Some habits are hard to shake. I never thought time-keeping would be one of those habits, but turns out it is. For those readers who are not billing time-keepers, let me explain. Lawyers, like many other professionals, track what they do with their time and then bill their clients on an hourly basis. We describe the task, then indicate how many minutes we spent on that task in six minute intervals (1/10th of an hour). It can be a real nuisance. Lawyers hate it, and clients do, too. If you are diligent (or a rule follower), you keep track of what you do throughout the day, every day. Otherwise, a whole month goes by and you have to review your calendar to figure out what it was you did all month.
I know we all hated it, but there is a silver lining to the billing cloud: it was an easy measure of productivity. I could look back at a week in the books and either feel gratified that I accomplished much of what I needed to accomplish or recommit to excellence the next week. It left no ambiguity.
The lack of structure to this current lifestyle makes me uneasy. Unless we are exploring at Mach-10, I feel like I am not doing my job. But this isn’t a vacation for us, it is life. We have been away from home for two full months now, so there are bills to pay, administrative issues to resolve with 401k and professional licenses, and I must put in hours processing photographs, writing and uploading information to the blog. We must do this with internet that moves - at best - at a snail’s pace. Being a lover of efficiency, this is an adjustment. Panic shortens my breath, I start sweating, and my blood pressure goes through the roof when I am cooped up somewhere unpleasant with so little time to explore this once in a lifetime location.
By day 3 on Isabela Island, we realized we did not invest enough administrative time at internet cafes in Puerto Ayora. This was unfortunate because the internet available on Isabela rivaled their financial system. We woke early each morning, hailed our water taxi and headed straight for a stuffy, one room building with five desktop computers and no wifi. We would get as much done as possible before the internet office closed at noon for siesta. Then, during siesta we relentless Americans would explore; only to return to the internet office when it reopened from 3 - 5 p.m. Days 3 and 4, we explored close by walking through town, watching the locals lounge, relaxing on a beach, snorkeling Las Pearlas, finding ice cream or a cold Jugo de Cane (sweet juice made from cane sugar grown locally on the island).
On Day 5, we gave up on returning to the internet office and headed for a long hike down El Camino Tortougas (Tortoise Road) to see the Isabela wetlands, tucked away beaches, and mangrove forrests. Giant Tortoises, Iguanas, and various birds join us along the way. At the top of the mountain, platforms were built into the volcanic hillsides providing 360 degree views of the Vista. With another clear day, we could see miles toward volcanos, town, and the anchorage. Who knew swamps could be so colorful?
El Camino del Tortougas included several (amusing) signs with helpful instructions.
One included especially for me:
At the end of the road, we explored the Wall of Tears. Mainland Ecuador used the Galapagos Islands to house criminals. The Wall of Tears is a large wall built of large, black volcanic rock stacked atop each other, the construction of which apparently was commissioned to occupy the criminals empty hours.
We explored the mangrove swamp with its twisted roots, and marveled at how this fresh water plant can do so well growing out of nothing but salt water. (This is my "I am marveling" face, I guess.)
We looped around and enjoyed the sunset as we walked the long road back to town. As soon as we could, we escaped the road in favor of the long, pristine beach with sand and lighting so soft, it seemed we were walking on top of clouds.
We relaxed with a Pilsner and ponder the question continuously plagues us: Are we making the most of this tiny wink of time we get to call our lives? To satisfy my concern, I enter my billing for the day in our logbook.
Transit from Sonrisa to Internet Office: .8
Wait for internet to load blog photos: 3.6
Wait for internet to load and pay various land based bills: 1.2
Explore Camino El Tortougas: 5.6
Drink beer, watch sunset: 1.1
Eat pizza and try to FaceTime with parents over poor internet: 2.6
Transit back to Sonrisa: .8
Total hours invested: 15.7
Total Fun-Time: 9.3
Total Administrative/Transit time: 6.4
Now that is the type of productivity I can live with.