Resting up (and eating yucca) in Mocoron, La Moskitia

I’ve been meaning to catch up with more of the Moskitian leg of the journey for some time; my attempts to blog this missing piece in the jigsaw stalled after I lost my notebook and map, on which I’d scrawled all the details. So this will have to do for now…

Exhausted from my singletrack ride/push/canoe from Ahuas, I spent a couple of days resting up in Mocoron. I’d looked forward to reaching this small settlement in Honduras’ Gracias a Dios province since meeting Gigi, folk singer extraordinaire, back in Moab. When I mentioned I was toying with the idea of exploring this remote part of Central America, she told me about her mother.

Norma was born in Honduras, had lived in Texas, and then moved back to her homeland in the 1990s. Not only that, she’d now remarried and was spending much of the year in this quiet Moskitian settlement close to the Nicaraguan border, running a health and educational foundation. She sounded like an amazing character. What had been a vague idea now seemed to have reason; things had slotted in place.

In the event, I wasn’t able to meet Norma, as she was in La Ceiba collecting a humanitarian award. However, I still had a wonderful couple of days with her family. Hopefully I can make it back here at some point, as without doubt, it’s a very special place.

The final segment of my travels through this incredible region – the 700km dirt road ride to Lake Nicaragua- is due up next…

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Downtown Mocoron. During the ten year, CIA-funded Nicaraguan Contra war in eighties, Mocoron was used as a Red Cross base, situated as it is close to the border. Ironically, this was a time of boom for the local economy.

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One of the buildings at Norma's foundation, formerly a Honduran army barracks.

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The school, which houses a bank of computers.

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Anita, Norma's adopted daughter, who was house sitting between studies in Puerto Lempira.

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Her precision axing technique, always with a smile, put us men to shame.

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And her cousin Legia, who lives in Mocoron. These two amazing girls run the place when no one else is around.

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Jason, a trainee nurse from Utah, arrived the same day as me to volunteer for a few months. We had a great time hanging out together.

Me, grating coconut, freshly loped off the tree. This was to make coconut and, you guessed it, yucca cake. Intense concentration is needed to avoid bloody knuckles.

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Rebecca. She had something of a vicious streak, and bit Jason's foot. Apparently they still argue.

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There were a few other smaller parrots amongst the feathered residents, one of whom was called Nancy. She loved nothing more than to scream out "Anita! Anita!" from across the compound, in the style of a cantankerous, overly-demanding grandmother. True to their stereotype, you can train parrots to repeat things. In fact, Jason heard one in Belen calling out from the treetops: Recarga con Clara! This translates to, Recharge your cellphone with Clara! It must have heard a salesman boating along the waterways, calling out on his loudspeaker as he sold pre paid cell phone units. Now that would make a great advert...

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Also part of the clan, sweet Canela, always trying to ingratiate herself for scraps.

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I wasn't about to give her any of my breakfast: fresh fish, fried yucca and beans. Absolutely delicious.

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Washed down with a cup of the local brew, steeped from the plant above, which tasted very much like fresh lemon grass tea.

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The girls cooked us up whatever they could get their hands on, like this fresh deer meat.

If ever we ran out of yucca, there was always a friendly neighbour to sell us more. Phew.

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And the health clinic, readying itself for another busy day. It was formerly the Red Cross building during the Contra War.

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Basic supplies, but a lifesaver for many of those living in these communities.

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The Moskitian skyline...

Thank you Norma for your invitation to visit Mocoron. And a special thanks to Anita and Legia for cooking up such delicious meals, and showing me how to scrub my clothes in the river properly… I’m way better at it now.

6 thoughts on “Resting up (and eating yucca) in Mocoron, La Moskitia

  1. Gigi Love

    So nice to see these pics of my sister Anita. What a great gal, teaching you how to properly wash your clothes. I’m gathering up funding to bring a stash of musical instruments to the village in the fall-mostly plastic recorders with songbooks. If anyone is interested in donating small plastic flutes, tamborines, little drums and shakers please contact me at lovecha@hotmail.com thanks, Gigi

    Reply
  2. gyatsola

    You seem to be getting obsessed with food these days – I don’t blame you! Great pics, you could start a parallel food blog with all those dishes. Add some recipes too 😉

    Reply
  3. Jason

    Rebecca is the WORST.

    Cass, everyone in Mocoron thinks were either brothers or best friends. Everyone always asks me, “Como está Cass? Dónde está ahora?” as if I call you everyday with my satelite phone.

    Reply
  4. Dion

    Oh my gosh! I stumbled across your blog by accident looking for pictures of the huge spiders from that part of Honduras. We stayed at Norma’s compound nearly 20 years ago! The spiders scared us like none other.
    I knew Anita when she was just a girl and Rebecca used to have a little monkey friend named Alex! It was such a memorable experience. I will never forget it. Love the pictures. Nothing has changed

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      That’s great to hear!

      Thanks for dropping me a line to tell me about this experience. What a fantastic part of the world.

      Reply

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