Day 5 in La Mosquitia was a busy day. Eric, the Mayor Edgardo and his wife Graciela picked us up after breakfast and we set off to visit some communities. We started our day by going to the store and buying soda and water and snacks, and candy for the Mayor to pass out to the kids.
Local grocery store
Getting to anywhere in the area is not easy. The people in Roatan complain about the state of the roads, Puerto Lempira roads make ALL of the roads on Roatan seem like super highways. I saw one partially paved road in the city, the rest are dirt, red dirt. Dusty red dirt that gets slippery when wet and very dusty when dry.
This is the mayor’s home. They have church every Sunday on the lower porch. Every church we passed was full to the brim, overflowing with people.
We drove for awhile until we got to the community of Palkaka. A while ago when the mayor was running for office one of the men in Palkaka told the mayor he would vote for him if he brought him a gringo wife.
The children of Palkaka.
Nidia’s sister Rose Mary spotted a woman sitting in a doorway so we walked over to her. This parrot is her constant companion.
This is Lillian. She was born blind. Her home has a hammock, a small table and a mud stove. The mayor kept a mattress and a sheet back for her and I’m sure it has been delivered already.
Nidia the Nomad, passing out candy.
Some of the homes in Palkaka.
Everyone was running for candy.
I was surprised to see a young Albino girl in the community. We were told there are several in La Mosquitia.
What a pretty girl.
Some of the kids in Palkaka. They loved seeing their photos.
The man in the middle is our tour guide, Edgardo, the mayor of Puerto Lempira. I can’t begin to tell you what amazing people he and his wife are. So down to earth. The man in the yellow is the one who said he wanted a gringo wife. When he saw me get out of the truck he thought his prayers had been answered. He smiled so much and for so long. He only had about 6 teeth, but man, could he smile.
This was a restaurant in Palkaka.
Yep, just walking around with a turtle shell.
We left there and made the drive to Tansin. Don’t ask where it was because I’ll say, “Right there.”
Tansin is an amazingly gorgeous place sitting on the banks of Lake Caratasca. The trees were huge mango trees, everywhere. I don’t mean a few, I mean groves of them. And breadfruit. We walked to the lake with some women and kids and while we were standing there talking a breadfruit the size of a football, but harder, fell from high up in the tree. Good grief, that sucker could put you in a coma. I think hard hats should be required.
One of the homes on the way from Palkaka to Tansin. Not sure this one had residents.
Water. Crank the handle and the water comes out. There is no running water in the community.
We walked down onto a very rickety dock that stretched about 15′ out into the lake. It was surrounded by emptiness. There was nothing out there. There were 10 cayucos laying around the lake. They are each a piece of art.
Water lilies. I haven’t seen these for years, a feast for my eyes.
While I was on the dock taking photos a young woman walked down and out into the lake in her clothes and bathed. She had a bucket with her which may have contained her wash.
This woman approached us as soon as we got there. She was very sweet and had her son on her shoulder the whole time. I noticed the side of her face was very swollen and I mentioned it to Nidia. I thought it was a tooth infection. She told Nidia she had a tumor. I have thought about her several times. She has a tumor and can’t do anything about it. Heavy on my mind.
Nidia and the Mayor with this beautiful lady. She walked up to us as we were standing near the dock. She doesn’t know how old she is but she is feisty. I would love to hang out with her. She did a sexy pose for Nidia. What a cool lady. It was right after this photo that the breadfruit fell out of the tree and made a crater size hole in the ground. (not really but it could have.)
Holy crap, the trees were filled with these Tillandsia, or Bromeliads. Not sure which these really are, prob Tillandsia.
We walked to a different area of the community / village. Let me explain this, there is so damn much land in La Mosqiuitia that the people build in small villages within a community. The communities themselves cover a very large area for each location. It’s not just what you see when you are walking the path to the lake or going to the school. These communities go waaaaaay back and get a little more remote and simple the further back they go. It’s someplace you just want to get lost in, visit the people who live basically cut off from society. It’s really not that bad of a thing. When I was in Kaukira, even Puerto Lempira, I thought about the not having power until 6 PM daily situation. It was totally doable. So much less.
