Global Journeys with Jill Dutton

Experience the Ultimate Eco-Adventure at Casa Cayuco in Bocas del Toro, Panama

October 18, 2023 Jill Dutton Season 1 Episode 13
Global Journeys with Jill Dutton
Experience the Ultimate Eco-Adventure at Casa Cayuco in Bocas del Toro, Panama
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Strap on your adventure boots and prepare to be whisked into the heart of Panama's lush jungle, where the eco-friendly haven of Casa Cayuco resides. 

l  had the privilege of experiencing the intoxicating magic of this unique oasis, from the exciting activities available such as kayaking and paddle boarding, to the serene moments of witnessing nature's wonders like the hatching of a hundred sea turtles and an extraordinary bio-luminescence phenomenon. Hear my vivid recount of this thrilling four-night stay, as we dig into the delicious plant-based cuisine, explore the fascinating Green Acres Chocolate Farm, and engage with the captivating indigenous community nearby.

Our journey doesn't stop at the adventures and experiences as we delve into the heart of eco-tourism with two insightful guests: Alondra, the lodge host, and Jack, a co-owner of Casa Cayuco Eco Adventure Lodge. They passionately share their commitment to sustainability, describing how they masterfully harness solar power, collect rainwater, and use local resources like coconut husks and shells to respect and preserve the island's resources. As we listen to their stories, we gain a deeper understanding of the delicate balance between human comfort, adventure, and responsible living in a place like Casa Cayuco.

