A leatherback crawls back to freedom after being rescued from a tangle of weeds in the river.
The following is a direct transcript, followed by its English translation, of a goodbye speech that I delivered on Friday, July 11th, 2014 during a session of traditional congress after having spent nearly a year working on sea turtle conservation in the town of Armila, Guna Yala. The speech was delivered in the Guna language, Dulegaya. Scroll down to see the English translation.
Emi mutigídbali gwage nunmaked abalágine. Emi mutikídgine gwage ulub nunmaket abalágine napi na besed gor mala. Achulédba na be idugar bángun maloe. Panama negweburrgi an mei dab gweloe, itoed irbo sar. Ágine enekamba naed gachundo. Na neyse nabársundo. Emi napi na beitosmala onmakednekyne, emi armir dorie bemar anga gwage uisamala. Anga soysa mala, wegíned begu moyye.
Dey soku gwenadgannye, napi ibábo armir dorie na soy moyye. Gwage nunmaked abalági na bega napi sunmakwis marie. Wichumoyye sana aibir bálodibe.
Deginigwele, an gwage yelito nadbáriye. Anmar ibmar gabdaisa malad. Nai mas mariye.
Emi, we birga, nada pídgine, Armir sapíngan, we yar dirbir náedgala, imbar dummad basar oyyóse. Yaug gi nele gumálad. We sapíngan oyósto yaug gin nele gumáladgan, da kargua, di wi nae, ney bole goe gudágo, budar itóed abalági. Anmar nánasto, ukup suit yarba. Yaug eigar ebiséga. We misqwágwa ney dirbir náedga, armir negweburr si na oyosokardo, gan gúed nika, sibgan dakéga. Anmar ibmar durgan akwebúkwad, anmar dáed, dule anmar gwisgúoe.
Anmar we arbas málad, armir mas mala, buna mala, nassi sokali mapa dummadgi. Anmar weginbi binsa na suli, anmar mimigan dani danikoe idúgar binsa nabáli.
Unnila mani ginbi an bina bui suli, anmar ibmar sabguédgi, an dáed sabguedgi, nabgwana sabguédgi. Anmar burba oyyonae.
Gwenadgan, imar sokwen an soi bi bali. Andule warambe caka bake nuggine, yo oche baba anmar bendakóe. Nabiri, negu yase be bate ulúgine, ua uka bake mái.., aye, tilapia anai... guedi, anmar ibmas bali. Neg isku tibe, demar dúngu tibe, anmar ua sate natáe. Dey soku we idúgar gabdai les bali. Nabir, we ua nas guéga, we imar imas bali we birga. Turtle researcher Horiel Campillo looks out over the town from the dead branch of a bread-fruit tree.
Daddummad abalági, budar itoe naga, wied abalági, anmar imar sokwen dummad wakalos bali. Emidega, gwenadgan ARAP dule, anmar obatis bali wegi, na igar buli burwiburwi igar palamiéga.
Anmar ibmar obelochuli, gwenadgan wedi bégisi mala, imar obelóged, onas gúed, onas imaked, nabir igarga wega, nabir an mimigan dakéga.
Sokwengine negweburr goédgine, birga irbali, gwenadgan bukkib, anmar obate mai bali. Igar núegan amile mabáli. Dey soku gwenadgan an be ogan noge, gatig salai maloe.
Ibagan nana máedba, anmar dula guédgi, gwenadgan abito guedgi. Yod tegwa, anmarse gwenadgan nanabukwa. Bina, an bega obaro. Ocean Courier, Pamela Longabardi, Elliot, Turistamar nanamalad. We dulemar gaya dummad mimi nae. We ney dirbir náedgi, anmar gangu, armir gangu sid. Negweburr bipi innegwele, gwaged Dummad nika. Anmar yobsuli, negweburr dummagan anmar idu bukwamalad, sikwi dummÁgan nikkad. Armir, oyyos gunnae emiskwágwa. We dule mar birgi obine. Beitomargwa gwenadgan anmar nued gangu bukwa.
Anmar aku dake, inmar sokwen nuégan obe mama nade. Emi be dake, beca wargwen mimi obeles nade. We beca nuga ¨Beca Bunagunasob¨. We beca, nui nika. Deginigwar, bunolo égis, nuegambie na escuelagi obelósale egad kagúoe, yola birgagwen bendai legoe. Deig sulírdina, mimi báedka uile daile dagoe, armir negweburrgi. Wedina escuelagi si sundo. Imar búkip anmargi dani bali. Gangumálad. Atoed abelége. Mag itogedche abelege.
Emi birga gwenadgannye, imar sokwen dummad, bemar imaisa. Bemar yala billisega galu wargwen anmar odulósa. We galu núido, Yaug Galuye. Ibu an bega obáre. U dummadi anmar yaug-ga sísa. Onukusto anmar yaug negaye.
