Crossing the Darien Gap

In a new three-part series now available wherever you get your podcasts, you can hear journalist Nadja Drost giving us a warts and all interview on Colombia Calling about her Crossing of the Darien Gap.

Immigrants from Bangladesh and Nepal seen on a boat in the Cacarica river while their coyotes push their boats through shallow waters, Colombia, May 15, 2016. In 2015, the total number of irregular migrants from countries as far as Somalia, Bangladesh and Nepal detected in Turbo was 2,942, compared to just 502 in 2014. So far this year, migration authorities have already recorded 3,830 migrants making their way north, almost all of them transiting through Turbo – a few hours away from Panama by boat. Colombia has dealt with the growing arrival of Cubans by issuing them with eight-day transit permits, which encourage them to quickly move north or face arrest. Photo copywrite Carlos Villalon/ Redux

Drost hikes for seven days with her husband a documentary maker and another photographer familiar with the trail and their journey takes them through some of the most pristine and impenetrable jungles in the Americas. At times harrowing and unbelievable, the expedition undertaken to cross the Darien Gap from Colombia to Panama is not for the faint of heart.

Tragedy strikes all too often along the trail. Photo: copywrite Carlos Villalon/ Redux

Drost and the team travel alongside migrants from places as far-off as Sri Lanka and Angola and have recorded their stories as they strive to reach the United States and make a new life for themselves and their families there. The stories will be broadcast on PBS in the future, but you can read Drost’s compelling article in California Sunday magazine in April 2020.

These episodes have drawn in listeners from far and wide and I am deeply indebted to Nadja Drost for her time and enthusiasm in providing us with a source of such unshackled information and a desire to reveal the harsh realities one encounters when crossing the Darien Gap. Don’t forget to look out for the documentary series on PBS in the near future.

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