Floreana: A Woman's Pilgrimage to the Galapagos

Margaret Wittmer, Author, Margret Wittmer, Author, Oliver Coburn, Translator
Margaret Wittmer, Author, Margret Wittmer, Author, Oliver Coburn, Translator Moyer Bell $11.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-55921-001-0
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 07/01/2007
Although the adventure detailed in this autobiography is extraordinary, the account itself is rendered less so by the author's emphasis on personalities over events, with a humorless determination to expose the flaws in others, and by her lack of introspection about her role as a pioneer/explorer. In 1932, when Wittmer (then pregnant), her husband, Heinz, and his son, Harry--Germans in search of an Edenesque environment--arrived on Floreana, a remote island in the Galapagos, they first dwelled in caves once inhabited by pirates, the ``roads'' were tracks made by wild donkeys and their only neighbors were a misanthropic back-to-nature theorist and his disciple. The Wittmers learned self-sufficiency by doing--and sometimes by doing again, as when wild bulls tore up crops or they discovered they were thatching their roof the wrong way and it was not watertight. Soon an eccentric baroness mysteriously appears, proclaims herself the island's ``empress'' and just as mysteriously disappears, leaving a shooting in her wake. President Roosevelt even came to visit them (although they missed him), and they entertained Thor Heyerdahl's archeological expedition. Wittmer still resides on the island she settled. ( May )
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