María, who goes by her middle name Paulina, was born and raised far from the sea in the Andean city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. She came to the Galápagos Archipelago for the first time on holiday when she was nine years old, and was smitten. She became obsessed with the idea of one day working in the islands, which inspired her to get her B.Sc. in biology at the Catholic University of Ecuador, followed by a master’s degree in management and ecotourism in natural areas at the university’s graduate school.
In 1994, she jumped at the opportunity to take the Galápagos National Park’s naturalist guide course, and has been working as a naturalist and tour leader in Galápagos and Peru ever since.
Paulina occasionally takes breaks from guiding to work in other positions. Between 1999 and 2000 she taught general biology for the Medicine Faculty of the Catholic University, and in 2003 she taught the same subject to 11th graders at Quito’s prestigious Colegio Menor, which is affiliated with the San Francisco University of Quito.
She has also worked, among other roles, as Scientific Assistant to the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific and Instructor of Environmental Interpretation for the Galápagos National Park.
At the moment, she lives between Galápagos and Quito, with her husband Salvador (also a Galápagos naturalist) and their young daughter Violeta. Paulina still works several weeks a year as a Galápagos naturalist, mainly, nowadays, for Lindblad Expeditions, satiating her longing to be surrounded by the exuberant nature of the Galápagos.
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