September 22, 2007
This morning I went to a small farming town called El Progreso, then walked up to a viewpoint at the top of the island called La Soledad. The lookout wasn't very interesting, but on the way up, I passed an old guy who wanted to talk to me. He was the kind of guy who never lets go when he shakes your hand, but I couldn't resist his toothless grin and decided to find out his story.
Elias Tates had been living on the Galapagos for most of his life as a farmer. He was proud to show me his large garden which was full of tropical fruits. Orange trees, banana palms, papaya trees, avocado trees, and coffee bean plants were all over his property. Soon I practically had a fruit basket full of examples from his yard.
Elias must have been lonely because he talked my ear off and wouldn't let me go. He never mentioned his wife, but he said he had two daughters on Santa Cruz and lived alone. At one point, he asked me if Nixon was still president of the US. I told him he left the Oval Office a few years ago. Then he started telling me all about his religion, which from what I gathered was similar to Mormonism, but not quite the same. That's strange, I figured an archipelago where evolution was discovered would be full of atheists, but that was not the case. I waited for him to pause for a second to breath (it took awhile), thanked him for the fruit, and hastily made my exit.
This afternoon I walked up to Las Tijeretas, another hill near the main town. From there I saw lots of finches and frigates, but not the males with the huge red necks like you see on all of the postcards. It still was a beautiful, tranquil place to spend an afternoon, with no other people around.