“Hey guys, so I have some bad news,” our guide said after stepping out of the shelter of the 4x4 Mazda truck that was parked in front of our hotel and into the pouring rain.
We looked at each other inquisitively through tired eyes before telling him to continue.
“The plan today is to go for a hike in the highlands, but as you can see it’s pouring rain… So, we can either stick around town and walk to the beach to snorkel more, or brave the rain. Up to you!” He said the last part enthusiastically.
We all looked at each other, thinking.
“We’re only going to be here once, lets do it,” one of us said.
“OK,” he replied. “Just know that the rain gets worse the higher up we hike!”
The trucks flew up the mountainside, our drivers completely indifferent to the rain, cows, and locals on motorcycles on the road. My sister grabbed my leg as we rounded a tight gravel-covered turn in the road and looked at me in surprise as we made it to the other side without the truck flipping into a ditch.
As the cars slowed to a halt at the base of the Sierra Negra volcano we started to understand just how wet of a hike it was going to be. I stepped out of the truck and dodged streams of water that rushed down the hillside. We started hiking, optimistically attempting to avoid the 20-foot long puddles of muddy water before our guide gave us a tip.
“Don’t bother, there’s no way you make it up the mountain with dry, clean shoes, just wash them off when we get back to the bottom.” He chuckled before trudging straight into the foot-deep pool of water that stretched across the trail for the next 12 feet.
I shrugged and followed suit, feeling like a kid stomping in the muddy puddles.
At the top of the mountain we marveled at the barren volcanic landscape and hollow lava tunnels while the rain continued to soak our clothes through and fill up our backpacks. I worried about my camera even though it was in a water-tight dry bag as a wiped water from the lens of my GoPro frantically before quickly snapping a photo. Every photo features plenty of water drops on the lens anyway.
After sloshing our way back down the mountain through puddles (and in shoes that felt like we were standing in puddles even when we weren't) we stopped next to a small waterfall that had sprung up with the heavy rain and tried to scrub the dirt out of the soles of our shoes to no avail. We huddled for warmth in the backseat of the pickup truck, trying to look out its fogged windows, as we made our way back towards town and warm showers.
Besides the rainy hike, we filled up our few days on Isabela Island, the third most populated island in the Galapagos, exploring the town's dirt roads and coconut stands; it was the most rugged and seemingly “tropical” of the islands we visited. While on Isabela we biked, hiked, and snorkeled before heading back to Santa Cruz Island (on another sickening speed boat) to fly back to the mainland.