On Sunday, my second day on Isabela, I had planned to do two tours. In the morning I was picked up to go to the Sierra Negra volcano. I sat in the open back of a pick up truck during the 40 minutes drive up the volcano. The landscape was very beautiful.
From the visitor center we continued on foot. After a couple minutes our guide stopped for his first ‘speech’. Meaning that he would explain something about nature. He seemed to think that he was preforming in a theatre, as he was being very dramatic. After he stopped for the fourth time in 30 minutes I had had it with him and I decided to walk on. After a couple of minutes I reached the crater of the volcano. A spectacular site! It has a diameter of 10 km. Making it the second biggest vulcano crater in the world.
Normally the hike would continue to another volcano, but that wasn’t allowed because of seismic activity. So we spend a couple of minutes up there and than walked back the same way. On the qay back we had a beautiful view on the coastline. We hopped into the cars and drove to a lava cave. As we stood in the entrance, and the guide treated us to another one of his performances, he concluded by telling us that he had forgotten his light. What a doushbag! I whipped out my Petzl. The others followed holding their phones. While our guide safeguarded the entrance. The cave was nice. Very similar to the one I had visited on Tenerife. Where I’d already gotten the explanation 😉.
After visiting the caves we returned to town. The office of the tour company was closed when we got there. So I asked the guide about my afternoon tour, be he didn’t know anything. I hurried back to my hostel to change and have lunch. When no one showed up for me at pick up time I had the hostal owner call the tour company. No answer. I wrote them an email, no answer. In the end I just went to the beach and arranged another tour for the next day.
On Monday I was picked up little after 0700. I went to an area called Los Túneles. It’s called that way because of the tunnels that were created off the coast after an eruption. The area is home to many animals such as turtles, stingrays, sharks and the blue footed bird. I’m not sure what it’s official name is, but for some reason they call them boobies here. I got to see all of them😃. It was the first time I swam along sharks. Luckily they were pretty lazy so it was a very easy experience. I also swam with huge sea turtles, saw a big seahorse and lots of colourful fish. The area itself was very beautiful as well. It takes about 45 minutes to get there by boat. Along the way we saw many turtles. The most impressive thing I saw was a huge manta threesomes! According to our guide they were five meters each. They were majestic!
When I got back to shore I got my backpack from the hostel, had lunch and than visited the local police station. I explained the chief what had happened to me on the previous day. He was very friendly and helpful. He had two of his troopers escort me to the office of the agency. I got my money back right away and they dropped my off at the dock. The troopers even apologised to me that I had a bad experience on their Island and they wished me all the best for the rest of my journey. On the dock I got a boat that returned me to Santa Cruz Island. Another two hour boat ride. When I got there, I found a new place to stay and arranged to go diving the next day.
I reported to the dive shop on Tuesday morning. To my surprise there was a guy that I’d never seen before who told me to hop on to his motorcycle. After a short discussion I hopped on and he took me to another dive shop. Apparently the different dive shops sell tours and than contact each other to see how many tours they have sold and decide who is actually going to take the group. Which makes sense, but they could have communicated about it. It didn’t feel very organised and trustworthy this way.
From the shop we were driven to the Northern port. From there we got onto a boat. The ride to the actual site, Gordons Rock, took an hour and 45 minutes. As the sea was a bit rough I had to stay on deck with my eyes on the horizon to avoid getting seasick. I managed to keep my breakfast inside😃.
We used a Zodiac to go the spot. As we dove in, I immediately saw a shark swimming away from us. It must have been about 2 meters. Unfortunately that was going to be our only shark that day. Even though I was promised that I would see dozens of hammerhead sharks, many smaller sharks and possibly even a whale shark. I guess we were unlucky. I did however see many smaller fish in all sorts of colours and shapes. A huge sea star. A mean looking eel. And several sea lions.
The spot is known for its challenging conditions such as strong currents. It’s nicknamed the washing machine. This time a year the conditions are not that bad though. But at some moments I still had to hold on to the rocks with full force to keep myself in place. I hadn’t experienced anything like it before. Due to those conditions we all consumed more oxygen than we normally would and I surfaced after 33 minutes. Well after most others of my group. When you surfaced, you were immediately picked up by the Zodiac. That way the rest of the group could continue.
We returned to the big boat for a one hour break. They fed us and we chilled on deck for a while. I’m pretty sure the break didn’t last for much longer than 30 minutes, but our guide insisted that the hour had passed and that we should get ready for the second dive. So we did.
We went to another spot, but that didn’t help. It was pretty, but no large animals. During the dive I felt that my stomach wasn’t quite alright. When I climbed back on the Zodiac I decided to feed the fish my breakfast… That took off the pressure😉.
Back on board we sailed back to where we had come from. The cook had set up lunch inside, but no one wanted to sit below deck. We were all affected by the rocky sea. So we had lunch on deck. We than agreed to have dinner with the group that night at 1900. When we got back I organised some stuff and decided to take a nap. I set my alarm for 1840. When I woke up I felt like I was run over by a truck and I decided to turn off the alarm and continue sleeping. I woke up around 2300. I walked around a bit through town to find dinner but everything was closed already so eventually I decided to get back to bed.
On Wednesday I got on a boat again. This time I went to San Cristóbal Island. About two hours to the east of Santa Cruz. I took a seat in the back so I could keep an eye on the horizon. That helped as I felt fine all along. When I arrived I found myself a hostel and went for a walk. I went to a couple a beaches and view points.
From the view point I observed many cool animals! Sea lions playing and making out. Pelicans flying by. More blue footed boobies. And many other birds. After I had lunch I decided to settle down on Playa Mann. It was a bit cloudy and that was very nice. The sun is just to strong to be in it for a long time. I went for a swim a couple of times. Saw many colourful fish. And from the beach I saw several sea lions. Some would come up to the beach and chill between the people. I stayed for the sunset which was very pretty. By that time I was under assault by mosquitos so I decided to leave and find some dinner.
I took a little stroll after dinner. As I approached the dock I could here sea lions. Dozens of them! They have sea lions here like we have ducks in the Netherlands. They lay on the rocks, on the peer, on benches and on ramps. Basically everywhere. I observed a group of them lying on a ramp for a while. The ramp is about 50 centimetres above water level. They get up it by thrusting themselves up, than landing on the right front flippers and from there wiggle onto the ramp. Looked very smooth. Except for the babies. They couldn’t get up and they would keep circling the ramp while crying. Almost as annoying as a crying human baby😉. The thing appeared to be rather social. There was a lot of cuttling going on. Some just crawled our the others who didn’t seem to be bothered by it. And they are super flexible as well.
I know, this was a long one and there’s nothe much structure left. The internet here is just very slow. And I’ve been quite busy. Trying to make the most of my time here.