Why did I run away from home so much while I lived in the Galapagos Islands? I had just turned ten and was living with a father and stepmother I had just met. From the get-go, they treated me as a servant and not the stepson I was. My mother had made a deal with my father, meaning I was to live with him until I turned eighteen and was considered an adult. There were many reasons why I ran away from home: mistreated, treated like a servant, blamed for everything that went wrong, got beatings, went to bed without supper, and was very unhappy to be there with no hope of getting out until I turned eighteen years old.
But I was a kid and had to go to school, do homework, and be a household servant. It sucked and small that I was; I saw the injustice of it all. My solution was to run away and hope for a better existence. Little did I know that God had another plan for me. When I arrived in Puerto Ayora, my stepmother introduced me to everyone in the village as the little servant from the mainland rather than the son from a previous marriage. I had to help with the chores at home: carrying water from the town well, gathering wood from the hills for cooking, splitting the wood, lighting the kitchen wood-burning stove early in the morning, washing the clothes, ironing all he clothes, watching the baby, feed my sisters, babysit; all of it at the ripe age of nine. It was enough to drive a 10-year-old kid mad.
Anything that went wrong in the household was my fault. I remember one instance where one of the avocados had a bite mark on it. My stepmother questioned everyone, and my sisters denied ever touching it. I was guilty by default, as I was the only one left. No one believed I was innocent, especially my stepmother. Her logic, everyone else didn’t do it; therefore, he must be guilty.
One of my jobs was to have water ready for toilet flushing. We had no running water, so I had to get a bucket from the sea and prepare it for flushing. It was my job as the designated helper in the family. My father went on a bender every weekend and drank lots of beer, his poison of choice. By Sunday afternoon, he would sleep it off and be ready for work on Monday morning. I was the one that went to the package store and bought beer for my father. Another week and the cycle continued.
I had had enough. I thought that running away was the way to escape my situation and that everything would be ok. Boy, was I wrong! I was wrong! On an island with three small towns, where everyone knew everyone else, after a few days, word got back to my father where I was. I had no choice but to come back and face him. Since I was underage, I had to come back to face the music. I ran so much that it embarrassed my father, and I brought him to family court this time. The local Catholic priest represented me; he saw the injustice and wanted me to join the priesthood. I lost the plea as the judge was a friend of my father’s and saw no reason to side with me. The judge reprimanded me and sent me home to face the same situation.
My father corrected me every time I ran away by beating me with a belt, electrical wire, or anything that served the purpose. I ended up with black and blue marks all over my back, buttocks, arms, and legs. But it didn’t matter; justice was what I was seeking. I dreamed of turning eighteen. Leaving home, getting a little room, and living my own life as I saw fit. That was my dream until God intervened and rescued me from the situation. But that is another story.
Finally, my father sat me down and gave me a choice: behave myself or go to a boy’s reform school till I turned 18. I chose the latter; I thought anything was better than living at home. I saw no end until I was 18. My father’s way of fixing the situation was to take me to the mainland, dump me on my grandparents’ lap, and say, “he will stay here until he turns eighteen, is an adult, and then can do whatever he pleases.”
That cured me of running away and my unhappiness; I was back on the mainland, among a family that cared. My Grandmother, Grandfather, and four aunts were very kind to me. My aunts ranged from a 17-year-old to several in their 20s and one in her mid-30s. They were young and fun, did things like go to parties, let me tag along, and they all looked after me. Another chapter in my life was closed, or so I thought. One year later, I was back in Galapagos, little did I know, the most crucial chapter of my life was about to begin.
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