Apr 9, 2018

Las Marias, Honduras

Las Marias is the last village on the Rio Platano River in Honduras. Beyond Las Marias there is only the rainforest.  John and I, with our son and guides, traveled for many hours from the coast up the Rio Platano to Las Marias in a motorized dugout. The forest looked untouched with just a few long-legged egrets now and then. The only human we saw was a man in a dugout loaded with bananas heading down river.  It was truly an amazingly beautiful river trip – even with the short tropical downpour.

When we arrived at the village of Las Marias (pop. About 150)
there were women washing their clothes in the river with youngsters splashing around. A man was ready to head down river in his dugout which had a large pig in it. To market, to market… I wish I had been there to see how he got the pig down the slippery slope that led up to the village and then into the dugout.  

The village was a collection of weathered one-room buildings on stilts.  We were told that they had planned to build an outhouse for us but never got around to finishing it.  Our
accommodation was one of the stilted buildings.  They did have foam floor mats for us to sleep on.  Once John chased out the chickens all was fine.  The pigs that slept under the building could not climb the ladder to get into our place. 

The next day was special.  After breakfast we headed down the slippery slope to the water where several pipantes (dugout canoes) were waiting for us. There were no seats until Elias using his machete
slashed a couple of branches just the right length to fit in the pipante creating seats.  The next several hours were amazing.  Each pipante had two polers. Up the river we went through the rapids until we got to a shallow spot where we had to get out and pull the pipantes through.  At lunch time we stopped at a “summer camp” which was basically a clearing with a thatched palapa.  Our guides had brought along lunch – spaghetti and there were plenty of coconuts for liquid refreshment.  Interestingly, Emelisa noticed that one female polers was not offered any food nor did she seem to expect it so Emelisa offered some of hers. 

After lunch we continued up the rapids to a spot where there were
petroglyphs in the large boulders in the rapids.  This, they said, was the entrance to the territory of the Lost City.  We refreshed ourselves with a swim and then headed back down the river to Las Marias. 

That evening the town people requested a meeting with us at the church. Unbeknown to us, Emelisa was the sister of the then president of Honduras. At the meeting they discussed some of their issues including the fact that they needed another teacher – the only teacher had 80 students.  I
noticed sneakers and backpacks scattered around the village that had been provided by a kind-hearted organization. Why weren’t they being used? They said the sneakers were too slippery on the way to the school which included slippery spots on the trail down to the river to the boat that carried them across to the other side and up another slippery slope– bare feet worked better. What were the backpacks for?  Books. What books? Too often we assume we know what people need or can use. 

I asked the head of the village if he had ever been to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. No need.  Everyone comes to Las Marias so it must be the best place.