Finally, we explore the profound impact of the lodge on the local community of Salt Creek. Jack shares the lodge's various initiatives such as building classrooms and creating a medical facility, underlining their unwavering commitment to making a difference. It's a heartening reminder of how when done mindfully and responsibly, tourism can truly uplift local communities. So whether you're an eco-travel enthusiast or just someone looking for their next big adventure, this episode is guaranteed to inspire, inform, and ignite a love for sustainable travel.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Global Journeys with Jill Dutton, the captivating travel podcast that takes you on an extraordinary adventure around the world. I'm your host, jill Dutton, and I am thrilled to be your guide through the mesmerizing tapestry of cultures, landscapes and experiences that await us. Global Journeys with Jill Dutton is more than just a travel podcast. It's an exploration of humanity itself. Through the power of storytelling, we illuminate the lives of the remarkable individuals we encounter along the way, whether it's through the eyes of a fishing guide, a distillery owner, a mixologist, a historian, chef, or even a farmer. Each person we meet adds a rich layer to the narrative of culture and place. In this podcast, we embark on a transformative journey where the focus goes beyond the typical tourist attractions. Instead, we dive deep into the hearts and souls of the places we visit, uncovering the hidden gems and untold stories that make each destination truly unique. Join me as we venture off the beaten path, seeking authenticity, connection and a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit. Together, we'll unravel the tapestry of cultures, one story at a time. Although my writing career began in the late 90s, when I created and launched a wellness publication called Evolving Magazine, since 2015 I've worked as a travel writer on a mission to seek out the locally celebrated foods, liquor trends, outdoor activities and stories of those I meet along the way. My work has been published in Wine Enthusiast, a far woman's world, first for women, insider road trippers, modern farmer chilled magazine and many more digital and print publications. I'm also the creator of Global Plates the people we meet, the food they eat a syndicated column. Creating this podcast is the next step in my journey of sharing the stories of the people I've met along the way. So pack your curiosity, leave your preconceived notions behind and let's embark on Global Journeys with Jill Dutton, where each episode promises to inspire, educate and awaken the wanderlust within us all. Welcome back to another exciting episode of Global Journeys with Jill Dutton, where we take you on a journey through the world's most intriguing destinations, one adventure at a time. Today, we're delving into the heart of Panama, where the serene sounds of nature meet the soothing whispers of the ocean. I had the privilege of visiting a hidden gem nestled amidst the lush foliage of Bocas del Toro, called Casa Caillouco. This eco-friendly jungle paradise is renowned for its captivating blend of sustainable luxury and raw natural beauty. My four night stay at Casa Caillouco included a flight from Panama City. From Panama City, I took a brief flight to Bocas del Toro, where my guests and I were picked up by a guide, taken to the water and settled in for a boat ride to the island of Bostementos in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Our arrival was truly stunning. We pulled alongside the dock obviously a focal point and centered around relaxation and the scenery, with its numerous hammocks on the dock and in the water, couches and other sitting areas. I knew immediately it would be a favorite spot for watching the sunset, seeing other guests snorkeling, paddle boarding and kayaking, as well as the daily 5pm snack on the dock. Before dinner, after a tour with Alondra, the year round host, we received fresh pina coladas made from local ingredients. I settled into my room, high above the lodge and nestled in the lush jungle. The windows were open, with a table and chairs on the lower level of my suite and a sitting area, a neck covered bed and bathroom with an open air shower. It was the most fully I've ever been immersed in nature. Mornings I awoke to the sounds of the rainforest before heading down to the lodge for fresh local coffee and breakfast. Every meal was locally sourced, plate focused and made with loving care by chefs from the nearby village of Salt Creek. Dinner each day was three courses, usually a salad, a daily catch main dish and a delicious dessert, all served alongside a loaf of fresh made coconut bread. During the day, I alternated between total relaxation, a massage in my room or moving from one lounging spot to another. I jokingly termed my Panama power animal as the sloth which we saw in our visit to the cacao farm, because I was slow moving. My only goal to find the next great spot to rest and relax and an unusual opportunity for someone always on the go when not reading or writing in the library on the dock beach side or in the lodge, I enjoyed kayaking near the dock. Each guest had individual snorkel gear in their rooms as well, so it was an easy outing to go explore. When not resting. The trip included daily activities based on what was happening at the moment. We were fortunate enough to witness the hatching of about 100 sea turtles and watch as they made their way to the water. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. At night we arrived during the rare period of bioaluminescence and went on to the water after dark to witness the waters lit up like millions of underwater fireflies. During the day we toured Green Acres, a cacao farm nestled in the jungle, and another day visited Monkey Island, where the rescue monkeys are cared for and released when possible. One day we visited the nearby Ningo Bay Bou Gle community in Salt Creek. The majority of Casa Coyoco employees live there and the lodge works to support the community through the building of classrooms, a medical outpost and more. Using their community outreach, sustainable practices and delightful lodge concept, casa Coyoco truly offers an entire eco-adventure. Read an article about Casa Coyoco and my experience at EvolvingMagazinecom. You can find a link to it, as well as my itinerary from the trip in this episode's show notes. In today's special episode, we'll provide you with an exclusive glimpse into the captivating world of Casa Coyoco, a place where comfort, adventure and eco-conscious living harmoniously coexist. We have not one, but two remarkable guests joining us today. First up, we'll hear from Alondra, the year-round host and guardian of this enchanting oasis. Alondra moved from her home in Panama City to work year-round as the host, in addition to having her dream job living and working in paradise. She discusses the sustainable aspects of the lodge, including collecting rainwater, utilizing solar power and more, and she also details some of the activities and how the weather and moon phases affect the options. Her love for this place, its wildlife and its local community shines through, and everything Alondra does. Then, in the second half of the show, we'll chat with one of the co-owners, jack Donahue. Jack, a visionary entrepreneur, is committed to preserving the environment while offering guests an unforgettable experience. He discusses what led their group to take over this eco-lodge, their passion for sustainability and the community outreach the lodge provides to Salt Creek. So, whether you're a seasoned eco-traveler or just looking for your next adventure, stay tuned for this special episode recorded on location in Panama. It's an in-depth exploration of Casa Cuyoco, where tranquility and sustainable luxury are woven into the very fabric of this tropical Panama haven.

Speaker 2:

So, alondra, you're the year-round host of Casa Caio. Hayoku, yes, Hayoku, yes, okay, but you're from Panama City and I wanted to learn a little bit about how you came to live on the island and the work that you do here. So I guess, could you first just maybe share your personal journey and how you wound up as the year-round host at Casa Caio and in Bocas del Toro, and coming from Panama City?

