We sat in the back of a mini ute this morning, as it did the rounds of the accommodations on Isabela Island. We joined others at the tunneles tour office and were fitted with flippers. One of the tour operators looked like a Spanish John Travolta. He was incredibly tanned. The mini ute took us to the jetty where my hopes of the lava tunnels being a land-based tour were dashed. I took a buscopan tablet in the hope that it did something to prevent sea sickess.
As we pulled out from the jetty mints were given out. I quickly discovered why. Half of the passengers in the boat looked green, and we all bravely stared at the horizon. One of the two retired women was given a lime by the captain, and she gingerly held it to her nose. The boat ride might have been twenty to thirty minutes but I spent the whole way happy that I was yet to feel ill. I didn’t want to tempt fate.
My nightmares are of drowning: rising tides or tidal waves. Having started to drown a few times as a kid (once at Ascott Water Park and promptly rescued, another I slipped and floated off the steps in the pool at the Merlin hotel, frantically thrashing about underwater and thankfully floating back again) I was mildly terrified at the view over the sides of the boat: wave after wave coming towards us and no land in sight. I gripped hard onto my life jacket and considered why I signed up for this torture.
Our first pause was a rock with some seals and a sea lion sunning themselves. Another tour boat caught up with us. I thought we must be around the tip of Isabela Island and halfway up the West coast by the time we stopped but, looking at the map, we were only slightly West of Puerto V-something.
Spanish John Travolta slipped into a wetsuit and giant bright blue flippers, which I kept mistaking for fish and swam towards to take a photo. He found a shark under a rock and we took turns being pushed under the rock to see it.
Several sea turtles swam by. They were huge. It was like being in a muddy, choppy version of finding Nemo.
Our second stop for snorkelling was around a bunch of rocks where seals and penguins and blue-footed boobies were languishing. All guides explained a 2 m distance rule, to respect the animals. Several people ignored this and climbed up onto the rocks next to the animals to take photos.
I have been delighted that my new “waterproof” iPhone case is actually waterproof. I’ve snorkelled with it all week and taken underwater photos and my phone still works.
We were given sandwiches for lunch, on the boat. I took one mouthful and swallowed and my stomach heaved. Any appetite I had evaporated. I was the only one who didn’t eat lunch.
Out last stop was the lava tunnels. I had expected that we’d be in land walking through tunnels, perhaps made of lava. But this is the Galápagos. It’s in the ocean! And covered in ferns and cacti. I can’t get a fern to grow in a pot on the verandah and here they were growing on lava rock outcrops in the ocean!
We saw more boobies, another sea lion and more lava rocks and cacti. The formations of little bridges were beautiful.
On the boat ride back Dan and I sat at the back of the boat and were drenched in sea water by our return. Coral Blanco had no vacancies for tonight, despite having originally said we could stay another night. We moved across the road to Las Dolfines. They don’t have wifi. My world is in turmoil.
Dan was keen to get to the airline offices before five to see if we could purchase seats on a flight back to Santa Cruz tomorrow, instead of the two-hour speedboat nausea-inducing ride from Hell. We waited in line for half an hour only to find that tomorrow’s flight is full. The boat it is.