Running Away

I was ten years old and running away from home while living in the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos – Why did I run away from home so much while I lived there? There are many reasons: I was mistreated, treated like a servant, took the blame 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 I had to go to school, do homework but also be a servant of the household. 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 path for me. Since I arrived in Puerto Ayora (the little town I lived in – population 200),  introduced as the little servant from the mainland rather than as a son from a previous marriage. I had to help with the chores at home such as carry water from the town well, gather wood from the hills for cooking, chop the wood, light the kitchen wood burning stove early in the morning, wash clothes, iron clothes, watch the baby, feed my sisters, babysit; all of it at the ripe age of nine. It was enough to drive a 9-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 have no running water, so I had to get water from the sea for this task and have it available for the next flushing. It was my job as the designated helper in the family. Every weekend my father went on a bender 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 everything would be ok. 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 hiding, and I had no choice but to come back where I belonged. You either came back, or you’re brought back by the police. I ran so much that it embarrassed my father. I had the gall to bring him to family court once. I was represented by the local Catholic priest, who saw the injustice of it all and pleaded to give him custody. I lost the plea as the judge was a friend of my father’s and saw no reason to make this happen. The judge reprimanded me and sent back home to the same situation.

I was corrected every time I ran away by corporal punishment with either 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. The more I was mistreated, the more I ran. 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, or a boy’s reform school. 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 and dump me on my grandparents’ lap and say: here he will stay until he turns eighteen, is an adult and can do whatever he pleases.

That cured me of running away and my unhappiness, I was back in the mainland, among a family that cared. My Grandmother, Grandfather, and my four aunts were kind to me. My aunts ranged from a 17-year-old to several in their 20’s and one in the mid-30s. They were young and fun, did things like go to parties, 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, and little did I know, the most crucial chapter of my life was about to begin.

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