Standing in the middle of the main intersection of Puerto Velazco Ibarra on Floreana Island, in the Galapagos archipelago, I turned in a full circle, taking in the remoteness of the island.
The large roads spanning the entire town are a mix of gravel and volcanic rock; you can see from end to end as well as the small bungalows and solar streetlights. In the distance stands the volcano Cerro Pajas, the highest point on the island. It was the dry season when I visited the small island, and you could see the stark white of the Palo Santo Trees in contrast to the black gravel.
I lay on the examining table at the hospital in the Galapagos Islands. The doctor said something in Spanish. His face gave nothing away. My translator Eduardo leaned in. “The doctor said ‘This is going to hurt a lot.’” The doctor’s assistants moved in to hold me down. I covered my mouth with my free hand and prepared for the worst.
I couldn’t fully grasp how extraordinary the Galapagos Islands were until my second day. In walking two kilometres, the landscape had changed drastically. One minute I was walking on a sand beach, then my feet stumbled over black precarious volcanic rock. Around me, the mangroves turned into cacti and the sea birds into finches.
I didn’t know what to expect of Quito on my trip to the Galapagos. I would be there only 1.5 days, so I knew I physically couldn’t see everything.
The Ecuadorean capital is massive, spanning 30 kilometres along a valley in the Andes mountains in South America. At 2,850 metres above sea level, it is the highest capital city on the equator and the second highest capital city in the world.
Ever since my second year of university during a scientific theory class, I fell in love with the enchanting place of the Galapagos Islands.
I dreamed of the ruggedness, the lava formations, and the wildlife. To me, the Galapagos Islands were more than the birthplace of evolution; it was a place of refuge and survival.
I knew I had to visit one day.