Since posting my Galapagos Travel Adventures web site, I have received emails from old friends I hadn’t heard from in decades. First to find me through my Galapagos site was Johanna Angermeyer, author of the book, My Father’s Island. Johanna Angermeyer gave my email address to Jacob Lundh, whom I had not seen or heard from since I was in the Galapagos in 1961. At the time, Jake was ship’s agent for the Cristobal Carrier and an authority of the flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. Jake Lundh’s emails brought me up to date with fascinating accounts of the people I had known there.
Then Tui De Roy, author of Galapagos: Preserving Darwin’s Legacy, told our dear friend, Friedel, about my Galapagos Travel Adventures web site and gave Friedel my email address. Terry and I had lived with Friedel and her (then) husband while we were on the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz. Friedel roamed the other islands with us on Eddy Niles’ boat, El Buzo. It was such a joy hearing from both Jake and Friedel again after all those years! How quickly nearly half a century melted away with our renewed email friendship. Friedel has generously given me permission to share with readers of Galapagos Travel Adventures an account of the hardships she suffered after leaving Galapagos for her new home in Norway.
Dear Ms. Howard,
My niece in Galapagos forwarded your website with its interesting photos of the islands in 1961.
I am a member of the Angermeyer family... and I was in Santa Cruz that year but in the summer months only so we probably missed. I have such vivid memories of that first summer and your photographs brought many of them back so thanks for that. You can look at my website by googling my name Johanna Angermeyer or the title of my first book, "My Father's Island". [http://www.angermeyer.co.uk]
I am in communication with Friedel Horneman... should you be interested in saying hello. I now live in England with my sailing husband... Friedel lives in Norway with her reindeer herding husband!!
My Fathers Island is on its 8th reprint and about to be published in Spanish.
My children's picture book, Is Your Mama An Iguana, was launched in Sept. Not on sale in the U.S... only the U.K at the moment. It has sold out in Ecuador and second edition is on the way.
We are away from 7 Jan to 21... guest lecturing on a cruise from U.K down to S. America.
Good to be in touch.
I had the pleasure of receiving your address from Johanna Angermeyer, author of My Father's Island, and a Galápagos enthusiast. Reading your story brought back many fond memories of the last years I spent on the islands.
Much has happened since, but I doubt if I ever want to return to the islands, because the changes are too great and most of the people I knew and loved are gone -- nearly all of them in fact...
Time is cruel to us humans. I am now 80, the golden boy converted to a silvery ancient mariner who is aware that very little time is left, and that time passes too fast.
I met Friedel recently at the funeral of her eldest brother, Robert, who was born on San Cristóbal in 1928. Robert and Christian are the result of Horneman's first marriage.
Friedel has had a happy marriage during a number of years, has two daughters and a son, plus grandchildren. Her parents died some years ago, here in Norway, as did Graffer and Rambech. The latter lost his wife on Santa Cruz. The Kastdalens are all gone, except for Alf's daughter María and his son Torbaldo. The latter has a small hotel in Academy Bay, plus the cattle ranch he inherited.
Don Manuel A. Cobos died some years ago in Los Angeles, close on 90 years. The Angermeyers and their wives are also gone, except for Carmen Kübler, Fritz' wife. Fritz Jr. owns several tourist yachts, lives with his third wife (if he has not got rid of her yet...). Don Carlos Kübler died a number of years ago under strange circumstances.
As for Floreana, the older Wittmers are no more, but Rolf and Floreanita have descendants so the family has not disappeared. But Galápagos is not the same, as you so well express it yourself.
Your judgement of old Horneman is correct. He came from a well to do family, had a good education and very good breeding. In fact, the Horneman family comes originally from Flensburg, where they are members of the nobility.
Congratulations for a good story and best wishes,
Jake, the former ship's agent in Paradise.
It was a great pleasure to get your reply. I remember you both very well -- one does not forget such lovely young tourists...
As far as I know, Sigvart is still alive and lives in California. I suppose that [Forrest] Nelson would be dead by now. He spent a few years in Thailand, then went back to Galápagos. I had contact with his daughter Christy for a while, but have had no news from her for some time.
