Two months later, when I was in Peru, I received a letter from Eddy Niles, telling me, “Now I am in trouble with the girl who came out to be married to Heinie the Swiss. We met at a party the other night and now she is going to Guayaquil on the boat if I won’t let her move in with me. She says Heinie is too old for her, and she wants a younger man. She wants to cook for me on my boat also. I wonder why it is always the ones I don’t want who make these offers.”
In the same letter, Eddy wrote that Mike Castro had told everyone on the island about him and Friedel. Even her parents knew about it. Forrest, however, still did not.
Early one morning, Eddy, Friedel, Forrest, Sigvart, Terry, and I left for Barrington Island (also known as Isla Santa Fe). We anchored El Buzo. As our dinghy approached Barrington Island, the beach was covered with sea lions. I counted two hundred of them sunning themselves on the white sand.
We hit shore and they bolted as if a cannon had exploded. They tumbled clumsily over one another as they scrambled into the water. Their tiny flippers, flipping furiously, somehow managed to maneuver their blubbery, sand-coated bodies into the sea. They looked as helpless as participants in a three-legged race. Once they dived into the waves, they became jets—Zoom!
Terry and I quietly walked to another beach that was separated from the first one by a stretch of black boulders. From behind scraggly bushes, we watched the drama of a day in the life of sea lions. Bull sea lions mark their ownership on their possessions. They make their way across and over piles of sleeping bodies of their females, leaving a liquid trail.
Fights break out every few minutes, over females, naturally. An outsider slips in and starts to make time with a female. Lazily sunning herself, and blasé to the point of boredom, she doesn’t mind who makes the overtures, her own king bull or a stranger. In the nick of time, her bull comes to the rescue and attacks the nervy intruder with a snarl and a charge. In a flash, the two are at each other’s throats. Usually the charge is a bluff and the one who is off-limits backs away.
The white sand was stained with blood around one sea lion that was so still after the attack, we thought he was dead. When the king bull went off to defend his harem from another intruder, the one we presumed dead sat up, looked around, and scooted off.
While Terry and I were hiking and taking photos, Eddy and the others hunted wild goats. They were skinning and cleaning their quarry when we met them on the beach. Forrest presented me with a soft beige “coin purse.” All it lacked was a zipper. He had cut off a billy goat’s prize possession. Forrest’s idea of humor.
Forrest left to collect driftwood for a fire. The rest of us climbed the volcanic rocks lining the shore, hunting for Sally Lightfoot crabs. The moon was so bright it seemed we stood in a mysteriously lit afternoon, soft and luminous. Our figures cast long eerie shadows across the sand. Terry and I leaped and danced, watching our thin black shadows follow us.
Under this bright moon, we roasted Sally Lightfoot crabs on the beach. We cracked them open on rocks with rocks and picked out the delicious tender white meat. When one of us squawked or sputtered, it meant we had bitten into a lung or intestine—nasty and bitter tasting.
While we were feasting, we heard a splash in the water in front of us. A sea lion’s head emerged, shimmering in silver. The phosphorescence danced about him in the moonlight. We watched as sea lions stirred up plankton in the water, making long phosphorescent streaks. It was like an underwater light show. We spent the night on Barrington Island, watching the sea lions streaking through the phosphorescent water.
Next morning, after sleeping on deck, we went ashore early before the tide came in. We turned over every rock small enough to lift, and under each discovered a new world. God went wild here in bold colors and strange forms. Writhing, pulsating, slithering creatures with rows of tiny feet or none at all, speckled, plain or striped; green, purple, orange, melon, black, rainbow, and transparent; from star-shapes to blobs. At the height of discovery, the tide came in and swallowed up everything.
Three Angermeyer families lived across the bay on Santa Cruz. At the outbreak of World War II, a German father sent his three sons, Gusch, Karl, and Fritz, to the Galapagos. He and his wife remained behind in Germany and were killed in the war. Gusch married an Ecuadorian woman and had a son, Johnny Angermeyer. After much intrigue, another son, Carl Angermeyer, married Marga Kubler, the wife of Karl Kubler. The third son, Fritz, married Kubler’s daughter, Carmen.
Kubler was one of the early settlers on Santa Cruz, a big, bald, heavy German with a white beard. We were told he’d been slightly wacky ever since his wife, Marga, ran off to marry the Angermeyer boy. Kubler hated everyone and spoke to no one.
We went to Kubler’s house, located in the middle of the village. A high wall of stone surrounded it, and a sign on the door in both English and Spanish read: “Go away. I have no time to speak to anyone.”