Day four. A late (5:45 AM) wakeup was followed by a 7:00 AM landing in the town of Puerto Villamil where we met trucks that took us forty-five minutes up into the Highlands of Isabela Island. From there the fun began as seventeen horses were trotted out to take us the remainder of the way up the Sierra Negra volcano. From the early moments it was clear that these horses were going to do whatever they wanted, which in my case was to sprint to the front of the pack and then slow the pace to a crawl, blocking the other horses from moving quickly and therefore allowing my horse to move slowly without fear of getting a switch in the tail from the gauchos who were accompanying us. An additional insult occurred when my stirrups came unhitched near the end of the trail just as the horse broke into a canter, resulting in a textbook example of blunt testicular trauma; that horse is not one that I will remember fondly.
The hike that followed provided great views across the baking hot lava, and we returned to the horses several hours later quite tired. On the ride down Sukh’s horse distinguished himself by continually abruptly stopping in close proximity to other riders, forcing the knees of those riders into an orifice of the horse that no one wants their knee forced into; Scott, myself, and several other people will probably be burning our pants later today. The day finished with some relaxation in town and on the beach, including cervesas, ice cream, and great bakery food near the jetty. After a long and likely choppy boat ride tonight it’s on to another side of Isabela to chase turtles and penguins for a day.