Zouzou shot herself, probably depressed by loneliness, since Mike [Castro] was appointed conservation officer of the Darwin Station and spent all his time with expeditions, away from home. As for Mike, he was some years later shot down on a Guayaquil street by someone who disliked him. Mike and I used to be good friends, but he became more and more greedy as time went by and his success increased, and may have harmed somebody economically.
Alf Kastdalen married Corina Espín in 1968. She had come to the island with her family, when some more migrants from the mainland arrived.
If you look up www.galapagos.to on Internet, and look into the section on texts, you should be able to find my MS called The Last Days of a Paradise. In XXIV Goodbye to Paradise, you will find the whole story of Kübler's death. We were living in Australia at the time, and I have no dates, but it must have happened in the 1970s. [http://www.lundh.no/jacob/galapagos/pg05.htm]
I have not had a website of my own for several years, and my material is on the web of my eldest daughter and on John Woram's site, mentioned above.
Best wishes to you and Terry,
It was nice to hear from you again.
We just had the visit of Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, San Francisco film makers who are working on a Galápagos project, Satan Came to Eden, with the Austrian Baroness Eloise von Wagner Bosquet as a central figure. [www.gellergoldfine.com/eden.html]
They both agree with me that Galápagos has been spoilt by so-called progress and say they can understand that I don't want to go back for a visit.
Did I tell you about Antonio Sotomayor's birthday celebration on a desert island? Antonio Sotomayor was fond of his booze, and was known to have a considerable thirst. However, he moved me deeply when my father died and he told me how sorry he was. He did in fact weep, tears running down his weathered face. I was also very surprised to see his reaction. Apparently, he was a lot more sensitive than he appeared to be.
Once he was fishing out from one of the smaller, uninhabited islands. The men with him remembered suddenly that it was his birthday, and made jokes about his being unable to provide a decent party. He just smiled and left the campfire to walk into the bushes above the beach. Everybody thought of course that he was responding to a call of nature.
Suddenly, he was back with a gallon bottle of Galápagos moonshine, which he had hidden on a previous visit. As can be expected, there was no fishing next day...
Best wishes to you and Terry,
The film makers, Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, have left on their way to San Francisco. It was a great pleasure being with them. Friedel is of the same opinion. The last day they were here, my eldest daughter, Ingrid, took care of them. She and her husband took them around, which was good, as both my wife and I are not so strong any more.
I shall keep you informed about the film, as I shall be in touch with the Gellers for a while, at least.
As for your using my material, you are most welcome to publish whatever you find interesting as long as you tell me, so I know what happens to it.
The municipal council on Santa Cruz (imagine, we have such things out there now!) has asked for permission to publish the Spanish version of several of my writings, which will come out next year. I enclose the proposed cover pictures. It will come out in two volumes in a cardboard box. You may not believe it, but it will all be printed on Santa Cruz -- we have become too civilized it seems.
My best wishes to you and your sister,
Tui De Roy [author of Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire] was here visiting with us in February. And we talked about the "old days" in Galapagos, then she told me that you had written a story about your travels. Later she sent the story to me to read and she gave me your email address too. Real fun to read, so many memories came back.
So much has happened since that time.
I have 5 grandchildren and just now they are visiting, so our house is full of life...
I would very much like to get in contact with you and exchange emails, if it is Ok for you? In the winter I have time to write, now it is rather a busy time for me. But I am very eager to get a reply from you... If you have a little time to spare for me.
Best wishes from,
Friedel H. Vonka.
How wonderful to hear from you again after all these years. Terry was surprised and delighted when I read your email to her. It brought back many happy memories of those carefree days. We had such great fun with you, especially when traveling from island to island on El Buzo with Eddy Niles. I’m sure your parents have long since passed, but we loved being with them at your childhood home arriba in the Highlands.
We thought you would eventually live in a sophisticated city such as Paris, London or Munich. I found Karpbukt on the map and see that you live at the northernmost tip of Norway. How ironic that you grew up on a remote island on the equator and now you live in a remote part of Norway above the Arctic Circle.