We went into an older ladies home, I didn’t want to take her photo out of respect to her. She lived in a spotlessly clean, empty wooden home. Her bed was boards covered with cloth. Her daughter and probably her grandchildren sleep in a cot like sling over-top of her bed. She is ill, has severe pain in her womb. Been bedridden for 4 years. By now she has a mattress to sleep on. She decorated her walls and door with pages from old advertisements.
Her KITCHEN. No Cuisinart here.
Clean as a whistle, despite the baby chicks running up the steps and inside the house. The chair is her only piece of furniture.
The bathroom at the school in Tansin. The school is asking for solar panels so they have some electricity at the school. Can you imagine your child trying to learn in a school with no power, no fans, no running water? Kids in the US could not function, yet to these children, it is the norm.
Their faces. I just can’t stop taking photos of them.
It was late in the afternoon so we headed back to town. Tomorrow was the big day of unloading
We had to honk the horn for this pig to move, it was laying in a deep puddle in the middle of the road.
The next day we were picked up late morning to go to where the container was. When we arrived the truck they use to move the containers was out delivering so we had to wait for it to get back.
Huge thanks to Mayor Jerry Hynds who donated a 40′ container and free shipping so we could move these items to Puerto Lempira.
This is only a portion of the propane tanks that are sent to Ceiba to get filled and returned to Puerto Lempira.
The woman found a desk. What an obscure place for a desk. Nidia and I sat on it for awhile and waited.
When you don’t have a funnel, just cut off the tip of a traffic cone. Instant funnel, it’s how they pour gas in La Mosquitia.
There were several ministers in this group and Nidia, the Mayor and I. We held hands and they blessed the contents of the trailer.
Snipping the lock.
OHMYGOSH. It was jam packed. Carnival cruise lines donated chairs, couches and 140 mattresses, sheets and blankets. We had shoes, sandals, food, clothes, school supplies. A little bit of everything.
We unloaded all of the furniture first so we could get to the mattresses. While doing so Nidia and Graciela, the Mayor’s wife had to pee. We were in the middle on nowhere so they walked out into the woods. While out there they noticed a house across the water with a guy out front. They started to yell and jump around trying to get the guys attention. He jumped in his Cayuco and paddled over, thinking they needed help. All they really wanted was to give him a mattress and some school stuff for his younger siblings.
This is not a photo you’re likely to ever see again. People in cayucos do not usually carry a mattress. Look at the smile on his face. He was the man of the house, his Mom had a few other children. He was the oldest.
Word spread around their village like wildfire and women and kids started coming out of the woods. These 2 got backpacks and school supplies.
All 3 ended up with packs and the younger one got some candy and some clothes.
Such a beautiful child.
The boy on the right was very happy, the one on the left, not so much.
Nidia helping to load all of the mattresses. This truck we call the stuck truck. You’ll see why. It was actually a livestock truck, that’s why they put tarps down before the mattresses went in.
A little overloaded. This truck took the mattresses to the school and then came back for another load.
After several truck loads (the Nicaragua bus truck was delivering for us also), we finally got the container emptied. Next stop, the school in Mistruk. It was almost dark, Nidia was going to wait for the Nicaragua bus truck guy so I rode in the stuck truck with 2 men I’ve never met. Neither spoke any language I could speak so not a word was uttered the whole way there. Several times on the ride I envisioned us getting stuck and being there for a while until someone came along. The sounds of silence. We didn’t get stuck until we got to the school. And boy was he stuck.
Finally the Nicaragua bus truck came and pulled him out.
We got everything unloaded and sorted, shoes in one room, clothes in another, mattresses in yet another. Now we had the long drive home. We had 4 military police guarding the school.
The mayor picked us up at 6 the next morning and we went by boat to Laka, a very impoverished area. We took enough food to feed the whole village. They did not know we were coming but soon after we got out of the boat, word had spread and people were coming out of the houses.
These boys were the first to greet us.
Before long they stripped to their undies and were swimming.
This house was pretty much on the waters edge. Talk about water view.
The faces of Laka. Many of the children were all smiles but some seemed so distant.
This little guy was so happy and filthy dirty. Boys and dirt.
Babies, little kids everywhere.
These ladies had just gotten food.
The family living in the house on the waters edge.
The girl with one shoe. I mentioned it to Nidia and the mayor asked the community leader. The story is she found this shoe on the edge of the water. She has been wearing it since hoping that she finds the other one.
We righted an overturned cayuco and filled it with food. Everyone walked along and grabbed one of everything.
