Floreana Island – highlands

Feb 15, 2012

And the adventure continues. Never a dull moment in my travel adventures! You will all enjoy my misfortune I’m sure!

There is a small town on the island called Puerto Velasco Ibarra. I guess it would really be a village.

Floreana Island, Puerto Velasco Ibarra
Floreana Island, Puerto Velasco Ibarra

We had a bathroom stop where it was actually my first public bathroom experience! Until this point I had managed to always go to my hotel which was lucky. It probably also has some thing to do with the incredible heat. I know that I’m dehydrated. I take water everywhere with me, but I could use about 10 bottles a day here.

So, the public bathroom (bano) wasn’t so great. The toilet wouldn’t flush, everyone had been squatting so there was pee all over the seat …. No toilet paper, no soap and no running water. Well, I had expected this at some point, so I wasn’t overly surprised. Some of the women were upset though. If you are traveling to South America … pack your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer! Don’t go anywhere without it! I sure was glad to have mine!

With that experience out of the way, I hope on board our open air truck to head up up up to the highlands. The open air truck is a cab and then on the back there is a separate covered area with benches under it. The sides are open and it’s quite a step to hop on it!

Transportation on Floreana Island
Transportation on Floreana Island

I met a lot of our group because many of us spoke English. Lynn and Melanie were from Washington State, Kate was from Minnesota, Sven was from Switzerland and another guy was from London – can’t recall his name though. We had some great chats about travel, the world and US politics. Lots of people traveling on their own and everyone is really friendly. Always happy to share a story or a tip about somewhere they’ve been that you may be going to.

It was probably about a 10 minute ride on the truck up the hill to where we would first stop. About 2 minutes away from the ocean it started to rain (no surprise) It seemed as though we were getting close, so I dug out my rain jacket. I love this jacket sooooo much! I bought it at MEC, it has a longer back part to keep your bum dry, it is light, has a hood and if you fold it properly it rolls right up into its own hood. Great for packing it into a day pack!

I set the jacket on my knee as I got my camera ready. We hit a few bumps and then Uht oh! Bump. The rain jacket fell right off the side of the truck. All of the English folks were yelling to the driver to stop. The Chinese folks at the front of the benches were pounding on the back of the truck, but to no avail. I guess it must have been loud in there and they couldn’t hear us. Glad that it was something, not someone who fell off the truck!

About a km after I lost my rain jacket, we stopped at our walking trail. The truck driver spoke very good English and he said he would go back and look for my jacket. Very nice of him!

So, in the pouring rain I headed with the group through the woods with my camera around my neck and partially covered by my t-shirt and my day pack on my back with another lens and all kinds of other things. I had planned to cover the day pack up with my rain jacket, but that wasn’t going to happen now! Once again, no use crying over spilled milk … just went on my way and tried not to worry about it too much.

Our first stop was to see some turtles roaming free. My understanding is that Floreana has no turtles directly from this island anymore. These turtles have been brought here to study and then be re-introduced to their own islands. We could get really close to them here, but it was really pouring so we didn’t stay for long.

At this point we were all soaking wet … well, except for the Chinese couple, Sven from Switzerland and the gentleman from London – they had umbrellas.

I don’t think I’ll ever travel in rainy season again without one (or two) umbrellas. Rainy season is rainy of course, but it is also incredibly hot. People have umbrellas all the time to shade themselves from the sun. In Nova Scotia we don’t think about this. I just laughed out loud at that. If we see the sun in Nova Scotia we certainly don’t want to be shaded from it!

We continued on our walking tour and stopped at some pirate ruins and labrynths. It was really interesting, but I didn’t get all of the history. The photo below shows a carving. I think they said that it was a monument to one of the pirate’s dogs. I’ll have to see if I can find something on the internet about it.

Pirate Monument Floreana Island
Pirate Monument Floreana Island

When I took my camera out, I was devastated to see ERR 20 – CANNOT TAKE PHOTOS RIGHT NOW.

The other part of the history that I remember that was really interesting was told to us when we got to an area where the town’s water is filtered. Let me tell you though, I don’t know why they call it ‘filtering’ … It is basically just rain water directed down through some rocks, on to a small tin like plate and then dropped into buckets.

Because this Is the only water supply for the entire island, this is one of the reasons that the population hasn’t grown.

The other reason is that there have been 15 mysterious disappearances of people. No one knows where they went or how they died. They just disappeared. Originally they thought that Maria (a German) who was here with the pirates might be responsible for the deaths. After starting an investigation though, her son also disappeared and they dropped the investigation. Please remember this is very loosely translated!

We headed back down toward the ocean and had lunch at a restaurant. Honestly, it is more of a home that acts as a restaurant with 3 or 4 large tables and chairs. Lunch was lovely, including a banana with red syrop for dessert. Then we walked back to the dock to catch a water taxi to our boat.

The water had gotten rougher in those last couple of hours and climbing on to the water taxi proved to be quite difficult for several of the travelers. We were on a stone staircase with the bow of the boat pointing straight at us and the waves hitting the boat from the left side. When a large wave came, it would push the boat away from the stairs and the driver would have to come back again. If you happened to be in mid step when a wave hit, you were in trouble. So, it was really important to watch for waves as you prepared to step on the boat. Thankfully we all made it safely, but there were a couple of close calls with people who had mobility issues. Then we had to repeat this again to get from the water taxi to our boat.

There are always one or two guides or decks hands to help you on and off the boat. They are used to these conditions, have great balance and when they offer you their hand, you should just take it.

I wasn’t really scared at any point as I’ve done these boat transfers before, but I do remind myself that the staff are there to help us and to keep us safe. I know if it is not safe, they’ll find another way.

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