Speaker 3:

Well, that's a very interesting question. I've been in hospitality for around six years and, well, hospitality is a very demanding job, I would say, and I felt that I wanted to have a change in my life when I turned 30 years old, actually, and I started looking for any opportunity that can come out but hospitality. And then I saw this opportunity on the internet and I was like I really like everything they're saying there, because I am sharing their values, I'm sharing their projects. It's a hotel and it would require me to move out of the city, but in my time off in the city, I used to love the beach and go to the beach every time. So I was like I'm going to just try this one. Probably they are not going to call me. And well, that was the first business that called me for the interview process. And what year was this? And this was last year, last year, okay, yeah, the very end of last year. And it was so perfect that I was like I want to try this. It seems crazy. When I quit on my other job, they were like Alondra, it's everything, okay, you are just living everything here and you're moving to this remote island there. I was like, yeah, I do believe in this. Yes, that's what I'm doing. It sounds crazy to you, but it makes a lot of sense to me and inside of me.

Speaker 2:

I love that you have that freedom to do that, because it's just an experience that few people get to have.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so, yeah, I wonder, I'm really grateful for that opportunity that I have here.

Speaker 2:

Wonderful, so you've been here for about a year now. Yeah, the lodge. It's known for its unique offerings and curated experiences. So what are some of the standout activities and adventures that guests can enjoy while they're here? Today we got to go watch the turtles hatch and go into the water, and it was probably one of the top experiences I've ever seen in my life. It was so fascinating to watch about 100 of them hatch and slowly make their way to the water, but then they would pick up speed and go into the water and then wash back again. It was just fascinating. So I know that's one. And then earlier today we went to Monkey Island. But what are some of the other activities that guests can look for when they can come to visit?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, one very important thing to know once you get into Kazakayuku is that we do plan everything by day, depending on the weather, because we are really going with the flow of the island. So, depending on what the island is saying, that is what we're doing. So, depending on the weather, as we did today, turtles were hatching today. Today they were hatching, so we were like, okay, let's go and see them. And the bioluminescence.

Speaker 2:

tell me about that and because it just happens to be going on right now.

Speaker 3:

Yes, it happened. I think that you are very lucky that you have come with nest hatching and with bioluminescence also coming out. So, yes, this happened in very specific occasions, especially when we do not have mui, even when the water, the tide is low enough that the water is so clear that you can't well have this. So right now you have the two conditions and they're going to see bioluminescence there Wonderful, and was it Zapatius Island?

Speaker 2:

Is that where we watched the turtles?

Speaker 3:

Yes, zapatius Island. Actually we go to the two of them, that's part of our adventures. It's Zapatius 1. It's actually where you were today. That one is where in Kenama there are five type of turtles. Five of them come to Boca Sector and the ones that you saw today, the Hawks Eye Bill, that, the one that they were hatching. That's in Zapatius 1. And then Zapatius 2, it's well known for their circling spots. So probably tomorrow, if the weather allows it and what we call the weather. We need this sunny day because on sunny days the corals looks better so we can go there. And while we have two very cool spots there for circling, there's one that I personally describe it as a fish city because there are so many fishes that it looks like traffic. It is amazing. And there also you can see sometimes the octopus and lobsters just wandering around.

Speaker 2:

I love it, I love it and it's very relaxing. I've only been here a day but I'm just totally decompressed. And you know, there's these comfortable leisurely spots near the lodge as well as on the dock and I mean it's just a totally different pace and you see the guests are kayaking and pedal boarding and then circling and it's just, it's wonderful. Are there any other types of activities that someone might?

