Volcanoes are rock dragons, unpredictable and temperamental. Even those that are extinct, have an air of mystery about them because of their history. So it was a real thrill to descend into the volcanic tunnels in the caves at Sucre, and explore the stalagmite and stalactite formations left by lava flows there once upon a millennia.
We went on a girls’ tour with RAFTKIN, taking a taxi to the caves, which are in the heart of the agricultural zone of Isabela, also home to La Esperanza, a picturesque village we drove through later where settlers first came in around the 1800s, and still has around 40 inhabitants. Each of us had brought a torch to shine a path, and, illuminating the gloom, the light caught the golden hue of mineral deposits that dusted some of the formations. Micah maybe? Just as I turned to ask Tracy what she thought, I caught my head on a low ridge. It must be fool’s gold! Catherine was a bit nervous at first, but then realised she would rather far keep up with the older girls Isabelle, Hayley and Megan, than cave in, and she quickly let go of my hand. The walk round seemed to go in a flash, so it was great when Hayley, who had been here with her Dad and PELIZENO a few days before, pointed out a tunnel we had missed. Getting into the clearing she wanted to show us involved sliding down a small slope, then crawling hands and knees through a passage til it opened out. It was a wee bit claustraphobic to say the least, but the payback was the sense of discovering a hidden space. We heard voices overhead, an official tour party, and thought maybe we had gone to far off the beaten track, so quietly, and stealthily, we crawled back out, climbing behind the party and into the open air, our faces, arms, legs and backsides covered in dirt, the lesser-spotted miner birds of the Galapagos!