Post Office Bay

I mailed a postcard to Denver when I visited Post Office Bay on Floreana Island in the Galapagos. Chris LeBlanc photo

I’ll be lucky if the postcard I mailed from the Galapagos Islands last week makes it to its intended destination in a year – or ever.

It’s part of the charm of tiny Post Office Bay on Floreana Island, where for more than 200 years people have been leaving letters, without stamps, in hopes that someone on a passing ship would deliver it for them.

Post Office Bay

Naturalist Jorge Torres stands next to the old barrel that serves as a post office on Floreana Island. Pam LeBlanc photo

In the late 1700s and 1800s, British whaling ships stopped at the island to load up on fresh water, a rare and critical resource. The ships would stay at sea for several years at a time, and their crews had no way to communicate with loved ones at home. As the story goes, a clever sailor decided to leave an old wooden whiskey barrel there in 1793 to serve as a de facto “post office.”

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Crews on passing ships would drop letters in the container, and other sailors who visited the island would rummage through the barrel to see if they could deliver any of the mail left behind.

The tradition stuck.

Today, tourists who visit the island drop unstamped postcards in the “mailbox.” At the same time, they’re encouraged to sort through mail left by other visitors. If they spot a card or letter addressed to someone near where they live, they’re supposed to pick it up and hand deliver it to its designated recipient.

You’ve got mail

I dropped a postcard in the mailbox for my sister, who lives in Denver. I’m excited to hear if she ever gets the card.

Post Office Bay

I picked up this postcard at Post Office Bay because I plan to pass through Ridgway in a few months. Pam LeBlanc photo

I also picked up four other postcards – two headed to Driftwood, just outside of Austin, one headed to Kerrville, and a fourth destined for the tiny town of Ridgway, Colorado, where I’ve got a good friend.

Slow, yes, but comforting reminder that we’re all connected – and a charming way to find out how long it takes to deliver a message, with no stamp attached, all the way from the equator.



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I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

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