It was the day before departure. I had been up writing blog posts until 1am and then was up at 6 preparing to for the girls and I to join RAFTKIN and the SHAWNIGAN girls on a trip to the canyon for an early morning dip. We would have been better off having a lie-in maybe, but the canyon was spectacular, and I was able to convince Xavier and Francis that we couldn’t set sail without returning as a family the following day!
A great start, and a breath of fresh air before stripping the beds and taking them to a laundry for a day’s turnaround. After that, I took the opportunity to do a little bit of last minute tourist shopping with Isabelle - a couple of little tokens for friends and family back home, the book on St Francis and the bilingual Ecuadorean cookbook. These led me back to the shop we had stopped by on the first day. I saw a bowl there, beautifully painted with a local scene, that I fell in love with for my parents. At the counter, I was still admiring it out loud to the shop owner who, it turned out, was also the artist. Luis told us to wait right there, slipped into the back and returned with a whole load of brushes and paints. He then proceeded to paint a frigate bird, and “Galapagos” underneath, on Isabelle’s t-shirt, one of Francis cast-offs that aptly has “Pacific Ocean” on it. She was so delighted. Just as I left the shop, Xavier radioed in with bad news. Our freezer had broken down and our entire stock of meat from Martinique and Panama had defrosted. I went back into Luis, told him what had happened and asked if he could recommend anyway to replace the meat - provisioning on the island is no mean feat. Luis immediately said he would shut up shop and take us to the market immediately. I couldn't let him to that and lose potential custom, but when he said he would be shutting up for lunch at 12pm we agreed I should come back then and we would go together. What a hero.
We walked and talked on our way to the market, and met Xav there, who was en route to pick up some cooking gas, and dropping off the other two kids with me. We could have found the market on our own, but we could not have done without Luis who talk us to the beef counter and made sure they gave us the right price for the right joints and sweet-talked the lady in charge of the chicken to not go on her lunch break just yet to not only serve us but debone the frozen joints we had. That’s not my job, she retorted. But he insisted and vouched for us. “Son buena gente” and she relented. Luis separated and bagged the chicken into portions and she gave him the bones.
Luis’ spontaneous generosity of spirit and kindness to strangers in need says it all really about why I love the Galapagos spirit, and we were so touched. Not only is he an amazing painter, he also is opening a beautiful hotel in Santa Cruz called the SUYMAR ECOLODGE (suymarecolodge.com), channelling that spirit, and creating a homely welcome for visitors in future. I look forward to writing in the guest book one day!