Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Ecuadoreans are another one of those nationalities that I didn't really expect to find in Tasmania, but doing so gave me an opportunity to learn more about yet another country which I only knew a little about.
For a start, it's always interesting to learn how someone from a fairly faraway country with seemingly little connection with Tasmania have ended up here. When Denisse told me her story it did start to make sense, and confirmed a bit some of my theories about the types of people who decide to settle in Tasmania.
The one place in Ecuador that most people will have heard of is the iconic Galapagos Islands, and this is where Denisse was when the global pandemic broke out in 2020.
At this point, I should mention my only unlikely personal connection to this story. In February/March 2020 I was applying for jobs teaching English abroad, and a vacancy came up in the Galapagos Islands, it was like a dream job that I didn't even think was possible ! So of course I then spent hours researching the islands and what life would be like to live there...but there was a little time to revel in this dream before international borders closed dramatically, and the rest is, well, history.
In talking to Denisse, I realised if fate had just been a little different, we may have met in the Galapagos Islands instead, as she was there at the same time ! And yet we meet on another very different island in the South Pacific.
Denisse was studying sharks on the islands and considering her field of marine biodiversity, a move to Tasmania to do her Ph.d , makes sense. Also, both Tassie and the Galapagos are small island communities where people are quite closely connected and people are never too far from a connection with the natural environment.
Ecuador itself is a country of incredible biodiversity, and is one of only 17 countries listed by Conservation International as "megadiverse countries", which is based on the amount of biodiversity per square kilometre. So, it is perhaps not surprising that Denisse would pursue a career in the natural sciences. It was also quite funny that she became interested in animals and the natural world and Australia through watching Steve Irwin on the Crocodile Hunter on TV !
Denisse's story also gave me more evidence for my theory that people who come to Tasmania to live are in general a bit more adventurous and come for more individual reasons than those who might settle in the bigger and more popular mainland capitals. It also shows how moving to a new country can become a journey of personal discovery and reinvention. Denisse's original plan had been to study business on the Gold Coast with an eye to eventually taking over the family business one day in Ecuador. But instead, she discovered perhaps her true calling and eventually changed to studying science. I think sometimes it can take a move to a new environment to be opened up to new possibilities and other way to fulfull your potential.