Speaker 3:

Yes, we do have activities, for we have water adventures as the circling. As I was mentioning, in Zapatius we have all two. Another spot that is called man groups. That one has a very special place in my heart and most of the guests when they come here, that is their favorite adventure. So that one is pretty cool. It is Zapatius, it's all about the fishies. The man group is all about soft corals. So after I have been there, I could say my favorite colors are underwater. Yeah, it's awesome. So we have that one. We have Batcave. That one is like the most adventurous adventure that we have. So that one is it includes hiking, it includes the Shani Cave and it includes to swim in a pool inside a cave. Oh, wow, yeah, it would be something. Yeah, that is something very, very special and things that sell like it. And we also have well, we have a chocolate farm. We do the chocolate farm. Yes, yeah, that one is delicious. That's our delicious tour. Right, we can go fishing. We have also another adventure that it's going. It's around a one hour boat ride, but that one is very special because we get to go to another indigenous community. It's this pristine virgin island that is called Nidori. So that one is also one of the adventures, oh, not later, so it will depend actually on the weather. Depending on the weather we definitely are going is what planning?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, ok, so, but but guests typically take about two excursions a day, depending on what's going on.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes, depending on how they are, I always check on their energy levels.

Speaker 2:

I would say oh yeah, plenty of time for relaxing as well and enjoying the water. So can you tell you know it's an eco adventure lodge. So what are some of the I guess, sustainable practices that you utilize? Well?

Speaker 3:

I would say that that's the hard actually of Kasekayuku, starting from how we get the water. Here we're using rainwater that it's been double filtered and well, it's a water that it's we are using to cook, that you can find in your room, so we depend on rainwater. We are entirely working on solar energy, so we're using solar panels on the top of our building, so we are ready. That is in that side. We also have one of our newest rooms that we are planning and it's here to happen like that, where we it's using the rainwater, is using the solar energy, and from that one we actually get compost for our gardens. Oh, so we are making compost from that one Move.

Speaker 2:

Excellent, and the food is it's plant based, yeah, and then local fishermen is where do you get your fish for evening meals?

Speaker 3:

That's correct. That's correct. We, regarding our kitchen is working, we do. Most of our meals are plant based dinner, breakfast, lunch and try everything is plant based. We locally source it. So that's how our menus also change a lot because it depends on what it's on, season, definitely. And for dinner, we have this special relationship with fishermen in the community and actually fishing is one of the base of the economy from South Creek, so they just a bow out, they fish, and the first place they did stop when they are coming from the ocean is Casa Cayugo. Oh, I love it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, tell me today you went to get. Was it medical supplies? Or there's a clinic that's being set up? Can you tell me about that?

Speaker 3:

Actually that's the project that happened this year that separated. That got my heart. We are building in South Creek the nearest indigenous community clinic for the floating doctors to so they can provide a year around medical assistance to the community. Right now there are common every 12 weeks to see patients with chronic disease, but they definitely it's a large community. It has around 1200 people living there. As you have seen, going to Boca Sound is very difficult for them. So we are building this clinic. We were just on that trip actually to meet the base of them, to see and get to know also some of the volunteers that are there, how they are planning all the trips, all the other communities that they are also seeing. So it was a very interesting and I can tell you that we were looking on how they are planning for everything. I almost cried. I was like, oh my gosh, they are so and I'm telling you right now, my eye air watering, of how special that was and it was, and when is?

Speaker 2:

when is that projected to be Well, right now they're coming.

Speaker 3:

It is just that they are not staying year round. That is what we are looking for, but we are planning to have that ready for December.

Speaker 2:

OK, great Spots services. So I saw there was a massage.

Speaker 3:

Yes and yes, we have a Susan house and her name is Sophia. So if you are from South Creek and we have she.

Speaker 2:

Well, she has previous previous knowledge from Massaches, but we have elevated her knowledge you know, maybe share some of your most memorable moments or feedback that you've received from guests who have, you know, stayed at Casa Caillouco and participated in the activities. I mean, I know for myself, it was just this complete sense of relaxation that I don't often get. Yeah, travel, and so is that generally, or is it this? It's a very exotic adventure. I mean, it's adventurous because you're in the jungle, with the beach right there and these, these completely thrilling experiences that people can do. So I'm just kind of curious on the feedback of what you've gotten, as far as you know, what really stands out from guests when I would.

