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rio patuca

the rio patuca winds through la mosquitia like a circuit cable connecting me with colonel walter e. kurtz

wrong movie.

the patuca is a wide brown curvy mosquitia river, that starts somewhere southwest, in the department of olancho
curves north, and east towards the coast, marking the upper west third of la mosquitia.

you might hear more about the rio platano, that's where the biosphere and most of the ecotourism is.

but the patuca is of course a major major highway,
along it's banks are some of the major inland population centers,

and many many manzanas of cacao.

i rode on the rio patuca,
i chose a pipante, square hulled single tree hewn canoe,
instead of a plane, to know the rio better

oh man,
it took twelve hours to get from awas to wampusirpi
they all said it would take, like, seven.

on the way to the dock on sunday morningjuly 6
a more difficult day to do much of anything in mosquitia
anything requiring anyone else's effort

i stopped to have some breakfast,
because 7 hours is a long time on the river
and all i had to eat was carrots, peanut butter, and chocolate cake.

finished eating, also ate were some fellow travellers, three dudes.

we arrived at the dock, maybe late
there had been absolute downpour;

we took refuge for half an hour in a large abandoned metal box

the boat had left for brus instead.

we kicked dirt, we contemplated fate,
we asked who had motors

lots of people with canoes;
not many with motors

mopawi had a motor
we spent three hours getting the gas

i watched a man siphon it many times sucking diesel into his mouth
the driver,
the gas-sucker, everyone called him "primo" (cousin)
he was old, and had the same backpack as me
the boat, and the motor all to the dock,
a twenty minute walk from everything.

fortunately, awas has a car.

whew. canoe we hit the water
total of 9 people came out of the woodwork

and all their shit
that's a real load for a canoe
more narrow than my arm is long.

we moved slow.

it was pretty,
like a river, strong
i don't know so many rivers,
not for some time

i tried to get comfortable, sitting on two sticks

to keep my butt from the swill water in bottom
i was curteous and let an older miskito woman sit behind me
on the luggage rack
lucia sang jesus songs in spanish

i secretly recorded some, i'll put them online someday

the other passengers were her,
her daughter 23 and her baby like a week old
they're enroute from birth at the clinic in puerto lempira
some young dudes, two
a woman and an older dude.

hard to visit with people behind other people in a canoe

the coastline of the rio patuca has lost most all of it's foliage;
as a result, it's heavily eroded
which is both depressing,
and kind of an impressive show of river force

i mean this sucker was wide.
and it looked like it was widening often.

i wore my same outfit from capitan rinel

to avoid the sun
fortunately, no bugs on this river

i eat some of my chocolate cake
sort of surrupticiously, cuz i'm not sure how to share
she notices and asks me for some,
i give it to her, i give all but a little to everyone

i get some coconut back
i share a lidfull of peanut butter
the carrot i eat myself.

night descended, we're a little nervous maybe
but primo charges on,

i start to realize that this is dangerous
every couple hundred yards there's a twisted tree looming out of the water
sometimes we don't see them til they're right next to us
as the guy up in front,
i take the first hit
the canoe's not deep enough to offer protection from any sticks
it's real real dark
like there wasn't much moon and there were clouds
and oh shit now it's raining
like straight downpour
hard fast

thanks tom, for the raincoat

watching primo though,
we would travel for twenty minutes in pitch black
he would flip on his flashlight,
and dead on hit a house,
a landmark
that was eventually faith inducing.

we left after noon, close to one pm,
dark came after six
it was now eleven pm.

we'd been on the river for ten hours
and we weren't that much past wawina.

1.28 in a bed in a room in a building. landed 1/2 hour ago, after confronting faith + fear - 4 or 5 hours ago we stopped + fully disembarked at a friend of primo's house. since we had the baby + etc wanted to stay night + move when safer. they turned us away. when we hit the road, my legs to knees soaked in mud muck swamp smell, now my forward quarters slick with it the sky stars cloud darkened and only just beginning to rain, the prospect of a not yet month old life learning not to swim, all of us, and me - i wanted all of a sudden to pray - to ask someone to take responsibility - to defray my intense fear. but if I believed in that external respons - do i believe he/she/it listens to prayer + changes events? no. tal vez hay una manera predetermined or here evolving beyond my beseeching control. besides once it started raining, I had to laugh - it was simply too perfectly abysmal. luceia joined me. she still has my shirt.

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