Hugo Hidrovo, Galapagos State of Mind

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A robust moustache, a straw hat tight on his temples, a gold chain hanging from his neck like a symbol of a distant bloodline, his signature summery button-down short-sleeve shirt… Hugo Idrovo has changed a lot and yet has changed little over the years. His youth was marked by his rebellious spirit. But his middle-aged eyes reveal the soul of the visionary he has always been. In the graveness of his voice, in the quick wit of his words, this one-man-band of a Renaissance Man reflects today the grace and maturity of someone who’s lived more than just one life.

Together with his great friends, bassist Alex Alvear and guitarist Héctor Napolitano, in 1983 Idrovo founded Promesas Temporales, one of the most avant-guard bands of his generation. They were so ahead of their time, they eluded most people’s cultural radars. It was only in 1995 that he burst onto the scene with the most cited album of his repertoire, Cuentos del Río Colgado. For years, the song most sung at Ecuadorian bonfires was his “Venenoso Batracio”, a strange hybrid between the traditional Ecuadorian pasillo and the irreverence of the times.

Idrovo lived intensely in Quito, Guayaquil and New York, but in the 1990s he decided to move to the distant Galápagos Islands, finding the place ideal for channeling his many talents. At his home in San Cristóbal he began a new life governed by his fascination with the archipelago, which would lead him to study its human history and begin a successful career as a writer, eventually becoming a member of the National Academy of History (the first member ever to hail from the province of Galápagos) in 2017.

Central to the cultural development of the remote town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, his musical influence, his talent as a muralist and artist, his prolific historical works, and such classic tunes as Todos los cholos (“All the cholos, eat with a spoon, rice, fried eggs and watch TV”…!), Idrovo ranks today as a cherished Ecuadorian cultural icon. We can still hear the humor and irreverence of his youth in his songs, but we suspect that in the outer rim of his more refined thoughts, he’s driven by a deep creative energy to capture the elemental spirt of the eternal.

Check out Idrovo’s classics on Spotify and look out for his books, including the excellent Galapagos: Footprints in Paradise in Ecuador’s major bookstores.

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