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Cedano Beach, Honduras

Fishing the Honduras Way

December 27, 2006

Now I am far enough into the trip and between the holidays so not sure what to expect the events of this day to be. But the roosters are crowing and I am laying there thinking about what the day might hold anticipating the sun's rising. Finally after what seemed to be an eternity the dawn broke and it was time to get started with the day. So I got up and did my typical walk to the edge of the dried up river bed a few yards from the house to take the morning pee. It was nice and cool this morning, which was promising. Maybe we would get a cooler day today rather than the intense heat that had been dominating the past few days.

Of course Melida, Nahum's mom, always seemed to know exactly when I was up and where I was. She saw me sitting on the railing having a cigarette outside my bedroom door. She rushed over to bring me a chair to sit in. I mean the railing is fine for me, but I sat to show respect for her doing it. Everybody is always so consumed with me to ensure that I was having a great time. There is no doubt that I am having a great time and love the service. It is better than any hotel I have ever patronized. Every morning the girls would gather my dirty clothes and change the linens on the bed. Then shortly after arising they would bring some coffee and some sweet bread to eat with the coffee. I drink a few cups of coffee in the morning typically and I guess that was obvious because on this day they brought me the pot too! No worries in having enough coffee on this trip.

Then after coffee it is shower time, but that can be quite the experience with so many people there to take showers. Oddly enough though, you did not have to wait too long before getting a shot at it. Maybe some waited until after we were showered before they would take theirs. In any event the shower everyday was one of those things you looked forward to but yet there was some anxiousness about actually doing it. There is no electricity at the ranch, hence there is no hot water heater to give us some warm water. Instead we get water at room temperature for showering.

Don't get me wrong, it is great after the heat of the day to get clean and cool down, but in the morning it feels extremely cold on the skin. I mean the body would be convulsing as soon as the cold water would hit it. But I developed a system to help adjust top the temp every time and not have to freeze in the process of showering. I would start by getting my legs below the knees wet under the running water. Then I would douse my head and face before washing my hair. By this time the body is starting to adjust and you just got your feet and head wet at this point. So when rinsing my head I would then let the water start running down my body and letting it slowly adapt to the coldness, first the back and then the front. It was still ice cold at this point but it was a little more tolerable then jumping right in. But after the hair rinse it was possible to finish without too much suffering. Just step out of the water stream, lather up with the bar of soap and then go for the final rinse. Done!!! Give me a towel.

After the shower the girls served breakfast, this morning consisting of a fried egg, some fried plantana, rice and beans. The eggs were fresh, likely laid that morning and the other staples very typical of the Honduras diet. While the guys were eating one of the kids got the fun job of waving a dish towel around us and over the table to keep the flies away. Always such good service, they do everything to make sure you are pleased with your stay. I love my in-laws like I never thought would be possible. These are people that have so much love and kindness to share. It is such a pleasure to be around them and I can't wait for the next time!

After breakfast Nahum let us know that we were going to go fishing. We were heading to some inlet off the Pacific Ocean to do our fishing and were looking more for shrimp than fish since it was salt water and relatively shallow. So when everybody was ready we headed out for the daily excursion.

I took us about 20 minutes to get through Choluteca where on the other side we took a dirt road off the main highway. We drove down the dusty road for another 15 minutes when we reached a small rural village. We took a turn in the village and stopped at a little billiards room. Everybody jumped out of the truck and we went inside, well it was a wide open room with a roof, and got a Coke to drink. Nahum went off into the village, not really sure where to, while the rest of us had a seat, and sipped our sodas. The boys decided to play some billiards and paid the attendant and set up the game.

Billiards is played differently in Honduras, at least in relation to how we play it here in the US. In this game they line the balls up along the railing at each diamond point in numerical order. They set the cue ball at one end similar to how we do it in the US and then take aim on ball #1. The object, as we understood it, was to hit the balls into the pockets in numerical order. If you missed or scratched it was the next person's turn. The boys played with four players, two people on each team. There were some other rules such as hitting in other balls with the number ball you were shooting for, I believe they counted as good, even though you did not get the object ball in. But I am not sure if this is the case or not, just appeared to be from my observation. Douglas was not sure either and he played with them. The object of the game was to get the most balls in, or at least that is what I think it is.

Regardless, the boys played several games while we waited and slowly sipped on the Coke and smoke a few cigarettes. It seemed to be taking a long time whatever Nahum was doing, but I was seasoned enough in visiting this country to know there is never a rush and it is best to just relax, enjoy the moment and know it will all go down in its own time. Eventually, the older guys decided to take up the table and play a few games as well. Anibel, Douglas, Ledys and Mauricio then played several games of their own, with Douglas struggling a bit not really knowing the rules and not able to communicate effectively to really understand them.

One thing I learned during this event was the competitiveness Ledys had when playing a game. He played to win! Anibel took a turn and a ball went in, but maybe it wasn't the correct one. Anibel took the ball, but Ledys jumped all over him saying it was not fair. Of course I have no idea what was right or wrong, but it was apparent Ledys did not like the outcome too much and felt it threatened his winning streak. I do believe he won all the games he played, he was quite good at it, especially making the bank shots consistently.

