We are a family of four: Roberto and I with two teenagers who were raised here in the Galapagos Islands. We live in Montemar, a sustainable coffee farm located in Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Yes, there are people living in the Galapagos. Our property is located in the hottest real state place for an ecologist and a biologist. We are located in the migration zone of the Galapagos Giant Tortoises. Montemar, our farm means MountainOcean, that is the path that Giant Tortoises follow every year when they migrate from the mountain to the coast to lay their eggs. Montemar has also great views of the ocean from the mountain. Our life project started more than 10 years ago as a farm with a house for a family and with time it became Montemar: Eco Luxury Villas.
When my husband and I decided to build a pilot project of life and a house that produces most of its energy, harvests all water from the rain, treats all its sewage and used mostly local materials for construction on a biodynamic and organic farm, most people thought we were crazy. ‘Why bother?’ was one of the frequently asked questions.
This is the reason why we bothered: we live in the Galapagos Archipelago, a Natural Heritage Patrimony for the World that relies on imports for food, fuel and most of human needs for its thirty thousand population. These imports represent the most important challenge to conservation since every time there is an airplane or a boat coming with goods for humans, there is a higher risk of introducing an invasive species that can change the existing ecosystems. Since my husband and I love Galapagos, we wanted to be part of the solutions and not of the problem, so we decided to put our pocket where our mouth was and to build the first sustainable house/farm in the Galapagos Islands.
In the back of our minds, we also built this project in case the system, as we know it, collapses and no boat can arrive to the Islands with diesel and gasoline to fuel its energy and food to feed its people. This is how the idea of Montemar started more than 10 years ago. Now with COVID-19 it makes more sense than ever. Our solar systems are producing all the energy we need, we have plenty high quality water, fresh veggies and fruits, chickens and eggs to feed our family and great coffee to start the days. We are enjoying this new pace, more relaxed, with no rush and more closely linked to the life of our neighbors, the Giant Tortoises. Our routine has changed a bit but not dramatically. Instead of waiting for our guests to arrive, now we devote most days to take care of our garden and chickens to make sure that we, and our close community, has food on the table. There is time to enjoy the returning migration of Giant Tortoises that are arriving from their yearly adventure to the lowlands of Santa Cruz Islands to lay eggs. Yes, there is no COVID-19 for these magnificent reptiles whose breath and gentle way teaches us every day a lesson.
The tortoise pond is gradually filling again with rain that creates enough mud for the Giant Tortoises to enjoy a beauty treatment. The cooler season is arriving. Giant Tortoises usually explore the farm all day looking for good grass to return to the mud pond at the end of the day. The pond maintains a constant temperature. Tortoises love this since these cold-blooded animals will spend the night on the pond, covered with mud and breathing gently as they always do. Another day closing, stars are coming out and the southern cross proves that nothing has changed. The south is still the south. And we humans are just another species in this marvelous equation of life.