The Galapagos Diary — Part 1

Concha Perla — my favourite spot for a lonely morning swim, lots of sea lions and amazing underwater life all around me

I had this very ambitious vision of myself living on a wild island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and writing a lot. It’s already been a while since I came here and it is the first time that I have actually opened Medium. I have been writing in this chaotic journal-like way here and there, but somehow I needed a little while till I could process and understand everything that has been happening in the last weeks.

I love travelling, I really do, but on this particular trip, everything that possibly could go wrong did go wrong.

  • I didn’t fly when I was supposed to because my passport was only 5 months valid and you need at least 6 months until the expiration date.
  • They cancelled my flight back because I didn’t show up to this one.
  • I had to convince the Polish embassy in Madrid to give me a new passport and pay for it.
  • I had to buy a new flight.
  • My suitcase got lost in Colombia so I arrived in Guayaquil only with winter clothes on and a toothbrush.
  • My visa to Galapagos had the wrong passport number and they didn’t want to let me pass as a resident.
  • I finally arrived on the island and the place where I was supposed to stay was not available anymore so I slept on a kitchen floor for the first few nights.

I don’t know if you can call it bad luck or just the universe asking you very nicely if you really wanted to go that far by yourself one more time.

Well, the answer is, yes. Here I am.

Just the beach in front of my door

I am here. I breathe in, I connect with nature, I feel the hot volcanic ground below my feet, I feel the mountains breathing, I feel the ocean breeze on my face, I feel the salt in my hair and the white sand on my skin.

I wake up at 6 a.m. to go swimming with my sea lion friends, meeting some gigantic turtles and peaceful iguanas on my way. I walk around the never-ending beaches, I jump into the turquoise water, I climb the mountains and the volcano in the middle of the island. The streets are made of sand, everyone knows each other, and if you want to be in the middle of wild nature just by yourself, you need to walk a maximum of 15 minutes from your home.

My local buddy

In the evenings I sit on the sand and look up and I promise you that on Isabela Island the sky is closer than anywhere else in the world. You can almost touch the whole milky way upon your head.

During the day I teach English and the classes are exhausting, I have only individual students and I just hurry from one house to another and try to share some knowledge with local kids, adults, and older people. My youngest student is 4 years old and the oldest one somewhere around 75. All of them have lived here their whole life and their way of being and thinking is fundamentally different than mine. What I learn here every day is what I lack the most: patience.

I listen to stories, I don’t take anything for granted, and all of my senses are awake to experience and receive something new each day. When you live in a place so pure, when you meet more animals than humans on your way home, there is something in your way of being that changes. This natural, wild life makes you go back to your essence, to assume your primary instincts, and realise that fundamentally, we are good beings, we are made to co-live, collaborate, and love. It’s all so much simpler than what we most of the time pretend it is.

The simple life, the simple necessities, the simple pleasures. I share it all and I immerse myself in this disconnection and lack of complications in my daily routine. The more I know, the less I need.

The Internet connection is just a disaster. I have a friend in one of the few hotels in the island and they let me sit on the floor in their lobby and connect my laptop but I need ages to open any website and infinity to download any material for my classes. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but most of the time it’s pretty much wonderful. No connection at home, no connection at the beach, no connection in the forest. I am not available these days, not for anyone except myself and Mother Nature.

Hey you! Isabela is full of pelicans.

Extra point: Money — how do you do it?

Many people ask me how can I afford to move to the Galapagos Islands for a month, being a young person with a low to medium income. Well, it’s very simple: I came here with a volunteer program. I teach English every day for 5–6 hours and in exchange, I get a place to sleep and two good meals per day. Thanks to my temporal residency I didn’t pay the tourist fees to enter the National Park. The only expense I assumed to be here was my flight from Spain. During my stay in Galapagos, I spend literally no money, apart from some minor quantities for fresh pineapple, coconut water or papaya now and then. If you manage to sublet your flat/room in your home country, normally you get your flight cost almost covered. You don’t need to have a million dollars in your bank account to travel and live in far away places that you only saw in National Geographic till now. Seriously.