Tequila sunrise, or Floreana sunrise, a story of hope for humanity

Imagine yourself, at the break of dawn, sitting at the highest point of othe Galápagos Archipelago, one of the most remote inhabited group of islands in the world. Very few people will have in their lifetime the opportunity to see and feel nature as alive as I did one day while sitting on the edge of Mount Allieri.

It was on that morning that I saw one of the most enlightening dawns of my life. The lovely red, orange and yellow tones and the relaxing setting may conjure thoughts of a Tequila Sunrise. But this sunrise was so much more than beautiful strokes of bright colors. It was special, because it was brought together with my hopes of working for the conservation of the Galápagos islands, and especially Floreana Island and its people; this hope was present in each and every cell of my body.

I work in the Galápagos to support ecosystem restoration and prevent extinction. Floreana and its residents have welcomed me with affection and have changed the way I see the world. On this island and primarily in its community, you can vividly feel the basic values that have been lost in the great cities of the world and that have gradually denatured the essence of the human being.

María José Pilataxi with her son Maykol Mora Pilataxi in the Floreana’s highlands. Island Conservation archive photo.

Perhaps the connection that the people living on the island have with nature, the remote geography, the enchanting landscapes, the unique animals that inhabit it, or their simple life and tireless work has made this community of about 140 people, to me, one of the last places in the world where you can still feel human. Values such as solidarity, strength, and temperance permeate the daily life of the community.

The decisions in the island are agreed by consensus of the Floreana community. Island Conservation archive photo.

Solidarity is one of the characteristics that permeates the daily life of Floreana. There is always someone reaching out to give you an orange–by the way, the most delicious I have ever tasted–in the overwhelming heat.

Floreana’s farmers harvesting oranges. Credit: Carolina Torres Trueba

The people who live on Floreana bring deep meaning to the work we do on the island. Though our project has a clear environmental focus, being an ecological restoration project to remove invasive species–rodents and feral cats–and to subsequently reintroduce locally extinct species, the element of human well-being is strong. Invasive species not only alter the native ecosystem, but also feast on crops. Biodiversity and economy are both at risk on Floreana because of invasive species.

Marine Iguanas. Credit: Diego Bermeo, Local Galápagos photographer

The project to restore the island gives us hope that the people of Floreana will have a better future. We hope that the community will be able to thrive on an island free of introduced predators, and that Floreana can prove its resiliency and regain the strength it needs to be a natural treasure to be enjoyed and appreciated by future generations of the Galápagos and of the world.

This is why after my days of work in Floreana, I can definitely say that I prefer a “Floreana Sunrise” to a “Tequila Sunrise” to celebrate this story of hope for humanity.

Floreana harbor at sunset. Credit: Carolina Torres Trueba

Carolina Torres Trueba is an attorney at law, working in the environmental law field in Ecuador for more than eight years. She was a member of the Assembly of the Ecuadorian Center for Environmental Law (CEDA) and the International Trans-disciplinary Academy of Environment (ATINA). In the conservation field, she was the lead attorney of the Galápagos National Park Directorate (GNPD). Currently, she is the legal and administrative specialist for Island Conservation in Floreana Restoration Project.