A Man Without Time 

By Lauren Cmiel

Renowned as one of the most preserved environments left in the world, the Galápagos has been met by a flood of tourists eager to see the natural beauty. In his teenage years, Eduardo Veliz left his home in mainland Ecuador when offered a job as a research assistant in the Galápagos. Falling in love with the natural world, he made the Galápagos his home, and opened the Royal Galápagos Inn, a hotel designed around the natural ecosystem so tourists might feel the same. He went on to be elected senator of the Galápagos, playing a major role in several key conservation laws. Now in retirement, Veliz works to find a balance between environmental conservation and hotel development.

Eduardo Veliz prepares his signature fish stew.

Eduardo Veliz prepares his signature fish stew, affectionately nicknamed “Eduardo’s lunch,” for his hotel guests. Food has played an important role in Veliz’ life not just because he appreciates quality, but because he went on hunger strike in prison to protest mass development on the island. “I am a fighter and a real fighter fights with whatever they have left.”

Veliz unpacks his fresh groceries in his hotel
Veliz washes his hands in the sink next to fresh cut vegetables
Veliz holds a block of cheese up to his nose
An orange bowl of soup in a blue flower bowl

His hunger strike proved successful – as a diabetic, Veliz’ organs started shutting down and he was transferred from the prison to the hospital. After months of recovery, his sentence ended. Since then, he takes time every morning to wake early in order to select and prepare the freshest ingredients for the day. His friends, such as Arismendy Guerrero (pictured top right) know this, too, and show their appreciation for Veliz’ safe return through fine ingredients.

Veliz bikes into town. Because of his diabetes and hypertension, it’s important for him to incorporate physical activity into his daily life.

Working in hotel management on San Cristobal from the age of 30, Veliz got to know a lot of people on the island, and upon seeing his passion for environmental conservation was encouraged to run for Senator.

A businessman at heart, Veliz spent a day traversing the island in search for the best grout prices.

A businessman at heart, Veliz spent a day traversing the island in search for the best grout prices. “Sure I only saved a few dollars, but it all eventually pays off.” His hotel is worth around $2 million and growing. The average income on San Cristóbal is $18,500.

Veliz checks in a new guest to the Royal Galápagos Inn, the second hotel he has built on San Cristóbal.

Veliz helps a new guest carry her belongings upstairs.

Veliz helps a new guest carry her belongings upstairs. As his only employee, Veliz takes care to personally provide for each guest, advertising 24-hour front desk service, daily housekeeping and free meals.

As a member of the Galápagos’ growing tourism industry, Veliz recognizes the hypocrisy of the situation he’s in. He even used to be the President of the Chamber of Tourism as a senator. But just like every other resident, tourism provides an irresistible source of income.

Veliz talks on the phone

Similarly paradoxical because of his political background, Veliz is frustrated with the government’s capitalistic approach to development (or destruction) of the island. During his time as a senator, he was a key player in the expansion of the Marine Reserve and prevented the construction dozens of hotels and golf courses on the island.

The sunset view from Veliz’ hotel.

The sunset view from Veliz’ hotel. “Sooner or later, the hotels will appear. I'm sure 50 years from now it will be all filled up. But I just want to delay that until I die.” Veliz said, “Until the sunset of my life.”

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