After a little daybreak session next day on the south coast, we noticed that the swell had visibly diminished as forecast, and during the next two days the “Pacific” had never lived up to its name so well. The little taster we’d had had motivated us for more later, but for the time being we took the opportunity to explore the island and get ourselves ready for what would apparently be a hugely promising new swell heading our way according to Danny. The sky is clear of clouds for our third day on the island, and after checking over the desperately flat, calm sea conditions from our lodgings, we organise an excursion to go and explore the east coast on foot, all the same making sure to load our boards and paddles in the back of the pick-up. Along the way we stop to climb the slope of a dormant volcano dominating the valley and offering a spectacular panoramic view of the whole south of the island, allowing you to see the big difference between the two coasts. As we reach the top we’re stunned to find an immense lagoon, hundreds of metres long, that has built up over time in the crater. Various species of birds fly to and from the crater, washing their wings in this unexpected bird bath, which turns out to be the biggest such lagoon on the whole island chain. A fascinating experience.
We carry on heading to the east, aiming for an area where there are lots of the giant tortoises that the islands are known for and the islanders proud of. These endemic creatures that seem to have walked straight out of the Jurassic period are as impressive as they are peaceful. Despite the massive weight of their cumbersome shells and their heavy, scaly feet, their slow walk is nevertheless a thing of a curious kind of grace that is difficult to explain. We are amazed to hear that these reptiles have a reputation for extreme resilience, capable of passing a year or more without eating or drinking and living up to 200 years. On his visit in the 19th century, Darwin took one of them back to Britain where it out-lived him, eventually dying in 2006 at the age of 175! Seeing these intriguing, curious creatures is a real trip back in time, the very incarnation of the theories of species evolution in conditions of total isolation.