Saturday, December 24, 2005

Why pangapilot?

In the Galàpagos islands, the rubber dinghies used to ferry tourists from the mother ship to the visitor sites are called pangas. Elsewhere they are called zodiacs, I believe. Elsewhere again, pangas are machetes.

But back to the Galàpagos: for six months in 2001 I had the immense good luck to land a volunteer position at the Charles Darwin Research Station at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz in the Archipiélago de Colón, the official Ecuadorian government name for the Galàpagos. A collection of 26 e-mails telling of my adventures on these amazing islands can be downloaded from so I will refrain from detail here. It's enough to say that my time there will be hard for me to equal, combining two potent ingredients: first, the chance to experience a singular location with its extremely particular wildlife and second, a taste of an acute and revealing example of the struggle between the forces of conservation and exploitation that is the subtext of life on earth today - and its chances of survival beyond the next couple of centuries. I wish I had talent as a fiction writer because I am convinced the drama now developing between a range of interest groups, personalities and nationalities in the Galàpagos is full of potential for an amazing eco-thriller. Contact me if you think you have the talent to take it on and I'll try to help.

Anyway, when ebay wanted me to give myself a name, I first tried a few of the pseudonyms I have used to crystallize stages in my life (for my own consumption, really): Hickory Stix (the gauche country boy at Oxford), Peter Panic (the man who wanted to hold on to irresponsibility), Arthorn Ropwongse (Thai expatriate gone native), Ernest Denim (the leftie theorist), Sean Hare (world traveller with the shaved pate), Rafferty Fazakerly (middle-aged but still fending off convention), Dr Dildo & the Love Injections (my would-be band) but the "good" ones seemed to be taken. So back to basics and a name that was unlike anything ebay offered as an option but one that would take me back each time I typed it: to landings on, say, Española - with its rare albatross colony - or South Plaza - with its leonine land iguanas, to expeditions with scientists from the Research Station or off with my friends on the dive boat that was based just outside the station gates. Nostalgia, of course, can be a pernicious thing when it keeps you stuck in the "good old days" that show up the present as tawdry or inadequate. But when one's memories enrich the present with reminders and stimuli, can they be so damaging? So pangapilot would do very well, although I was never one, but you can always dream!

Incidentally, at the time of writing I have not offered a single item for sale on ebay - but getting a name was a start!


Anonymous generic cialis said...

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Wed Nov 24, 10:15:00 am GMT  

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