Speaker 3:

I would say that every guest that come here is very special and it for me is very interesting to see how they come, all kind of the same energy and they just connect here. So you see how people come in different families and they just sit at the restaurant and then we are all a big family for our stay and everyone is just sharing and I've seen that that is one thing that really stands out because by then of the state, people are sharing their numbers, their emails. Please visit me, you have a house. The key is that is something that definitely stands out and guests come from all over, I mean from all, even on this particular trip.

Speaker 2:

there's a couple of Turkey, there's some people from the States, and you know that's originally from Columbia.

Speaker 3:

I mean to date on the couple that arise. I think that you have not met them yet. They're from Germany. Oh, germany, wonderful. You know, I have a practice German and wonderful, and so I love that and I love people from all over our mom and year, connecting with the same belief of sustainability of the planet, of also looking for a place to relax.

Speaker 2:

I foot and if we could talk some more about the food, because it has been outstanding. Tell me a little bit, maybe, about your chef and the baker. You know it's a bread and just divine. Yes, just a little bit about the food. You know their background and how they and say they would kind of said was already big. Kaza-ka-yuko seems to cater to various types of travelers, from adventure seekers to those looking for a tranquil stay. How do you tailor the experience to meet the diverse interests of these groups?

Speaker 3:

That is. There is where I think that loving your dog comes around, because you need to connect with everyone to see what they are looking for and how the weather is looking like, so you can connect that various conditions with what the island is offering. So, yeah, definitely, I would say that that's the personal touch of Kazakayu.

Speaker 2:

Okay, wonderful. Are there any other exciting plans or developments? I didn't even know about the clinic movement first, but on the horizon for the resort itself it turns on either new activities or experiences. What is it looking like? Moving forward? Is there, or just keeping it as is when it's percolating?

Speaker 3:

No, definitely there are new activities coming out. We're always trying to look for places, and that is, I would say, one of the fun parts of this. We're always looking like, hey, if I've heard about this in a place, could you please go and check it out? Definitely I can go on an adventure and check it out for you, jack. So that is, we're always looking for new adventures and new experiences, I would say too, because it's not just about being out. Also, when we are staying here, there are things that we can learn. We can learn about coconut oil. We are trying to have that activity for years. We think that that would be a very cool experience to have how to make your own coconut milk too. How to make, if you like, our bread. How to make the Casaca Yuko bread at home. Those are part of the experiences that we are building. This is perfect.

Speaker 2:

Finally, I'm curious more about yourself personally. You said that about once a month you go to Bocas del Toro. Yeah, About like that. So you just settled in here. What is your typical day like then? Do you get a day off? I?

Speaker 3:

do? Definitely, I do get a day off. I think that my favorite part of this is that all the things that I love and I enjoy and I would be doing on my day off are already here. So I do need to plan. And there is where Velimir, our junior manager, comes in and he just take care of the operation on my day off. And, well, I definitely do the things that I like that are going for a hike running on the beach. I love Kajakin and paddleboarding. You can see me at. I just got this new water bag so I can put my books in there and if I fall off it my books doesn't get wet, because I love to just lay on the beach.

Speaker 2:

Oh it sounds amazing, wonderful, well, thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and introduce us to this glorious place. I mean, it's really like heaven. It would be just. I love how you describe it.

Speaker 3:

I love how you describe it Well. Thank you so very much. You're very welcome.

Speaker 1:

Jack, thank you for joining me here today. Absolutely my pleasure. Yeah, it's great to speak with you again. To get started, let's say I'm curious. I'd love to hear your personal story. You know what it is that prompted you and your partners to purchase Kasakayuko?

Speaker 4:

So that's a great question, jill. So Kasakayuko Eco Adventure Lodge we're located in Bocastotoro, panama. We actually have an 18 year history from when the lodge first opened and my family and I we've been with the team for just about four and a half five years now, and what originally brought us down here? And that's a great question. I think we were all in a position where we were looking for something new and exciting in their lives and also just really a change of career and a change of lifestyle to do something that really was more in line with our value systems and honoring Mother Earth and thinking of how we can live our most authentic lives.

