Charly and the reptile kings of Galapagos, part one
I am at the airport of Calama, that being in Chile. It has a name, I forgot it. All the airports have a name, generally the name of a great man, a general often. Like Roissy. It is called Charles de Gaulle. What battles did he win? will you ask. Please, do not be petty. Now that it is tough. He won a couple of electoral battles. Very few generals are winning battles, you know. Most of them are losing. But the issue is the name. There are very few airports fancying women names, if any. You know why? Because there are very few generals women. It is easier for them to become presidents, chancellors, political leaders, family wife, call girls, whatever, but show me one to display a fine pair of golden stripes or stars…Calama is the door gate to this stupendous Atacama Desert. It is so beautiful that I believe we should transform into deserts some very densely inhabited areas like Mexico City or Mumbai where people are producing a huge amount of garbage. Real, low quality garbage…like the hamburger I am eating here, at the Calama airport whatever name it has. The waiter? A lecherous fag, gay please, keeps turning around, trying desperately to find something funny to say…Don’t say man, so to say, just move away! Looks like Boris Karloff young, a horror…Go, go into a desert, on the moon …there should be a lot of first quality deserts…shinning under the rainbows!
However, the issue it is different, I want to speak about Galapagos…but I cannot start…Let’s make a effort. There are a lot of Galapagos Islands. Some are just grains of fossilized dust sown into the ocean, but bigger ones are inhabited by people and animals and some extra-terrestrial plants. So one does not to be a seer to realize that the Galapagos are the result of a rough confrontation between fire and water which began, eventually, as early as 90 million years ago.
Millions of tons of lava rising from the bottom of the ocean towards the stars were beaten into submission by the surrounding waters while a dense curtain of volcanic dust, grime and steam obscured the sunlight around the globe for eons. I wonder if the dinosaurs hadn’t again to foot the bill; for a persecuted race group, specie, they were second to none. Bones spread all over the world…But let’s go back to the main …. The Galapagos Archipelago came into being, its tormented surface tells the story like an open book. Ragged cracks, salient ridges, cutting spires, channels and furrows, tunnels and pits, superposed layers of frozen magma and wide, sometimes globular crevices there, where masses of water and air were suddenly trapped, all these are a vivid testimony, the frozen marks of a ferocious battle. The war of the elements is revealed to the wise and to the fool. It seems to have happened yesterday.* You can still hear the mighty explosions, the rumble, the roar, the thunder and the growl of that days fading into time and decline to a barely perceptive hiss. It was a repetition of what should happen to the cosmos….It will cool down…and die…However, here on the islands once the calm returned birds begun to use this empty lunar like surface as a landing station for rest and sex while modest and stubborn vegetal forms, lichens and mosses, begun to gnaw and grind and knead the rock. It disturbs me that birds used the virgin areas as a huge toilet too disposing hundreds of meters high of guano dejections with the mischievous intention to produce nitrates, raw material to gunpowder leading to massive inter-human killing. Nasty birds… However the rich guano layer and seeds coming from the sky, wind-borne built a thin, particularly fertile soil and the game was over. Fresh water they didn’t have but God, the rain God amply covered the need. The earth got a new territory, it was time, mankind was insanely multiplying…we needed space to build soccer fields, malls, graveyards and hotels, hospitals and …natural reserves!!!
The islanders, who are practically all Ecuadorians, if you do not count the holy cash bringing mass of temporary visitors, have some big sacred cows. You will be astonished but iguanas are the number one sacred cow. One can beat a child to death, at home or rape a woman in a public place, nobody cares. But do not touch an iguana if you don’t want to become suddenly an unrecognizable corpse.
The iguanas, either of sea or earth kind, are by thousands lazily crossing the lanes especially leading to the shore bordering porous stone outcrops where they take formidable sun bathes. I will not say that they are living by photosynthesis but I never seen him eating something. They look like some outgrown lizards, obviously of the retarded kind, fat, sheer imbeciles moving with a sloth speed or like a galloping stallion, for unknown reasons, from one place to other. They are gray or dark like tar if you know what I mean; black Congo, but I have seen some wrapped in multicolour shinning scales armour proudly flashing deep yellows, fiery red and stripes of ash gray. Weird moving dragons, I reckon. They have also a kind of zigzagged crest of sorts on the spine and seem to own some chameleonic which they activate in accord with, probably their emotional status. When you go into an iguana way it stops its drive and looks at you with dumb eyes. If you come closer a law enforcer arrives full gas and is proposing to kick your ass violently if you do not go immediately out of the iguana way. Local legends tell of ferocious battle between hefty males for sexual reasons. I haven’t seen any.
The second holy cow is Darwin. People are taking you by the elbow, friendly and firmly and say: let’s say hello to Charly. They mean to one of the endless public representation of the long bygone amateur scientist famous for the contrast between his bald head and his bushy beard. A better example of natural selection will be hard to find. It appears that all the males children are secretly called Charles and the female ones Charlotte. I am pretty sure that endless representations of the elderly gentleman (I cannot see him young) are placed in churches next to the Virgin. Notwithstanding the extent of the cult the locals are as hard necked creationists as they come. I should say that I am moderate creationist myself. It is true that I cannot imagine the Almighty doing something as repellent as a centipede or something as evil as the human male. Male, I am sure was created by the Devil. But women, especially the beautiful ones, bear the hallmark of the divine hands. So do some gorgeous flowers and my bellowed macaw parrots. Now to finish with Darwin, I start a small but vigorous business, of mass production of busts of the above mentioned amateur scientist, holding his book – the Origins of Species – in his right upraised hand. The chairman Mao and his Red book inspired me. I expect a similar success. Unfortunately, the total idiot Jean Paul Sartre is not more here to became chief editor of our weekly – From evolution to creation and back – like he did for La cause du peuple, the organ of the French Maoists, but Alain Badiou?
Giant tortoises furnish the third sacred cow. Here things become complicated. You can judge by yourself. The local tortoises, many unique species, had particularly tough times. First the pirates, then the stray dogs, then you will not believe, the feral donkeys brought them on the brink of extinction. So the locals got into the energic tortoise farming to rebuild the livestock. The result: giant open stables of giant tortoises at any time of their existence. By the way, this not very bright reptile lives practically for eternity. You cannot find a tortoise shell artefact in Santa Cruz would you pay its price in gold. Are you going to get one through a Mafia connection you will rot in prison as long as the average armoured reptile lives! The next day after my arrival to Isabela I took a bicycle and went to see them. No reaction what so ever. The picture? a multitude of endlessly munching lettuce fellows. Despite limited agility and cumbersome armour, they are great sexual performers when one considers the quantity of the offspring. Eggs probably. I had a dispirited vision. Millions of tortoises broke the weak fences of their corals, pour all over the world , invade continents, do not forget that they are amphibians, and crush the western civilization like a tsunami of panzer divisions even before than Islamists are able to make a move. Scaring, one way or other To tell you that Lonesome Georges, a famous local male tortoise, was forced to remain a bachelor or even a virgin by not having a mate of his own species and became the islands’ national hero? Stubborn bastard! Couldn’t it make a compromise? Everybody does….Horses and donkey do, and the result does not lack power even if it cannot multiply….I know people like this! No, I will not say a word more!
* And I am forced to say that the war between elements is not over and Fernandina, the third younger and largest island was savagely the ocean and conspicuously increasing its surface nor later than 2009!
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, PART ONE