The last 3 days in La Mosquitia.

 

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.

Beautiful.

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.

New shoes.

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.

Backpackers.

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.

Mattresses everywhere.

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.

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Another 2 days in Puerto Lempira, La Mosquitia.

As I reached for a tea cup this morning, pausing for a second to decide which one I felt like using, it made me think about La Mosquitia again. There are no choices there, you get a cup and you use it. Is that really so bad?

The morning that the dogs woke us chasing the horses was bright and sunny. I woke up sweating because when the power shut off, so did the fan. I went out to the front porch where Rose Mary was sitting, enjoying the breeze. She picked some lemon grass and some other small fruits. She made tea from the lemongrass, it was delicious.

This is one of the teachers dogs. Not only was her eye infected, she was old and pregnant. Next time I will take some meds for the animals.

She was pregnant too. She managed to stick her head in the loaf of bread and inhale many slices.

They all got peanut butter sandwiches from me.

I also pulled as many ticks off of them as I could. So sad.

While we were waiting for the Mayor to come get us, the laundry lady came with her daughter in her cayuco. The little girl, Hila was more interested in what we were doing.

Could barely get her to smile

So pensive.

The weird thing, staying at the teachers house in Kaukira, there was a tower in her backyard, we had a 4 G signal the whole time we were there, however it was always a mad dash to charge our phones because power was for a limited time only.

The Mayor and his wife and Speedy Gonzales picked us up the next morning in the fastest boat in La Mosquitia. Today I tried to wear a hat but not having a ponytail to help hold it on meant I had to keep one hand on it at all times. I wish they had speed limits on rivers. We loaded all of our luggage into the boat as we were going to be staying in Puerto Lempira the next night. We went to Kaukira first to get 60 gallons of gas and a cooler of drinks and snacks.

Nidia the nomad, taking care of business with a phone in each hand, hundreds of miles from civilization.

Little girls playing in the boat while we waited.

We passed the area we went to the day before to look at the health clinic and soon we were in a large lagun again. From there we saw waterways in many directions, veering off into the jungle or mangroves. We passed through a few small communities and came upon one Nidia named Bali wood. Most all of the homes were on stilts over the water. If they weren’t on stilts they were on the waters edge. There were children playing, cows grazing, horses, chickens and pigs everywhere we looked. Luckily we had to go slow through here as it was very shallow.

No toys so they play in the boat.

Not very seaworthy

The whole horse family on the shores of Bali wood.

One of the homes

People on the bridge crossing to the other side.

Barbershop

Watching the ships go in…

More of Bali wood.

These two homes were connected.

Animal pen

Building something new out front

After we got through this area we turned right and were on a large swift river. If we had turned left we would have gone to Nicaragua. The river was gorgeous with many small communities dotting the river banks. We saw dozens of families in their cayucos, just barely above the water. Speedy slowed down when we got near them so we didn’t swamp them with water. Most of them were carrying fruit, supplies, a chicken, even saw a dog.

I noticed this tree and Nidia said they were nests so Speedy turned around so we could go look at it.

These are the nests of the Montezuma Oropendola bird.

 I thought I was on the set of Avatar, this area was just magical. Click HERE to get more info on this bird. I have never seen anything like this before. 

These were growing all over the river, as were water lilies.

We were still hauling A$$ with Speedy at the controls. The Mayor wanted to take us to an area called Tuburus. The community is divided by the swift river. The children on one side have to take a boat across the water to go to school. The banks are steep and quite slippery. Last year 3 children drown, this year they’ve lost 2 so far. They asked the government to build a bridge but they are not interested. They said there aren’t enough people. We would like to build a school on the other side because building a bridge would be a difficult and expensive job.

Bathrooms at the school

Just a cow in your yard. There was cow poop everywhere.

These children aren’t naked because they didn’t feel like wearing any clothes. They are naked because they don’t have any clothes. 85% of the photos I took in Tuburus couldn’t be used because I didn’t notice the nakedness of the children when taking the photo but looking at them to post I could see it.

They ran from me at first, they were afraid of my camera. Once I showed one brave boy his photo, then they were all interested.

Such cute kids.

Standing in front of the school

The Mayor was tossing candy for the kids.

This is rice, home grown. It’s not something I’ve ever considered growing but I get it now, there are no stores, rice is a big part of their diet, so they grow it.

Cow patties on the kindergarten porch.

They got giggly when they saw their photos

Most of the homes are close to the river but there are still many tucked further back in.

