Playa Man, San Cristóbal, Galápagos
Amid all the protests over changes in the Galápagos law that would take away the old subsidies for wages in Galápagos and peg future wages to a cost-of-living index, the BBC, on its Spanish Language BBC Mundo website, actually compared costs of key items in Galápagos versus the Ecuadorian mainland. The site came up with some highly interesting results after talking to Gabriela Valenzuela, who runs a grocery shop on San Cristóbal:
Valenzuela, who has been in business for about 14 years, says she has to pay $800 sometimes to make a round trip to the mainland to pick up supplies. That’s because three boats that carry goods to the islands have sunk in the past year.
“We used to get a boat with food on a weekly basis,” she told the BBC. “Now one comes only every 20 days.”
Some price comparisons between Galápagos and the Ecuadorian capital of Quito:
A 500ml bottle of water, which costs $ 0.25 in Quito, is $1.00 in Galápagos, four times as expensive. A liter of milk goes from US $ 0.80 in the continent to US $ 1.80 in the archipelago.
In Quito, two kilos of rice can be bought for $2.40 while in Galápagos the price runs $3.50. Two kilos of sugar cost $1.00 in Quito but in Galápagos, the price is $2.50.
A dollar’s worth of cooking oil on the mainland runs almost $3.o0 in Galápagos.
There’s also a big difference in the cost of construction materials.
Manuel Andrade, who along with his family works on the delivery of supplies to the islands, told BBC News that while on the mainland a bag of cement has a value of $ 6.50, in the archipelago it can cost $ 14.
100 lbs. of reinforcing steel goes for $48 on the continent but on the islands, it’s $75.
It’s these sorts of things that the government will have to weigh as it determines the cost of living index for Galápagos. But one big reason many islanders have taken to the streets is they fear that the end result will be lower wages and harder times making ends meet.