by Caitlin Kleiboer, videographer
“Sometimes I think I’ll never go back to the US. The words are seductive, and once in a while I play with them in my head, a tantalizing refrain: never go back, never go back. Of course it’s all drama, because what do you fill that “never” with. You still have to spend the rest of your life somewhere.” – Somebody’s Heart Is Burning – Tanya Shaffer
I found this book on previous travels. Tattered, coffee-stained, well-loved. I read it cover to cover one day in the Malawi sunshine. I understood the feeling. I did not want to go back to the States from my summer abroad and thought I would just run away into the southern Africa sun. Reason and logic set in and I came back to finish my masters degree, knowing that I would travel again soon.
On this trip, the pull to stay came on stronger. There is something so magical and enticing about the islands. In part, the landscape and knowledge that you are thousands of miles away from any large piece of land. You are this little dot out in the middle of the ocean. In part because of the people you meet. – both local Galapaguenans and fellow travelers. I understand why some people go to the Galapagos and just never come back. I understand wanting the somewhere you have to spend the rest of your life to be there.
The people are wonderful – warm, friendly, genuine. The scenery is gorgeous – green, lush forests, warm, sandy beaches. I will always remember the people we met and the conversations we had. I will always remember jumping in the bay to swim with hundreds of rays. I will always remember getting charged by a sea lion on the malecon (the rules about keeping your distance are for a good reason!). I will always remember my first cock fight. I will remember the dozens of hours in the newsroom editing dozens of hours of footage.
San Cristobal is not without its problems. There is struggle and heartache there like any other place in this world. But there is beauty and joy there as well and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it over those 10 days. I hope those were not my last.