A grandmother (Abuela) came to see who was visiting.

View of the side that has no school.

He posed for me.

They all watched us leaving.

When we left here we went in the same direction we came from, past the tree with the hanging nests, very slow through Bali Wood because the tide was out and it was really shallow.

On the way home we passed this boat laden with bananas and plantains so we pulled up alongside of them and bought some of their stuff.

Just a family out making a living

Bananas, plantains and fish. A floating market.

Once we got back into the Lagun, Speedy started speeding again. We went back to Kaukira, got more gas and an elderly man joined us. It was late afternoon as we headed across Lake Caratasca in a totally different direction. We were going to the village of Krata where they needed a new kindergarten built.

These two were the first kids I spotted. The little fella was naked as a jaybird.

One of 2 bridges over the marshy areas.

I really liked this house, so nice and neat.

He was very scared of the camera and almost running from it. He didn’t smile when I showed him his picture.

This guy loved it..

These ladies weren’t sure they wanted me to take their picture but when I did and showed them, they had the biggest smiles on their faces.

This man walked with us to the school. On the path were some palm fronds that had probably been there for months, if not years. He stopped and moved them off the path, I assume because there were visitors. I doubt they get many visitors, especially no white girls. He was from Nicaragua, spoke English and has lived in Krata for 31 years. He asked me to take his photo.

The desks in the kindergarten. The floor is dirt and when it rains, it’s muddy. The children have no shoes. None.

The school has a metal roof but it doesn’t meet at the peak, it’s open about 4″ between the metal so the rain pours in. The school doesn’t have one single piece of paper in it, no posters, no books, pencils, paper.

This is the other school, it was pretty neat and clean. This is their water supply, hand crank for water.

They also asked if someone could buy some nails and donate some money for gas. The community wants to build a small dock, they have all the wood they need but don’t have money for nails or gas to go get the wood. This is their view. Gorgeous.

Leaving Krata after dark and we had a bumpy dark ride back across the lagun to Puerto Lempira.

I was never so happy to see the dock! My back was killing me. From here we unloaded our luggage and checked into our hotel right on the shore of the lagun. Nidia and Rosemary showered and went down to the restaurant, The Mayor and Vice Mayor were there. I was too tired to go anywhere so I just laid in the room in front of the fan. That was after I took a nice cold shower.

No water shortage but BRRRRRRR

The next morning we lazed around. The Mayor had things to do during the day and wasn’t going to have us picked up until later on. Nidia and Rose Mary and I went for a stroll. I wanted to buy another card for my camera so I didn’t run out of room with photos. (I forgot my other 32gb card). We found a store and I got a card. From there we went to a restaurant where they had breakfast. Nidia needed to get a Claro chip for her phone so we walked to the Claro booth in the town square. Nidia asked the lady at the Claro booth where she could get a pedicure. The woman’s daughter was with her so she sent her with us. She was a sweet girl named Sharon. Sharon found a beauty salon and Nidia had her pedi and I sat beside her and charged my phone. I was almost giddy when I saw they had electric.

The supermarket, ready for the holidays.

This was the owner of the salon’s son, he was a cutie.

We sat in front of the hotel waiting for Eric to come and get us.

Around 4 PM he pulled up and we all jumped in his truck and set out for Mistruk. This is where we planned to distribute the things that we brought on Monday. However, Island Shipping could not get their boat in the channel because the tide was out and the water was too low so everything was pushed back a day. We had to go to Mistruk and tell them this.

It is a beautiful drive to Mistruk, all on a dirt road, nice red dirt. Every now and then we would come across a small village and then back to barren land with rolling hills and sparse trees. It would have made a fabulous golf course.

The whole area was like this except when we got close to Mistruk, then it was more jungle like.

As luck would have it, we got a flat tire. Of course we did. Eric was trying to change it when a truck came from the other direction. The guy stopped and helped Eric change the tire. I thought he was just some random guy but found out later he and Eric know each other. He drives the truck (bus) from the Nicaragua border to Puerto Lempira, hauling people.

He had 2 passengers with him. They had to dig a hole to set the jack in to get the tire up enough to put a new one on. We were finally on our way.

This is the school in Mistruk. It would be the location of our distribution of goods to the community.

This woman was washing her clothes in the stream.

When we finally got to Mistruk the whole community was waiting for us. They thought we were bringing things for them.

This was in the “restaurant” right on the water.

These boys got a kick out of their photo.

Loved this lady, what a sweetie.