Speaker 1:

Wow, it sounds like a perfect fit for that as well. And speaking of those sustainability efforts, then set the core of what you do at Kasakayuko, and so can you highlight some of the key initiatives and practices that demonstrate this commitment that you have the environmental responsibility, yeah?

Speaker 4:

sure you know how we look at Kasakayuko. We really want to be the stewards to the island. The island's the home of our entire team and the fact is they're going to exist long after we're gone. So we try, in every decision that we make, to be excellent stewards and caretakers, so that's of our team and also of the natural world that's around us At the lodge. Every decision we make we try and keep that in mind. And so, for example, energy, the lodge if you turn on any light in the hotel or plug in any cell phone, anything like that, all of our energy is from the sun. So it's a solar powered lodge. We have 40 solar panels that produced about I'm going to nerd out for a moment about 17,000 watts of energy. That's a system, Fantastic, we, yeah and we. So that's the solar energy, how we get power and then how we get water. Also, we take advantage of Mother Nature, raining and all of our roofs have rainwater catchment system set up. In the 10 buildings that we have, Eight of our roofs are built to collect rain and we have a 29,000. So a very large gallon water capacity that is available. And so you know, we have dual flush toilets, as an example, with low and high flush settings we actually just installed. On the note of waste, we just installed our first compostable toilets and we're going to be moving towards a bio digester system that actually takes many different inputs from the lodge and our guests and is just really a great system. So that's exciting for what the future holds, and I'll just give you one or two more quick points.

Speaker 1:

Yes thanks.

Speaker 4:

So food we serve primarily plant based cuisine with fresh fish, and so we really try and make our menu as environmentally friendly as possible. All foods locally sourced to limit our supply chain, food print, and the fish is caught fresh daily, as you saw, with Jose and his relatives bringing fish to the dock every night.

Speaker 1:

Yes, but it was amazing. All of the food was so amazing. Freshmade bread every day. Was that, Martina? Yeah?

Speaker 4:

Chef Martina, oh my gosh. And since we're still talking about being sustainable, on the note of things like fresh made bread that Martina makes, or our coconut oil that Cercita, who is our head chef her mother makes for us All of those products like that are from coconut that come from our island, and so we really try and we can use the coconut as an example. We try and use every piece of the, anything that we bring to the island or anything that we're using from the island the husk of the cocoa, you know, we'll use for our hiking trails, or we'll use it to put extra carbon into our compost, and then the inner shell, maybe will use it to put plants or seeds that are going to germinate for the future. And then, obviously, the coconut meat we use in our really delicious granola that I think you got to enjoy. Yes, on the yogurt, yeah, so lots of different uses.

Speaker 2:

And also, I noticed, I believe, was Julian the bartender that I spoke with. Yeah, that was Julian, julian, Julian, I apologize.

Speaker 1:

I had the most amazing smoothie a couple of days with the peanut butter, bananas and the coconut milk, and he said that you make the coconut milk as well on site. Is that yet? Yeah?

Speaker 4:

So I would say it this way Anything that you had at the lodge, every little ingredient that you could possibly think of, we make homemade. So that's something we it's you know to be sustainable, but it's just something that we're really proud of and a big emphasis that, when I mentioned Julia, my brother's wife, that she brought to the table with our menu of just having the freshest organic farm to table dining experience that we can offer, excellent, excellent.

Speaker 1:

One last thing about the sustainability, the ecologes you know they're often seen as leaders and responsible tourism. To elaborate a little bit on what being an equal lodge means to you and how it influences the guest experience yeah, you know.

