There’s a tradition on the Galapagos Islands about mail delivery. Hundreds of years ago someone from a whaling ship set up a barrel in a place now called Post Office Bay to act as a mailbox. Ships could drop mail off there with the hope that some other passing ship heading home would pick up their correspondence and deliver it. Ships inbound to the islands would drop off mail destined for crews that were still in the islands. It was a good system that worked well. It still works! Today’s tradition is that visitors to the islands visit Post Office Bay on Floreana Island and leave post cards. Galapagos explorers from other ships then visit and go through the post cards and pick out cards that can be delivered in person. The intent here is that the post cards must be hand delivered and it’s considered cheating if you put the mail in a regular mailbox when you return to civilization. No stamps required! So on her visit to Post Office Bay, Mrs. Kongo and her group went through a big stack of post cards and one caught her eye that was addressed to Richmond, Virginia. Now the Kongo troop used to live in Virginia and are very familiar with Richmond. In fact, Emily, a very good friend from Richmond was visiting just a few days after the monkeys returned from the Galapagos Islands! Furthermore, Mrs. Kongo noticed that the street address on the post card was close to Emily’s home. So, fate deciding everything, Mrs. Kongo bravely accepted responsibility for delivery of the post card and it started its winding journey to the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia via brief stops in Quito, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Post Office Bay is just about the only place you visit in the Galapagos Islands for its human history instead of its geological and evolutionary history. The barrel is just a short walk from the beach that is home to sea lions, crabs, and marine iguanas. These creatures are oblivious to the determined travelers who trudge up the trail to the post office site, which looks like a menagerie with memorabilia and graffiti from all over the world. (The only place this type of artistic license is allowed in the islands.) So Mrs. Kongo passes the post card to Emily during her visit to San Diego. Emily spends a week in Southern California then flies back to Richmond and realizes the address actually intersects her street in the Westover Hills neighborhood. A few days later Emily stops by and hand delivers the post card to two very surprised people! The Post Office Bay system is fun and adds a final twist to your adventures in the Enchanted Isles. If you make this trip someday, be sure to visit this unusual post office. You never know what kind of monkey is going to come knocking on your door some day. By the way, it turns out that the post card delivered to Richmond, Virginia had been dropped off the very same day Mrs. Kongo found it (the Richmond posters were from another tour ship) and it made it to its final destination less than two weeks later. Not bad for snail mail.
Travel safe. Have fun.
See some of Kongo’s Galapagos pictures here.