01 October 2011
On my flight to Quito from Guayaquil in Ecuador, I watched a really good movie on the plane – directed by Woody Allen, called Midnight in Paris’. It’s about an aspiring writer who gets in touch with his nostalgia through travelling back in time, finally learning to live in and appreciate his present, albeit one in which he is more true to himself and his muse.
Also, I bought some books at the airport that I’m enjoying – Solar, by Ian McEwan, Slow Love, by Dominique Browing, and Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman. This last one is a story told by a boy who recently arrived in London from Ghana. It has echoes of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The workshop in Quito went well. Then I spent some time with a colleague, Maria Sara, visiting the indigenous market, while my friend Roberto went to the service for his father, who passed away a month ago. I managed to find a beautiful tablecloth and authentically traditional bag.
After Roberto’s service, he took me to a restaurant overlooking the city. The changing light as the sun set was truly magical, especially as there were storm clouds gathering. After coffee at his brother in law’s, we came home and he played some piano and guitar for me. I even had a strum and tried to dredge up my memory of songs I used to play.
I found out a bit about refugees in Ecuador – a few hundred thousand, mainly from Columbia. The law here is very open and welcoming, which also has its own problems. In Columbia, there are apparently about 4 million internally displaced people.
Well, tomorrow I leave at 6.15 am for Galapagos, via Guayaquil. I am looking forward to a few days break, and the wildlife I will hopefully see. I will take lots of photos.
02 October 2011
I’m on the plane at Guayaquil, in transit from Quito to Galapagos. Once again, I am struck by how fortunate I am. This little escapade is being paid for by someone else (CEAL) as an incentive to induce me to stay on to speak at their conference next week, for which I am most grateful.
As much as the chance to see the islands’ exotic creatures, I am looking forward to getting more connected to Darwin’s story, a second link, after his Cambridge history. It is hard not to be swept up by the profound eddies of fate which brought Darwin to these islands and helped to confirm his theory of evolution. In a world of grey ordinariness, we inevitably bask in the reflected colourfulness of great discoverers, wishing that we could be the ones who left a luminous mark on the cave walls of history. I am no different.
Despite this imminent prospect of adventure – or at least new sights – I am reminded of Alain de Botton’s observation in ‘The Art of Travel’ that the only trouble with ‘getaway’ holidays is that we take ourselves along. And so when I read about the tragic fictional character of Nobel Prize winner Prof Beard in McEwan’s ‘Solar’, I am looking for my reflection on the page.