domingo, 6 de noviembre de 2011

Island Hopping Tour

After finishing our third class on Friday, I went home and packed and then we left for an island hopping tour- essentially our fall break.  We had a week of no classes and just did a bunch of cool stuff on some of the other islands. 
            Friday, we took a 2.5 hour boat ride to Santa Cruz.  It’s the most populated and most touristy island of the Galapagos.  After settling into our hotel, I went exploring with a few friends and we found a place that sold pizza!  It’s a food hard to come by in San Cristobal and one that I’ve missed the most.  Then we went back to the hotel and headed to dinner.  We went to this super nice restaurant, but I was so full from the pizza, I hardly ate anything :/
            Saturday, we went to Isla de Lobos and went snorkeling with a few sea lions and got to see a bunch of cool fish we hadn’t seen in San Cristobal. Then we went to Playa de los Perros and saw a pool full of white tip sharks and a beach covered in marine iguanas.  The iguanas are black like the rocks, so they’re a bit hard to spot at first, but there were perfectly spaced so you could hardly walk.  Then we went to Las Grietas, essentially a gorge where you can cliff jump.  Our guide told us to swim through the channel and then climb up to jump off.  I am not the best or most graceful rock climber so I only climbed up a couple feet and jumped from there.  The others in my group went up pretty far though.  Later, we found out from the other groups you could just walk to the top and jump in, but it was about 45ft high and I feel like I would have been too afraid to jump from there anyways.  Then we went back for lunch and went to a lava tunnel- the lava on the surface cools and forms solid rock, but keeps flowing on the inside and creates a cave-like structure.  It was really cool.  Then we went to this gorgeous beach with perfect sand for the rest of the afternoon.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy, but it was still fun.  That night, we went out for Halloween because there was supposedly some party somewhere but none of us really knew where or how to get there so we just went to random bars on the island.  It was really funny walking around because everyone gave us funny looks.  One guy howled at us, which was pretty interesting.
               Sunday, we took this amazing boat to the north of Santa Cruz.  Just north of Santa Cruz is the island Baltra where there is an airport and just North of Baltra is Seymour.  I got stung by a wasp on the boat just before getting to Seymour, which was awful, so when we got there and started walking around, my arm was in pain, but it was still a really cool island.  Seymour is a tiny island and we hiked around the whole thing.  There were sea lions, land and marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. We got back on the boat and ate lunch on our way back to Santa Cruz.  It was really good, but I was eating in the back right by the motor, which smelled awful.  Then I went up by the captain and started reading on a really comfy bench/couch thing.  I could have stayed there all day, but we anchored and went to a beautiful beach.  We snorkeled a bit, but there wasn’t much to see, so my friend Kim and I got out and were immediately attacked by horse flies.  One of the girls Gabby said that if you covered yourself in sand, they’d stop biting, so Kim rolled in the sand.  It was hilarious, but I just sucked it up and continuously shoed them away from me, but Kim said it was effective. That evening, we perused the shops, but we’re going back in two weeks, so I just bought a dress that I’ve been wanting- they have a lot of the same things as San Cristobal in the shops and I’d seen the dress there too.
            Monday we went to Isabela.  The boat ride was extremely bumpy which was a bit annoying after the first hour.  Once settling into our new hotel, we went to lunch and then went to a small island across the bay.  It was all aa lava which is pointy rocks and there were tons of marine iguanas.  We continuously had to go off the trail to avoid them.  It was a bit cloudy and I was shivering, as we were walking around, but my arm was burning from my bee sting the day before.  My arm was about twice its normal size and was really hot.  I was glad to jump in the ocean and cool it off when we were done walking around the island and started snorkeling.  That night I just took benedryl and went to bed at 8:30 because the bee sting was awful.  Everyone kept asking me if I was allergic and I guess I might be a little, but the next day my arm was back to a normal size it just itched a lot.
            Tuesday, we went to Volcan Sierra Negra.  We hiked/ran up to the caldera which was huge.  I really enjoy hiking, but our guide took off and I did not appreciate the fast pace.  We hiked around part of the rim and then went to an area that was pretty much a lava field.  My group was practically running the whole time, which was super frustrating, but it was still really cool.  Then after waiting 20/30 min for the other group, we went to this really awesome hacienda with giant tortoises.  We ate lunch there and then just hung out for a bit before heading back to our hotel.
            Wednesday, we went to the pier and they had us get on little speed boats with only 5 people per boat.  Then we flew- literally- to this snorkeling spot.  The waves were 2 or 3m high and we’d slam down from them.  I think our boat was in the air more than it was on the water.  Finally we slowed down and maneuvered through some rocks before anchoring.  The guide told some of the other boats not to put their fins on, but we missed that message so our fins stirred up the bottom and we couldn’t really see anything.  Then people started talking about sharks swimming within inches of them and I swam away because I may or may not be terrified of sharks- although I’ve swam with them 3x now and have yet to have anything happen.  Then, the people who didn’t have fins went back to the boats to put theirs on, but I just got back on my boat and waited there with a couple of other people.  Apparently there were mini lava tunnels you could swim through, but I was too scared/cold to get back in with the sharks.  Then, that afternoon, we went to a cove to snorkel more, but you couldn’t see much.  I helped teach Kim to swim under water, and then we got out and laid in the sun a bit before heading back.
            Thursday, we went to the wall of tears- a wall created by prisoners who’d been sent to Isabela.  They had to carry giant lava rocks in the awful equatorial sun in shackles and build this wall.  It only lasted for 11 years before the prisoners overthrew the generals and broke free.  Then we walked to a cool inlet and then to a beach, but didn’t go swimming.  That afternoon, we went back to the tortoise place for lunch, stopped to see some flamingos, and then went to this place with a cave that went on forever into the ground.  It had ladders that went down into it.  A bunch of people went down pretty far, but I stopped before the sketchy ladder.  People said it was the scariest, most unsafe thing ever, and I’m really good at falling so I passed.  It took forever for everyone to go down and back up, and so we just hung out there all afternoon.  We were supposed to go to another cave, but it was getting dark when were leaving, so we just went back to the hotle.
            Then, Friday morning, those of us that didn’t get to go to the cave went while the others left to go back to San Cristobal.  I’m so glad we got to go, because it was awesome.  We explored for a bit and then embarked on our 4.5 hour boat ride back to San Cristobal.  Monday, we start class again and I’m kinda sad to have to go back to doing work.

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