Women In Wellness: Dolores Gangotena de Diez of Quasar Expeditions On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Effort on is not enough. Change and improvement will make you succeed! When you realize that whatever you have put a lot of effort on is just not right, change, improve and be certain you will succeed.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dolores Gangotena de Diez.
Dolores Gangotena de Diez founded Quasar Expeditions in 1986 to show the treasures of the Galapagos Islands to the world. She believes that through sustainable tourism the company can keep the islands’ natural treasures intact for future generations to enjoy. Today, Quasar’s focus on small-group travel ensures a more intimate interaction with the Galapagos wildlife; much like the way Darwin experienced the islands hundreds of years ago.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I fell in love with the Galapagos nature and wildlife after traveling to the islands on an old wooden fishing boat with some friends at the age of 16. Once I married my husband Eduardo, I took him to the islands to see how we could establish the Galapagos as a must-see destination for travelers together and we started our company Quasar Expeditions in 1986. We are strong advocates of sustainability with the mission to offer guests the possibility of visiting remote destinations while leaving the smallest footprint possible.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
To begin with, and for readers to understand, it is important to look at what was going on in Galapagos in 1986 when we started the company, and when there were only 12,000 inhabitants spread across four different Islands in the Galapagos.
At the time, there were no professionally trained staff that you could hire. This was our first stumbling block, as we had the need to become not only yacht and tourism operators, but to also train for the different job positions we needed in the company.
There was only one weekly flight to the islands at that time, therefore we had to do with relief staff arriving on this plane, even if we had an emergency and needed to replace somebody from the crew. There were also no telephones in the Islands, so we had to rely on radio communications.
We had a radio at both our office and at home to be able to keep in constant contact with the yachts and our office in Puerto Ayora (in Galapagos).
It was a regular Sunday when, all of a sudden, we started hearing the familiar “crrrrrrr “ on the radio followed by “Quito, Quito, Puerto Ayora… over…” We knew then something must have happened. Our manager on the Islands told us that the chef had disembarked and did not want to return on board while we still had 3 more days of cruise to cover.
I told our manager to do everything possible and find a replacement — you can imagine how difficult it was to find somebody suitable for the chef position within a town’s population of 6,500. Three hours later we heard once again the familiar “crrrrrrr “ on the radio and then “I have found a mechanic who says he knows how to cook. Should I put him on board?” Our answer was “Absolutely, do so!” And that is how the cruise ended.
I like to share this story because it shows the positive part of what it meant to operate cruises at that time. Guests got so much more of the real interaction with the surroundings. For example, it was a time when you were able to get fresh lobster for lunch just by asking! Perseverance and coping with many difficult situations is what kept us in the business which is so rewarding nowadays. Our job is to make people happy!
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The diesel we used to but was constantly polluted with water, so we came up with the idea of building a barge that had two tanks to replenish the yachts — one tank for diesel and one for fresh water. This barge had a centrifuge system for the diesel tank to filter the water from the diesel, allowing us to replenish the yachts and avoid constant breakdowns due water in the fuel. One day, one of our yachts was in port to be replenished and the manager had something urgent to deal with. The staff on board tried to help and accidentally used the wrong tank and filled up the diesel tank with centrifuged water. It was a total disaster. We needed to cancel two weeks of cruises to fix it.
Never again! Even today, an engineer goes on board with any sort of equipment that comes without a proper information booklet, especially when it deals with the technical side of the yachts. We have the engineer teach the staff on board how to properly use the equipment until they feel comfortable and can manage it themselves.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Our business not only deals with sun, beaches, and vacations, it has a lot do to with learning. During our cruises, 60% of what we do is focused on teaching our guests about Galapagos nature, conservation, threats, opportunities and what we humans can do to help conserve National Parks and what we can do at home to avoid creating more waste than necessary.
I proudly say that we receive many comments from our guests mentioning that the experience changed their lives and their views on what each one of us can do to help the environment. Many of our guests become members of organizations that are involved in conservation once they get home.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
-Effort on is not enough. Change and improvement will make you succeed! When you realize that whatever you have put a lot of effort on is just not right, change, improve and be certain you will succeed.
-Never focus on negative experiences. Learn from them and focus yourself and the positive side of things. As much as we love what we do, there have been moments where we were ready to quit and do something else. It is the good experiences and memories that have kept us quite positive.
-If you have passion for an idea, put it in practice and do not give up! Some changes might have to be made but, at the end, you can make your ideas become a reality!
-When someone makes a mistake, stop and review what caused that person to do so. Many times, it could have been caused by something you, yourself, did not right, from the beginning.
-In short, nothing gives you a better feeling of wellbeing than when you wear the shoes of the other person. This could change lives of those around you and, certainly yours.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
The movement would be called “15 minutes is all you need” — 15 minutes to stop, breathe, walk, pause, and think.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
-In the tourism industry you are on call 24 hours a day if you want to offer good service (and who doesn’t!), especially when beginning a venture.
-You need to diversify to offer more options to your clients. It’s a perfect way to never have to invent new clients.
-Always listen to comments from your clients. They have the best suggestions!
-Take a day off! Use the “15 minutes is all you need” movement to realize you will do better if you take just one day off!
-Always praise a job well done. Appreciation brings happiness both ways.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Environmental changes is my favorite topic. The main reason we created Quasar Expeditions was because of my passion for the Galapagos. The Galapagos National Park has one of the most sensitive biodiversity systems that are badly affected by changes in the environment — decrease of the population of birds, reptiles and even fish. Warmer sea temperatures create a dangerous environment for some of the species, as their food source is found deeper in the ocean and/or not found at all. This is not only a big issue for Galapagos, but the negative impact is in fact worldwide and we have started to see the effects. I would love to get more involved in work on this issue when I retire, if ever!
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
You can follow me on our website: https://www.quasarex.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights!