27 Sep Living on the Galapagos Islands by Mariana Garcia
Community Voices: a place to share guest articles from esteemed writers, colleagues, and artists of other mediums. Spreading and sharing the travel love! Today, we’ll be hearing from Mariana Garcia Martinez about her amazing adventures on the Galapagos Islands!
Before the Adventure
I had the opportunity to travel abroad; I worked and lived for four months in a place that was never on my Travel bucket list. As a student of hospitality and tourism we are requested to travel and work in order to gain experience in a hospitality or tourism business company. I initially wanted to work in America, although I had one condition; if I got a job there, I’d have to be working in a company located in a natural area. I thought about Wyoming and Colorado, so I spent months applying and sending my resume and other documents in order to get the job located in the place of my dreams: nature. For some wise reason the Universe didn’t give me a job in any of the hotels that I applied for, except for one located in Orlando city, exactly what I was not looking for.
So, I thought to myself, “perhaps staying in San Miguel de Allende (my hometown) is the right opportunity for me”, although I didn’t feel sure about that either. My friend Mafer and I were the only students that had no place to travel and work, until our coordinator told us about an agreement that my University has with a nonprofit organization in The Galapagos Islands, she said that nobody from the program has chosen The Galapagos before and that instead of working in a hotel, travel agency or restaurant, the work would be in a natural reserve doing organic agriculture and overall maintenance of the reserve.
After filling out and sending some documents, Mafer and I were finally accepted. A wave of excitement ran into my body – I would not only be with mother Earth, but also working for her! Yay!
The Galapagos? I knew very little about that place, except for the big tortoises, and I knew that it was the archipelago where Charles Darwin came up with the evolution theory. To be honest, at that time I wasn’t exactly sure where those islands were exactly located. I didn’t know what to expect. I asked to myself, “is it like Hawaii? Beautiful islands well developed? Or, Are they lonely islands? Will I find my own Wilson like in the Cast-away movie? “
Let’s go to The Galapagos
The departure time came, I brought a big and super heavy suitcase – it felt as if I were carrying rocks inside. Mafer and I took 3 flights until our final destination. We took a bus from the airport in Galapagos to get to the Port; I was watching the beautiful green scenery through the window of the bus. As we got closer to Puerto Ayora, I observed that it was a small town, most of the people were local and many of them were riding bikes. When we arrived I had the best ceviche I have ever tried in my life in “El descanso del Guía” restaurant. After 2 hours, Mafer and I met with American and German volunteers; Amelia and Josefin, they took us to the house where Mafer and I would be living.
The 3 Rules to Live or Survive in Galápagos
We introduced ourselves to the president of the foundation; he told us interesting things about Galapagos and he mentioned the 3 rules to live in Galapagos: to have no expectations, to be impeccable with the word and to never drink tap water. It didn’t take so long to realize he was so right, especially with the last one.
Goodbye Comfort Zone
I had never worked so physically hard in my life; my living conditions had changed: I stopped using make up and wearing nice clothes, had cold showers, got ant bites and muscle pain every day, I ended up so tired every day that I went to bed at 8:00 pm.
From the first day, we were tested by the supervisor and director of the reserve. They had us remove big volcanic rocks from the ground, carry trunks and work the soil in order to build a big organic garden.
Eventually our work improved, we built our organic garden and learned after several attempts that even the toughest rock has a weak point.
When the Strangers Become Family
During the weekends Mafer and I stayed in Puerto Ayora. We stayed at the volunteers’ house with 4 guys from Germany: Josefin, Johnny, Joshua and Johanna they came from a volunteer program named “Musicians with no boundaries”. They taught music to the kids, and when we were at home they played music. I loved my nights at that house, having dinner, sometimes drinking caña and partying. Johnny who I felt was like my little brother used to play every single night for hours, while I was laying down in the hammock watching the coconut palm tree, the moon, and enjoying his music. It was beautiful.
I have amazing memories with those guys and with the friends from Ecuador, the good times and the adversities got us emotionally closer – we became family.
The Enchanted Islands
Every island has its unique personality. I visited Floreana and Isabela; they were less developed than Santa Cruz. We went to the highlands of Floreana where I noticed different types of tortoises with longer necks than the ones located in Santa Cruz, I understood why Darwin found this place so fascinating to study. Animals (us included) tend to change in order to live or survive, which leads to the evolution as a species and as a whole. I found it so clear.
The view from Floreana was spectacular – the sweet smell of the island air, the abundant birds and their singing – everything was in harmony, and I was wonderstruck. I was there; one hundred percent of me was there, living every second in a sublime moment.
My family and I went to Isabela, the biggest and most beautiful island for so many. We found a lonely spot, full of untamed sea lions where we snorkeled, I snorkeled for nearly two hours. I love the sensation of exploring a totally different world.
The water was aqua crystalline. I got through a short tunnel full of different families of multicolored fish. Johnny and I followed a sea turtle that took us where the sea lions were playing around. I kept snorkeling while my friends were hanging out on the little dock. Then I heard “Mariana there’s a penguin!” “They must be joking” I thought, then Mafer insisted “Mariana there’s a penguin!!” I swam as fast as I could, I thought I had missed it when I turned around and all of the sudden the penguin swam right in front of my goggles, and it was one of the cutest animals I have ever seen. The little one looked like he was flying under the water.
Pachamama, I love you
“Pachamama” is the given name to mother Earth by the indigenous people of the Andes.
Before Galapagos, I remember myself desiring and writing to live an experience in nature to the fullest with all its implications. Galapagos wasn’t a journey of pure happy moments; there were also several challenges that made my experience out of the reach of my imagination. It reaffirmed my true desire to work in favor of sustainability, mother Earth and tourism because I want to make people feel happy, even if it is just for a moment. I know that tourism is not well-known for many people for right reasons. However, something that I love about tourism is that it is as flexible as you can imagine and I believe that people can travel in order to get a new perspective and learn to contribute to the community and nature.
I want to conclude with something that you may agree with …sometimes we don’t have to plan and work so hard for the opportunities we want to happen in our lives; instead we have to allow ourselves to dream and truly desire with the heart completely. That’s how magical life can be.