Monday, 26 August 2013

Volcanic Activity

Day 89 - 26 de Agosto: Isla Isabela

6:30 seemed like far too early to wake up after a travel day like yesterday, but it was well worth getting up. Breakfast at the hotel was watermelon, eggs, bread and churros. I filled my plate since I knew we were going hiking today. We'd have lunch on our hike too, so after breakfast, the hotel supplied us with the materials to custom make ourselves tuna fish sandwiches. I made mine with cucumber which was good - the cheese provided looked a bit weird. All packed and ready to go, we loaded into this truck that looked sort of like a harvest festival ride (where the backs have rows of seats and the sides are open). This truck picked up some good speed for us sitting relatively unprotected in the back (we were used to this though). It was cool again to see the frequent changes in environment as the road continued. I noticed in particular a whole bunch of a tree that looked sort of like arbutus but without the bark falling off. It looked like the trunk had some sort of varnish on it since it was really shiny. As we drove higher and higher, the weather changed and it got moist and cloudy. When we arrived at the start of our hike, a light misty rain was falling. It wasn't anything that would dampen our spirits though. As we ascended this trail, i noticed more of these trees and asked about them. The guide told us that these were guava trees - and were considered pests or weeds here! It's a big tropical fruit tree - i'd take those over our weeds any day. We continued on through this think mist for a good while until eventually it cleared and the sun was out... or so we thought. Turned out we were actually just in a cloud and had just reached a higher point of the mountain. And it wasn't long on this sunny trail before a spectacular view appeared. The mountain we were standing on was an active volcano (Sierra Negra Volcano) and we were looking down on a massive crater! This volcano last spewed lava in 2005 and we could see the path of the lava from the eruption point. This crater was so huge that the last eruption only filled half the crater. We had several more viewpoints of it as we continued around the crater edge. A little way further down the trail, we stopped under the shade of a tree to eat our lunch. We had a variety of different finches watching us eat, probably hoping for crumbs. After we finished, we carried on down the trail. It was a curvy, dusty road bordered by countless guava trees. Eventually, we came to the edge of a very interesting place. It was a massive lava field. Obviously it had been many many years since there was last an eruption here (there were cacti growing through the lava), however, as we continued, we came to a much newer lava field. The soil was replaced by black rock. We followed signs to an amazing viewpoint. From this volcano (chico volcano), we could literally see half the island, as well as some of the other islands in the distance. After a lot of photos and some time pondering life, it was time for us to walk back the same way. On my way, I was the first to ask if we could eat the guavas from the trees. We could and they were so fresh. I also noticed that I was getting really sunburnt, so i lowered the sleeves of my shirt. It was warm, but we eventually made it to the cloud again and things got cool. We all chatted our way back to the truck and back home. When we arrived, we met up with Olivia again. She took us down to the beach since it just got sunny down at the town. Walking on the beach was amazing - the sand was so soft, it was like I was walking in flour. I don't know why, but we all sort of split up when we got to the beach. Myself and one other girl stayed with Olivia (i figured my best bet to see something cool was with the person who knew the island). The girl with us needed to buy some batteries so we did that first, however we returned to the beach and walked a good ways down. At one point, we left the beach and came across a wetlands area with a large wooden pedestrian bridge through it. Here, we finally saw the galapagos iguanas. They're unique here because they can actually swim. We saw one do this as we were walking. Half way through we actually saw a flamingo in the water too! We carried on down a long trail and found other species like the lava lizard. I could tell we were in a touristy area since there were actually railings on the bridges and warning signs about dangerous plants. Apparently they have a poison apple tree. Olivia left us near the end of the trail and we continued on to see a tortoise reserve. They have this because the stray dogs and cats will eat the tortoise eggs and they want to protect this cool species. There were tons of them here - some small and some massive. We walked through all the areas and saw one really lazy looking turtle which we named garfield. On my way out, a group of locals were stunned to see me walking in the now misting rain with a tank top and shorts (they were all bundled up). I told them i was from canada and they all laughed. We walked back the same way and met up with more members of our group, just before the hotel. We hung out with them for a bit until our exhausted legs were about to give, then finally went back. I chilled out and had another salt water shower before going to dinner. We went to a place where we were able to have a lobster-relative caught right here in the galapagos. It was amazing and a good deal too for lobster. We finished off the night all hanging out in the same room. Everyone's falling asleep now so i'd better get back to mine.

My group
Walking up
The crater
Crater view
Lava field (Mars)

Super view
The beach
Lazy Iguana
Lava lizard
Lobster dinner

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