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February 02nd, 2015

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden

Mary Anne

By Mary Anne Nelson
Travel Consultants

Floreana’s history is as colourful as the tropical fish that make their home along its coast. Home to one of the oldest settlements in the Galápagos, it attracted pirates, whalers and infamous settlers long before tourism became its biggest draw and the story of these inhabitants still fascinates visitors and readers alike.

The 2013 documentary The Galápagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden explores a dark and fascinating chapter of the human habitation of these ‘Enchanted Isles.’ Described as “Darwin meets Hitchcock”, the film chronicles a macabre murder mystery that unfolded on the island of Floreana in the 1930s. The story is based on a book of the same name originally published in German in 1934 and subsequently translated to English, written originally by Dore Straub, a survivor of the “affair”.

The action kicks off when a German doctor and his mistress, Dore, arrive on the then-uninhabited island to start new lives together in 1929. Their aim was to escape civilization and create a new Eden, seeing themselves as the Nietzsche’s ideal superman and woman. Life on the island however did not turn out to be as easy as they had hoped and they were fortunate to be saved from likely starvation, or worse, thanks to donations of supplies from a passing ship, which sent messages to the mainland conveying the situation. The international press soon got hold of the story of the new “Adam and Eve of the Galápagos Islands”. Following this new-found fame, a stranger-than-fiction cast of characters soon followed, including an ersatz Swiss Family Robinson and a Viennese Baroness and her two boyfriends who decided to claim ownership of the island. Unsurprisingly, personalities clashed and the idealistic vibe of the settlement was eventually replaced with betrayal and murder.

The movie interweaves previously unearthed archive footage, voiceover acting by some Hollywood heavyweights (including Cate Blanchett), interviews with modern day residents, and some stunning nature footage, to bring this most bizarre true story to life.

If you'd like to investigate the Galápagos Islands further and witness first hand experiences from surviving family members, take a look at our Active Ecuador and Galápagos: Hiking, cycling and horse riding holiday.  

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