Wall of Tears
Our Visit to the Wall of Tears
Water tank and all that is left of a cement base
Jean and Alan (Tuatara – New Zealand) radioed to invite us on a snorkel trip tomorrow, they were going in to town later and offered to show us the laundry and where the tour office was. There we met Patrick and Archana (Hestia – Australia) and Al (Irie II – Texas). This impromptu group hired a mini bus taxi to drop us at the Wall of Tears with the idea of bimbling back.
Puerto Villamil was previously a US military outpost, they had a water supply system the locals folk called “The Condensor”. The desalinated sea water was driven by powerful pumps through asbestos cement pipes to the tank above. The Ecuadorian government regained control of the facilities at the end of the war forever linking the islands past to exile and isolation. In 1946 three hundred prisoners and thirty policemen landed on the island to create a penal colony far from the mainland, they used the infrastructure left by the US Army, especially the wooden houses (none remain, but we saw the concrete bases).
During WWII, the US Armed Forces set up on Baltra Island, where they built an airfield and on other strategic points in the Galapagos. On Isabela there were military detachments maintaining three radar stations that were part of a surveillance system for the Central Pacific. These were to warn of threats to the Panama Canal. In this area the troops set up several sports courts made of pine lumber imported from the States. Much bartering happened during this time between the locals and the military personnel.
The penal colony kept the prisoners busy constructing a wall with blocks of volcanic lava. The great wall collapsed repeatedly and the prisoners were forced to build it again and again. The hard labour in the heat of the day and the harsh punishments resulted in untold suffering and sometimes death, leading the locals to call it "The Wall of Tears”. The prisoners coined the phrase “Here, the strong cry and the weak die”.
The prison closed in 1959 and is now a tourist attraction. The wall was far bigger than we had thought, dwarfing Bear and Jean.
We took the steps behind the wall and looked back. The wall is over three hundred feet long.
At the top we found good views..............
........and our usual little friends
A Hood Mockingbird said “do you want me this way, or that”.
Following the track we found a chap at full stretch - a sure sign he wanted the finches to dart in and clear ticks. A good opportunity for Bear to use his trigger finger, after a bit of whispering of course. Yes dear. After the third attempt and me with my fingers crossed he gave up and began munching.
At a ridge we looked back at the wall.
Further along we saw a pretty plant, an obvious ‘brought in’, I got to do a tortoise hug and Bear’s finger shows how tiny these bell flowers are.
We continued on and Bear, Al, Patrick and Archana took the steps up to the lookout on the highest point on Cerro Orchilla, providing an impressive view of the island's volcanic landscape. Alan, Jean and I made a target for a picture.
Walking back from the Wall of Tears, we passed through the wetlands.
We bumbled just over three miles in all, past brackish sea inlets, lava tunnels, lagoons and finally on to a white sand beach.
A few chaps en route.
Behind the beach we could see a cemetery, we’ll explore another day.
The beach ended, strangely at a bar blasting out the best of James Brown, happy hour until seven, it would have been rude not to call it beer o’clock. We thought we may stop at a cheapy Harry for supper but as it was gone eight and we hadn’t pre-booked a water taxi – a must if you want one after nine, we wandered back to the jetty. The captain seeing ten of us wanted to put the price up to three dollars, we all refused and a quick word from a local on board put things right. The fact was he was out to sell us diesel at four dollars a gallon proved there is never NOT a time to bargain........
ALL IN ALL A GREAT FIRST EXPLORATION
AN INTERESTING DAY