Our second day we rented bicycles and took the most beautiful bike ride I have ever seen. From the main road, to the Wall Of Tears. This was a place where a penal camp was located and this Wall's purpose was to punish prisoners. It was a U.S. outpost during the 2nd world war and they hauled massive volcanic rocks by hand into a large wall. l which they were forced to contain themselves with. It was surrounded by old soldier stations, and a sign that read " Where the strong cry, and the weak die"....... Pretty powerful stuff. We experienced something unique there. But if ya wanna know what it is ya gotta ask me personally........The bicycle ride to this place is filled with endless joy. On the right there are volcanic tunnels and protected one of a kind wetlands. Followed up by the 2nd best view of the Galapagos I think I saw there. The first being Frigate Bird Hill in San Cristobal. Only this one was an island , feast for the eyes. On the left was multiple jaw dropping beaches and a volcanic rock bay. From here led a mangrove path and "Hobbit" tunnel to my favourite place. The hidden lagoon. It was where the freshwater and salt water merged to make a cove that was a perfect swimming pool. It was a hidden sand lagoon that you could run and dive in made naturally. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to one of these. Dreams coming true once again.
To start the day to Los Tuneles,we saw penguins swimming around in the bay beside the pier. On our way to the lava tunnels (which are very unique), we saw them. The angelic,.......endemic,........ One of a kind MASSIVE Galapagos manta rays!!!! During our ride to the tunnels they were dancing and mating. I have never seen or even heard of such a large beautiful creature. Their wing spans were 4-6 metres long!!! When our guide, Fabricio, told us this previously we were sure he meant feet not metres. But sure enough it was metres. We all jumped in the deep dark Pacific to try and have a swim with them, but they are too fast and too swift. I could see them above water splashing and their white under bellies, but to actually catch them still through a mask was a difficult task. It was my personal highlight. After this we went to the lava tunnels and when we jumped off here the first thing we saw were 2 GIANT mating sea turtles. Haha I felt creeping swimming with them taking pictures of their intimate act, but c'monnn. Who wouldn't ? ;) As we continued along the inlet there were many more huge turtles peacefully swimming along. Who seemed completely oblivious to us. It was beautiful. As we squeezed , ducked , and weaved through the mossy, volcanic passages more wildlife came to life. Sea lions played. Turtles emerged. Sharks sleeked quietly around us. There were octopus hidden beneath the surface and golden rays zipping along. The only word for these islands is magical. The docile nature of these untainted creatures warms your heart in a way only going there can describe. On the way home we stopped and searched and found the also endemic giant sea horses! Hah and their size is only 5 inches! Biggest in the world. In Africa they are a millimetre long and are the same colour as the coral. How you would find those I have NO idea. But the ones we saw were SOOOO cool. Just clinging to the sea grass and extremely cute. Wow. Like something out of a fairy tale. The same way you think of a unicorn. When you see one, it's like a childhood fairy tale just unfolded in front of your eyes. What a special Christmas Eve day.
Oh wait! Did I mention I saw my first amazing school of flying fish on the way from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz? They were beautiful!
On Christmas Day we decided to do something completely different and special. We decided to climb the famous Volcan Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico. We woke up at 5 am very groggy from the night before and hauled ourselves onto the transport. This was a 6 1/2 hour hike to 2 volcanoes. The giant crater of Volcan Sierra Negra was the first. The crater was massive. 10 km across. Like a sunken city of rubble. The second was Volcan Chico. It was a huge climb. Many levels. The shapes changed the more we climbed and so did the colours. The view of the Pacific Islands and all the land was incredible. That when it hit us. We are climbing volcanoes for Christmas Day. Truly unique. The colours and lava exit points were unbelieveble. The shapes were so varied it's hard to explain. Some reached out to you like faces, some vomited and stopped in mid air, some were smooth like a baby's skin. Some were red, some were orange, some were jet black, and some were every colour of the rainbow. It was still active, so when you put your arm inside the steaming holes you could cook inside them. They were literally little ovens . When we got the top the huge crater pit from which it last spewed was something I cannot describe. Earth at it's rawest. You could vividly picture, from all the evidence leading up to this point, the last time it spewed hot magma in 1979. We followed it's trail backwards to the heart of the artery from the earths core. And had a 360 degree look from the top of the ocean, islands , volcanic rubble, and Isabela landscape. If you ever do this trek I cannot stress this enough,.... BRING LOTS OF WATER!!!! We ran very low, and became very desperate very quick. We ran into a man with 2 horses about an 8th of the way up. He was saying " Water. Water ." We were like , " thank god, we would looove some water !". He looked at us and said " mmmmm, sorrryyyy . It's for the group. We look at the group (who is all holding full 2L bottles of icy cold water) and we said please señor. We are really thirsty.he shrugged his shoulders and said "lo siento" . Which means sorry. Only after I had to secretly ransack the horses giant 4 gallon bottle to fill our small sized bottle did we realize it was Christmas Day again. Pfffft. Thanks bud.
The next few days in Isabella was like one universal blessing after the other. I originally went out to see the penguins because I had not swam with them yet. The sea lions were being characters as usual. The Iguanas were going out of their way to climb over the sea lions. ( who communicate like very social humans in a polygamist family btw) . And then we saw the penguins. They are so fast. So I got in the water with my snorkel to capture them underwater but the Humboldt current brought so much mineral rich material that I couldn't see anything but hoards of little fish. On account of the current that day I was the only one in the water. My lucky day. A feeding frenzy happened! And I was in the middle of it! I was surrounded in hundreds and hundreds of Blue Footed Boobies. They were everywhere. Swooping in waves all around me. They shot out of the air diving like bullets into the water. Hundreds flew straight at my head. Their wings swept my ears while the bright blue webbed feet smacked me in the face. Then the penguins came. Then the sea lions. Then the golden rays, pelicans and frigate birds . It was a spectacle!!! At that time the boats started to arrive . Everyone stopped with their cameras and I am definitely in many spectator videos. It was INCREDIBLE!!! I would live and die on Isabela. It was and will always be my heart.