That’s what they call this place, my home until May. The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is located on the coast of the easternmost of the Galapagos Islands, San Cristobal. The population has grown to seven-thousand in recent years, but the place retains its quaint sleepiness. Boats are anchored in the turquoise bay, and kids ride their bikes and skateboards up and down the boardwalk that runs along the coastline, swerving around the tourists and the statues of flamingos and the endemic plant gardens. Sea lions doze in piles on the sand and occupy every other bench. They seem to sleep all day, waking only to roll about in the waves or arch their backs and reach up to scratch at their fur with a flipper.
So this is island living. School is located approximately ten steps from the beach, and after three hours of class in the morning everyone walks over to the stretch of perfect sand. There are few cars here, and most of them are pick-up truck taxis or motorcycles. Everything is within walking distance, and the pace of life is slow, especially in the heat of the day. At 1pm everything shuts down for a couple hours of siesta, and I usually hide away indoors while the sun is at its strongest. In the afternoon I emerge to swim and snorkel and lie about the beaches. I walk around town and write letters in the little park across from the post office, or I sit on the black lava rocks with the stern and stoic marine iguanas, admiring their long, streamlined dragon tails. Just before the sun sets I go running, around and around town or a few miles down the road to La Loberia, a beach that belongs to a colony of sea lions and some big old sea turtles. I appreciate the calm and the small-town living after my time in Quito; here there is no pollution, no crowds, and I am free to roam. In the city I lived in a gated community in a house surrounded by another gate and equipped with an alarm system and a barking dog, and I’d run in little circles around the inside of the neighborhood because it was too dangerous outside the walls. Here it’s so safe that I can run by myself at night in the middle of the streets, and there’s no need for a lock on the door of my house. I walk slowly to school in the bright morning sun and I don’t miss the race to jump onto a crowded bus in the exhaust fumes of Quito. Here there’s no rushing, no obligations to rush to. It’s the capital of paradise, and while I’m here I think I’ll take a cue from the sea lions and take it slow.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Grace is a junior at Connecticut College with a major in botany. She grew up on the coast of Maine and looks forward to leaving its harsh winter for the equatorial Galapagos Islands. Grace’s interests include paleontology, backpacking, folk music, and fermented foods. Join her as she heads to Ecuador for the semester!</span></p>