I’m Responsible For What? A Galapagos story

This story was kindly shared with us from RickSchleicher of muchbetter’sCome To Galapagos. Come to Galapagos is a passionate and family run, flexible and down to earth operation in one of the most incredible parts of the world. This is Rick’s Galapagosstory.

By odd circumstance, I now live on the island of San Cristobal, Galapagos, married, have a kid, the kid has reallyput a bug up my butt about taking care of these islands and the people who live here. I can imagine without him that I would just shake my head at what has happened and is happening here, make my living in whatever way was the most profitable.

With a kid though, you start thinking about his education, about the other kids growing up with him, the culture and the well being of his and his friends birth rights which as it has turned out to be specifically these islands, an endangered world heritage site.

A friend once quoted a friend to me:

We do not inherit the earth from our fathers, we borrow it from our sons.

Most parents, I assume on the birth of their first child encounter this sudden urgency to care for a future for their sons or daughters, a future that will last beyond themselves, an urgency that Im guessing lasts to your last breath.

I am only four years into it and it only seems to grow more urgent, more breath taking and Im getting ahead of the story here.

The moment when I knew I was going to ask my wife to marry me, we were sitting in a tiny open air snack bar next to the sun blasted runway of a small airport on a very large practically uninhabited desert island.

Sitting with us was the Governess of this group of islands, a very cordial woman and friend of my future wife. The heat was insoportable (unsupportable). Cotton clothes pasted to our skins, the table littered with the tiny, four inch by four inch sweat soaked paper napkins wed used to wipe our brows, cheeks, arms.

What we really needed were towels or maybe air conditioning. I could see the Governesss ample, pale belly protruding between the buttons of her blouse, blue-white and baby textured, I imagined. She asked me quite seriously, sense I was from California, if the next time I spoke with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, would I please extend him her personal invitation to visit these islands?

At this point in the story Ecuador just received its eighth president in ten years, third in the previous two. Each president appoints along with his cabinet members, the governors of each state, and equally important for the Galapagos head of the National Park and head of Immigration to the Galapagos.

The impact of the rapid turn over of these posts was to basically paralyze the institutions those posts governed. We have friends who being affiliated with the political party of a new president, received a cush job at an astronomical salary, only to loose their job when the next president took office. They would shrug their shoulders and take a vacation on the money theyd made and wait for their party to come back into power.

This rapid succession of presidents occurred at a time when tourism to the Galapagos was expanding at an exponential rate. There was a plan proposed to turn the Galapagos into Waikiki south, huge Sheraton and Hilton hotels, etc. Licenses for cruise ships were handed out like candy to anyone who had the ship and the prerequisite bribe. Illegal residents flocked to the Galapagos for a chance to make a better living than they could on the continent.

Most of the remaining endemic hard wood trees were cut down, these trees unlike many hard wood trees on the continent are extremely slow growing, several of them need their seeds to pass through the digestion systems of giant tortoises to germinate and with the near extinction of wild giant tortoises this process had not been occurring for some time.

It was discovered that the Japanese like to eat sea cucumbers which precipitated a mass immigration of fishermen from the continent and the near extinction of those mollusks from the islands, etc. and etc.

At that time I had only a vague idea that it might behoove me to care about any of this.

Thanks Rick! If you fancy to have a muchbetter Galapagos adventure of your own or want to find out more about Rick, Bere and Roley, click here.