The community listening to the one teacher tell them what was going on. See the little girl that’s a blur in pink towards the back? After I shot this pic, she pulled her pants down and peed all over the floor. Nobody even noticed.

The guy on the left in the white shirt speaks English, Spanish and Moskito. He is a teacher in the school and was very helpful.

She is so cute and she had on shoes.

The sign says “Show your love for the children, do not pollute the future.” Not a clue why there is a crocodile or alligator on the sign.

We left there late and went back to Puerto Lempira. After we got cleaned up we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. We took our last bottle of wine up there and drank it while we ate.

Not long after that we were sound asleep, waiting to be picked up early the next morning. More adventures await us.

Because We Care spends a week in La Moskitia

 

 

“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.

Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways.  Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action — for the poor and the wealthy alike — a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities.”

Wow, really, where do I start. My friend Layle said “I’m sure all those rich experiences are shifting around in your mind as you go about your daily routine and when you are ready to sit down and type it’s all going to flow” and I tend to believe her because she is such a spiritual soul.

I have decided to do this by days because mentally, I can’t do the whole thing at once, I saw so much.

This was a once in a lifetime trip (although I do look forward to going back, despite being hungry and dirty for a week). The people I met and the places my eyes saw will forever be in my mind. La Mosquitia (or Miskitia or Moskito, call it what you want) is one of the most beautiful places you can imagine. It’s rolling hills and pine forests or woodland vegetation with every type of bromeliad growing out of the trees, catching your eye as you drive by in a truck or in a boat. The way the mangroves grow is like nothing I’ve ever seen. There were more mango trees that your mind can even imagine and breadfruit and sweet little dark plum colored, avocado shaped berries.

I was with Nidia and her sister Rose Mary. We were hosted by the mayor of Puerto Lempira, Edgardo Saicion and his wife Graciela. They are humble, wonderful people. The municipal driver was named Eric and he was on time every single day to pick us up. He used to live on Roatán. They treated us like royalty. We listened to American Country while riding across the vast barren land.

The Mayor of Roatán municipal (and Nidia’s boss, she is a council woman) Jerry Hynds, owns Island Shipping. He offered us a 40′ container and free shipping to Puerto Lempira. Without his generosity, this mission would have not happened. Also thank you to the Galaxy Wave for donating our tickets to La Ceiba. Many thanks also to the people who donated.

So, are the people we visited living in poverty? They have shelter, food (albeit limited choices) is available and the most basic of needs. They have little to no clothes or shoes, they have no beds, they have no running water, no electricity, no toilet paper, the schools have no books or paper or pencils, crayons and coloring books are unheard of. Do they miss what they know nothing about?

This is the great debate going on in my head. Do the people that I saw in the insanely gorgeous remote areas living the simplest life imaginable really have it so bad? They know nothing about how we live. They have no TV, see no newspapers or magazines or even books. Their knowledge is quite limited and based on routine daily, not life, experiences. Could the majority of these people function in our crazy world? Do they even want to? I think not, however, the children that I saw all had this blank, empty look in their eyes, they were there, but not there. Only when I could surprise them with a photo of themselves, did I get a remnant of a smile. One little girl looked at the photo, then down at her dress that she was wearing, then back to the photo. Her eyes were not believing that she was looking at herself. Can you imagine not knowing what you look like? I think the blank stare is due to lack of experiencing emotion, things are just the same for them every day. Our visit was a big deal.

My trip began at the ferry terminal at 1 PM on Wed the 8th of August for the 2 PM ferry to La Ceiba. I met Nidia and her sister Rose Mary there, we did our check in and went inside and waited for the ferry to leave. I took a small cooler loaded with food because I don’t eat meat, fish, seafood or beans. Yes, I’m a really horrible snoop and was quite nervous about what I would eat for a week.

The ferry was on time, as always, and Nidia’s taxi driver Donald was waiting for us when we arrived. He took us to our hotel, The Emperador in Ceiba. Later on Donald took us to Little Cesar’s Pizza. I was starving by that point. We had him pick us up and take us back to the hotel and we went on the roof and drank a bottle of wine. I mean, why not, we were on an adventure.

Donald was a few minutes late picking us up to take us to the Ceiba airport at 0 Dark 30 AM. Nidia gave him a large portion of her mind that morning for being late, I couldn’t stop laughing.

