camping

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So this is a bit of a shout-out but I am a devoted Mountain Equipment Co-op fan and these guys have really helped us out.  MEC have just about everything the outdoor enthusiast could want – quality products and fair pricing.  They also have the absolute best guarantee … if you aren’t happy you can bring your gear back for repair, refund or exchange.

Our local MEC was kind enough to donate two sweet packs for our trip when we told them what we were up to and that we were having trouble finding decent gear in Central America. The packs got sent down and we were super stoked when we received them.  I carry the Pangea 60 – an awesome travel pack with great security tabs, loads of pockets and a small zip-off daypack, tom got the Gregory Whitney - a serious backpack.

The MEC gear made our sailing trip to Colombia much easier and we are finding the packs to be indispensable, especially when we stop for one or two nights, we can pack  up a few essentials and forgo having to lug our huge duffles around.

We really appreciate the help and owe MEC a real big thank you! 

Tayrona mec trek from Kels M on Vimeo.

We actually have an assortment of other MEC products with us on our travels.  The most important one is our awesome three-season tent. It´s super easy to put together and folds down pretty small which is great for us in our little car. 

Our tent

Our lovely MEC tent

Another amazing MEC item that I adore is this bag:

small-mec-carry-all

I bought this bag over ten years ago, it has been everwhere with me including the UK, Turkey, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico, Central America and it still looks brand new. At $20 Canadian this bag is a steal and the best carry-all around.  Buy one here, you won’t regret it.

We caught the ferry from Bocas to meet up with our travel buddies Chris and Kristin in a little town called Santa Catalina on the Pacific coast—which is also home to a really good surfing break (named after the town) and it’s touted as having the most consistent surf in Central America. A long walk out over volcanic rock and then it’s a fair paddle to a beautiful but shallow reef break offering fast lefts and rights, when we arrived the waves were about shoulder high. We camped in a nice spot called Oasis right on the beach with plenty of shade and fresh coconuts falling scarily close to our tents, like manna from the sky. Try boiling a cup and a half of rice in the juice drained from two freshly fallen coconuts in a thin camp pot … best eaten under undiluted galaxies.

shady-camping

A few tranquilo days later we headed inland to camp with a rasta yogi, known locally as ‘Swami‘ and his rainbow gathering crew, the cheapest accommodation we could find in a town that’s centered in the crater of an extinct volcano, called El Valle, about two hours outside of Panama city. When the Panama Canal was owned and operated by the States a few Panamanian officials were getting fairly good kickbacks and we were told that this is where their kids bought up large chunks of fertile land, building grandiose houses with rambling manicured lawns set amongst awesome tropical landscaping. We had read that the town hosts an interesting arts and crafts market and were a little disappointed to find it much of the same and our only real discovery worth reporting was the Maracuya (passionfruit) juice served in a small out-of-the-way cafe.