The Galapagos – Pt.8

The next day I was feeling much better, almost healed even, and we all prepared to set out for a mountain hike. A truck picked us up and brought us to the beginning of the trail to the Sierra Negra Volcano. The initial trail was very steep, and made with a sort of gravel, and it was not overly nice to walk on it, especially with the direct sun and overwhelming heat. Every hundred meters or so we would stop to see a plant, or a bird, or something of the sort. While Pablo talked and gave us information, the rest of us used the opportunity to catch our breaths, drink water and from time to time reapply sunscreen. The scenery we saw on the trail was that of a very dense rainforest-like forest. The vegetation was tall enough to block the views around us, but not tall enough to offer shade or shelter from the sun. Along the way I was many butterflies, some yellow or white as seen most of the world, but others had magnificent colours and patterns.

I'm not joking, that was a part of the path.

At one point we went off the track and onto the Hiker's trail, to bring us around the border of the volcano caldera. The hiker's trail was little more and a strip on the ground made from too many feet walking there. I wondered why on earth the first person to start treading here would take such a path, because we often went very, very close to the caldera's edge, nothing below us but a flat lava wasteland.

When we actually reached the caldera, we took a break there, simply enjoying the view. We took many group photos, and had mishaps with camera timers. It was also there that Pablo told us that the volcano, still very much active, had it's last eruption in 2005. He recounted where he was when it erupted and how he made his way up the volcano to watch.

Click to enlarge

We continued on the trail, at which point we were on the caldera's edge, but at the same time, it looked like a Jurassic Park set with all this waist high ferns overgrowing on the trail, blocking your way. The butterflies were even more abundant in this part. The trail soon led away from the caldera and the vegetation got thinner again, more like the beginning of the track. We reached these benches under the shade of a great big tree, and it was much appreciated when we were allowed to rest a bit and have our packed lunches. Curious yellow warblers joined us. Do Not Feed The Birds.

Trish and Rehana very nicely shared their extra snacks with me on our bench, and I was coerced into doing the only bit of Irish dancing I remember from when I was nine. After the pleasantries were over, we got back on our way, and suddenly the vegetation by the side of the trail completely disappeared and we found ourselves in a lava field. We moved a bit further and could see a partially collapsed lava tube. Lava tubes are formed when lava is flowing and the lava on top cools and hardens while the lava underneath continues to flow, thus creating a tunnel. Liz (Miss Sally Lightfoot) got her picture at the opening of the mini tube and she inspired me to do the same. I added my own little twist, however, when I caught my foot on a rock and fell face first. It wasn't bad and I hadn't fallen from far. Had it been any other rock, I don't even think I would have had a bruise. But lava is sharp. I ended up with broken scabs on my hands, as when I braced myself for the fall, my still recovering hands' efforts were wasted. They had to start again. As well as the hands, I had a minor scratch above my ankle and a dent in my dent, where a little corner of rock had dug into the skin. Nobody was surprised really, I think most of them just shook their heads.

Me, proudly posing at one end of the lava tube, literally seconds before my downfall.

We continued on a little bit and arrived at the point where those who wanted to continues could, and those who wanted to go back to the tree could. Dennis, Gail, my Travel Companion and I decided to go back, while the others went on. We stayed a bit where we before leaving, messing around and taking pictures of ourselves while meditating on a lump of rock.

We reached the tree and chilled there a bit, but it wasn't long after that we headed back in direction of the truck, walking at an easy pace. The sky had become covered and it looked like it would rain any second. Many times we actually walked through low rain clouds, feeling droplets on our faces without any actually falling yet. It took a long time to reach the truck, but we eventually did, and Gail and Dennis settled inside to take a nap. I had brought a book in case, and I put it to good use while we waited about an hour for the others to come down.

Lava field.

When we were back at the town, it was very close to dinner time, but we still had time. I went to collect my laundry at the local laundrette and met up with most of the others who were enjoying the sunset on the beach. That night was a free dinner, so we all left together from the beach and found a restaurant. I, using the opportunity to have something else other than rice or spagetti, had a tomato soup, and predicting that that wouldn't be enough, a side order of fries. It was all very nice.

Little Factoid: Did you know that in the Galapagos/Ecuador, it is common practice to put plain popcorn into soup, say, instead of croutons? It is so brilliantly simple and delicious. Everyone should do it, just like everyone should put vinegar on their chips, and Mayo in their burgers.


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