02 Apr

Galapagos Day 4

Today started with me seeing Veronica on the way to breakfast. “There’s been a change of plans,” she said. “You guys are leaving at 12:30 instead of 7:30. Some crazy stuff just happened. I’ll tell you about it later.” The plan for today was to take a yacht out to a very small Island called Daphne Mayor. We learned later that only ten people are allowed on the island per month because it’s eroding. So all we got to do was circle the island very slowly in the yacht. We saw lots of crabs, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies – not much new. The second part of the excursion would be snorkeling. We took another 50-minute yacht ride (For a while on the yacht, a frigate hovered right above us – close enough at times to reach out and touch.); we then arrived at a small alcove back near the original launch point, where we’d be able to kayak and snorkel a bit. We saw lots of cool fish, including a blowfish, a shark, and some sting rays. Eileen and I also saw a baby sea lion. It was pretty cool, but we were in the water for a long time, so we kinda got chilled.

With us on our yacht were Veronica and five of the seven Perez family members. We had all just come from a pretty tense morning. The four mother chaperones on the trip decided to send all of the children with the teacher on the morning shift. Why? Because they wanted to keep the kids separated from the Perez son-in-law, who had been molesting some of the kids. He had apparently fondled a few of the boys in the pool here at the hotel, and he said some inappropriate things to some of the little girls, like “give me a piece of gum and I’ll give you a kiss.” While we were our for a morning stroll after breakfast, the mothers confronted the guy in the hotel restaurant. One of them said, “what did you do with the children?” And when he said, “nothing,” another mother shouted, “liar!” and threw a cup of coffee at him hard enough that it broke on his chest. Rather than being surprised, the rest of the Perez family was apologetic. “We’re good people,” they said. “He’s not even one of us.”

No police were called. The son-in-law and his Perez wife went to a different hotel for the night and changed their flight so that they wouldn’t be near the kids at all for the rest of the trip. Judging by the look on the Perez girls’ faces at breakfast as Veronica was finally telling me what happened, they knew. They looked sad, apologetic. I’m guessing this is not the first time. Veronica explained that things like this usually go unreported cuz people don’t want to admit they exist. The mothers will not call the cops; they will not send their children to a psychologist. It’s best if they just forget it happened and moved on. Freud would be so worked up, he’d have to take some of his cocaine to calm down.

It’s possible that husbands will mobilize and hunt the guy down. But these are all wealthy families. It’s best if scandal is avoided. Now that divorce is legal in Ecuador (as of five years ago), the young Perez girl may someday divorce here pedophile husband (his sister-in-law, by the way, is 13, just a year older than these other kids), but a divorce will not come out of this incident.

I wish I could keep following this story. I wish I could find out what happens when the mothers return and tell the other parents. Veronica says they’ll get blamed for allowing it to happen. What will that confrontation be like? Or will it even happen? The one woman whose son apparently got the worst of it is the president of the PTA. She’s the one who told Veronica she wouldn’t take the boy to a psychologist, that it’s best to just forget about it and move on. Will she even tell the other parents? And if so, what will the fathers do? Will the Perez son-in-law be one of those pictures in the EXTRA with a headline reading, “Lo Mataron”?

I must say, the kids boggle me. They don’t play the victim card here. They were all very willing to move on and keep having fun. And I’m not sure the Western approach to therapy is all that effective, actually; maybe it’s best not to dwell on the negative. The US definitely has Ecuador beat in terms of depression and other mental disorders. I, of course, don’t know anything about it, but maybe our treatments are part of the problem. Psychology isn’t hard science. In fact, it’s a philosophy, a philosophy about how the human mind – perhaps the most mysterious thing on this planet – processes, copes with, and understands experience.

I’d love to talk with some of these boys in 12 years, when they’re 25. What will they have to say about it all? How will they remember their fourth day in the Galapagos?

Originally uploaded by wiscostorm.

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