Sometimes it’s about the journey not the destination. Bumping around in the back of an overloaded Toyota pick up truck on our way into “the heart of darkness” was not my idea of fun. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I couldn’t get Conrad’s book out of my head. We were going into the heart of Central America’s largest wilderness and it was certainly a journey.
We had been pretty “vanilla” in our travels up until Honduras. We hadn’t really gone off the beaten path yet. As we got our travel legs we became more and more adventurous, staying at places not listed in the guidebook, taking guidebook suggestions with a grain of salt and relying on word of mouth recommendations from other travelers above everything else. In Honduras we finally hit our travel stride and took a sharp turn off the beaten path.
By sharp turn I mean we decided to go to “La Mosquitia”, which Wikipedia kindly refers to as: an underdeveloped region of tropical rainforest accessible primarily by water and air. By primarily they mean only by air and water. See, it’s about the journey.
I’ll admit that I was not thrilled when we decided to launched off into the Mosquito Coast, the coastline is heavily used by drug traffickers and it was starting to be rainy season. Torrential downpours, underdeveloped jungle, mud and mosquitos? I’d seen this in a movie before, and trust me it wasn’t a pleasant situation.
I quickly realized my opinion would hold very little sway when we met a solo traveler who had just returned from the region. He enthusiastically gave us all the information we needed and although Danny asked if I was interested in going, I saw that glinting “Indian Jones” spirit in his eyes and decided to quietly squelch my concerns. In the words of a famous fitness retailer I decided to “Just Do It.”
So there we were, bouncing along in the back of a pick up truck, wedged between bottles of Coca-Cola. To say it was an adventure getting into the heart of La Mosquitia is an understatement.
My memories are akin to someone experiencing trauma. Thinking of that journey is like reliving a painful experience and my mind has successfully blocked out all but part of it. I have distinct memories of choking on the dust in the back of the truck, of the intense heat and the physical discomfort. Of riding back to civilization atop the truck’s gear shifter in the cab, of a driver who had been deported a few times from the U.S. telling me how bad the State Police are in Georgia. Our time in La Mosquitia was an exotic adventure (definitely worth a read, click here for Part 1 and Part 2), but it was really more about the journey than the destination. Once there we hiked in torrential downpours and experienced the jungle in rainy season, not something I’d recommend.
Spanish has a phrase vale la pena which loosely translates to be worth it, to be worthwhile. It’s one of my favorite idioms in Spanish. La Mosquitia was our first turn off the beaten track and although the journey is what I’ll remember the most, I can’t help but look back on it and ask myself again was it vale la pena? Even two years later I can say yes. The journey was vale la pena.
IF YOU GO: The entire eastern coastline of Central America is tropical jungle and although we went rather remote, you don’t have to go deep into La Mosquitia to experience the jungle. Winter is the perfect time to go to the jungle so if you’re spending the holidays in Cancun, it may be worth it to take some extra time and overland the coastline. Traveling through Belize and into Honduras is relatively easy and there’s a lot to do. We learned how to SCUBA dive on Utila, which was an enjoyable way to spend a week and also went to a couchsurfing meet up. We arranged our transport into La Mosquitia along the way from La Ceiba and you should be able to get information in La Ceiba on the trip.