Galapagos – Isabela Island – Los Tuneles.

We spent a week in the Galapagos Islands  Our amiable guide, Fabian, took us around the island Isabela and allowed me to ping him for his thoughts about local politics, consumer culture, and all these gawky, pasty Darwnites who made pilgrimages to his island.  Here was a man who grew up on the Galapagos, a reluctant tour-guide with an obvious love for critters and nature (and beer), growing up in a land that came attached with an unconditional mandate to restrict man’s behaviour and here he is making ends meet the only way possible, by leading tourists to intensely beautiful vistas where he explained the issues of invasive species, pollution, and over-fishing, and yet every day returning to his very typical Ecuadorian lifestyle, a town filled with low expectations, familia, siestas, fiestas, football and church… and thus I myself wondered how does he reconcile this?  “Yo, Fabian, what do you think of evolution?” And here Fabian gave a slight smile and looked away and somehow in one statement managed to explain evolution better than any textbook. “I think Darwin was a very smart man,” he said. “And I do believe those ideas.” He paused, reached down and grabbed some plants and dirt. “I think it’s true.”  He looked at the sky. “Everything is changing.”  And for some reason, that blew my mind.  And it also made me feel very positive about the Galapagos.  Maybe people like Fabian, with their simplified expectations and their “a priori”  awareness of evolution and eco stewardship will be the ones who finally fend off consumer culture?

This landscape was so bright at Los Tuneles, I never figured out how to set the exposure to make the sky a proper shade of blue. But I’m not too upset. The sky was the least interesting thing about the place.

We went snorkeling with some of these sea turtles.  They were as big as me, very kind and patient, and didn’t seem to mind us flailing about in their waters.

The finches are strange little birds.  Plump and stodgy. They are the pigeons of the Galapagos, hopping around tables, eating dropped food.

Maybe I can be one of those photographers who take pictures of old discarded boats. And I can make lovely prints of them and frame them with driftwood and hang them all over the house. And then I can fill my shelves with starfish, coral, and conch shells. And then I can punch portholes in my bedroom and install a periscope in the kitchen.  And I’m gonna need rope.  Lots of rope…

There are human settlements in the Galapagos, mainly sleepy Ecuadorian tourist towns with hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, dive shops, and churches. Lots of churches. Which I thought was weird. They are sort of like forts in hostile territory.

St. Francis is the obvious choice for the Catholic churches in the Galapagos. I guess that’s cool. And in a fight… survival of the fitest, jungle law, mano a mano… I’m pretty certain St. Francis would kick Charles Darwin’s ass.