Speaker 4:

so being an equal lodge for me really means it's that complicated question of how do we make good operational decisions that have the least impact on our environment. I'd say it's no perfect one size fits all green or environmentally friendly decision, but it's with every small detail, every small decision that we're going to make, and every large detail or decision, it's how is this going to affect the community that's around us, is going to affect the local folks from that community. So in this case, our local community, the Ndobay Bougele indigenous folks that live in Salt Creek, just 20 minutes from us, and how is the decisions that we're going to affect, or how are the decisions that we make going to affect the larger community? So the folks maybe living in Bocas, living in Panama, and then all of the flora and fauna that is around us as well, and so kind of at the micro and macro level we try and look at it. But to kind of guide us with environmental, you know, with being an equal lodge and what does that mean in ecotourism, we really had to sit down and establish what our core values are. And so you know our core values are what really help define, define who we are and help us navigate, and they're our compass for the decisions that we make as a business. To you know, achieve being a sustainable, ethical and profitable hospitality operation. And so, if you don't mind, I'll go over a few of those core values. So I mentioned one is you know, we want to treat this island like it's our home, but the real is the island is the home of our team and we want to be here for many years, and the reality is our team is going to be here for many, many years. So we strive to be excellent stewards and caretakers, and the grand majority of our team, of our 26 full-time employees, have worked with us for a very, very long time, several of them since day one, 18 years ago, and they're going to continue to for decades to come. So we want to restricting our community and environment for the long term. And then so our second big value is empowerment, giving our team the freedom to make decisions that rely heavily on their local knowledge and expertise, and so I think that's part of, you know, ecotourism and sustainability. And then relationships is a huge one. All of our team are in some way connected in friendship, family or community outside of the lodge. And then our fourth core value is trust. We really like to be transparent with our team, especially when we talk about decisions, things like that, and we hold ourselves and others accountable to doing the right thing. We believe our team's trust is our word and so, as operators of the lodge, we work extremely hard to keep that trust. Yeah, and I just got two more to hit you with anticipation. Our guests are well-traveled and experienced, and so we want to participate and respond to their needs before they arise, always with the high level of caring consideration. And then, lastly, is innovation. We're doing different things for the community. We're engaged in different projects that are pushing us forward as an ecologic and being as sustainable as possible, but we want to continually grow and create and elevate the team and guest experience and those initiatives. So if we're not constantly innovating, we're not going to be able to remain at the forefront of not only being the number one ecologic on TripAdvisor, but the forefront of what we truly are seeking, of being a sustainable tourism operator. Excellent.

Speaker 1:

Excellent, and Jang. Actually. That leads me to my next question. If you don't mind, I'm really I'm eager to learn more about Salt Creek and your involvement there, and you know what kind of what led to that and, as far as you know, the building the classrooms and the working with the floating doctors, as far as building the medical outpost and I'm really just wanting to hear more about that and the why and what and how.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, sure, well, so you know, I mentioned Casca Yugo has been around for 18 years. A really cool, fun couple originally opened the lodge and I would say they they really put down great bones for the, for the hotel, and you know what, what the mission of the hotel would be and really engaging with the community, and so, obviously, as, as we've come along, we've refined some things, but the mission and, in the, the core purpose of the lodge is, you know, seeking adventure, but building community and sustainability, and not only for our guests and within our little team, but within Salt Creek, the local community, and so that has really, since inception of Casca Yugo, been at the forefront, and so over the last 18 years, collectively as a lodge, we've put up several different school buildings and within the community, we've implemented different trash programs as well. As our big initiative that we're currently working on is putting up a two-floor, two-story medical facility, so it's going to be a medical clinic that'll be operated by a wonderful 5013c NGO that is called Floating Doctors and floating so the experts in remote medical care within Panama. They actually over 30 different communities that they serve currently, and Salt Creek, we're super, super excited, is going to be one of the first communities that's going to have or rather, I should say the first community that's going to have year-round access to medical care. So excellent. The vision and the goal is we're going to have two medical providers that will live in the structure that Casca Yugo is in the process of building. Though they're year-round, and so it's really going to be, you know, not only for your emergencies, but healthcare, empowerment and education are at the forefront of what the the vision and the goal is with with this, this facility.

Speaker 1:

So right and to clarify before for the audience who might not be familiar previous to this medical outpost, before it being built. So it was just sporadic wellness care that they would receive.

