Isla Isabella

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Any trip that starts off with me realizing that I don’t have my camera on me is bound to get mixed reviews. The question was, where was my camera? I had taken it off to put on my shirt at the hotel, but then maybe I took it off again at the ticket agent for the ferry when I transferred all the valuables I didn’t want to bring to the beach back into my day pack. One of the guys that worked at the ferry called the office for me and though it was hard to understand anything in the wind, it appeared they didn’t have it. Could be at the hotel then, or else somebody there made off with it. It figured I’d lose my camera in the safest place in South America. So all the photos you’ll see here are Bjorn’s (though I did take a few of them with his camera and in spite of the automatically pasted copyright watermark). We arrived two hours later though the time passed quickly in my Dramamine-induced sleep. I was not in a pleasant mood in spite of the fact that Miss Isabella was sitting across from me looking quite pretty. True to Freddy’s word, our guide for Isabella was there waiting and brought us (after a dog sniffed our bags) to our respective hotels. The place Freddy said we’d be staying, Sula Sula, was not where we wound up however. We wwere dropped off outside a really dodgy looking place called Flamenco Hostel with a black gravel yard and paint peeling from the buildings; thankfully inside was really nice and so we didn’t worry about it. The family that owns the hotel was also really friendly and lent me their phone to call Freddy, making me a glass of juice at the same time. Freddy promised to check if the hotel had my camera and called back two minutes later confirming that my camera was safe. Then I could smile again.

The guide was back 10 minutes later to take us to a lagoon of flamingos. I was expecting some detailed description of how the flamingos get their colour from eating shrimp or maybe something about how they act as part of the ecosystem, filtering microbes and such. Instead, we went to the lagoon and looked out at three flamingos (it is sometimes full of hundreds more, or so I’ve heard) with a short break for pictures before he took us to the beach for sunset and to talk a little about land iguanas and the volcanic history of the Galapagos which was a bit more like it. The sunset was really pretty, the iguanas were everywhere, and we went later to a platform and watched the crabs scurrying across the rocks. Dinner was at 7 with the rest of our group, which mostly consisted of a loud Italian guy who was friendly enough even if he did basically exclude us by speaking Italian to the rest of the table, some of whom were also Italian and others who could piece it together with their Spanish. There were three kiwis that we had flown in with who also left with us, a few people from Spain, and the Italian’s goth girlfriend from Poland. Over the next few days they would increasingly get on my nerves, insisting that someone ELSE take the single seat up in the truck so they could be together every minute (nevermind that they separated a different couple to do so), making us wait again and again, and so on. Ah well, that’s travel.

The next morning’s trip was a walk up to the top of a volcano whereupon we’d get on some horses and ride around the crater rim. The walk up was a walk that could have been anywhere aside from the fact that the odd vegetation mix marked it as the Galapagos. Our guide put his phone on speaker mode and played some music the whole way up and so I took a rather antisocial position in the midpoint of the gap between him and two other Ecuadorian guys and the loud Italian, trying my best for a quieter walk and to hear the birds and other animals. Maybe I was still grumpy about my camera. At the top, we got on our horses and rode in a mix of galloping, trotting, and walking, though they were quite lazy horses. The crater was huge and impressive and covered in black rock with a few channels carved out of it from the last eruption. It was cloudy and overcast but we could see down and when we walked a little further down to get a better view of the island we were lucky to find the cloud lifted enough to get a great view of the chain of volcanoes that made up Isabella island. From there, it was back on the horses which we rode most of the way down though it was muddy and treacherous at times. My foot fracture from that terrible volcano in Panama somehow made itself reknown and the walk down after the horse wasn’t pleasant at all. But we got down without mishap, loaded up, and headed for the next stop on our tour: snorkelling.

I was pretty excited for the snorkelling but didn’t have much luck when I got in the water. There were Galapagos penguins around but one never swam close enough for me to see it. That would’ve been pretty awesome but it was nonetheless cool to see penguins at all here on the equator. The visibility just wasn’t that great but I don’t want to seem too negative because I enjoyed it even if it didn’t live up to “the Galapagos” standard. We moved to a different site after that which was much cooler – an old lava chasm in the volcanic rock that you could swim along. There, I saw a puffer fish, came eye-to-eye with a huge crab when I surfaced, and had a great time over all. Back on the boat it was time to head for shore, another dinner with menestra (rice, beans), a visit with the kiwis over some beer, and finally an early sleep. The ferry back to Santa Cruz leaves at 6 AM – with a $5 departure tax, by the way – and that meant we needed to get some rest to be at the dock in time. The next few days (Saturday and Sunday) were for Santa Cruz and would hopefully involve me finding a company to SCUBA dive with before setting out Monday morning for our 8-day sail around the islands.

Isla Isabella Photos

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