Discovering the tradition of Post Office Bay is one of the highlights of a trip to Floreana Island. What it symbolizes and puts a point on is this; we all travel in search of that instantly recognized camaraderie between those on the same road, an aspect of the journey that pulls us off of the beaten path and into the arms of the unknown.
As the legend tells it, whalers in 1793 left a wooden whiskey barrel with mail for loved ones inside before leaving the archipelago to embark on two-year journeys. As word got out, returning ships would make the same stop for provisions and fresh water, checking for missives to those who lived nearby their hometowns in Europe and the States.
This is the heart of travel at its best, strangers helping each other in the spirit of doing what they love; a story that is still unfolding today in the islands.
Cruise ships typically make Floreana a stop on their itineraries. The tradition that started a few centuries ago continues with groups of travelers coming together to sort through postcards and letters left by those before them to deliver once home. New friends are made and adventures are shared around the world because of a small outpost in the islands.
An example of this is a story that the BBC ran about a couple who visited the island in 2011 and spent the next three years hand delivering 22 letters to people in 17 countries. The people they met and the difference they made touched lives, just as travel does to each person who sets sails on new journeys.
Which brings me back to the beginning of this story; the spontaneity of travel in the Galapagos, the moments it creates, and the new directions that it leads are the true treasures of the journey. Visiting Post Office Bay, taking a message back home, and leaving your own for others to take with them is an endearing part of the journey.
For the intrepid, this is the way of the world; for the rest of us, it is a surprise that awaits once the plane touches down and the journey begins.
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