Isabela (May 27, 28)
We were up the earliest today since our flight to the next island (Isabela) is scheduled for 6AM! Six of us plus Alfredo fit into the plane and our luggage was just a few pounds under the total weight capacity of the small plane so nothing had to be shipped by “speedboat.” The flight was a short 35 minute hop, and we got into the “airport” (more of an air strip) in good time. Rashelle and Terri got to sleep-in and came on the 8AM flight. The Iguana Crossing Hotel was a step up from Casa Opuntia and our room was like the presidential suite (a bonus for our 13th Classic Journeys trip). Just before noon we headed out for a hike across the boardwalk that skirted the lagoon behind the hotel. There was only one kind of tree here, the poison apple, which besides bearing a fruit of its name, sterilized the soil to prevent any other type of vegetation from growing. Our destination was the land tortoise breeding center where these native giants are protected from predators until 5 years old. The most veracious predator had been the pirates of old who would kill the giant tortoises for food. Now the population is slowly increasing and after the hatchlings reach their 5th birthday, they are released into the wild. Adults live to over 150 years old and can mate very, very actively until they die. We saw many large, old tortoises as well as many “children” and just hatched “babies.” Lunch was at of all placed the Galapagos (local, not the chain) version of the “Red Lobster!”
Later in the afternoon, we boarded a boat and set out along the shore to see Galapagos Penguins and the fabled Blue Footed Boobies. Some of us ventured out for another snorkeling expedition (Tom and Anne declined) followed by a hike over a lava trail on a tiny island inhabited by marine iguanas. Some of these creatures were over 3 ft long and they were all facing the sun at the end of the day to store up heat for the night. Many were spitting to clear the salt that accumulates on their foreheads from their diving in the ocean.
The next day, Tom had an upset tummy and stayed in the hotel. Anne venture out to an area where there were many graves (including our local guide’s grandfather). This area once was a penal colony and the “Wall of Tears” built for no other reason than to provide hard labor still stands. Anne appropriately looked like she was doing hard labor there! Besides the wall there were lava tunnels and primeval forests. Back at sea level, there were opportunities to sample firewater from a coconut shell (coco-loco) and see flamingos in a lagoon. Tom skipped the big dinner but had a chicken broth specially prepared for him. The next morning, he went to the kitchen where a woman was weighing whole octopus while holding her baby in the other arm. He made cream of wheat from our emergency food supply in the microwave oven in the kitchen. The chef did not understand how to make cream of wheat and had dumped the envelope into a BIG carafe of hot water instead of the 1/2 cup! Tom enjoyed his own cooking.