While all this was going on several of the boys in the town were gathering around to watch the games. It is rural Honduras and there are not a lot of jobs, so most of the boys around just hung out looking for anything exciting to pass their time. Eventually some of them took the open table and began playing games of their own. Lucky for me they were all handsome so I did not mind the extra candy for thought.

Finally Nahum returned with an old guy who would serve as our tour guide on the fishing expedition as well as provide the equipment. Without knowing it, the guys had brought cooking gear and a tube of lard for cooking whatever bounty we may take from the inlet. The guide jumped in the back of the truck with the boys and the rest of us climbed inside the cab and we were off to the watering hole.

We drove out back down the dirt road a few more miles, it was obvious we were getting close to the ocean because the land was no longer mountainous but getting very flat. Eventually we stopped just before the end of the road and parked. Everybody loaded up the gear and supplies, including water for cleaning and water for drinking, which is heavy to carry. Then we headed through the field crossing a few barbed wire fences in route to our destination about 250 yards out. When we arrived it was a muddy looking lake that was narrow and long resembling a river that had an end and did not flow. There was some artifacts of a home gone long ago that had a roof and concrete platform in which we set up the kitchen. Apparently the people that had lived here in the past left the location when it was blown away in hurricane Mitch back in 1998, a sever storm that destroyed much property and killed many people in Honduras.

While a few of the guys were setting up the chimney and gathering some wood for the fire, the old man and some of the boys got out the nets to start fishing. This was not going to be a fishing trip with a reel on a pole. It wasn't going to be one that was hands on where we actually took a turn catching the fish (or shrimp) ourselves. It was interesting however to watch the guy cast in the net and let it slowly sink to the bottom of the lake. The net had weights around the edge that kept it down on the bottom's surface. Once it had rested on the bottom the guy would pull the net up from the center allowing the weights to draw in and capture anything under its canopy. When he pulled out the net, the weights would all be together with fish and shrimp caught up in the net. The catch would be pulled from the net and thrown into a bag to be brought over to the kitchen for cleaning and cooking.

Ledys and Jaime took the second net the guy brought and started down the bank in the opposite direction casting for their catch of the day. In the meantime Ariel built a fire and Anibel setup the cast iron skillet they brought on top of the fire. He loaded in a gob of lard and I watched it melt away and begin to pop on the intense heat. Just about then one of the boys brought over a bag full of tiny little fish and shrimp along with a few fish that were about 6-8 inches long. Anibel took out the knife and started cleaning out the guts of the larger fish after he dropped in enough shrimp to fill the skillet. You could hear the snap, crackle and pop of the hot lard as aroma of the shrimp began to fill the air.

We realized we did not bring enough beer so Douglas and Mauricio took the truck back to town to pick more up. In their absence we started eating the fish and shrimp. I have never gone to a place where they eat the head, legs and all from the shrimp. At first I thought it was a little too crunchy for my taste and took off the heads and legs eating the shell as a compromise. Finally I just went for it and started crunching down the whole shellfish, a little crunchy as expected but still as tasty as any shrimp I had ever had.

After sampling the shrimp Anibel had finished the first of the larger fish. I grabbed a half from the makeshift plate made out of tin we ripped from the structure's roof. Oh man was it good! I was surprised that it was that good. Maybe it was from the freshness of the immediate catch or the taste of it fried in the lard, but in any event it was awesome!!! I could not get enough. There were plenty of small bones, but even having to pick them out was not that bad, certainly an acceptable trade off for the tasty return you got from your efforts.

Finally, Anibel threw some of the tiny little fish in the pan starting the sizzling sound as smoke arose from the fiery hot grease. There was no cleaning of these little fish, but I suppose there were not too many guts on the inside to worry about. When these were done I grabbed one to give it a try and crunched down on the little bite size swimmers. Again, these were quite the tasty treat so I grabbed a few more. By this time Douglas and Mauricio had returned with some Barena and some nacho tortilla chips they had picked up at the store. Both were nice compliments to the fish and shrimp lunch we had been enjoying. The Barena was especially good chasing down the food with a hint of coolness, though not the degree of cold we are used to in America.

The guy and some of the boys continued to fish for a couple of hours bringing back their bags with fish and shrimp. Anibel kept cooking it up as it was coming and Samuel had taken over the cleaning part of the job. For the next few hours we kept sampling little bits of the fish and shrimp, but ultimately ended up full from all the eating. Dusk was starting to develop, so the boys quickly changed back into their jeans and we packed up the kitchen. Once we had everything gathered up we headed back for the truck and drove into the rural village once again to drop off our fishing guide. Douglas paid him 200 Lempira for his efforts and he was a happy camper. Then we headed back to the ranch to watch the Mask again and have yet another dinner that the girls had cooked up for us. Life is good!

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