While paying our departure tax Nidia ran in to her friend, the man we were going to see, the Mayor of Puerto Lempira and his wife. They were on our 90 minute flight to Puerto Lempira. When we landed, I was kind of surprised to find out it was a dirt runway. Pretty smooth but I imagine it turns into a dust bowl during the dry season and a slimy mess during the rains. When we arrived, since we were guests of the mayor, there were men to carry our bags and drive us to the ferry dock. We walked around town for a little bit and visited a school where there was a celebration going on. The vice Mayor told me I could go stand in the middle of the ceremony that was going on and take photos. So, WTH, why not?

Rose Mary really wanted to take this iron home to her daughter. She actually attempted to use one while we were staying at the teachers house in Kaukira. It was pretty funny.

The kids on one side of the bleachers, the other side was packed too. School celebration, Puerto Lempira

So, she (vice mayor) told me to walk out and take a photo. So here is this white girl, the only person standing in the center of the show, taking photos. I felt uncomfortable. Love the cayuco decoration though.

Nidia and the Alcade, Mayor Edgardo. I love this guy. Since I certainly do not speak Moskito, neither does Nidia (they have their own language) and my Spanish is not great, he would tell Nidia what he wanted to tell me in Spanish. Then she would say it in English, a few words at a time, and he would repeat them in English so he could “talk with me.” It was extremely gracious and felt so sincere. This photo is at the muni, they have no running water. Nidia and the mayor are standing at the pump.

Puerto Lempira Municipal building. There is a huge table in the back room and only 1 chair for the whole table. We made sure they got some chairs.

Where all the starving dogs hang out. The dog situation hit me hard. I did not see one food dish or water dish for a dog on my whole trip. I saw grease thrown from a pan on the ground for the dogs to eat. So many pregnant and unfixed dogs, it’s a crying shame.

After our tour through town, {where I bought a Claro chip for 10L and a week of internet for 100L because TIGO didn’t work where we were}, we went down to the dock, we were going on a boat ride.  The dock was really long with several perpendicular docks abutting it. Problem is, the water was shallow. Real shallow and the boats, especially those with larger motors had trouble getting out to the deeper water. We loaded our suitcases on the boat and the Mayor, Nidia, Rose Mary, one woman with a small baby and another woman with 2 young children were on board. This boat had a 200HP motor on it, way too much for the type of boat that it was. The woman with the 2 kids had haphazardly put on the life vest that was given to her, it flopped and blew in the breeze the whole trip. We crossed the lake like a bat out of hell with Speedy Gonzalez, our boat captain. If we were in a race, we won for sure. No other boat would be insane enough to go that fast. It took me a long time to untangle my hair and my butt is still sore.

Once we crossed the lake we took a narrow channel that T’d into another channel. We were in the town of Kaukira. Kaukira is located on a thin spit of land between the Caribbean and the channel of water that runs between the town shores. We parked on a dock and I feebly got out of the boat. Let me state this now, I suck at getting in and out of boats. I have a knee that does not bend, it makes for very clumsy entrances / exits for me. Happy to entertain the troops, it’s all fun and games until someone breaks an ankle or falls out of a stationary boat. I did neither.

Kaukira, I’ve never seen so many mango trees in my life. This is the main street.

Nidia and the Alcade (mayor)

The gas station and yes they have to carry the gas down to the water to put in the boats.

The biggest flamboyant tree I’ve ever seen. The people who own the home where the flamboyant tree is offered us their home but it had rats. Rose Mary is not fond of them and honestly, they are not my BFF’s either. We stayed elsewhere. It had horses and dogs.

We walked through town with the Mayor, stopping here and there while Nidia looked for food. I saw a male cat attempting to force himself on a young kitty girl, she was screeching and having no part of it. Two old men sat on the porch and were oblivious to what was going on. I stomped my foot to break his attention and she ran away and hid under the low steel shelving for water bottles.

Local travel. The road taxis in Kaukira are motorcycles.

The house where we were staying. There was an extra bedroom with a double and a single, perfect for the 3 of us.

This is the police station of Kaukira. There are 2 officers, we met one. The other is on vacation.

I loved this house. Only a few windows had any type of covering.

It’s nothing to have a bull walk down the dirt road. I saw 2 dogs chasing one at one point. We went to a cell phone store and the Mayor bought a baseball cap and we met the profa. She was a teacher at the Kaukira school and she had offered her house to us the first night. The boat took us over to see the place, we unloaded our luggage and the mayor’s brother guarded it while we entered another race with Speedy Gonzalez at the throttle. We went down river to see a health center that needed a new roof. The Dr spoke English so we had a nice chat. 

