Hand Delivery

On the island of Floreana, in the south of the Galapagos Islands, is a little place called Post Office Bay.

In 1793, a whaling captain named James Colnett set up a wooden barrel to serve as an unofficial post office box. Whaling ships were often away from home for two years at a time, so ships headed back home to Europe or the U.S. would stop and pick up mail left by ships on their way out. The tradition has remained. People – tourists, now – drop off postcards in the box, and others pick them up to deliver by hand. Some people also leave signs made of driftwood. I grinned to see a marker from an Olivia group.

I dropped off a few postcards at Post Office Bay in late December, wondering what the chances were they’d reach their destinations. We looked through the stacks of cards in the box, calling out where each was from to see if anyone would be near enough to deliver it. The Australians took a few. A woman from Japan took a couple. A New Yorker found one to deliver.

I took two postcards that were addressed to places in Connecticut I could reasonably get to.

And the postcards sat in my backpack for weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I was finally near enough one of the towns that I could drop off one of the postcards. I got directions and found a condo complex with winding roads and a trickling stream. At the top of the hill was the little street and a collection of mailboxes. I wondered what the recipients would say when they found the postcard, dated late December, unstamped, with “hand deliver only” printed in block letters at the top.

A week later, my aunt called me. “Hi. I got this postcard from you. It’s the weirdest thing.”

She knew I had been in the Galapagos in December. And she knew that I’d been home for over two months now. And there was a little note in the corner of hers from whoever had delivered it.

So I explained.

I like that my postcard found its way to her house around the same time that I delivered the first of my two. I kind of wished I’d left a note, like my aunt’s deliver-er did. I’ll do that next time.

1 Comment

Filed under travel

One response to “Hand Delivery

  1. I love this story. A lot.

    I have to hand it to everyone for keeping the tradition alive.

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