By: Nicolai Bolling
I remember my first time to Galapagos very well. I had just finished my masters at University of Oslo and I had gotten a job in Malawi at a teacher’s college. I had some time and money before I start working and I was looking for a pilgrimage as a newly graduated biologist. Galapagos came fast to my mind.
After a few days of preparation, I was on my way to something I thought would be a once in a lifetime visit to the Enchanted Islands. I knew someone that was working here in Galapagos that had friends my age. When I arrived, these friends of friends invited me to live with them.
After a few nights in town, I passed by the office of one of the girls I stayed with and there I saw the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. I tried to talk to her, but she seemed not very interested in getting to know me. A few days later I decided to visit Las grietas. This is fissure with maybe 45 feet tall walls and 15 feet wide filled with clear blue water. Here I decided to jump from the highest point. I had good luck and bad luck. I overshot the landing and almost landed on the other side, but just hit the water.
This very mesmerizing girl I had seen a few days earlier was put in charge to take me to the doctor. We started talking and we kept talking for over a week while visiting hospitals and more doctors. As I was leaving for Norway I thought I would never see this amazing girl again as I was soon to start working in Malawi in Africa, which was even farther distance than Galapagos to Norway.
In Malawi, I worked with students from elementary to College. I thought them how to use analytic thinking to solve simple problems in their local villages. Together with the villages we were able to find more sustainable solutions. I was able to train students, but also I made sure they could have experiences in nature. I took students to national parks; many of the students had never seen a forest.
I stayed in touch with the girl from Galapagos and before I knew it my contract in Malawi was over and I was back in the islands. So you can say I did not fall in love with Galapagos first, but with a galapagueña. And just as I love my now wife more and more, I also love Galapagos more and more. I feel extremely privileged to work in the Galapagos National Park as a naturalist guide.
It is one of the few places in the world where you can experience nature how it should be. You never know what you will see, but often you have interactions with nature that are amazing, almost a spiritual experience. Here in Galapagos, there is also a very nice sense of community. For example, in the supermarket, the workers recognized my father that had come to visit me from Norway. I find that funny and cute. It is also easy to stay in touch with family here as you can just walk over to visit them.
I love my job and I love teaching people that come here why Galapagos is special. Many people that live here have not seen the special areas that we take our guests to. Working with conservation and students I have seen how important it is that young people get an emotional contact with nature. At the same time you need to teach students to be proactive. This way they will be problem solvers, not problem seekers. To be able to solve the challenges of Galapagos and compete with the rest of the world you need to give the young galapagueños a high quality education and unique experiences in nature.