08 April 2010 | San Cristobal and Isabela
Sunday night, we gave the surfing pics to Juan de Dios to circulate to the rest of the surfers that were at Carola. I got to talking to one of his buddies, Diego, who was out surfing that day. He had a brother on Isabela, so I told him he should save the money and jump on the boat to Isabela with Alex, Pauno, and I which he thought would be great. The next morning, we ended up having a few girls who were studying there ask to come to Isabela and eventually we had a total of 8 people on the boat. We left at around 2 and decided to bring the boat over to Leon Dormido to get a picture in front of one of the more famous backdrops in the Galapagos. One of the sailing magazines had a picture of a boat cruising through the gap in the rocks, so we dropped the dinghy to check if the currents would be ok for us to do it. We got the dinghy in between the rocks, but quickly found out that this wasn’t allowed from one of the guide boats. We settled for shots in front of the rock which were probably just as great. We motor sailed through the night and in the morning, Isabela was in sight. It’s the youngest and largest island in the Galapagos with a huge volcanic crater in the middle. Just before we got there, we decided to take a slight detour to sail through Tortuga Island. Tortuga Island is the tip of an old volcanic crater and we were able to navigate and actually sail the boat inside the ring of the volcano. While we were sailing through, there were the endemic blue footed boobies jumping from their nests on the cliffs and circling the boat. On the way into the harbor, we had everyone throw on the bubbles shirts and got some pictures taken. A water taxi picked up our extra crew and as Alex, Pauno, and I were getting in the dinghy, I saw what I thought was a baby sea lion with a beak. The little penguin took a few laps around our dinghy before we cruised into town. The waves were pretty good, so we headed straight for the break “El Fado”. It was a heck of a walk, but the waves were good for beginners and we caught a few. On the way back into town, we stopped by the post office which is about the size of an ice fishing shack. The little old lady said she knew a guy who could bring us and made a call on her phone. A few minutes later a round little guy named “Papi” showed up and we put a down payment on some horses (getting horses saves you a few hours on the hike and we thought it’d be fun to race around on them. That night, we found out the guide we had met in San Cristobal wouldn’t be able to make the trip, but we also found out that Diego and his brother, David, both wanted in on it they just had to wait for their passports from the mainland which would arrive Thursday night. We told them if the Italian couple couldn’t make it, they were in. The next morning Alex, Pauno, and I met Papi and the rest of the tour group for the hike to the second largest volcano crater, Cerro Negro. There were around 10 other people in the open air bus with us and we all packed up lunches, grabbed big yellow mud boots, and headed for the crater. We had a sloppy, hour long hike to the horses where I discovered that I had chosen a leaky pair of boots. Since all of us had ridden before, the guide let us race up ahead and check things out on our own. The crater was huge and had last erupted in 2005. We got off the horses and headed for another crater. Typically, people bring rainjackets, but we were lucky and had nearly perfectly clear skies. The landscape changes from lush almost rainforest to volcanic rock and craters that resemble Mars. The hike to the last crater was rocky and there were cactuses scattered in between the rocks. Pauno decided to get the full experience and hiked the entire way barefoot I’m not sure how he made it because I was getting poked through the rubber boots I was wearing. The group was moving pretty quickly, but we kept stopping checking out the lava tubes, etc. and eventually we were pretty far behind our group. The hike ended with at the edge of a crater overlooking the entire island and out into the ocean. We decided to hang back for a bit, and Pauno took a bit longer. I was probably 30 minutes away from the overlook hiking back when I heard some howling and noticed Pauno was still at the overlook screaming out over the island which was a pretty funny sight. I reached the opposite edge of the valley and eventually saw Pauno racing at full speed with the yellow boots on across the barren volcanic crater. I have no idea how he didn’t fall or break through the crust. Anyway, we made it back, and after 5 hours in wet boots, I was ready for it to be over. That night we heard from the Italian couple that they couldn’t change their flight, so Diego and David were in. On the way back to the boat, I saw a guy drive by on a dirt bike wearing my bubbles shirt. It was the water taxi driver that had come out when we first arrived and took people off our boat. We called him on the boat for a bit and he got his picture taken and thought the shirt was a gift, which was an innocent mistake and thankfully he understood and gave it back. During the talk, we told us he could bring us out snorkeling, so we planned to meet him the next morning for a snorkel at the Loberia that was supposed to be a good spot to swim with penguins and sharks. Alex, Pauno, Lindsey (from Green Lake, WI) and I met the next morning for the snorkel. On the way out to the Loberia, we got pounded by some big waves that were coming in. The waves made for poor visibility and unfortunately we didn’t spot any sharks. Alex saw one penguin and got a good video of a pretty aggressive sea lion. We found some steep canyons to snorkel through and all in all had a good snorkel. We headed back out to El Fado to surf the big waves we had seen. The waves were big and there were a lot of them, so we had a tough time getting out. I got a great ride on the first wave I paddle for, but should have left after that. Right before we were getting ready to leave, I went for a wave and when I fell off the board flipped and sliced my foot in the exact spot that I had cut open earlier. I decided to end my surfing in the Galapagos and make sure I got it taken care of so I didn’t have to worry about an infection at sea. That night, we found out David wouldn’t be able to make the trip, but Diego got his passport and was in. We finally had our crew for the Pacific and we were ready to roll. We brought Pauno out to the boat to sign inside of the boat, which is a cool little tradition Alex started for everyone who spent time sailing the boat. We gave him a few permanent markers and a few hours later, had an absolutely amazing mural painted in the boat. I’ll for sure post some pictures in the Marquesas.