Just Back From…Galápagos, Part 2. A Postscript

Just Back From…Galápagos, written by Silversea’s Peter Shanks after he returned from his recent voyage, offers a comprehensive look at the various aspects of a trip to Charles Darwin’s island, from ship to shore. He followed up, once he’d returned home to London, with this delightful postcript.

It’s a few weeks since we returned from Galápagos but our memories refuse to fade – they say “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and with Galápagos that’s a fact at least for us.

So what has triggered me to write a postscript to my recent blog? Well, there’s a clue in the term postscript – it’s about Post Office Bay on the island of Floreana where there is a post office – or rather a barrel on the beach.

Since the 18th Century there has been a tradition originally started by whalers when sailors would leave letters in a barrel on Floreana hoping that a passing ship would collect the letters and take them home. Well here we are in 2022 and the tradition continues. We dutifully placed two postcards into the barrel – one for each of our daughters back in the U.K. And I flicked though a pile of some 50 or so letters and cards with U.K. addresses – and I chose to take one addressed to Teddington, London, not far from where we live. The real tradition – as there is no post in Galápagos – is that future visitors then hand deliver the cards when they get back home wherever they may be in the world.

Were we falling for one of those tourist fables, was this tradition for real? Would people really remember to deliver the cards – and would I follow through on my promise?

In Galápagos, the mailbox in Floreana is a special tradition. Photo by Peter Shanks.

And this past weekend something remarkable happened. One of our daughters, who lives in Weybridge, Surrey called us, quite confused, as a post card had arrived. It was in an envelope sent to them by somebody else who said they had been in Galápagos recently and they had sent it from Kent.

And then our other daughter, who lives in Streatham, London, had our post card delivered by hand and was confused as to why it had no post mark.

What was going on?

Well the Floreana “mailbox” had worked. This of course reminded me that I had yet to carry out my duty. So on Saturday I jumped in the car and set off to Teddington, London to hand deliver the card I had dutifully chosen on Floreana. Unfortunately they were not at home – so I left the card along with a note to explain along with my contact details. I subsequently received a lovely voice mail and email – the recipient was so excited to have received it – and it turned out it was written by a great friend who had visited Floreana from Panama and it had triggered a catch-up call with their friends in Panama to share the news.

In Galápagos, the mailbox on Floreana is a special tradition. Photo by Peter Shanks.

In this day and age of technology, and with so many unhelpful distractions in the world, how re-assuring to know that a tradition started by whalers back in the 18th Century still thrives today. It bought a little joy and happiness from Galápagos to Panama, and from Teddington, and Kent, to Weybridge and London. And that is a beautiful thing.