GUANAJA DAY 3
Rest day. As us Vermonters are not used to the sun in general, let alone the Central American heat, we needed a day of rest after our first day on the boat. The sun is brutal. Grit is starting to look like a full on lobby (lobster), as my poor sun-screen applying techniques result in blotchy burnt spots. The locals laughed at my sun burn patterns. I laughed with them.
We decided to take the day to explore the flats around the town, Mangrove Bight, one of two villages on the entire island. Eggs, rice and beans for breakfast, and we were off, gear and water, ready to hunt.
Morning squalls doused us as we prowled the flats in search of tailing bonefish. The tide was low, and we stood watching as the wind changed, and the dark clouds brought in the morning showers. Squalls became a thing of timing. A few here and there everyday, the boys got used to avoiding them. But we decided to let this one pass as we took refuge under the pine trees on the beach. The rain slows and the boys are back to business. I get bit off, surely another tricky cuda, I was fishing a bonefish leader, unprepared for a viscous toothy-strike. The Big One lands himself another cuda. We definitely had the barracuda scene dialed, just no monsters. J finds himself wandering far off in the flat, and hooks into another meaty jack, his spirit fish of the trip. The sun might not have been out today, but the fish were moving. Big schools of jack were herding smaller schools of baitfish, causing movement on the surface of the shallow flats. We cast in the commotion, and hook into fish. Textbook.
As the morning silence meets the heat of the afternoon we decide to stroll into town to see what was going on in Mangrove Bight. The usual scene: stray dogs sticking to the shadows to avoid the sun and scavenge for food scraps, kids kicking soccer balls, smiling as they see 5 Gringos equipped with shiny sunglasses and goofy hats stroll into their world.
The village of Mangrove Bight sits right on the water. Some houses are even placed on stilts above the water like our friend Sheridan’s. We saw clay cut-out stairs of a golden color. We saw houses cut out into the sides of cliffs. We saw shacks, one room houses with tin roofs. This town did have running water and the refrigerators of the local stores were working properly to keep the chicken cool. But not much else was going on there. There is really no work for the villagers. Our stay overlapped with the ending of the lobster fishing season. Sheridan told us that once the lobster fishing stops, people don’t have very much source of income. It felt weird to be in a place like Mangrove Bight. I do not have much traveling experience and this was an eye opener to say the least. These people of the town don’t have much, and don’t do much, but everyone seemed happy. They were happy to see Americans, to our surprise. Everyone was so genuine and nice that we met. Locals approached us, and seemed eager to tell their story and the history of their beautiful island. We fell in love with their land, and the connection brought us all together instantly. Happiness does not depend on money. Happiness is achieved as you make the best of your situation and love everything around you. Respect for yourself and respect for others.
As we walk through town, pointing and getting excited at new water, we noticed a tail of young kids following us. They were timid at first, but once we introduced ourselves we had shadows for the day. They watch us like hawks.They watched our movements with the rods, and watched in amazement as we pulled out tackle boxes full of colorful feathers and hooks.
They were not shy to ask for hooks, and we were happy to give them some. Spreading the love for fly fishing is something as rewarding as catching fish. We gave the kids some line and tippet, and soon found the young locals jigging our flies off of docs, intently watching for a flashing fish. I taught one kid to cast my rod. The Redington 10 weight rod looked heavy and regal in the hand of that young kid. He was a natural as he shot the line out and slowly retrieved with a jigging strip. He got one follow from a needle fish. He was hooked, I could see it in his smile.
We met two local legends, Mr. Grant and Jose. They worked and lived at a tiki bar right next to our house on the beach. There is a hammock in the back where Grant sleeps, while Jose posts up behind the bar every night listening the Honduran Nation soccer team play on some staticky old radio. Grant spoke English very well, Jose didn’t speak much, but he obviously understood everything we said. We learned a lot from these guys, and will always remember them.
Grant told us how to tell if a barracuda is poisonous or not. If you place a barracuda on an anthill, and the ants scatter, do not eat. But if the ants crawl on the fish, he is safe to consume. I never thought I would befriend a crack head, but it happened. Mr. Grant told us he smoked crack for three reasons: To eat, to hide the pain, and to keep working. One might think it is not the safest to be living so close to crack heads, but that was not the case. These gentleman always asked us if we needed anything. We left our house open everyday when we were gone, with no worries of theft. Grant and Jose told us the low down on the island. “No crime” he said. This island is very safe, despite the dangerous reputation of the mainland of Honduras. This island is too small to have crime and the villagers are to content to cause trouble.
Jose showed us his cell-phone, we exchanged numbers. They were supposed to call us the next week. I’m still waiting for a Honduran area code to appear on my call list.
Before we left they asked us for a rod, and us spending all of our money on gear for this trip had to settle on just giving them a fly. I gave them a crab fly I bought on Ebay. I caught my biggest fish of the trip with it. Grant placed the flies on the bar shelf as decorations. We gave him flies, he gave us shot glasses. I hope one day we can go back and give those guys a rod, they deserve it.
Our day ended in the tiki bar of Jose and Mr. Grant. Two dollar beers sounded pretty good as we were captivated by the stories of their Jurassic island.