Through the center of town. At least he was quiet, unlike the one being chased by dogs.

We saw this beautiful lady at her outdoor kitchen. Nidia had noticed that her pots shone, they were so clean. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like this. She got off her porch and went in to pose for us.

Laundry day. I assume they watch the tides before doing their wash in the river, especially because all of the septic goes in the same water. In fact, I saw many people washing their clothes right next to the outhouse.

This is where the lady who owns the house where we stayed, docks her cayuco. Naked children everywhere.

This is the health center roof. It’s almost gone. This is the only health center for many communities. The Doctor there spoke English. We had a long conversation about the lack of government help and their inabilities to always be able to help due to lack of supplies. There are 15000 people living in the Kaukira area, that’s not counting the outlying areas who also depend on Kaukira as being their go to spot for help.

We did a little more touring and then went back to the teachers house to hang out. I made friends with her 4 dogs by feeding them pretzels. The teacher made food for everyone, I had rice and some slaw. The mayor and his brother were still there. They left after a late lunch and were going to pick us up at 7 the next morning. After they left, the teacher was going to take us all in her cayuco across the water so we could walk to the beach. As we were getting ready to go, the Mayor came back because he had to change the time to pick us up so they took us across to the main part of town and the teacher met us there.

The teacher showed us the third grade class room, the roof has a huge hole so they have to all move to the opposite end of the room when it rains. It wouldn’t take much to fix this.

Unbelievable that the government does nothing about this.

It’s a huge hole that has been patched several times.

We walked for about 20 minutes until we came to the ocean.

These are the teachers grandkids, the little boy is named Nelson. They walked to the beach with us. Nidia gave him the slap bracelets and candy and they were going up to the children outside and giving them gifts. Nelson wanted to learn to speak English so Nidia and I were telling him English words for everything and he repeated them. They were both sweet kids. Nelson lives with his grandmother most of the time.

Laundry on the barbed wire, this was the road to the beach.

Breadfruit galore. When they fall from the tree if you are standing in the wrong place, it’s going to hurt.

Simple houses, notice how curved the limbs are holding it up.

Another view

Cool plant growing in the water.

Another home

Most of them were nice and neat.

These were growing in the marsh land. Rose Mary knelt down to pick one and got bitten by ants.

Nidia found some guys with fresh conch, crab legs and lobster. The only cop in town was there trying to buy some too. She argued with them until she got the price she wanted. They were all laughing at her but they gave in because she is one persistent woman.

The beach on the Caribbean. The waves were muddy and the beach was littered as far as I could see with trash.

Boat sitting on the beach

I assume this is a beach front store.

Nidia took this photo of me resting on a boat on the beach. The buildings to the left behind me are where they gather and sort the sea cucumbers and jellyfish that they export. They said the sea cucumbers go to Japan and I read the jellyfish go to China. What I want to know if who catches the jellies and how?

Here is a link about the jellyfish.

Nidia passing out candy and slap bracelets. She’s like the pied piper.

Kids were appearing from every direction.

Just a stack of boats.

Ring Around the Rosie. How long has it been since you have seen this played somewhere? It brings back memories of childhood, when life was much simpler.

Nidia wasn’t quite at the boat when I did my epic “almost fall out of the dang cayuco while trying to sit down.” Rose Mary was hysterical. Once I was seated, I did not move, the last thing I wanted to experience that day was a dip in the channel that is filled with sewage.

Once I was seated I was fine. I still didn’t move. The gasoline is to run the generator so we have power for fans and to charge our phones. Photo by Nidia.

We were anxious to get back to the house and get showers and sit some where other than a boat. The electric was to come on once the generator was started. They turned on the water pump so we could shower. I’m not used to cold showers or dunking a bowl in a big barrel of water to rinse off with. This was a first for me. Regardless, it felt great to get clean. After all showers were done, it was dark and the bugs were really bad outside so we stayed in the house, Nidia and Rose Mary were working on cooking the conch and crab legs they got. Me? I ate granola bars and surfed the internet.

We went to sleep early, we were beat. At around 4 AM (about when the generator shut off) the dogs started barking like crazy and it didn’t stop for a long time. They were running around the outside of the house. We found out later a few horses had gotten in to the fenced yard and the dogs were having a fit and the horses were in a frenzy. I think I went back to sleep for awhile after that. You just never know what to expect next.

So ends our first day in La Mosquitia. Please follow along, we’re just getting started, there will be 2 more blogs about the trip.

I can’t begin to say how glad I am that I went.