Published: October 24th 2008September 1st 2008 Video Playlist:
The last thing I want to mention is the journey out of La Moskitia, which is an adventure for sure. We woke up at 3am in the night and kept our eyes peeled for a colectivo boat that would take us for 3hrs part of the way to Batalla. It's pitch dark except when the guy driving the boat switches on his flash light to scan the coast of the lagoon every now and then and everybody stays silent (wishing they were still in bed no doubt). After a little while we realised that our guide was just behind us in the boat - taking his kid into the city to see a doctor - which would come in handy later.
At one point there was something very fishy going on as the boat pulled up in a quiet corner of the creek we were later travelling in and started repeating what sounded like some sort of code word, that I can't remember now, over and over again. My memory is fading now as to exactly what was said but they were talking about something in the boat that I'm sure I remember being about some sort of drugs and in the end the people in our boat said something about 'they're sleeping' and we got going again. The area is well known as a major drugs corridor for cocaine so who knows what was going on, if anything.
Just as the sun was coming up we went past a police check point and soon after met a couple of pickup trucks in Batalla waiting to collect people for the journey to Tocoa. Our bags were quickly snatched and dumped on the nearest and most enthusiastic one at which point I ran over and dragged our bags back demanding to agree a price first (it seems they've cottoned onto tourists here, although in fairness a similar approach is used for everyone else too). When I asked they offered what I was told was the going rate (but was still probably a tourist rate) straight away so I thought it was fair enough and we loaded the bags back on top of the cabin where they were tied down with ropes. In the back other luggage was loaded and three narrow wooden planks were tied across the top to be used as seats. Soon enough were all loaded into the truck and were on our way initially down a dirt track but after a few minutes the road came to an end and we headed out onto the beach - they only way out by land. By the time we picked up a couple of people along the beach there was a ridculous amount of people on the truck - ABOUT 22 PEOPLE!!! Small children were wedged in any available space and most of the women and elderly were put inside the twin cabin at the front. Each of the planks had four people wedged on them (they would sometimes slip off as we went around a corner!) and some guys were just stood on the tail gate at the back. Two of the guys were carrying loaded pistols in their trousers (one of whom sat next to Laura), which they proudly showed off to each other at one point. That was how it remained basically for the next 4 hrs of which a serious chunk was cruising along the beach and driving in the sea when the beach ran out. Sometimes the bank was so steep you felt like the whole thing was going to tip over but fortunately for us it stayed upright! Needless to say the whole thing was really uncomfortable and when we got a couple of flat tyres near the end I was releived just to have a break from the seat - of course then we had to deal with the oppressive heat because we had no breeze to keep us cool.
Eventually we reached Tocoa and that's where the guide came in really handy. You see we'd spent literally all our money in La moskitia, every last lempira, and so needed to get money here in Tocoa - the first town of any size and so the first town with a bank. The first bank I tried, however, knew nothing about international transactions it seemed and could do nothing for me. We had other banks we could have tried but luckily our guide bought our tickets for us and also forced some drinks upon us, which saved us any amount of hassle! Shortly after midday we arrived safely back in La Ceiba, looking forward to so creature comforts!