rinelIn honduras, I discovered that adventure is often what happens when you try to travel cheaply (less money - more time)i wanted to go to la moskitia, the roadless region of far eastern honduras. I had a choice - i could take a plane, 90 minutes for 700 lempiras, or i could take a cargo barge: 300 lempiras (overpriced - and raised at the last minute - gringo prices) and 24 hours.
Of course it was the dirtiest three days of my life. There were four or six more people than beds, because one of the two bunkrooms had been filled with boxes of soap - we had so much cargo that we ran aground - stuck for a day and a half. I never changed clothes - always long sleeved and long pants - i didn't want my body to touch the boat. There was always the constant rumble and horrible smell and driving heat of the diesel engine. And the crew who blew their noses in their hands and wiped them on the railings, always play fighting or proving their strength to one another, talked incessantly about women. They were all married, even the fifteen year old cook's flunky.
This scrawny geek-ass really fit in.
it was worse than jail.
The captain rinel is well known between ceiba and puerto lempira - it has been running that route for more than a decade. I don't know that it has a particularly bad or funny reputation - it's a cargo barge. But it was my first cargo barge.
I arrived early, so that i didn't miss it. that was saturday, a day after it was supposed to leave originally. I got there at six. There was still 270 more cases of beer and soda, a score of mattresses, freezers full of chicken - mucho cargo remaining to load.
So i chilled out, with the civilians - a woman with a baby whose second question to me was can you give me some money, and whose third question was do you have a woman? To which i was glad to be able to honestly say yes. She persisted that night in complementing me - you're so strong, so handsome, so smooth. I'm really not - i think she was exaggerating. I did't want to assume what she wanted - the guys on the boat kept making lewd hand gestures and telling me i could have her for blah blah blah. one fifteen year old, in a hard rock cafe wife beater, wearing two cowboy hats and six belts, interpreted my name as "chester" and kept trying to pimp her to me.
It wasn't much like anything i was used to - no one told me what to do with myself. Everything was dirty. there was no lounge, no seats. only bunks, with lots of debris on them, and no lights. and so excruciatingly near the engine room. There was a lot of noise - the engine running the entire time, eight hours that we spent sitting in the dock before finally pulling out at 2am.
I did finally run into the cook, benjamin, 22 years old, who let me have his premo bunk space and sort of showed me the ropes.
He's been married for 9 years. At my age, he has three kids. He's on the boat pretty much constantly. He talked a lot about scoring mujers in other cities.
It took me a day or two, but i eventually felt comfortable. I didn't that much spanish; i certainly didn't have the right kind of spanish. This was a pale comparison to the language of my middle class life in ceiba. But i had things to say about women, and i could get fired up and talk about the future of the honduras with computers. My main entre was the captain's cabin. I eventually headed for the top. There, captain modelo had his tv, vcr, bob marley in the stereo. It was relatively clean, and if you didn't bug him too much he would let you sleep on the floor. That was a mixed blessing - while it was quiet and clean, the ship tossed the most up high, and there was always music on to keep awake whoever was driving - one night, i listened to phil collins live! three times on repeat - oh my aching soul. He was perhaps a little smarter, at least a little older than the rest of the scruff - most of whom were about my age. I translated two things for him - the lyrics of Club MTV To Go videos from 1991 (Can't Touch This, Vanilla Ice, that girl is poison), and the manual of the super fancy radar computer.
Otherwise the crew was a playful mix of garifunas, mistkitos, hispanicos and otros. I tried to fish, they weren't too excited about lending their lines. We took turns stealing the good shady places to sleep out of the sun. We traded stories of women - they just could not believe 1) that i was not married and making babies already (i retorted that i'm still practicing) 2) that i preferred so much my mujer at home that i would not take a miskito to bed, even if, as they said, miskito women only cost one beer. oy.
one did try to get me to pay for his puta, at the hospitaje santa teresita in puerto lempira.
mosquitia | hondo | trip | life
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