Gianna Haro Vallazza who grew up in Santa Cruz, Galápagos, writes with great sensitivity about the changes, not all positive, that have occurred in the islands that she loves, calling for everyone to work together to protect this precious corner of the world.
Today the young University of California at Santa Barbara graduate biology student plans to return to Galápagos when she gets her master’s degree.
Gianna writes that she misses her childhood. “When the lights went out at midnight, the streets were gravel and sand, and the way to Tortuga Bay was all stone, when there were iguanas on Avenida Charles Darwin, when being out at night was not dangerous and there were just a few cars for carrying cargo.
“When the bikes and our feet were our only means of transportation and when I was little, I felt that the whole population of Galapagos was my family because I knew everyone and they knew me. When water and bread were delivered to our home, when we could leave our bikes and our homes unlocked.”
Now, every time she returns to her beloved Galápagos, Gianna writes she feels like a tourist.
“I know no one and no one knows me, biking or walking at night is dangerous, because taxis drive fast and don’t yield to pedestrians or cyclists, they just honk their horns. Now very sadly I do not see iguanas on the sidewalks of Avenida Charles Darwin. Now there is light 24 hours, the streets are cobblestone or tar, water is piped.”
Gianna agrees that thanks to progress, several things are easier and faster to get, adding a “but.”
“Do we need things to be easier and faster? Did we need this when we didn’t have all these amenities? If you ask me, things were more comfortable and safer back then. ”
“I know everything changes,” writes Gianna, “but we should not let the wrongs continue. Our biggest problem is overpopulation and lack of implementation of laws and education. I know many who now live in Galápagos are good people and many of them came to help preserve what we are losing, and I know that others came in search of better employment opportunities and a better quality of life for their families, but there must be a balance. ”
Gianna writes she’s not attacking anyone. “This is a reminder to those who have allowed Galápagos to become what it is now and a call for the new settlers to learn what we are destroying. The key is education: an educated population will never be exploited or exploit their own resources. ”
This Ecuadorian believes that the negative changes are destroying her childhood memories, and with them, the fragile habitat of Galápagos.
To save this ecosystem, she says, it will take a country determined to rescue this heritage, but mostly it will be up to the 30,000 people of the five inhabited islands to make this happen.
“I want to help the conservation of the islands,” she wrote, “and when I have my children, I want them to grow up in the same place I did.”