We galu sigísad. Bemar igar balamisí guégala. Gwenadgan yaug gi nele gumála, bate noni dibe, we galúgine, igar balamisí be gunmáloe. Ágan bega soge galu Dummad anmar odulalésa.
Emi dakar bárgua, an ulubgi an ganiki, an nattibele anmar ibmar yote arbas máladi, we burgo suliye. Ibi gala we imar arbalésad baid arbalenáed yaagine sapin dummagan guna nae. Imar be burba bala mismálad. Dey soku sahilamariye, negweburrye, we imar margi arbalenaed be daked, anmar, bendakéga gúoe. Igarmar bala miléar dibe. Bitikígwa negweburrgi binsa si, anmar igar amisána yer bana.
Napi an soybie, bela gwable negweburr, anga gomburba uisamala. An bendas malad. Wegi an beyagi an bipirmai sadgine. Siyámar, bunmar, dadormar, burigana. Gwable, an bendasmalad. Dey soku an nae sokar soku dokus nuedgine ansoydo, gwenadganye. Deginigwele, an soybido ulubgi, ai mariye DOInuediye: Chiche, Delando, Marcos, Felix, Atiliano, Francisco Arosemena, Luisa, Fernando, Edilio, Felipe, Tigre, Esterbino, Fidel, Carlos, Nacho, Yrelia, Sunhilda, Melida, Richard, Yosidelis y Desidelia, Calvin y Kelvin, Alan, Moguii, Luperio, Luisa, Demetrio, Olo, Delfino, Itza, Yuli, Caballo Blanco, Arcadio, Aurelio, Caraballo, Larry, Tony, Ernesto, Chimmy, Manuel, Hilario, Amelio, Fredespinda, Gladys, Elber, Osvaldo, Wan Suit, Melanio, Marta y Santiago Campillo, gwable grupo Gammibe Gun Galu, gwable profesores, gwable sahilamar, uagi arbasmalad, yaug nega sobsa malad, ansi anmar ney durwismalad, gwable policiamar, Ruedas esordámar, baid gwenadgan ukupa yaug bipi abingúsad, egi binsa guichi gusad, gucha suli, we mar egan soy bardo, do nuediye. IchasUli gwenadgan an obarider. Gwable, gwable neggweburrgi, do nuediye. Bela gwable wegi, bemar, yar dirbi naedgi imar sabguédgi binsa lenae, anmar yaug sabguedgi, binsa bukwad, bemar, e sorda moga.
My last day in Armila I went and helped the soccer team bring lumber out of the forest to help them pay their way to their regional soccer tournament. Ibabwéngine, sapin dummadi, soysa nade, began puente obay malóye.
Nabir wegi be nanamala gala, mattaba. Emiski an bega soy moga, we puente daisiki, yaawak buki bukwa. We yawak, gwenaganye, emiski, an soy moga, be idugar yawag ega an gúoe. Imar bukkip, we yawak daisiki bukwa, anmar negweburr, naibirgi nasgúed. Unnila, gwenadgan, armir dorgan.... Anmargi si, we gab dai lesad, anmar arbanae, gángued abelege.
Napidgine, gwenadganye, an bemarga soyye....
Bitikígwa mer be ane binsas malana gadina emi dakargwa, we mergímar Amanda Morrison ebo ukubbirba yaug burwiba abarmáe bukúsad. We mergi, Campillo achu gi gullesad. We mergimar we gagalesmalad. Be mar an ebinsa di gusa na yer bana be mimíbad yobi be ba bipirmaisad, we mimi, be idugar nade, weyob be an ebinsas malana gadina. Ani, Amanda anbo, Armila an gwage yaban sesa. An nega. An neyba yobi an ebinsa dióe.
Napi an soybie, and be marga sogo. Yo eche, an dula, niku noni dibe, bunolo baba anga uísa dibe, an wése inna suit gob nonikoe.
Sadly, I come before you in the big house tonight to say "goodbye" for an indefinite period of time. This is my last week as an honorary resident of Armila. Monday I will go to Panama City, the following week to the U.S. I come before you with a heavy heart, but one that’s filled with pride of what we have accomplished together this year.
A group of young Armilans manage their own small business taking tourists out to see leatherback turtles. This year, a group of students from this small town began a long-term study on leatherback sea turtles that will be available and visible to the whole world. They got up before the sunrise, went out in the rain, and walked the entire beach just to count sea turtle tracks. By doing this they are putting Armila on the map for scientists and conservationists around the world. These young people represent a future for Armila’s children, a future that’s not based on just surviving or making money, but remembering our culture of protecting our mother earth.
