Galápagos has changed. It has changed a lot in the past 13 years since I last set foot on the islands. Some changes are good, some are bad, and on some I hold my judgment until I have more information.
The first change was already obvious in Guayaquil before boarding the flight to Baltra: the baggage was screened for organic material before boarding the plane. The second change is Baltra airport itself. Instead of the small, kind of make-shift airport of before a modern building with extensive halls welcomes the wary traveler. Luggage is checked by a very enthusiastic search dog for plants and meat, before travelers can get hands on their suitcases and bags. So the control for introduced materials at least appears to be more stringent than before.
I actually was ready to post today about the changes on the Galápagos Islands over the past 13 years. But after last night, I cannot do that. I have spend the last weeks on Galápagos cruise ships with many guests from the United States. Obviously the presidential campaign was topic during many a dinners. As to be expected from people going on nature cruises, most of the people I talked to were Clinton supporters. Maybe not from the bottoms of their hearts, but being interested in nature conservation, they could not see any good in Trump and thus sided with Clinton. But some of the guests spoke out for Trump, seeing him as the better alternative. I couldn't wrap my head about this: how can you tour the Galápagos Island, and appreciate the fragile and very special ecosystems here, and vote for someone who will do his best to destroy all of it?
Nachdem ich in Kiritimati zwischen toten Korallen getaucht bin und in Marakei (beides in Kiribati) viele tote und gebleichte Korallen erlebt habe, hielt sich mein Enthusiasmus in Fiji tauchen zu gehen in Grenzen. Schließlich hat der El-Niño ja sogar zu Warmwasser-Anomalien vor der australischen Küste im Great Barrier Reef geführt und dort ebenso zur Korallenbleiche geführt wie in den äquatorialen Pazifikstaaten. Und Fiji liegt nun einmal zwischen den zerstörten Regionen von Kiribati und Australien. Warum sollten die Korallen hier also in einem guten Zustand sein? Aber sie waren es! Die Riffe vor Fiji waren phantastisch. Die Ausläufer des Astrolabe-Riffs vor Kadavu sind gesund, keine gebleichten Korallen weit und breit.
Coming from a country which is, imho, totally overregulated, I am not a big fan of rules how individuals should live their lives and how their houses should look like. But driving and walking through South-Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, I desperately wished for some rules and their enforcement.
The population density of South-Tarawa is almost as high as in Berlin, Germany. But without multistoried houses. And much smaller: less than 16 km2. All 56.307 people are living on ground level. Well maybe only 56.300, the remaining seven being the ambassadors or high commissioners from other countries, whose houses actually have a second level. The buildings in South-Tarawa range from make-shift over traditional to so-called “permanent” houses made of stone and some kind of dry-wall. The type of housing is not what I would regulate, though, only their sanitary facilities.