My Father’s Island

Johanna Angermeyer

Inspiration for: Galapagos

This is a true story told from the perspective of a young girl about her family and how they became inhabitants of the Galapagos.

Most books about Galapagos will focus on the history of the islands themselves; most are overly scientific for the average reader.

This story is told from the perspective of a precocious young girl that reminds me of Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird:

In literature class we memorized Arabian poetry. Well, I assumed Sheik Ass Pehareh was Arabian, or maybe a Persian poet, until two months later I saw the name written: Shakespeare.

Johanna angermeyer

It follows Johanna Angermeyer’s story of growing up in California with her mom and siblings. Her mom was a Russian that grew up in Germany who then joined relatives in the U.S. at the beginning of World War II. She meets and falls in love with a man from Ecuador and eventually moves there with him.

Tragedy strikes, but Johanna’s mom is able to find love again with a German man whose family also fled Germany and has established residence on Santa Cruz Island.

The story gives the flavor of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, which is usually on the itinerary for a trip to Galapagos and what it was like for an American to try to acclimate there:

Johnny, being blond and blue-eyed, was a big success in kindergarten. My beginnings were less auspicious. The school uniform was too big, my socks kept falling down and everything we did required either Spanish or breathing. I could do neither. Even hurrying to class left my lungs tearing the seams in the thin air.

Johanna Angermeyer
The book is hard to find. Click here to buy on Amazon if available.

It also gives you a real flavor for the wildness that is Galapagos. It’s hard to imagine trying to eek out an existence there back in the 1940’s but people did it.

It was then I saw the island.

I stood mesmerized as it appeared on the horizon, first in a low mist, then turning golden as the sun illuminated it like a painting in the Bible. Craters sat on its spine like squashed hats, tilted pots melted to one side while pouring out the earth’s boiling content. I could see that the hills were just high enough to catch passing clouds, giving the island a green, rain-forest hat. Tied about the island’s waist like a belt lay a fearful wilderness of spines, cacti and bare white trees sprouting from tangled lava churned out of the earth lifetimes ago.

johanna angermeyer

The ending is surprisingly poignant too. Makes you want to travel to the islands but makes you glad to know you’ll come home to electricity, running water, flushing toilets and microwaves.

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