In Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey calls hunger the best spice, which is why I'm smiling here on day two, anticipating a slime nugget meal. The novelty and excitement quickly wore off and by day five I was puking these worm-infested appetizers up. I never figured to get so passionate about a mollusk, but I developed a love-hate relationship with these things.
For the first two days I thought shelter might be superfluous. This was the Islas Secasthe Dry Islandsin the heart of the dry season. Up until that point the bamboo log bed with palm fronds had sufficed. Then, on the third night, it rained. I was soaked by the time I realized what was happening. I jogged on the beach to stay warm and began building Monticello at dawn. The shelter took the day to build. It didn't rain again.
Two-Liter Beach: A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
It's important to establish a routine in a situation like this, so every day I'd spend 20 minutes sharpening my knife on this rock. It sat below the high tide line so I had to wait for low water. This wasn't even particularly effective, as the knife ended up sharp as a marble, but it helped give the day structure and organization. It probably sharpened my wits more than my knife.
Nothing will ever taste as good as that sugar cane did on Isla Pargo.
I had a visitor on day 16 that helped pass the time and kept me entertained: a mild case of delirium. This was my first basket and lid (aka a fish trap); it took a day and a half to make. I'm excited because it actually worked (as a basket, not a fish trap), and at that point I didn't know that the tide would sweep it away when I set it as a trap. Now is the perfect time to submit my resignation to Outside to pursue the lost craft of basket weaving. Or perhaps I'll combine the arts and write a feature about the dangerous underbelly of black-market basket weaving.
Slime nuggets. Fried up in a garlic and white wine sauce with a little lemon butter on the side, these things might not be too bad as an occasional appetizer. As a raw daily staple they made termites taste delicious.
My favorite (last) meal on the island. Notice how my smile at the prospect of a meal on day two has become a grimace on day 19.
Slime nuggets. On the left, the viscera. On the right, dinner.
When I left the island I called a friend and told him that I had been out for 20 days. "Has it been that long?" he said. "Wow that went by quickly." A pregnant paused filled the phone line and he added hastily, "Well, probably not for you."
This is the saddle between the two spires I climbed on my way around the island. It's hard to tell from this picture but the climb was extremely precarious; a steep wall covered in loose rocks, where the only hand holds were spiny plants rooted into unstable earth. A fall could have been fatal. Fortunately we'll never know.
- Start over