MESSAGE: Mosquito Coast, Honduras
The Mosquito Coast (or Miskito Coast) is named for the region’s Miskito Indians. While most of the Mosquito coastline belongs to Nicaragua, it also includes the lower east coast of Honduras. This small corner of Honduras is where I hung out for a couple of days.
I was in the jungle surrounding the Cangrejal River (Crab River). The Cangrejal River bisects two national parks: the Pico Bonito National Park and the Nombre de Dios National Park – and is absolutely beautiful!
Here’re my 7 insider tips on how to enjoy La Mosquitia:
MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – River-side Picnic. We spent a day tooling around the towns bordering the river. Around noon, we stopped off at the river’s edge and picnicked on some large boulders within view of a small waterfall. The waterfall turned out to be a local shower for the town’s young men, who — let’s just say — put on quite a show. Two thumbs up for outdoor showers!
EAT (Tasty Eats) – Guaro / Gaurifiti . Honduran moonshine is called guaro, which is distilled from sugarcane. I think I might have had this, but I’m not entirely sure. What I had was called Gaurifiti, homemade liquor that came with leaves and twigs marinating in the bottle. And it tasted just like leaves and twigs! I only had 1 shot. It’s definitely an acquired taste, whatever it was…
SEE (Must-see Sights) – Mountain Biking. Some friends and I spent a day mountain biking along the river’s edge. The scenery was amazing – with mountain peaks popping through the clouds. And the locals were super friendly – shouting out “Adios” (local slang meaning “Hello / Goodbye”) as we rode by. It was a great way to get out and explore the towns deep in the jungle. So picturesque!
SHOP (Gotta Have) – Women’s Co-op. Across the river was a small women’s co-op that provides job training (sewing) and accommodation for women seeking a refuge. To get there, you needed to haul yourself high above the river in a basket.
The basket could convey 2-4 individuals at a time and took quite a bit of muscle to work the pulley system. But the trek to meet the women was worth it! We all bought several colorful pillows, blankets, and pot holders as gifts. A very cool place to shop for a very cool cause!
ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Whitewater Rafting! I admit, I was being a bit of a snob. With only a few Class IV and Class V rapids, I wasn’t sure the Cangrejal was gnarly enough for me. But I was wrong. It was an exciting ride!
The first day we did the bottom section of the river, basically getting our feet wet. It was a great day out on the river, surrounded by stunning scenery.
The second day, only my friend Kristin and I went out with the guide and rescue kayaks – and we had a blast! The top section of the river was amazing – tons of top-level rapids and plenty of heart-pounding rushes = FUN!
Although there was a point there when I saw my life pass before my eyes (and it’s given me a few nightmares since). We were coming out of a rapid and heading for a rock overhang…I thought we were going to bounce off the wall, but we were going under the wall instead.
Our guide yelled “limbo” which I guess was a command to lean back on the raft, but that instruction didn’t translate for me, and I leaned forward – with my skull clearing the rock overhang by inches = yikes! I looked back and even our guide looked a little scared on that one!
GIVE (Greatest Need) – Garuma.org. Garuma is a local nonprofit organization that teaches the youth of the Cangrejal River Valley all about eco-tourism, conservation and environmental education. The students train as trail guides, maintain the trails, and speak out on ecological issues. They also learn about sustainable land use through a budding agroforestry project. Most important, the students are becoming role models in their community and are leading local conservation efforts.
Garuma’s Wish List: The organization runs all its programs on donations and they have a Wish List for immediate needs:
- National Geographic en Espanol Subscription – I’m going to get them this!
- $10-$20-$40 tokens for Library Books
- Canon Digital Cameras
- Flash Drivers, Hard Drives and Memory Cards
- Laser Printer and Ink Cartridges
- Laptop and Desktop Computers
You can donate these items or make a donation via Paypal on Garuma’s web site.
ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Horseback Riding. Horseback riding was just one more great way to experience the river valley! We stopped off at a beautiful swimming spot gurgling with jade green waters. The horses mosey-ed along the trails and breeched a couple of small streams and pretty much stayed in control. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride!
Interested in going to check out the Cangrejal? Write me and I’ll give you a couple of suggestions on where to stay and all these fun activities! Adios!