We have so much catching up to do – almost 48 years worth. When you have the time, you must tell us everything from the time we left you in the Galapagos – and don’t leave out any of the juicy details. I know it will take you many emails over a period of time. We have lots to tell you, too.
We were absolutely thrilled to hear from you.
Gail and Terry
Good to hear from you again. I want to reply on your questions.
When I left Forrest, I went with my old father directly to Norway, and that was in March 1964. Forrest did not know that I was leaving him. I told him that when we were standing on the Cristobal Carrier ready to leave, with my father lying in the bunk, he was so sick. Forrest was not too sad about that and he gave me 5 dollars which he had in his pocket and said that was all he had. Well I did not ask for anything. I came to him with nothing and so I left... I divorced him from Norway.
We went by a Swedish banana boat through the Panama canal, then first stop in Europe was Bremerhafen in North Germany. We stayed there for 2 nights before continuing to Oslo. As my father was so ill we went directly for Norway.
I had contacted my 10 years older half-brother Christian Horneman. We met in Oslo and took the train straight up to Trondheim where Christian had arranged for a home for our sick father. How did I get money for the tickets, well I had been saving a little for some time, as I knew the that the marriage would not last long. And Mutti, my mother, she gave us all she had. I also borrowed some money from Bud Divine, the American living on the other side of Academy Bay. Do not know if you did meet him and his wife Doris?
The very next day in Trondheim I went out looking for a job, as I was completely broke, but I did not tell a soul. And I did get a job in a hotel, fixing beds! Well I wanted to work in the reception but did not get that job. So I continued looking for something else.
But it sure was not easy at that time, as I had not a single paper to show, except for a passport. I flew up to Kirkenes where I got a summer job as a guide and bus hostess, a 10 hour ride every 2 days. It was very interesting, I sure learned a lot about my new country.
After a year my father recovered and went back to my mother who was on the farm alone in the Galapagos, he missed her so much.
Just before my summer job was to an end I met my husband on a Red Cross evening where I entertained telling about Galapagos. After that I went to Germany to visit my uncle and 4 cousins and stayed there for 2 months. Per, now my husband, kept writing to me and asking me to come back up North. So I did. Just needed some time to think. Well I have not regretted my decision as Per is a good husband, and let me care for my parents so many years.
First time I went Back to Galapagos was with Christian in 1996, Christian wanted to see where his father had spent so much of his life.
Then I have been back 2 more times, last time was in 2005.
The change on Santa Cruz is hard to imagine. Paved streets, lots of cars rushing forth and back, 3 airplanes landing on Baltra, the North side Of Santa Cruz bringing tourists and Ecuadorians forth and back. The only thing that is the same as when we were there is the color of the water, the cliffs and the animals. Even the vegetation has changed a lot as the people have water now and nice gardens with lots of imported plants.
Santa Cruz is a real tourist trap, plenty of souvenir shops, hotels. Everything is rather expensive as it all is imported from the mainland.
Flying over to Galapagos is a LOT more comfortable than the old Cristobal Carrier!!! And just 2 hours.. Then you go by bus across Santa Cruz, interesting.
My childhood home was devastated, there is hardly anything left. A sad sight. The wooden 2nd story was old and rotten. Now there are some Ecuadorians living in the lower part, the first story was cement bricks made by my mother, 8 at the time, she made them in forms. Yes my mother was a fantastic woman. And she ended up living with me for 27 years, but she kept missing the humble home in Galapagos, which she used 33 years to build up.
Please tell me a bit about what you have been doing.
So nice to have contact with you again..
Looking forward to hear from you. Much love,
This summer the film makers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller visited me for 4 days and they made a 3 hour interview with me about Galapagos.
They are making a documentary film about the first settlers on Galapagos. About why they chose to go to Galapagos.
The title of the film will be SATAN CAME TO EDEN.
They have worked with this film project for three years, and they have been down to Galapagos 3 times doing research work.
I am very keen on seeing how it will turn out..