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Isabella Island

Joanne 2007-01-02

Isabella Island is magical. It is not uncommon to meet people here who were just passing through for a quick visit and ended up staying longer than expected, we are no exception to this.

Isabella was formed by the lava flows of five enormous volcanoes; it is the youngest island at one million years young and the biggest of all the Galapagos.

The natural beauty while enchanting, is but a part of the experience. Officially, there are 2000 people who live here, but it does not feel like more than 500 people to us. Those who we have met are all so welcoming with their laid back attitude which seems to exemplify island living.

Here, when asking a question, the most common answer is "no problema" or "todo es possible", everything is possible.

The irony is, not everything is possible when living 1000 kilometers away from the mainland. There are significantly fewer conveniences at your fingertips. If it can't be grown, caught, or raised here, then it's brought in by infrequent boat service from its neighboring island, Santa Cruz. And it had to get there from the mainland somehow.

There are only 3 restaurants here, all of which have the same menu. The other day two of them were closed, can you guess which one we ate at? If eating lunch a little later than 2:00PM, it is typical to be told what is left to choose from.

Maybe that's the secret; why they are all so laid back and relaxed: fewer choices to weigh them down leaving more living to be done?

Growing up in a suburb of a big city, our consumerist society ensured a world filled with countless choices. Whatever you need is but a hop and a skip away with many stores competing for your business. Is this a good thing?

Isabella's streets are unpaved, as it is against the law to pave them. They are mostly hard packed sand. Few cars can be heard or seen, I have yet to hear a horn blown. Mostly people stroll or cycle in the middle of the street or just sit and watch the passers by.

It is such a small community that when you tell someone, "Hasta luego", see you later, you actually mean it. Seeing the same faces has opened the doors to meeting many of the locals and vacationers, yet you can feel like you are on a deserted island by simply walking for five minutes on the beach. This morning while walking along the fine white sandy beach, there were but two sets of footprints, they were mine going out and coming back. I didn't count the prints that the marine iguanas or birds made. The hundreds of sally light footed crabs, as their names would indicate, didn't leave any.

The nature is outstanding; it is breathtakingly calm and beautiful. We are staying right across from the beach, crashing waves is without a doubt the best alarm clock- you never want to press snooze.

From the moment our toes touch the sand, the sparkling blue waters call to us. It competes with the mangrove tree forest off to the left with an opening in the middle that invites us to explore what lay beyond it. Although it is one of the only sources of shade available, we find ourselves drawn to the waters. The temperature of the ocean is perfect and offers much relief from the unforgiving sun. I think the sea lions that we see playing a few meters away would agree.

In the distance there are ships, but only a few so they do not dominate the view. Scattered lava rocks create small islands throughout the beach where pelicans, lava lizards, and marine iguanas find some rest. Up above, the birds put on a daily acrobatic show.

You know it is dinner time here when the show has begun. The blue footed boobies (fascinating Galapagos bird with bright blue webbed feet) masked boobies (similar without the blue feet but with a Zorro type mask) and pelicans start diving head first into the water to feed themselves. The boobies are precise and accurate in their flight pattern. They will make a dramatic 90 degree nose dive from about 15 meters high, tuck there wings in and barely making a splash as their aerodynamic bodies become as narrow as possible allowing them to catch their prey.

The pelicans are not quite as graceful. They will fly a meter or so above the water, then plop themselves down with wings mostly splayed out, creating a splash as they open their beaks filling them with about 13 liters of water, as the water drains out, the fish that remain in their beaks are their prize. Bon app├ętit!

To add to this avian show, the frigate birds (slender black birds with the highest wing span to body weight ratio of any bird) soar high above without almost ever flapping their wings. They use the air current and always appear to be gliding their days away. They are known as the kleptomaniacs as they will not go into the water for their food; they will wait until a blue footed boobie has done the work and then take it from them in mid air.

Quite impressive to watch with our toes dug deep into the sand while we sip on some wine as the sun sets, an almost nightly event that we have grown quite fond of.

So what is there to do here in paradise? That will have to wait for another entry.


Permalink by Gug   |  January 2, 2007 09:22 AM

This coloured painting makes one forget the "real" world outside here. Thanks for painting so well Joanne.

Permalink by Dad   |  January 3, 2007 05:58 PM

WOW I'll have alot of good things to dream about tonight.

Permalink by Sange   |  January 4, 2007 01:12 PM

A great idea of why this island is so special. Happy New Year Paul and Jo!

Permalink by Eva   |  January 5, 2007 03:32 AM

Happy new year for both of you!!!
I am sitting here in a grey office in a grey building with grey weather ... you sure must envy me
:-) just joking, it is not that bad (but close)

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