Isabela is the biggest island of the Galapagos. And, as I had been told, the most beautiful one. Strangely enough, in the light of the two previous facts, it is also the least populated of the three main islands.
As soon as you arrive, you can go swimming in the harbour with sea lions, penguins,… and spot some splashing pelicans. And blue footed boobies. You can find boobies almost everywhere on the Galapagos. I didn’t get in the water there but someone I met afterwards told me his most amazing underwater view in this place had been a penguin and a pelican fighting over a fish.
Hotels with dormitories are a rare commodity on the islands, not to say they are inexistant. As I jumped out of the truck that was taking tourists from the harbour to the village, I asked the price of a room to a lady standing at the front of her establishment. After I had accepted to take it, she spotted a group of four people obviously looking for a place too but who hadn’t seen the one in front of which I was standing.
– Do you speak English?
– I do.
– Can you tell them I have room for the four of them too?
– And if the five of you are staying, I can make a special price.
That implied sharing my room with a stranger. But I had been sharing rooms with 10 to 15 strangers each time I hadn’t been doing couch-surfing in the last 5 months. So I certainly didn’t mind to share my room with one single Irish lady.
When unpacking, I suddenly realised I had forgotten one important item for a stay on a paradise island: my bikini. It was still drying in my hotel bathroom, back in Santa Cruz. There were two places in the village where I could find a new one: a nice little boutique, with very cute little bikinis, at 60$. And a quite ordinary shop with ugly bikinis at 18$. Hoping to be able to retrieve the lost one when returning to Santa Cruz, I went for the ugly one. Something I learned during this whole trip is to sometimes favour budget over pride. Question of priorities.
After this forced shopping session, I went to have lunch. Trying not to think about how I would look on the beach with a swimming suit which seemed to have been cut out of a curtain from the 60’s. Suddenly, I spotted Floor passing by, the Dutch lady from the diving course. Here I had some nice company to distract my mind, share a meal with and with whom to spend the coming days.
Almost everything there is to see and discover on the Galapagos costs a hell of a lot of money. But you don’t want to miss out on anything. So I decided to do the three main excursions on the island: Tintorera, the Tunnels and the Sierra Negra and Chico volcanoes. The first one was nice, though nothing very special compared with what I had already seen. More iguanas, one or two little sharks in cloudy water, blablabla. You become so blasé when your eyes and senses get spoiled on a daily basis. The ground of the island was kind of special though. Like the rest of the islands, it consists of volcanic rocks. But their particular shape caught my attention. Black, harsh rocks that seem to pop out like mushrooms and are topped with white lichens.
We also got to snorkel for a while and I spotted some turtles. That was something I couldn’t get enough of. I find them fascinating animals.