Later on Sunday morning we met up with Tracy, Hayley and Megan from RAFTKIN and jumped into a couple of taxis to head to the lava tunnels at Santa Rosa. Again, these are formed by hardened volcano lava, but unlike the ones at Isabela, they lead right through from one side of the mountain to the other, about 400m in total. Here, there is one larger tunnel, more spacious, no oubliettes leading off to the side or golden glimmers bouncing off stalagmites of stalagmites. There are also lights in the tunnels should people wish. Instead, our taxi drivers were able to get them turned off… after ensuring that no-one was inside. They dropped us off at one end, and met us at the other. The floor this time was much more uneven and damp. I was glad we brought our large steamer-scarer. The most fun was half-way through having to squeeze through a very low point on our bellies. Catherine was not impressed but I managed to talk her through by sliding backwards and keeping her eyes on me, rather than the registering the rather claustraphobic roof inches above. Reminded me of being in an MRI scanner! We then tested our echoes. Anyone got a good song? After Simon and Garfunkel in the church service earlier (see previous post) what else could it be than “Hello Darkness, my old friend…”!
Walking round the crater of El Junco in San Cristobal (post on El Junco - click here) had been one of the highlights of the trip in Galápagos, so we were delighted when our taxi drivers offered to extend the trip and drop us off to Los Gemelos (which means “twins” in Spanish), two volcano craters side by side.
En route, we passed by a playground at Santa Rosa that caught the children’s eyes and stopped off for a break. There was a little kiosk open where I grabbed a coffee. The lady there directed the kids to the loos at the entrance to a large municipal building. A town hall? I wondered, surprised in a village of this size. No, a volleyball stadium, came the amused reply. Ah, yes, I realised it was popular here after seeing the religious dedication with which a group of men congregate every day like clockwork at 5pm at the court in front of the pontoon, by the playground, at Puerto Ayora. I thought it was just a friendly, but soon learned that there was much more at stake, bets are made and gambling makes for addictive entertainment.
After that we moved on to the craters themselves. Spectacular views, as heady as you would expect, and great to just stretch our legs and wander. Unlike the other two islands, where there is only about 20% accessible to visitors, the percentage in Santa Cruz is far higher. After an inauspicious start, the island redeemed itself still further. See video below: