La Moskitia Honduras (Plus Broken Leg)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Sideoff, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. milleralexk

    milleralexk Adventurer

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    Cool stuff!

    Thanks for posting
    #21
  2. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    From Belen, the next step was to get to Brus Laguna. There's a boat that leaves very early in the morning from belen for brus, getting there in time to catch the brus-ahuas-puerto lempira boat.

    From what I could tell there is not a road from ahuas to Puerto lempira, though I didn't do a whole lot of research. The boat rides through this area are really fun, just ripping along these tiny little rivers and seeing how people live along the shoreline. Every so often we would pop out into a big open bay, cross it, and then be back in the little jungle rivers. I don't remember the lengths of the rides but these were pretty long trips, anywhere from 3 to 6 hours each.<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    belen to brus

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    Abandoned drug running boats were everywhere, stripped of motors and electronics.<o:p></o:p>

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    more abandoned boats<o:p></o:p>
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    Sometimes it gets really shallow and they jump out to push/pull or pole their way through.<o:p></o:p>

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    This is at the boat dock in brus, transferring to the boat to ahuas

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    My six seatmates. The guy sitting behind me had a plaid gangsta hat, jean jacket and jeans, dark sunglasses, a six pack of beer, and a Kalashnikov casually slung over his shoulder. Definitely have to get used to lots of guns in this area.

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    boat dock in ahuas

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    um... did somebody forget their shotgun??

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    cool wheelchair

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    from ahuas there is a short ride of maybe 20 miles to the boat launch for Puerto lempira. there is only one road. easy ride.

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    this road dead ends in a muddy slough, where there were kids with canoes who took me the rest of the way down the river to the boat launch area.

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    #22
  3. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    That's coming up after Puerto lempira. quite a mess. not sure I could've picked a worse spot in central america to go over the bars, but obviously all turned out fine since i'm here posting!
    #23
  4. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    I wanted to record my recollection of prices here for future travelers who decide to take this interesting route across Honduras.

    In general, the standard rate for person + large piece of cargo (i.e. moto) appears to be double the ticket price. I verified this with several people and all the boats charged the same. I didn't have much of a problem with boats trying to overcharge here, only the belen/brus guy tried to overcharge me a little.

    Exchange rate is approx 20 lempira/dollar.

    Belen to Brus Laguna - 200 lempira for me and 200 for the bike.

    Brus to Puerto Lempira via ahuas - 800 lempira for me, 800 for the moto. Prices were approximately half if you stop for the night in ahuas.

    Canoe to Puerto lempira boat launch - I paid 150 lempira for this including loading the bike on/off the canoe and also the boat to Puerto lempira. At first that seemed like a lot but it was a lot of work and in retrospect it seemed like a good deal.

    I believe that most travelers would not start in belen but rather in batalla, where you would catch a boat to palacios, and from there to brus. I can't confirm this because I hopped in Kevin's boat at batalla, but that was my general plan before meeting him.

    In terms of getting the bike on/off the boats, there are porters at the docks. following kevin's lead I tipped these guys 20 lempira each and they seemed happy with that.
    #24
  5. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    This is good stuff, things for sharing and welcome to the Broken Leg ADVriding Club:freaky

    Thanks for sharing!
    #25
  6. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Here's the boat launch for getting to puerto lempira. Some of these spots I was like how the F are we going to get my 450 lb bike into that boat???

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    Um... mind if I just park my bike here for a bit?

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    Somebody forget their gun up here?

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    This was an awesome ride. this guy was just flying through the rivers.

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    Here I made it to puerto lempira and the boat portion of the trip was finally finished. Looking forward to a big dirt ride from here down into nicaragua!

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    Around Puerto Lempira. This is a town of about 3,500.

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    PL boat dock

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    #26
  7. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    It's a long, all-dirt ride from PL down into nicaragua and I was really excited to get back on the road!! After all those days on boats i couldn't wait to get back on the bike and actually ride.

    Grabbed some breakfast in PL. Briefly met a missionary named Alex who lives in PL (he'll come back into the story later) who stopped in the same restaurant to get coffee. Got my exit stamps and canceled my honduras vehicle permit in PL at the immigration/customs offices in PL without difficulty.

    Hit the road. It was an easy, flat ride and I was ripping along with music playing in my helmet, feeling good. About 50 miles outside PL I stopped at this military checkpoint and had a nice chat with the soldiers.

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    About 15 miles after that checkpoint I suddenly came up on a series of three dips in the road right in front of me. Hit the brakes but it was too late. Caught air off the first dip, hammered into the uphill part of the second dip, boosted up and forward in an awkward position with the front wheel way too low. Front wheel hit the uphill of the third dip at too steep an angle. I went somersaulting over the bars with the bike following behind. Took some hits on the head, shoulder, and legs, finally coming to a rest about 20 feet past the bike.

