Published: Feb 17, 2023
Typically, going with the flow is not something I’ve always been good at. If I’ve got an itinerary in front of me, I sometimes find it difficult when plans deviate. And yet, life doesn’t follow an itinerary, and life hardly ever goes to plan. Which is why today, when our tour guide told us we wouldn’t be climbing the Sierra Negra volcano – one of the largest craters in the archipelago – nor would we be visiting the Wall of Tears – a man-made monument that was built by prisoners in the 1940’s – I initially found it hard. So the personal mission I set for myself today was to lean into the unexpected, and to try and find comfort in things not going to plan.
We were now on Isabela Island, the largest of the archipelago, and I reflected on how unusual it was to be on the same boat yet waking up each day in a new location. We spent the morning in town — cycling along Isabela’s shores, taking in the sheer blueness of her waters, and spotting sea lions lying on the ground like dogs. I learned that, unlike the continent, most animals on these islands are late sleepers. Which means they’re absolute chillers, and I should clearly take a leaf out of their book.
We then walked through a mangrove Forest, mangroves being one of the most important plants for ecological functioning — they prevent erosion, purify water, trap pollutants, and protect against rising sea levels. In many parts of the world, including Ecuador, it’s illegal to cut them down. We then sat in a local bar drinking coconut juice before scouring the town looking for internet as my sister had a deadline for an online exam. I reckon the search for adequate Wi-Fi in the Galapagos islands was almost as hard as the search for a licensed taxi – we learned very quickly that sitting in the back of a pick-up truck was the only transport option available…
Next, we visited the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding centre of Isabela, where infant and juvenile giant tortoises are protected until they are ready to be released and survive in the wild. We even saw rescue tortoises, with shells that had been burned by the latest lava eruptions.
Baby tortoises and rescue tortoises
And then the day unexpectedly just relaxed. We all went to the beach and I had some quality time with my little sister and the other boat members, playing in the sand and enjoying the waves. We all agreed that the last few days were the most disconnected from civilisation all of us had ever been, and that it’s so refreshing. The day ended with an abundance of happiness, laughter, fun, spontaneity, and peace. And I think it’s fair to say that I managed to embrace it all, even though it was off-schedule.