The Island Hopping Chronicles Part III: Isabella ContinuedGalapagos Islands, Spring 2012

The last day on Isabella we visited the historical sight, the wall of tears. Prisoners were brought to Isabella from the mainland in the mid-1900s. To keep the prisoners busy, they were forced to build a wall by hand from volcanic rock. If rocks fell and buried a prisoner, the other prisoners had to ignore their comrade and keep building. Generally the prisoners were treated cruelly, the majority of which had committed minor crimes. Our guide told us a local ghost story that if one removed a stone from the wall at night, the next morning the stone would be back in the same place in the wall.

For the first time in my life, standing in front of that wall, I found myself understanding memorials. Hearing the horrific history of the wall, then seeing the sight moved me. I felt angry at the injustice and disturbed by how recent the wall’s history was. The point of memorials is to remind humankind that yes, we’ve messed up in the past. Like the age old adage says, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but guess I never took that message into heart. Now I realize that we build memorials to honor victims of atrocities as well as make sure we don’t repeat past mistakes.

The morning after the Wall of tears we went back to the dock, weighed down by luggage and not quite ready to leave the most pristine island in the Galapagos. I struggled quite a bit sleepy onto a boat still bummed I hadn’t seen a penguin. I thought about the amazing sights and animals I had seen on the trip as we pulled away from shore. My thoughts were interrupted by shouting and pointing into the water from people on my boat. I looked over just in time to see two Galapagos penguins shoot out of the sea next to my boat. My trip was complete.

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