Last weekend we caught a fascinating documentary on Netflix. Called “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden” (in part after the first book by a survivor), it told the bizarre tale of three groups of German settlers on the island of Floreana in the 1930s.
First was a philosopher (who’d left behind his wife) and his patient/protegé (who’d left behind her husband). They’d come in search of a simple and peaceful life that would allow for thinking the deep thoughts. Mostly what they found was how much work the simple life takes and how little time it leaves for navel-gazing.
Next came a couple with a young child and another on the way. They’d come prepared for everything, except they hadn’t anticipated how little the philosophers wanted company. They were escorted to the opposite side of the island on the pretext that the pirate caves would be a good starter home.
Lastly, and most oddly, came a fake baroness and her two lovers. They settled in next to the growing family and proceeded to aggravate everyone with their airs and flamboyance.
It was a recipe for disaster, and the miracle is that the second group escaped the ensuing tragedies relatively unscathed. In short order, the not-baroness and her favorite had gone missing. Her second fella, generally suspected of arranging the disappearance, wound up ship-wrecked and dead as a result of his attempt to leave Floreana. The philosopher, a vegetarian, had perished after eating contaminated chicken (for lack of other food), and his protegé returned to Germany to write about how dreadful everyone else had been.
I watched all of this with my jaw in my lap. It just kept getting weirder. For instance, the counterfeit baroness talked a ship’s captain into making a movie of her as the island’s pirate queen. Part of it is shown in the documentary. It’s indescribable.
Watching all of this, hearing excerpts from the very different written accounts, my TV-addled brain kept going back to the castaways on “Gilligan’s Island”. If the professor hadn’t been so handy with coconut technology, they’d have been at each other’s throats.
Ginger would’ve disappeared after making a movie with one of the many people who pass through the island. Gilligan would have been murdered by all of them after the third time he blew an escape attempt. The Howells would have survived by buying a ticket. Skipper would have been lost at sea after fleeing on a raft. The professor himself would have died from drinking tainted coconut milk.
Marianne — she would have left the island with a passing sailor, only to return with him later to run a hotel.