Margret Wittmer was one of the first settlers of Floreana Island. Along with her son and husband she endured many hardships to create the life that the Wittmer family still enjoy on Floreana today. This true life account is about their arrival on the island, their tragedies, triumphs and the many “mysteries of Floreana” that they lived through.
About Margret Wittmer
In 1932 Margret left Germany with her husband and step-son to make a new life in the Galapagos Islands. She was a brave and resourceful woman.
Margret only traveled back to Germany twice after arriving on Floreana. She died in the year 2000 at 96 years of age and left a legacy of hard work and hospitality. Following in her footsteps, the Wittmer family run a hotel on Floreana and have contributed greatly to tourism on the island.
“Floreana” A Testimony To The Spirit Of Adventure And Endurance
I found this book entertaining and inspiring. The Wittmer family arrived on Floreana with next-to-nothing and had to start from scratch. There were no power-lines grocery stores, hospitals or indoor plumbing. They lived in old pirate caves until they completed their first, very basic home. There were only two other people living on the island at the time, an eccentric philosopher Dr. Friederich Ritter and his companion Dore Strauch. Relationships were strained between Dr. Ritter, Dore and the Wittmers.
The land on Floreana was very hard to work, and wild animals continually broke down fences to eat the produce that the Wittmers had grown. The weather was harsh at times and the isolation made life difficult. Their only contact with the rest of the world came with the arrival of a boat. Boats were few and far between, meaning that supplies and medical assistance came very infrequently. Margret writes about the problems that these things caused, but the Witttmers were unstoppable in their determination to succeed on Floreana.
The book made me think about the ability we have to start from nothing and build a life with our own two hands. Being surrounded by so many conveniences, while reading about what the Wittmers did, made their choices seem a little crazy. I certainly would not choose to do what they did with my family, but what they went through and accomplished truly is a testimony to the spirit of adventure and endurance. Could I do what they did if faced with the need? I hope so!
Unsolved Mysteries Of Floreana
The mysteries that took place in the early days of Floreana Island are touched on this book. The death of Dr. Ritter is open to suspicion; as is the death of the baroness Eloise Bousquet-Wagner who proclaimed herself “Emperatriz de Floreana.” The friction felt between characters in this book and the hardships they all faced made this book hard to put down at times.
This is a good book for anyone interested in the history of the Galapagos Islands and family adventure in general. “Floreana” is a translation so the English is not perfect, there are a few mistakes here and there but the story does not get lost in translation.
If you decided to pick up a copy of this book you might be happy to know that Editorial Galapagos will donate 85% of the profit to the Rolf Wittmer Foundation for social development projects in Floreana.
Details of: Floreana
Publisher: Editorial Galapagos / EdtGalapagos Cia.Ltda
Author: Margret Wittmer
Softcover, 280 pages
Available from some online booksellers, and at many bookstores in Ecuador. We purchased our copy at Olga Fisch on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Have you read it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.