My mother recently passed away and she had a lot of costume jewelry. Neither my sister or I wear it but we just didn’t want to “give it away” since it meant a lot to Mom. We decided I should take it with me and pass it out to ladies who don’t have much. Taking it to La Mosquitia was perfect and after we passed out the food, Nidia suggested I pass out the jewelry. She and Rose Mary and I walked around putting pins, earrings and necklaces on ladies. BLING in a very remote part of the world.
This was the community leader, she got a chain. The ladies in the background got brooches and necklaces.
I think that’s a smile. She got a brooch.
And this girl. I bought my Mom this necklace in Macy’s. It’s all of her favorite colors. When I saw this young girl, I knew it was going around her neck. Her face just lit up. Hope Mom was watching. The man on the right in red was mad we didn’t bring anything for the men, he wanted jewelry.
This is as close to running as you can get on a boat. Word spread people were giving out stuff. We don’t know where these people came from. We asked and were told, “right there.: Everything in La Mosquitia is right there. It could be 75 miles, but it’s right there.
We walked up to the school and just as we got there my camera said my card was full. I switched to my brand new card and it wouldn’t work. Said it was a read only card. I called Bill (barely had a signal) and he said to unlock it. There was no lock on the side of the card, nor could I format it because it was locked as read only. I had to delete photos and I was furious because we were on our way to the big give away in Mistruk.
Another home in Laka.
We left there, went back to a different place where Eric picked us up and we were off to Mistruk.
We knew there would be a lot of people but had no idea there would be as many as there were. It was crazy.
We started with the school kids. They all got shoes, sandals, backpacks, school supplies, deodorant, toothpaste and brush and hugs. They all got hugs. And boy did they hug back, some of them even kissed me. It was amazing, they weren’t pretend hugs either.
I would say 95% of the kids came in with no shoes on. They were some of the dirtiest feet ever. Shoes are new to them, they walked like they had planks stapled to their feet.
What stories these faces tell.
The mayor in the front and his wife in the back with the white hat. These 2 sat on the concrete all morning fitting shoes. Amazing, humble people.
These feet haven’t been in shoes before.
The Mayor and his wife helping a young girl.
The kids showing off their backpacks. Some of them didn’t know how to wear a backpack. New things.
I would have brought her home.
My buddies standing outside of the building. They were getting a kick out of me taking pics like this.
This pretty much says it all.
Next we passed out shoes and clothes to the adults. This guy had on my brand new Diesel shoes. I only wore them once and Highway chewed up the shoe laces. I never could find any laces that looked right so I never wore the shoes. He didn’t care about the laces.
Mothers getting clothes and shoes
Men getting clothes and hats.
Nobody had shoes. Nobody.
We passed out little girls dresses made by Live Again Ministries.
No words for this one.
New dresses, no shoes
Another beautiful face.
The girls with new dresses.
It was getting dark when we started to pass out mattresses and small tables. The community leaders made specific lists, considering who lived in the house, single, elderly, large families and they were passed out like that.
She was waiting.
The village is probably 1/2 mile from the school and the people carried the mattresses home.
Playing in the stones.
So many kids, so many faces.
It was like a sale at a Serta store.
And the mattresses go marching home.
She has her hands full.
People still carrying their mattresses home.
The perfect ending to a perfect day of giving from sun up to sun down. Sheer exhaustion. Quiet ride back to Puerto Lempira, listening to country music and watching for shooting stars. I think I saw one.
The next morning the mayor and Eric were waiting for us at 6 AM for our ride to the airport and our flight to La Ceiba and then on to Roatan.
Check in counter, Puerto Lempira airport.
The runway. A plane landed and drove around the people standing on the runway. We didn’t have to wait long for our flight. In about an hour we were in La Ceiba.
We had an hour wait there and I was starving so Nidia called her friend the taxi driver and told him to go get us a pizza and bring it to the airport. He did! Food never tasted so good. Our flight home took about 15 minutes.
I was happy to be home but more happy that I went. It was a once in a lifetime experience. The good news is, we are going back.
One of the best things I ever did on Roatan was introduce myself to Nidia Webster. Without this woman in my life I wouldn’t be having these amazing giving experiences. Roatan Because We Care is her community grassroots organization and believe me when I say, this woman can move mountains. She does so much for the island of Roatan, and now Puerto Lempira, blessed to call her my bestie.