear readers who are suffering a freezingly cold and wet winter in UK and Europe. Snigger.
Our first adventure on the island involved several volcanoes. We left the hostal – after Catalina and Mercy had finished their breakfast ice cream –
and with the aid of a pick up truck headed off towards the highlands. Now, dear readers, a word on pick up trucks. The first time your correspondent saw one, he was determined to sit in the back as it looks so cool and relaxing. Let me tell you that is not the case. I am still finding bruises in very hidden areas from such an ill advised decision. You bounce around on metal and get burnt from the petrol tank below. After one journey, I then fought for a seat inside.
Anyway, after Catalina went back to her room for the fifth time for something she had forgotten, we rumbled to Sierra Negra volcano. This has the second largest crater in the world, measuring many kilometres – I would like to have given exact measurements, but was not listening to guide as was completely in awe. It had not exploded for six years, but I was hoping – would have had to run very quickly mind you if it did. Wendy and I stood looking at it all in amazement while Catalina and Mercy ate ice cream.
After seeing this volcano, we were ushered along the path
to see a collection of five volcanoes, the largest being Volcan Chico. This has to be the best name for any volcano in the world. Your correspondent can imagine the scene in a bar when someone asks “ so what’s your name”, “volcan chico” would be the reply. So much better than Etna or other volcanoes that I cannot remember the names of. Was a five hour hike under the roasting sun ( probably not like the UK just now) and we were happy to return to the town for lunch, beer and ice cream.
On the way back, our driver stopped by a lake of flamingos. He said “there is a lake of flamingos”, just in case we hadn’t worked it out. Indeed, they are very pink (summat to do with their diet), very long and gangly with a big beak. Your correspondent was very jealous watching them as they possess an innate grace and style that he has yet to achieve.
Of an evening on Isabela, it is a good idea to go to the Casa Rosada or Iguana bar. Wendy and I would often stroll down there – leaving Catalina and Mercy eating ice cream
– as happy hour was between 5 and 7pm. Your correspondent had no idea why it was called Iguana bar, until he saw more than three of the blighters (well about 20) climbing up (literally) the walls of the bar. I had no idea they could climb vertically – forget Spiderman, we need Iguanaman!!
While sat on the beach there we were lucky to see the most amazing sunset in the history of sunsets. Even some of the locals were rushing down to see it. In fact one of them told us that we were lucky to see such a beautiful occasion, as they had not seen one since the week before !!! Your correspondent didn’t care as he was drinking rather strong daiquiris. Sadly, the sunset was never as good for the next four days, so Catalina and Mercy did not see it at it’s best, even though they forewent an ice cream to get to the bar on time.
A trip on a boat and snorkelling made up the next day. On route to the bay, we wandered through an area with the biggest iguanas that we had seen. Some of them had grown to very
big and looked rather fearsome and dangerous. Thankfully in situations like these, I usually carry a small puppy or kitten as a suitable replacement, so nothing untoward occurred.
The snorkelling was – as usual in The Galapagos – amazing. Sea lions and sea turtles would cavort around us. Well, one sea lion swam past, totally uninterested, and the sea turtles merely glided by. A plus point walking around the iguanas was the sight of white tipped reef sharks. Your correspondent was not sure if they were dangerous or not so took no chances and refused to enter discussion with them.
The long days of hot sunshine blended together and we all visited the Wall of Tears. On the way we stopped by a giant tortoise breeding centre where we encountered a life or death situation. A young tortoise had somehow turned himself over in a drinking pool and was struggling desperately to save himself. Mercy was the one who spotted him and stopped eating ice cream log enough to alert a member of staff to the plight of the poor chap in time to save him. It was an emotional moment as someone sprinted in to turn the
tortoise around and so a morbid moment was passed.
The Wall of Tears is an unsettling place. Mainland Ecuador decided to send bad lads here as a penal colony. To keep the convicts busy they were forced to build a huge wall which had and still hasn’t any particular purpose. The guards and the conditions were brutal and it became known as “ the place where the strongest cry and the weakest die”.
On the way back to town Wendy and the girls swam under mangrove trees. A place where the fresh water from the river met the salt water of the ocean. Catalina and Wendy embraced the strange environment, but Mercy found it cold and was worried that strange jungle creatures were attacking her all the time. Indeed, she was so worried that she had to have more ice cream just to settle her nerves – Catalina helped her to get through the ordeal.
And that was that. Your correspondent could tell many more tales, such as chicken being a vegetarian option in restaurants, but I will leave you with words such as The Galapagos are beyond words.
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