Our last day in the Galápagos!
We were picked up at 7 in what they call a chiva – an open air bus of sorts. The chiva went around the town picking up the others in our group then we were off and headed to the interior of the island. It was raining (as you may have gathered from the title) and cold, but they guide assured us it was clear on the other side of the volcano. We drove up for about 25 minutes, then started the hike. We were with a few people from France, and a couple from Canada. They were all basically Lance Armstrong. I swear, they were the fastest walking people I’ve ever met. I was immediately 100 yards behind everyone as the first part of the hike was uphill. At one point, the guide stopped to wait for us. He said “Everything ok?” I said “Yup!” He said “Ok. Would you like to walk faster to keep up with the group?” I don’t think that he meant to say “would you like to,” but I said “I’ll try!” And what I wanted to say was “Nope! How bout you slow the hell down?!” Geesh.
Anyway, the uphill part was wet and muddy, then we finally started to get to higher and drier ground. Lovely. At this point we were walking next to the huge volcanic crater called Sierra Negra. It was covered with clouds unfortunately, so we kept walking. On the other side, the clouds cleared and we could see all the way to the ocean on both sides of the island. This area is called Volcán Chico and is basically a huge lava field. We sat and ate our sack lunches there while the guide explained about tectonic plates and how the Islands are going into the ocean in a few million years (we heard the same info the day before on the snorkel tour). After he was done, he wanted people to ask him questions, but no one was really biting. He was like “is this boring?” It was very weird. I think his English was just really bad.
The lava fields were pretty neat. You can see where the lava flowed during the last eruption in 2005 and there are lots of cool formations and colors from when it cooled. It kind of feels like you’re on a different planet, but a planet with cacti.
The hike back was along the same path and we had hiked down into the lava fields, so going back up was murder. I fell way behind, but the Canadian couple did too so I felt a little better. Back on the side we started on, it was raining again and my shirt was so soaked with sweat already that I didn’t bother to put on my rain jacket. By the time we finally reached the chiva, we were soaked through, freezing cold and our feet were covered in mud. Great. So we get in and are so happy to be headed back to our hot shower and the guide tells us we have to wait for another group because their bus broke down. Ugggh! So we waited like 10 minutes for the other group and they barely all fit. It was an interesting ride back. Everyone seemed pretty miserable. At the end of the day, I’m glad we went but also glad we didn’t pay too much for this “tour”.
It was much warmer back in town, but we still headed straight for the hostel to shower and remove our sopping wet clothes. After we warmed up, we got lunch, then went to rent some snorkel gear. There is a spot near the dock where there was supposed to be good snorkeling – our friends from Israel saw turtles and sea lions the day before. We rented the gear for $6 from the place we took the snorkel tour with and walked the 15 minutes out to the bay. The snorkel spot is called Concha de Perla (Pearl Shell) and is at the end of a short boardwalk through a mangrove. As we were arriving, Yafit and Shaked were leaving and they did not have a good report. They said the visibility was bad and they didn’t see any animals. Bummer!! There were several sea lions snoozing on the dock which was cute. We went in anyway, but disaster struck as we soon realized that water had gotten into the GoPro camera that is supposed to be water proof. We swam back the the dock and dried it out hoping that at least the memory card will work. Ethan was super bummed since we have a lot of photos and videos on the card.
We went back in the water, but still didn’t see anything. Ugh. We left and went back to our room for a while, then decided we would try out the lagoon one more time before we had to return the gear. So we went back out and ran into the couple that had bought us food the other day. We ended up chatting with them until it was too late to do any snorkeling. It was fine though… the water was a bit clearer, but we probably wouldn’t have seen anything (except maybe the sting ray that swam right past the dock).
We ended up walking back into town with them, Taj and Isobel, and ate dinner with them. Taj was born in Ecuador and speaks fluent Spanish so he ordered for us. I got rice, fries and beans and Ethan got ceviche. Yum! We chatted with them about our travels and got to hear a bit about their lives. Really cool people that we hope we can keep in touch with. They wanted to take us to this bakery just down the road, but it was closed when we got there. So Taj knocked on the window and the lady sold him some banana bread and what I think were like churros anyway. It really is convenient to know the local language! The banana bread was delicious and we didn’t try the churro things, but they looked great.
We said our goodbyes and went back to our room to pack. The ferry leaves at 6am! Yikes. We’ll ferry back to Santa Cruz, bus to the airport and then fly to Quito, then bus to Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s gonna be a long day!