hms beagle

Galapagos Islands

Biographies have interested me since I was a child.  Each week my classroom at school would venture to the library for about 30 minutes.  I was always jealous of the girls who were good readers.  They seemed to polish off their reading quite easily while mine was a slow slog.  It is still that way for me. I learned early on that I liked history and biography.  Each week I would check out a book about some famous person. 

I remember reading about Thomas Jefferson and how he was challenged to a swim race by an Indian.  The Indian was stronger and a better swimmer but Jefferson won the race because he paced himself.  So what?  I don’t know, it is just something I remembered when I read his biography.  Same goes for Henry Ford when he built a car and could not get it out of the garage.  He had to tear down the garage door to get the car out.  How about Abraham Lincoln liking to wrestle?  Just quirky little things that I remember.

            One day in the biography section I picked up a book called Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle.  At least that is what I recall.  I had never heard of him.  He was an Englishman who had journeyed to an island that had all kinds of strange animals.  It opened up my mind to people who study plants and animals.  I guess at the time I just called them scientists because I had no idea what a botanist or a zoologist was.  I also had not realized prior to reading the book that there were giant turtles.  I don’t remember anything special about Darwin and also do not recall the book saying anything about evolution.  I suppose it did, but it did not register on my radar screen.  I just remember him encountering a lot of weird animals and writing in his book to categorize them.

            I choose to place Galapagos Islands on the game board of Treasure Trove because it has an unusual name and because they are unusual islands.  I was hopeful it would be of interest to kids who play the game.  I never really knew why they were called the Galapagos.  Sounded like one of the strange animals that was found there.  Well, that is partially true.  Galapagos in Spanish means saddle.  The Spanish sailors who discovered the islands encountered very large turtles that had shells shaped like a saddle, hence they named the islands after the large tortoises.

            The Galapagos is an archipelago of about a fifteen islands 60 miles west of Ecuador, discovered by the Spanish in 1535.  English pirates frequented the islands for centuries waiting to raid Spanish galleons of their gold and silver.  Charles Darwin arrived in 1835.  There are about three dozen indigenous species to the islands which are now a national park of Ecuador.