So, what does one pack when heading to an unknown island for months on end?
COFFEE. Bags of coffee. Despite the proximity to South America, coffee is disproportionately expensive to obtain here! Of course, as with many trips, once you have visited once you would have a much better idea of targeted collection of useful things to bring (the lucky toy llama still firmly at the top, of course…), but coffee is essential.
The biggest area that we wanted to focus on, especially being in an area where you will only be drinking tank-stored rainwater, was a way to ensure water was safe. Nobody likes sitting at 30 degrees in the midday sun next to a tank full of water and no way to drink it!
A few options were considered. Water purification tablets were on the list, and come in a host of varieties. However, this is fine if needing them for a few days, or even a week. But we didn’t much fancy dissolving chlorine-based tablets into every glass of water for 4 months. So we looked at filter options.
Coming in bottle form, and with generally water-tight (sorry!!) reviews, the Water-To-Go bottles were chosen (with fact that it claims to use ‘technology developed by NASA’ having no bearing at all…). And they have proved to be a worthy investment! Without Petri dishes and growth mediums to test the water sanitisation, the only two points we have to go off is that a) it tastes great and clear, and b) we haven’t fallen over sideways yet. Both of which are good news! They are easy to use, refill, and are also very rugged and durable. Something I would highly recommend!
The next point to address, is the intermittent electricity. Although power cuts are far from daily, they are relatively frequent; any high winds, stormy weather, heavy rain.. Which, this time of year, are a at least a weekly event. So reliable power has to be available. And what is reliable here (well, at least when there isn’t a storm blowing through..)? Solar energy!
The daily routine is first thing in the morning, as the sun hits the balcony, to place out all of the light units that then gather and store energy through the day via the sun, to then utilise in the evening. Alongside this, we have been using an ‘Anker PowerPort Solar’ (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anker-PowerPort-2-Port-Charger-iPhone/dp/B012VL20GW).
This AWESOME piece of kit boasts 2 USB charging ports. Although it is simply a charger (and unable to retain charge), for the entirety of daylight hours it works incredibly well.
For this reason, it definitely paid to ensure as much kit as possible that we brought (2 way radios, head torch, normal torch, iPhones..) were able to charge directly off USB.
When there is no need to charge anything directly, the Belkin power bank (there are a million different types of power bank available) gets plugged in to soak up charge so ensure that it doesn’t go to waste. Then any USB items requiring charging overnight can be.
With those being the main two ‘savours,’ of course there are countless other gems that would be too numerous to go through. Mosquito repellent, good knives (including a Leatherman multitool) and a knife sharpener have all proved beyond valuable.
When you’re stuck on an island such as this, you are only as good as your kit! And when you do your research, consider that you do get what you pay for. And when you are going to be somewhere that means sending something back for repair, or even replacing it, is impossible, it pays to get the kit you can depend on.