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Published: April 19th 2010
Holiday within a holiday... Mick and the Possums tour Isla Isabela Story and photos by Josie
Eight days and nights in a hidden part of the world, only a day’s boat ride west from San Cristobal but seemingly a world apart from the paved streets, university pressures and day to day routines. The early morning boat from San Cristobal slips across the blue sea as the sun rises... past rocky Isla Santa Fe, covered in stark cactus trees, arriving at Puerto Ayora in Isla Santa Cruz around 9am. Santa Cruz is the most populated island in the archipelago and is not a place I’d like to spend a great deal of time - busy, artificial and filled with wealthy tourists. We stepped onto another boat after lunch, packed tightly into the overcrowded cabin with surfboards, tents and Jose-Maria the guitar. The ride to Isabela was rough in the afternoon sea breeze, but beautiful. As we neared the island a pink flamingo flew across the sky astern of the boat, its long neck and legs stretched out as it flew low over the bay, a sight not commonly seen. The main township on Isabela is Puerto Villamil
- a few
wide sandy streets beside the ocean. We stayed with Claudia and Jeff, their triplet sons and daughter Isla - friends of friends from San Cristobal. Claudia and Jeff live in Casa Rosada, the last house along the main road... a ramshackle home that doubles as a hostel, painted bright pink and covered in a huge colony of marine iguanas that scramble over the rock work in the sunshine. The house was full, so we pitched tents on the edge of their sandy volley ball court, and sang each night at their bar during happy hour for our beds. Days on Isabela were peaceful.
We’d wake early with the sun to wander west to the end of the long beach... around the point is la Playita - a tiny bay, home to Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas etc. I’d draw a big circle in the sand where we would do yoga, watched by blue-footed boobies and pelicans as they dived from the sky in the shallows for their breakfast. We’d spend the morning swimming in the sea and surfing at la Playita, close enough to penguins we could almost reach out and touch them, until our bellies woke and sent us
back along the beach. The tiny market in Puerto Villamil sells eggs and papaya for a few cents and an old woman bakes a little bread fresh each morning, so we could feast cheaply for breakfast. The rest of most of our days were spent reading in shady hammocks at the front of the pink house, helping Claudia with little handyman chores in exchange for lunch, or singing songs and discussing politics, science, history and the world with Jeff. I learned to make a fence from a handful of sticks, a few nails and some coconuts. The little sandy bar in the block next door to the house fills each evening with locals and tourists...
the first night we sang there Jeff introduced us: “Mick and the possums from Australia... they gave me the best breakfast ever this morning - the girls made banana pancakes and coffee, singing folk while Mick accompanied them on Jose-Maria from the other side of the kitchen”. Towards the end of the week Claudia and Jeff rented their whole house to a big family from Alaska, so we had to pack up our tents and sleep elsewhere. This was a blessing in disguise! We’d
wait until the sun was down, then wander along the beach beneath the stars to sleep at the end at la Playita We saw freshly dug turtle nests along the beach at night, and woke in the mornings to sea lions stretching in front of our tents and the sky filled with blue-footed boobies diving hard into the shallow water for fish. It was such a lovely place to sleep, with just the sound of the sea against the rocks. We spent one whole day walking.
We found a quarry that was home to stunning pink flamingos, and hitched a ride in the wrong direction with a car full of police who ate all our chocolate before telling us we were heading the wrong way and throwing us back out onto the road in the middle of nowhere. We hitched a ride back to our starting point in the back of a truck. From there, we walked 12km to and from the Wall of Tears - a sad place full of dark energy that was built as their own prison by Ecuadorian prisoners early last century before they were all shot and buried together at the bottom of a
volcanic crater. The second we turned around to head back to town the sky opened and rain poured down... we came across 7 giant tortoises on our walk back, venturing out from the vegetation to drink from puddles in the road. It was amazing to see them in the wild as the only ones I’d seen previously were in the National Park breeding centres - these ones were quite small, so perhaps only 10-15 years old, probably bred in the breeding centres and returned to the wild at around 5 years of age. Another day we went to the highlands with a man we met in town...
Sambo owns a property in the highlands on which there is a volcano that created 3 craters simultaneously. Of course it is called El Trizillos - the Triplets! Just a few months ago a climber went down the middle volcano with ropes and put a narrow rope ladder in place down the steep shaft. I went down first, then the girls followed with broken-buckled helmets as our only safety gear... it was really steep, and for the last 10m or so the rope ladder hung in empty air! The bottom was black
and filled with loose volcanic scree, but we ventured a little into the eerie blackness around the edge of the little patch of light from the sun before the ridiculously hard climb back up again. It was amazing to be deep inside a volcanic crater - a climb far from legal if it were in Australia, without harnesses, lights and proper climbing training!
A beautiful long week of music, sunshine and sandy sandy tents.
Then back to San Cristobal to face the so-called grind of classes, assignments and exams that make up Galapagos university.
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I really enjoyed your photos and reading your post! Reminded me of my time in that part of the world. I'm always looking for great photos to share on my community blog. Check it out if you have the time. Continued safe travels! dirty-hippies.blogspot.com
Looks like Mick, Sounds Like Mick..... yeah, thats Mick! Nice Scenes bro, they have some kind of enchantment of love and freedom. Peace brother Mick