I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve watched a documentary where an explorer rides up some remote river with local guides to see something or meet someone. And just as many times as I have seen that scene, I have thought “Man, I wish that was me.”
Yesterday, it was.
After Elmer and I arrived in Puerto Lempira, we quickly met with the head of the local association of disabled divers. He told us about a village of divers, called Kalkira that was just a 20 minute boat ride away. Once we arrived at the village, we met some divers (all disabled to some degree themselves) who said they had a boat and could take us to visit some other divers.
The water was a brackish mangrove with birds circling in the air, people fishing and rowing canoes. We had a motorized boat, but just as many boats on the water were small hand-dug canoes with two or three people in them, carting produce or people around. As we moved up and down the waterway we saw kids swimming in the water, women washing clothes by hand on washboards and men fishing for camarones (shrimp) using light weight thrown nets.
The trip wasn’t all about me getting to pretend I am an explorer, though. It was very productive and we met with many different divers—some injured and some not. But a big part of this trip was to meet the divers where they lived and understand those conditions. In many ways, they live as they have for hundreds of years. Their homes are built on stilts to protect their belongings and families from flooding rains and storm surge. They have no electricity and no sewage—only wells to provide fresh water.
Puerto Lempira and Kalkira were both tremendous places to visit and the images will stay with me for a long time. The issues facing the divers living in these remote places, disabled, are difficult and harder still to see. But, at the same time I saw a tremendous spirit among these men. They are doing their best in spite of the challenges.
In the next post, I will address two conveniences of the modern world that have changed the lives of the Moskito Indian—for good and bad..