Graham Reid | | 3 min read
When we recently wrote about photographer Tui De Roy's large format hardback A Lifetime in Galapagos, we mentioned that she – who arrived on remote Galapagos with her parents when she was two – divided her time between there and New Zealand.
But right now she is there, and for the foreseeable future as she tells us.
“I returned to Galapagos in December, planning to stay five months preparing to write my autobiography (the most daunting project of my life), but now it looks like I might be here for years, with no flights in or out, except for vital goods and the return of a few islanders stranded outside.
“We’re in total lockdown, house arrest save for one shopping trip per week.
“ At 2pm each day police cars cruise the streets with loudhailers announcing a daily 15-hour curfew. They sound like mujahideen calling the faithful to prayer.
“After that, it’s just the occasional siren sending the stragglers home.
“There’s no end in sight, with Ecuador ranking 17th among 187 countries reporting Covid cases. I feel like I’m living in prison because there are bandits (viruses) on the streets, so it’s safer in jail.
“Frankly, I’d rather face the bandits, live or die, and get on with it, whatever the consequence, rather than whittle away life waiting for a miracle.
“At 66 I am supposedly ‘high risk’, but there is only one certainty in my life: someday I’ll die. Meanwhile, it’s been one helluva ride, no complaints, and I want to keep going!”
De Roy will doubtless write quite a remarkable autobiography given how much time she now has, but to draw attention to her current book we thought she could answer some questions for us . . .
The first book which really affected you was . . .
Peter Matthiessen: Blue Water, White Death. I had no idea that, in time, he would write the introduction to my first book!
Your first (possibly embarrassing) unpublished literary effort was . . .
Mine were always photo-driven; text came as ‘supporting evidence’
Do you have any rituals or habits when you are in the throes of writing?
Like Calvin and Hobs, Last minute panic!
If writing was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
I’m a naturalist first and foremost
Three books (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to read are . . .
Beyond Words, Carl Safina; Albatross: Their World Their Ways, De Roy, Jones, Fitter; Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez
Hardback, paperback or e-book on a long distance flight?
None, I curl up like a cat and sleep!
If you could ask a long-gone writer just one question, who would that be? And what would you ask?
Do you enjoy writing?
The three films you think were good adaptations of literary works were . . .
Out of Africa; in my view, good film adaptions are very rare
The last book you bought was . . . (And why that one?)
Touching the void, Joe Simpson; because I love adventure in the wilderness, and it doesn’t get much more adventurous than that!
Can you, or do you, listen to music when you are at work? If so, who do you listen to?
No, I need all the mindspace I can get
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
A frigate bird soaring high in the sky
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
I would take a sailboat from one uninhabited island to the next, exploring, but thanks to Covid-19, it looks like I’m going to be spending them in perpetual lockdown in Galapagos!
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why your last book is your best work ever?”
Because, of all the books published about Galapagos, none represents a half a century of experiences and photos, and because it contains my heart and soul, my lifetime.
A LIFETIME IN GALAPAGOS by TUI DE ROY Bateman Books $60