Bitten by a turtle

Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Fri 10 May 2013 03:39
As you noticed the amount of news from us have been a bit short. Several reasons, first exploring the island of Isabela takes its time.
Second the social life has been intense, to say the least.
We went on a tour with horses up on the crater of Sierra Negra a couple of days ago. That was something! First we went by a minivan to an altitude of about 800 meters and suddenly we came to a stop where horses with saddles where waiting for us, the horse guy Alexander got everybody up, adjusted the stirrups(stigbyglarna) or what they are called in english. The horses where "Western Style" meaning you can just take your rein and move it light in the direction you want the horse to move. Now that was not a big necessity since the horses are "social" and all walked after each other to the top of the volcano. Well walk after each other is not really true.
All horses had some kind of order, "Im better than you so you stay behind" ---  "No Im better than you and since the human sitting on my back has no control I will ride up to the trail above you and overtake"---  "No way, in that case I will speed up and pass the guy in front of me" And so it went for the entire trip. The horses tried to overtake each other marking some kind of social scale and sometimes it got really crowded on the narrow trail along the rim of the vulcano. All horses but Andreas horse. It seemed like Alexander had some rutines on where to put different people. So he put the kids on the most stable horses, the ones that did not compete with each other.
Andreas horse was obviously so much NUMBER ONE that no horse even dared to come close. Not even the guides horse would pass without being FORCED to.  It was strange to see this small human being (Andreas) on 600 kilo of muscels walk all by himself in the front of the pack. And not once did that horse start to gallop or trot.
Our horses did everything, mine was extremely "creative" in finding new trails and Ellinors was extremely mean. So these two horses started trotting whenever there was a minimum chance of passing.
We came to the top, about 1000 meter and there was this huge crater, the second largest in the world. Under the soil there is still activity, we could even feel the steem coming up from the ground at one place.
On the top we continued by foot in the strange landscape of lava, with tunnels, caves etc. All shaped like a mad icecream parlor with black icecream that has been petrified.
We had our lunch under the shade of a big tree that seemed to be the only one at the top. We saw some of the famous finches that Darwin studied and much more. Pictures will come.
The way down on the horses was another adventure and it was amazing riding on these animals in a terrain not to easy even for humans.
The day after we had to chill out (hard to sit hard to walk), had some school etc.Big stupid news is of course that Ellinor and Andreas got their hair cut short.
And whats interesting was the price, 11 dollars total for both! In Sweden you would not even get a comb for that.
Here on Isabela there is a small village called Villamil, it has about 10 restaurants, 1 Post office, 5 offices for tours and maybe 8 stores. That's it. And when the supply ship comes, it is about 5-7000 tons cargo ship that seemes to have everything in piles in the cargo room. Because she cannot go to harbour you can see everything unloaded on small barges with outboard engines that run back and fourth. Being from a shipping family I cannot stop wandering how they manage this. A barge can come with a refrigerator, 60 plastic tubes (about 8 meters each), 10 sacks of concrete, 6 madrasses, 4 tables (with legs on), 200 cases of waterbottles, new tires etc. And the unloading takes about two days!
To make things worse, just to get to the jetty in this bay is a trick even for a dinghy. During high water you can drive over the reef, but just below and under you have to zigzag your way and in the dark it becomes even worse.
Then as a part of the experience you have manta rays, sealions, pinguins, diving boobies etc all around you as you drive carefully.
Yesterday I took my bike to a bicycle repair shop. He is a busy man because bicycles seemes to be the most important vehicle here.
And the roads are bad, to say the least. When we where in Bonair the last day I lost some "spines" (ekrar) on the rear wheel. Since I have a Brompton this is not the easiest thing to fix. So I went to this bike repair shop and asked if he could fix. -No problem! he said.
Today we took all bikes ashore and I went to see if mine was ready, of course not, but I got to see how he did the job. Amazing!
He did the spines himself so they would fit these small wheels. And then he adjusted the wheel on a home made tool. Absolutely great! 4 spines and the whole job 10 dollars!
We went biking first to a turtle sanctuary where they breed the land turtles and let them out when they can handle the new enemies that humans have imported (goats, cats, rats, dogs etc). The giant turtles where almost extint for several reasons, one being food for humans on ships that needed to carry long lasting food.
The turtles are different just from one vulcano to the next, and here on Isabela there are five vulcanoes.
It was in the sanctuary that Andreas got bitten by a turtle....
More about that tomorrow!