castaway Thayer Walker
Thayer Walker

You Go, Crusoe!

For the July 2007 feature story "Me. By Myself. For a Long Time. (Very Long.)", we sent Thayer Walker to the uninhabited island of Isla Pargo with little more than a dive mask, a knife, and the clothes on his back. Here, see video diary segments from his time on the island, a gallery of his photos, and hear a podcast interview with the man himself.

castaway Thayer Walker

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Video Special: Marooned with Thayer Walker

castaway Thayer Walker

castaway Thayer Walker Thayer Walker

In his 20 days on the Panamanian island of Isla Pargo, Walker had to find his own food, build his own shelter and battle the elements. Watch 11 video diary segments filmed by the castaway. [*Warning: Some of these episodes contain explicit language. Please be advised.]

Episode 1: The Arrival
Walker arrives on the Panamanian island of Isla Pargo to see just how long he can survive. His friends and family discuss their expectations for how long (not long) he’ll last, and he makes a break for shore.

Episode 2: The Quest for Fire
After three hours on Isla Pargo, Walker makes camp and attempts to build a fire with a shoelace and wooden bow. Trust him, it isn’t as easy as you’d think.

Episode 3: Mmm…Slime Nuggets
Walker finds his first steady stream of sustenance raw mollusks that live in the intertidal zone, which he fondly dubs slime nuggets, and coconuts. Still, fire eludes him.

Episode 4: “Last Night, a Crab Tried to Eat Me.”
Bamboo beds may sounds nice on paper but not on Isla Pargo. Walker battles sand ants and crabs, all looking for a piece of him, as he struggles for a full night of sleep.

Episode 5: The Virtues of the Coconut
Every action on the island takes something out of Walker. He demonstrates what it takes to work his way through one dish that’s keeping him alive the tough as nails coconut.

Episode 6: The Quest for Fire: Part II
“I will never again use the same nonchalance when I ask someone for a light.” It’s day six on the island and Walker is struggling with loneliness and frustration, and he’s been humbled by his inability to make fire. He tries to stay positive and demonstrates the bow and drill technique he’s been using.

Episode 7: Operation Bait and Bash
To catch a fish in the tidal pools of Isla Pargo, Walker utilizes his patented “bait and bash” approach. As he describes it, “basically, it entails me putting bait in this tide pool, waiting for the fish to approach, and then bashing it with a rock.” See just how successful he is. Also, he waxes nostalgic on the attributes of the turkey sandwich and shows off his self-woven fishing net.

Episode 8: The Sugar Factory
At low tide, Walker makes his way around the island of Isla Pargo to a beautiful white sand beach and discovers a sweet change in his diet, and a future addiction a crop of sugar cane.

Episode 9: Dissecting the Slime Nuggets
“Just like mom used to make.” Walker offers blow-by-blow instruction on dissecting and preparing slime nugget (or limpets), the mollusk keeping him alive.

Episode 10: “I’ve got a problem. I’m addicted. To Sugar!”
“I’m not sure how many of these days I have left in me.” It’s day 17 and Walker needs his sugar high. He makes a trip to the Sugar Factory (a patch of cane) and talks about how he missed his opportunity to grab an iguana for dinner.

Episode 11: Leaving Isla Pargo
After 19 days, Thayer Walker prepares to leave the island. He discusses his failures and accomplishments and celebrates as he welcomes the arrival of his rescue.

Podcast: Q&A with Thayer Walker
Slime nuggets, sugar cane, and coconuts. That’s pretty much all Walker had to live off of on the Panamanian island of Isla Pargo. He talks to Anthony Cerretani about the assignment, and why he needed bug spray more than just about anything else.

Gallery: Isla Pargo
See how Walker spent his time on the island in his photo gallery.

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