Speaker 4:

There wasn't any emergency options available yeah, so in maybe I'm jumping three steps forward. Let me jump a couple steps back. So Salt Creek is located on Isla Bastimentos. There are further 20 minute walk from Casca Yugo, the lodge that we operate, and so Salt Creek is a 40 minute if you're in a speedboat, 40 minute boat ride from Boca's Town, east Lake Colombo, castel Toro, and so that's where there is a main hospital as well as a private clinic, and so where all of the access to medical care is. So if you have an emergency in Salt Creek, this local indigenous community, if there's an emergency or let's say it's something minor and you need just to get any type of checkup from a medical professional, you would have to travel to Boca's Town, east Lake Colombo at minimum, and so that if folks don't have access to speedboats, but if they did have access to a speedboat, that would be a 40 minute boat ride and access to a speedboat. It's going to be in a small Cayucco with a very small motor. It could be up to an hour and a half to three hour boat journey, and so if but he is paddling without a motor, we're talking a five, six hour, up to seven hour Cayucco, paddle right. So this is go. So yeah, long story short, we're talking about a indigenous community that's in a extremely remote setting that, at the current level, has no year-round access to medical care. I was far as to say they really don't have any access to medical care. They're the group that's going to run the medical outpost is called floating doctors, and they are the ones that are currently the care providers for Salt Creek. However, it's on a every 12 week basis, and so every 12 weeks the group will come and provide a clinic and hit the chronic patients as well as then, as they can, all of the other members of the community, anybody who's sick, and then also for preventative care and checkups. But so that is just on a cadence of about four times a year, and sometimes, you know, more than every 12 weeks, sometimes it's a little bit less than that, but there's nothing consistent, and then if there is any type of emergency, there's literally no care available. So it's really exciting. It's really what I would say. I love the lodge, I love Hossmentown. It's a big part of my background and where I come from as a professional, but what really gets me excited in the morning and has me eager to continue to grow our business so we could continue to support our efforts in Salt Creek. Is this medical outpost?

Speaker 1:

Excellent and I'll include a link in the show notes. But I'm curious how, if someone wants to get involved and help with this, is there specific needs or you know?

Speaker 4:

and I can get yeah, yeah. So I mean being very direct with your listeners. Financial support is the biggest need. Floating Doctors is a really wonderful organization and they have a pretty robust group of volunteers. It's really getting monetary donations sent their way to support the year round staffing of the facility.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

And as far as building, you know, for the projects.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so as far as building the facility, we pretty much have that covered. It's going to be the year round operation of the facility. What I would request if any listener wanting to donate, is you could go to our website, wwwcosakayukocom slash community. Okay, and there's going to be a link that will bring you to Floating Doctors website. I give us our website first because there's a little specific direction. Essentially, when you click into the Floating Doctors link, you're just going to want to, at the time of making the donation, say that the donation is for the Salt Creek Medical Outpost, that way, specifically towards this project and this budget of housing the doctors year round. Wonderful. So yeah, and there's more information on that community tab of the various different projects that we've worked on in the past and really great initiatives that have been done throughout our 18 years. Excellent.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you. Thank you for changing people's lives and thank you for making a difference and for keeping the sustainability aspect there and keeping tourism clean and giving people this opportunity. Because not only was it such a great experience the location, but then again meeting so many people, meeting the local community as well as people from all over the world who were guests there, and real friendships were established in it because it was such an intimate setting and sharing the wonderful meals. So I just can't thank you enough for a wonderful, wonderful visit to Cusack.

Speaker 4:

Caillouco. Well, joe, thank you so much for those kind words. It's music to my heart and ears, as they say, Hearing the wonderful experience that you had. And just thanks again for joining in on the adventure. We were so happy to host you and hope that you'll visit us again soon. Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, jack. Thank you for joining us on this episode of Global Journeys with Jill Dutton. Until next time, may your travels be filled with endless curiosity, open-hearted encounters and transformative adventures. Safe travels, fellow explorers, and keep wandering.

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