Ecuador

Did you know that at the most unusual post office in the world, all mail gathers in a wooden barrel? Started in the late 1700’s by whalers, this mailing system requires visitors to take a postcard with a local address and hand deliver it upon return to their own country. And there’s no facebook, texting or tweeting allowed.
 
Amazing, right?
 
Do you know where we need to travel to visit this beautiful city?
 
It is indeed the Post Office Bay on Floreana Island in the Galapagos.
 
The Galápagos are better known for their sea lions and penguins than postal service. But the island of Floreana operates a unique stampless system of sending mail from one of the world’s most diverse, uninhabited areas.
 
Long before ecotourists annexed the remote islands off Ecuador’s coast, it was a pit stop for 18th-century whalers traversing the oceans. After months, or even years, on the job, the homesick seamen came up with an ingenious system of getting letters to their families. They erected a barrel on Floreana Island and left their mail for sailors on passing ships to deliver.
 
The first mention of the post office appears in the Journal of a Cruise, Captain David Porter’s account of his 1813 trip to the Galápagos, according to a timeline crafted by John Woram, author of Charles Darwin Slept Here. In his book, Porter recalls a crew member returning with papers “taken from a box which he found nailed to a pot, over which was a black sign, on which was painted Hathaway’s Postoffice.”
 
Twenty-five years later, another explorer documented the practice of bottling notes and leaving them to be taken back to America by fishing vessels. Those same fishermen “would never fail, before their departure, to touch at this island to take on a supply of tortoises.” The consumption of giant sea tortoises during this period is one of the reasons why Charles Darwin found none left on Floreana Island when he arrived in 1835. Rather sad, that!
 
 

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