I was ten years old and running away from home while living in the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos – Why did I run away from home so much while I lived there? There are many reasons: I was mistreated, treated like a servant, took the blame for everything that went wrong, got beatings, went to bed without super, and was very unhappy to be there with no hope of getting out until I turned eighteen years old.
But, I was a kid, I had to go to school, do homework but also be a servant of the household. It sucked and small that I was, I saw the injustice of it all. My solution was to run away and hope for a better existence. Little did I know that God had another path for me. Since I arrived in Puerto Ayora (the little town I lived in – population 200), I was introduced as the little servant from the mainland rather than as a son from a previous marriage. I had to help with the chores at home such as carry water from the town well, gather wood from the hills for cooking, chop the wood, light the kitchen wood burning stove early in the morning, wash clothes, iron clothes, watch the baby, feed my sisters, babysit; all of it at the ripe age of nine. It was enough to drive a 9 year old kid mad.
I was also blamed for anything that went wrong in the household. I remember one instance where one of the avocados had a bite mark on it. Everyone was questioned and my sisters denied ever touching it. I was guilty by default as I was the only one left. No one believed I was innocent, especially my stepmother. Her logic, everyone else didn’t do it, therefore he must be guilty.
One of my jobs was to have water ready for toilet flushing. We have no running water, so I had to get water from sea for this task, and have it ready for the next flushing. It was my job as the designated helper in the family. Every weekend my father went on a bender and drank lots of beer, his poison of choice. By Sunday afternoon, he would sleep it off and be ready for work on Monday morning. I was the one that went to the package store and bought beer for my father. Another week and the cycle continued.
I had had enough. I thought that running away was the way to escape my situation, all I had to do was run away and everything would be ok. I was wrong! On an island, with three small towns, where everyone knew everyone else, after a few days word got back to my father where I was hiding and I had no choice but come back where I belonged. You either came back or you’re brought back by the police. I ran so much that it embarrassed my father. I actually had the gall to bring him to family court once. I was represented by the local Catholic priest, who saw the injustice of it all and pleaded that I be released into his custody. I lost the plea as the judge was a friend of my father’s and saw no reason to make this happen. I was reprimanded by the judge and sent back home to the same situation.
I was corrected for my running away every time, either a belt or anything such as a roll of wire served the purpose. I ended up with black and blue marks all over my back and legs. But it didn’t matter; justice was what I was seeking. The more I was mistreated, the more I ran. I dreamed of turning eighteen. Leaving home, getting a little room, and living my own life as I saw fit. That was my dream until God intervened and rescued me from the situation. But that is another story.
Finally, my father sat me down and gave me a choice, behave or be sent to a boy’s reform school. I chose the latter; I thought anything was better than living at home. I saw no ending until I was 18. My father’s way of fixing the situation was to take me to the mainland and dump me on my grandparents’ lap and say; here he will stay until he is of age. That cured me of running away and my unhappiness. My grandmother and my aunts were kind and looked after me. Another chapter in my life was closed or so I thought because 1 year later I was back in Galapagos and the next chapter was about to begin.