Puerto Villamil (on the southeastern corner of Isla Isabela) embodies the archetypal end of the road – in a good way, the kind that lures weary city folks to pick up and move halfway around the world. Backed by a lagoon where flamingos and marine iguanas live, and situated on a beautiful white-sand beach, it’s a sleepy village of sandy roads and small homes. However, overdevelopment threatens, and there’s been something of a mini building boom over the past several years.
Undoubtedly, when General José Villamil moved here in 1832 with hopes of organizing a model community made up mostly of whalers, he found the location as beguiling as do today’s visitors. Unfortunately, the draftees’ peaceful inclinations proved to be more utopian than real, and they ended up destroying the colony. Villamil later introduced cows, horses and donkeys, which quickly reproduced, threatening the island’s delicate ecosystem.