Thursday, April 12, 2012

some Guna Yala camping tips

  1. There is no fresh water on the islands so bring plenty of water. If you have any water left when you leave, give it to someone (one of the boat guys will surely take it).
  2. There isn't any wood. So you have to bring fuel for cooking. We had charcoal and a little butane burner. Sandwiches are kind of ideal.
  3. Each island is looked after by a family or group of families. They collect the trash and generally look after things. While we were there a lion fish swam up to the beach and after everyone got a good look at it, the resident Guna family came and took it away. Lion fish are an invasive species that poses a threat to the Guna fishery and they are killed on sight throughout the islands.
  4. As I mentioned above, garbage is collected. The garbage is collected but I'm not sure where it's taken and I will be honest here, I was afraid to ask. I did notice a lot of garbage in the mangrove when we were coming back to shore, and suspect that there is a dump somewhere there. All this to say, take it easy on the garbage. Really, people should have to take everything out that they take in. But sadly, Panama is not ready for rules like that.
  5. It is hot. The ice in your cooler will melt in a day. I think you would need a block of ice for two nights. The best thing would be to minimize perishables.
  6. Guna fishermen bring fresh fish and sea food to the islands to sell. (NOTE: the Guna fishery observes a self-imposed ban on crustaceans and shellfish in March and April). Also the local family will cook the fish for you. Make sure you have cash with you so can enjoy this.
  7. I whined talked about music and generators in my last post. It's worth mentioning that holiday weekends are busy on the islands. If you're looking for peace and quiet go some other time, or specify your wishes to your boat driver. And if you do end up beside a stereo, remember, that's the sound of people having fun. I was feeling grumpy about some blaring musica tipica, but when I looked over the people were dancing. How can you hate on people who are dancing?
  8. Watch out for coconuts. Don't set up your tent, or hang your hammock under a big cluster of coconuts. They will come down in the breeze and they are dangerous.
  9. Sunscreen. Do not be fooled by breeze and clouds. You will be fried if you are not slathered in it. Swim shirts are great for kids who spend the entire day in the sand and water.
  10. Be respectful. Guna culture is fascinating. The women's traditional dress is beautiful. There was a boat of Guna women and children heading out as we were coming back to the dock. They took my breath away, the cute babies and colourful molas. I didn't take a picture, it seemed inappropriate--they were just getting on with their day. Guna women charge for photographs ($2 I think). I've heard people complain about this. I think by charging money they set some boundaries. Clearly they don't want to be photographed without permission.

1 comment:

  1. The Guna Yala sounds like a fabulous island for camping. These tips can surely help campers achieve an exciting adventure.