One man from Scotland quickly adapted to a unique quarantine routine after getting locked down in the Galapagos Islands amid the global outbreak of COVID-19.
Ian Melvin was traveling through South America when the pandemic hit, arriving on Isla Santa Cruz in the Galapagos on March 14, news agency South West News Service (SWNS) reports.
From there, he took a ferry to Isla Isabella on March 17, on the last voyage to the largest island of the Ecuadorian archipelago before it was locked down, according to the BBC.
For the last three months, Melvin has embraced his exotic surroundings and found himself feeling at home on the island, which has a population of just about 2,200.
Spending his days exploring the tropical paradise and befriending wildlife like iguanas, sea lions, green turtles and penguins, the 29-year-old said he’s savoring each moment of the enviable experience.
“No one will get the opportunity to experience the Galapagos so quiet,” the Banchory, Aberdeenshire man told SWNS. “The swimming here’s amazing, the sea lions come right up to your face. Marine iguanas swim next to you and penguins peck your feet.”
Melvin admitted there was “a bit of uncertainty at the beginning” at the start of the “unique” lockdown as he figured out how the isle would manage restrictions, but ultimately elected to stick out the pandemic on Isla Isabella.
"There were some repatriation flights going back to the U.K. but it was an easy decision to take to stay – I’m already on an isolated island,” he explained. “There’s still restrictions and stuff but it’s nice to go outside on the beach, see the outdoors and the wildlife.”
The teacher spent his first six weeks on Isla Isabella living with a local family, but has since moved into a room of his own in a beachside hostel in Puerto Villamil for about $355 per month.
“Now I’ve moved into my own place, I’m living like a local now,” Melvin said. “I’m doing all my own shopping, cooking my own food and doing some online teaching to get some money in.”
Though he’s unsure where he’s headed next, the traveler isn't worried about his next move. A local state of emergency is slated to lift on June 15, Melvin said, and he will have 30 days to leave the country through his current tourist visa after that.
One possible destination? Colombia.
“I’ve just paid rent for all of June, then hopefully I’ll have a better idea if I can travel to another country. I’ve just been enjoying being on the Galapagos for so long,” Melvin said.
Incredibly, the adventurer has even been able to keep in touch with loved ones during his time on the islands thanks to a trusty Internet connection.
“It’s really easy to keep in touch now, because everyone’s at home,” he revealed. “My family was a bit unsure at the beginning but they realized it would be a difficult journey home and now they’re happy to hear my stories and compare the different lockdown experiences.”