On the second day, we took our water taxi into shore and stood for a moment in the square looking lost. We were not sure what our plan was for the day, but it materialized momentarily when a taxi truck beeped his horn and asked us if we wanted a ride. We poked our heads in and asked him if he knew where the lava tubes were. As luck would have it, he could take us there, and also to some inactive volcanoes and up into the mountains where giant tortoises live in the wild. Sounds great! We climb in, he gives his stick shift a shove into first gear, and the diesel Chevy mini-truck sputters away.
First stop, the lava tubes and dormant volcanos. The Galapagos Islands were made when volcanos erupted under the ocean and built up cooled lava until the volcano/island grew above the surface. This is why the soil is rich and fertile for all the plants and animals here. The lava tubes were formed when the top surface of the lava cooled, but tubes below remained hot. The lava kept flowing outward and into the ocean. Once the volcano stopped erupting, the giant tubes remained empty. Scary spiders make their webs near the entrance, but we did not otherwise see any animals inside the tubes.
Next, we drove through more farmland and higher into the mountains where we stopped for a little hike. It was not long before we found giant tortoises, living on their own in the wild. Our taxi driver took a picture of Andrew and I next to a giant tortoise I named Earl. Earl is awesome. We continued our hike and found tortoises who had dug their own mud puddle to keep cool. Looks mushy to me, but if I were carrying a giant shell on my back I would probably want to cool off in the mud, too.
A little further along the way, we found one taking his own hike. Standing in the presence of these ancient turtles, I feel like I am moving too fast. My breathing, the way I move my head and hands, my speech - all feels so fast in comparison. To them, I must have a heartbeat like a humming bird. “Slow……..your………roll………..why………..don’t…………you?” They say. I wonder if their 300 year lifespan seems to fly by for them because they move so slowly. I took a couple videos so you can see a little more of their personality, but Galapagos wifi is slow like a tortoise. So, I will upload the videos when I find some capable internet.
The nearby farm had collected some old shells, bones from legs, hips, and a skull. So we stopped by to check them out, and try a shell on for size ourselves.
To finish off our day, we headed to a beautiful beach with soft white sand and a man in a little house renting kayaks. I consider a double person kayak to be the ultimate test of the strength of your marriage. We pushed our kayak through the sand, climbed in and paddled away without the least threat of divorce. It seems that living together in a 40’x12’ space is improving our ability to paddle a double kayak. As we paddled, we saw three large stingrays big enough that if we kayaked over them, you could still see the shadow of either wing on the side of you. We saw a small shark with black tipped fins, crabs, and a sea turtle. Always something to see around here.