Also, thanks to the hard work of a small group of people, you are one step closer to putting more fish on the tables of families during the times when the wind is too strong for us to fish.
[Someone yells: "Tilapia!" Town laughs.]
Yes, the tilapia. We worked long hours in the hot afternoon sun to make a tank for growing fish, we received a delegation of ARAP from Panama, and even exorcized demons, but we got it done. This work has come a long way, but we haven't tasted fish yet -- it's not finished. I know that you all are dedicated and continue this work until you can taste its fruits.
Yet another thing you did this year: you, the community, opened your arms guests from all over the world to this town and showed them the work you were doing here, sharing the messages of your ancestors with strangers from cultures that have forgotten their role as stewards of the earth. To name a few, Pamela Longabardi, Elliot Blumberg, ARAP, Ocean Courier, Tortuguias, and many other travelers from around the world.
Thanks to the kindness of these visitors, a girl from this town will be receiving a grant that will allow her to continue her studies for a year. It's called the "Leatherback Turtle Scholarship," and it was given to her because of her demonstrated dedication to sea turtle conservation. We must understand that these visits are important. These are people who can take the message of this town and bring it to the world. We are a small town, but we have very big messengers.
This year, family, you did something very big. You built a house that will be a revenue-generating monument to all the work you do to defend your turtle populations on this beach. The "Turtle House" will be a place where people dedicated to the study and conservation of sea turtles can meet and share a home with the people of Armila. And it will be a place where those of us in the community that are dedicated to the sustainable development of this town can convene and converse.
My boots, machete, work clothes, and field guides, left behind with one of the turtle researchers I trained.
Aside from all of the tangible things that we can point out, this year has given your children the opportunity to learn to speak English and to meet new people from around the world. We hope that we can continue to open up these opportunities to you from afar, but we can only open the door, you must step through it.
Just a bit more I would like to say, family. It has been an honor to work for you and for your turtles this year. This work should not stop because I am not here. There are responsible people in this town that are already working hard to make things like this happen, so I ask that you support them and always think about the effect your community is having on sea turtles and their home: the beach and the ocean.
I want to thank all the women, all the men, all the children of the town, for making this year an unforgettable experience for Amanda and me. And I want to personally thank the following people for supporting us, both personally and professionally, over the course of this year: Chiche, Delando, Marcos, Felix, Atiliano, Francisco Arosemena, Luisa, Fernando, Edilio, Felipe, Tigre, Sara, Esterbino, Fidel, Carlos, Nacho, Yrelia, Suhilda, Melida, Richard, Yosidelis y Desidelia, Calvin y Kelvin, Alan, Moguii, Luperio, Luisa, Demetrio, Olo, Delfino, Itza, Yuli, Caballo Blanco, Arcadio, Aurelio, Caraballo, Larry, Tony, Ernesto, Chimmy, Manuel, Hilario, Amelio, Fredespinda, Gladys, Elber, Osvaldo, Wan Suit, Melanio, Marta y Santiago Campillo, all of the Gammibe Gun Galu group, all of the professors, all of the Sahilas, anyone who came out to dig the tilapia tank, anyone who helped make the roof of the Turtle House or brought rocks and sand for the septic tank, the police force (especially Ruedas' Brigade), the women who picked plastic off the beach to make way for the baby turtles, anyone who knew where a nest of hawksbill eggs was and didn’t take it; all of these people and more have been conservationists this year, and part of a movement of people all around the world working towards the same goal: preserving a species that has been on this earth a long time and deserves our respect.
A man once told you [referring here to Tim Dykman of Ocean Revolution], I will make a bridge for Armila, a bridge of opportunity for the people of Armila to connect with the rest of the world. These words were true, and they were accomplished -- that bridge is there. Look at the amount of people who have come to Armila to see and support the turtles here. Now I say to you, on that bridge there are many doors. Those doors, my family, I now say to you, are yours to open. I can show your those doors, but you must open them and walk through. This is the promise I make with those of you young people who wish to pursue conservation as a career.
I cannot thank you enough for all of the opportunities you have given me to get to know your town and your culture. And I hope that Amanda and I will not just be remembered as the crazy sea turtle researchers who walked to the San Bernardo River looking for leatherback tracks every morning [community laughs], or the silly gringos who got bitten by Campillo's dog [community laughs], but as friends and family members to all of you. Thank you so much for all the love that you showed Amanda and me. For Amanda and me, Armila is our home [I had to try very hard to suppress tears at this point]. A home that we will miss very much.
[Community house fills with mumbling... The chief stands to relieve me and I muster some composure]
One last thing! If either of us has a baby girl, we promise we will come back here and have an Inna Suit [a huge 3-day long fermented cane-juice drinking ritual akin to a baptism for baby girls].
Thank you, you hear me.
Our five little nephews and niece that lived next door.