Tears in heaven

As explained previously, the Galapagos have been formed by intense volcanic activity. Some volcanoes are extinguished while others recently still had eruptions, as is the case of the Sierra Negra volcano, which we got to admire during a 6 hours’ trekking on Isabela. Its last eruption was in 2005; and with a diameter of 11 kilometres, its crater is the second largest in the world.

The walk started in the cold and with a slight rain. And ended up with me taking all my clothes off – well, not all of them. I was still decent – because of the heat and the sun. The landscape is very diverse and keeps changing according to where you are on the island. It goes from very green to very rocky with tonalities from black and brown over red and orange to yellow. And, every now and then, big holes testifying of the volcanic activity.

Once again, we were made aware of the challenges the biodiversity of the islands is being faced with. An alien plant species has been introduced on Isabela years ago and has acclimated so well that it has become a threat to a local species, which is slowly disappearing. With the risk of perturbing the whole ecological balance around the volcano.

In the afternoon, I met Floor again and we decided to go for a bike tour to the so called wall of tears. After World War II, Isabela wasn’t considered an idyllic place. Quite on the contrary. Between 1945 and 1959, the island was a penal colony. A natural jail with no possibility to escape. The conditions were very harsh: as a punishment, the prisoners were made to build a wall of 5 kilometres long and 25 meters high. It caused the death of thousands of them. I was told that many of them climbed up the wall and committed suicide. Locals call it the wall of tears because it is said to emanate eerie cries and to have a heavy energy surrounding it.

However dramatic the story of the wall, the path that leads to it is very pleasant, with flamingo lakes, giant turtles crossing your path and everything. Or at least it should be pleasant if your bicycle is any good which – surprise, surprise – mine wasn’t. The moment the road climbed and I wanted to change gear, the chain got dislocated. I tried to put it back on, unsuccessfully. Luckily, my companion was Dutch, people who normally know how to tame a bicycle. It took a few minutes but she got it fixed. Until, a few minutes later, it got dislocated again. After the fourth time, we analysed the situation and our hands blackened by the chain oil and decided we wouldn’t go any further. We climbed up a hill at the very spot where we had stopped and admired the view from there.

On our way back, the chain simply broke. It just was too rusty. My hands were dirty, my calves were dirty, I was upset and really didn’t feel like walking two kilometres back to the village holding my bike. So I left the doomed means of transportation at the Love Beach – at least something was romantic about the situation – and negotiated with the driver of an organized motorized tour to get a seat in his mini-van.

When I got back to the agency where I had hired the bike, it was all one panic. “You did what??? Left the bike behind? But what if it gets stolen?”. So I had to jump into the truck, go back with them to the place I had left it and back to the agency.

Shower. Beach. Beer. End of the story.

Or almost. At the bar, we met with Floor’s friend, the Swiss couple and two couples of Argentinians. We had lobster, wine, fun and I forgot everything about my misadventure. Until the next day, when I spotted a huge bruise on my right calf, due to the pedal hitting it each time the chain got out of place.

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