One of the interesting historical sites on Galapagos is the Wall of Tears (or in Spanish: El Muro de las Lágrimas). It is located on Isabela Island and has a very appropriate name, because the history behind it is very sad.
When we first saw the wall it didn’t look that impressive, I was expecting something much larger. But as we got closer and heard the history behind this site, our opinion changed. It changed because of the way the wall was built.
In the late 1940′s and into the 1950′s this wall was made by hand by prisoners belonging to a penal colony on the island. They were made to work all day in the hot sun. They had to walk long distances, cut out large volcanic rocks and then carry them back to the site of what was intended to be their prison. I would imagine that the large, heavy volcanic rocks would have chafed against the skin, digging in an leaving it scraped, bruised and raw.
The work was so harsh, that many prisoners died, and eventually revolted. We don’t know how big the prison was going to be, but the portion of the wall that was constructed remains over 100 meters long and 8 meters high.
The dark volcanic rocks were cut out in the shape of large bricks. To see them all piled up, from a wide base narrowing toward the top and reaching up to over 8 meters high, makes for a very unique structure. It’s also not hard to visualize the danger involved in the construction. A fall, or a tumbling brick could have easily led to major injury. A prisoner would not have had much hope of medical attention in a setting like that.
There is a set of stairs leading up the bank to the top of the wall. The top of the wall is a good location for taking photos. You can get a shot of the wall and the desert like landscape that surrounds it.
This is a very ugly structure (metaphorically speaking) on a breathtakingly beautiful Island. It was sobering to think about the reality of one man’s paradise being another man’s prison. Isabela Island no longer has a penal colony, and the impression of Isabela left in my mind is that of a paradise, even though the Wall of Tears scars it’s landscape.