Drug Smugglers, She-males and Thieves: Bluefields to Puerta Cabezas to Waspam part 2/3

…continued from part 1

YATAMA: Sons of Mother Earth

The next day we went on a mission to find some cool souvenirs and decided on YATAMA shirts. YATAMA is the political party of the Miskito Indians and they hold a very strong presence in the area. We made our way to the house of the ex mayor, a very smiley woman who still had several campaign shirts in a box and was more than happy to give them to two international travelers. She was in a rush; three Miskito politicians from Honduras were on their way back to Puerta Limpira and she was their ride. It was perfect timing…we checked out of our hotel and hitched a ride all the way to Waspam that day.

The ride was long…it was hours and hours bouncing in the back of a pickup truck through endless pine forest. I was sure we weren’t going directly to Waspam, the biggest town in the area. And I was right. Shortly after nightfall we took a turn off the highway (a glorified two-way dirt road) and onto a real dirt track. Here we were, a skinny gringo and a Frenchman, riding in the back of a truck down a mysterious dirt road with a small but menacing group of Miskito Indians who were planning on sneaking over the border by cover of night. We decided to put on our YATAMA shirts.

Suddenly we approached a village and a river. The truck came to a stop and we were quickly surrounded by curious villagers. People started shouting at the truck in Miskito. I gathered they were shouts of greetings and welcomes directed at us and the other passengers. The guys got out of the truck and made their way through the wall of people to a waiting boat. It was the Rio Coco, the longest river in Central America and on the other side was Honduras. As they hopped in the boat, our driver pulled out and we began the long, cold ride back down the dirt track.

It was about another hour to Waspam. On the way we picked up a few hitchhikers, workers and military guys who were trying to get home for the evening. They were all very friendly and quite surprised to see us riding in the back of the truck. When we pulled into the town it was well past 10pm and our gracious chauffer dropped us off at an affordable hospedaje. We thanked her and said our goodbyes, found a quick bite to eat and crashed out for the night.

We never had a plan, didn’t bring a guide and had no idea what to do in this very isolated corner of the country. Waspam is the jump-off point for all points up and down the Rio Coco, including the Bosawas reserve, the largest tract of undisturbed jungle in Latin America next to the Amazon. Trips into the reserve can run hundreds of dollars. Money we didn’t have. There wasn’t much to see in Waspam. We walked all around the city center and spent hours bumming around the park. That evening we ate at a very good little bar/restaurant and made our way to the local dance hall shortly thereafter.

I don’t remember the name of it, but it was lit only by blacklights and disco balls. There were two dance floors set into the floor. I imagined they could be used as kiddie pools during the day, disco dance floors at night. There weren’t very many people there, but we did spy two ladies sitting by themselves in the corner. We approached.

My buddy led and began talking to the pretty one. I reluctantly followed and started a conversation with the bigger, uglier one. The pretty one was willing to dance with my friend…though she insisted she had a boyfriend. The uglier one was a very dark Miskita girl who had been studying in Managua and was visiting family for the holidays. She didn’t want to dance, thankfully, since I can’t dance to Miskito music. She spoke very softly, was friendly and didn’t have too many gold teeth, so as the night dragged on, I thought why not?

The four of us left the club a little after midnight and made our way to the front of our hospedaje. The pretty one went home alone and my friend went to bed. Since my friend and I were sharing a room, the ugly one (who suddenly seemed very tall…and I stand 6’2”) led me to an abandoned house about a block away.

I won’t go into any of the gory details, but suffice to say this land is full of surprises.

I returned to the place we were staying, alone, about 15 minutes later. My friend joked about my quick return, and laughed even harder when I told him why. “She had a dick,” I said.

The next day we waited for the bus back to Puerta Cabezas. I was done with Waspam and ready to go home. The bus left that morning and we made sure to be on it. It was very crowded but we found a seat…sort of. The cushions had been removed and it was just the angle iron frame we had to share with two other locals. People were standing in the aisle, crammed in the back and even riding on the luggage rack on top. I could count how many times the bus broke down on the way back, but I don’t have that many fingers. That ride was by far the longest, most uncomfortable ride I have taken in Central America.

Everyone had to walk across so the bus didn’t collapse the bridge

But we did make it back to Puerta Cabezas. I refused to go out that night, still shaken from the night before. My buddy decided to get the bus to Managua (an 18-hour ride…ugh!) the next day. I chose the more direct route to Bluefields and hunted a ride back down south solo.

To be continued in part 3/3…


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