When we were looking for the perfect pilot episode for Ocean Courier, we were led by some expert advise to check out Armila, Panama, a small village on the Caribbean coast who’s beaches host thousands of nesting Leatherback sea turtles every year, in fact they host the most in the world. Perfect! We are buying a boat in Panama, just a few hundred miles from Armila, Panama
Hours of researching turtle migration and nesting habits, while working on our Spanish did little to prepare us for what we found in Armila
We came to film turtles, a tricky proposition. These clever turtles only venture out of the safety of the ocean at night, when predators are less likely to find the 80 or so eggs they bury on the beach. Lights disorient them and hinder egg laying, making capturing this ancient process on film nearly impossible.
This town of about 600 people is the epitome of remote. There are no roads to Armila. The only way in is via foot or boat. They speak the native language of Dulegaya. Our living space was a grass roof, grass walled house like all the rest of the traditionally built homes. The experience was authentic. Across the street, or rather the sandy path wide enough for a burro and a some side loaded cargo baskets, was our host Luperio and his family. Next door was their corner store, which sold what became one of my favorite indulgences, Brinky cookies… Central American OREOs.
Luperio’s little boy Jakeson wandered over to our house everyday for a little facetime. Smiles, and simple gestures were all we had to communicate with.
What’s beautiful about this culture is their relationship with nature. In Armila there is no word for conservation. Their way of life is right in line with our definition of conservation, so in essence they are all conservationists without labeling themselves as such. In a village where the men and women hunt, fish and tend to their farms everyday in order to feed their family, exploitation and neglect of resources is not an option. And this conservation sensibility transfers to the sea turtles that come to their beaches every year. The way of life is beautiful. The people are beautiful. This is simplicity.
Ocean Courier took us from Panama to Maine this year, and promises to take us further next year in our quest to explore and share the positive changes and work being done to protect and restore our oceans. We are grateful to our sponsors like Columbia Sportswear for supporting our mission and helping to deliver the ocean’s message. Ocean Courier is projected to air on Public Television nationwide. Please show your support by voting for us in a grant competition. It is quick and easy. If you would like to know more about sponsorship opportunities, contact us.