Wednesday, 22 May 2013
I've been where the streets are paved in gold
Selso guided us to the wall that was constructed by the prisoners who had once inhabited Isabela. My friend's mother who was born on Isabela to parents who worked at the prison had a very vivid memory of the wall being built. I asked if the intention was to build something, but apparently the wall was just used as a form of punishment. The prisoners were just told to pick up the heavy boulders from point A and stack them at point B, eventually creating a wall. I lifted one of the smaller stones and those suckers are heavy. I can't even guess as to how much one of the larger stones would have weighed. No wonder there were so many injuries and deaths. The wall stands today in the middle of a field with nothing surrounding it. It is a solemn reminder of Isabela's history, but is also quietly and hauntingly beautiful.
We arrived at the sanctuary just in time to watch the feeding. Now, I don't know about you, but when I'm hungry and the dinner bell rings, I can't wait to get to the dinner table. Hundred year old tortoises aren't in such a hurry. It actually looks like they're moving in real life slo-mo. Mind you, I wouldn't be in a hurry either if I was a hundred years old and carrying my house on my back.
The icing on the cake of our visit in Isabela: My friend discovered that she had a cousin who still lived on the island and he offered to take us on a boat ride. He parked the boat at a tiny little island and we had an impromptu picnic of fresh ceviche as we watched the penguins swimming just off the shore. I know what you're thinking, I read this in a book or saw this in a movie once. But I didn't, it happened in my own real life and it is as unbelievable writing it now as it was experiencing it then. We then got back on the boat and got close enough to the penguin colony that we could jump in and go for a little snorkel with the penguins. (side bar, I have a terrible fear of birds and this is NOT generally my idea of a good time BUT, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and well, YOLO, so I jumped right in.) I'm so glad I did because it was spectacular!
As we boarded back on the boat, the sun began to set on our time on Isabela. We only had one evening left to relish in the beauty and calm of Isabela before another early morning boat trip. It's been a few years since this visit, but every now and again I think of Isabela and hope that I will get to visit her again and that she will be just as I left her.
Henry has since sustained an injury while out at sea, and I'd like to take this opportunity to wish him well. I'm thinking about you buddy.