    Took a quick inventory. Neck, shoulder, and left shin hurt but not too bad. Shoulder worked. Neck was fine. Ankle probably sprained. Ok, shit, I'm going to walk away! Then I tried to stand up. Felt a lot of pain shoot through my whole body. Caught me by surprise. Fell back onto the ground. Looked down my leg and saw that my ankle was dangling awkwardly to the left. Turned my leg and knee to the right but ankle did not follow, only terrible pain. Oh shit, I realized, my ankle is no longer connected to my knee. FFFFF!!!

    Figured I was really on my own here. Spent about 30 minutes dragging around on my butt with my hands gathering bags and various bike parts back into one pile near the bike. Plan was to get the bike vertical and then either re-attach bags or hide them in the bushes and slowly ride back to the military checkpoint I had passed in 1st gear (since my left leg was the broken one).

    Bike had landed with wheels up on a small hill and i knew i wouldn't be able to get it upright like that. With my functional leg I dragged it onto flat ground and disconnected the remaining bags to reduce the weight. Tried putting my back to the bike and lifting like I would normally do, but with one leg. Could get the bike 1 ft of the ground but then was stuck there. With only one leg I couldn't re-adjust my grip to lift any further. A couple times I tried using my left leg but it was useless. Tried to put weight on it but the pain was unbearable, plus my calf just buckled under the weight. Left me cursing, sweating, and rolling around on the ground. Also tried lifting the bike forwards but it was no use, couldn't even get it to budge like that.

    Tried everything I could think of. As hard as this was for me to accept at the time, it was not possible to get the 450lb bike upright using one leg. At least not in the condition I was in at the time. Every attempt was causing me to sweat and curse and get more and more tired and I was at risk of using up my limited water supply. I knew that I could easily be spending the night there and needed to conserve my water. Plus I was totally exhausted and in a lot of pain. Didn't know whether my leg was bleeding inside the boot or not but did not want to take it off to check.

    Realized that I was not going to ride myself out of this situation. I had two options: wait for help or try to walk. Dragged around on my butt until I found a walking stick. Tried to walk but quickly established that hopping 15 miles was going to be outrageously difficult. Decided that my smartest move was to sit tight and see if anyone came along. I had a SPOT locator beacon, at this point I hit the 911 emergency button. I bought rescue insurance through SPOT, and I also bought a separate travel emergency health insurance policy which included medical evacuation. I just needed to get to somewhere where I had communications.

    Propped up against the pile of bags and sat back to wait. Figured I might as well take a few pics while I was there.

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    In this pic, if you look really closely at the road, you can kind of see the little dips that sent me flying. After riding 9,000 miles to get to this spot including thousands and thousands of miles of dirt, I couldn't believe I was sitting on this easy, graded road with a broken leg. But so it goes. The surprise is what got me. I should have been riding more conservatively.

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    After snapping these pics I sat back, shut my eyes, and waited.
    #27
  8. Sikday1

    Sikday1 n00b

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    Damn...wish both of mine were as big as one of yours! Great report and thanks for sharing!
    #28
  9. QuestForADV

    QuestForADV BanCampLeader

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    HOLY CRAP! Glad you're ok now
    #29
  10. junglemototours

    junglemototours trailplug

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    Egualmente! Roads are dangerous.....
    #30
  11. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

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    Kamloops, BC
    Major effin bummer (happened to me in Baja, but it was my fibula, could limp on it and ride, and I had surgery 10 days after break once back in Canada)....

    And just when you thought you were riding again :huh
    #31
  12. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    It's so similar events that took us both out with broken legs, just getting too comfortable/distracted with the riding on really easy roads. Still can get jumped up on quickly and really bite you big time and pay for it for months:puke1

    After my off I was like "Damn I hit pretty hard" and didn't really feel the pain of the broken tib/fib until I tried to get up and it was off to the side flopping. Then there is nothing else to do but take pictures and wait:rofl I cussed myself while I waited in the dark in the middle of nowhere Venezuela.

    Taking the boot off was the worst, I wanted to just leave it on until they knocked me out for surgery:cry


    Looking forward to the rest of the outcome and xrays:lurk
    #32
  13. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    Very excellent adventure. Admirable stuff. I find it interesting that you were comfortable enough to fall like that. As though the immense complexities that came before reduced this dirt road to the level of a simple trail. One day you are guarding a house with a shotgun and the next you are imploding on a fire road. Life is weird.

    Given your level of adventure riding, and given the things you have seen I thought I might suggest some light reading for your convalesence, given the quality of the reading you have given me here on ADVrider.

    http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Economic-Hit-John-Perkins/dp/0452287081

    A fascinating explanation for how the world works. My Third World travels have been much enlightened in retrospect by this book.

    cheers.
    #33
  14. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Movie script material Pete :freaky
    #34
  15. SR

    SR Long timer

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    Subscribed! Wow! :lurk
    #35
  16. BRUTSQD

    BRUTSQD 2 scoops of stupid

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    Casually mingling between the locals with AK47s to take the path less traveled through cartel territory... The worlds biggest balls award goes to you my friend. Get well and good luck! Subscribed
    #36
  17. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Hood River, OR
    Thanks for the comments guys!

    wow, crazy similar. yeah uggghhh... the boot sucked!!
    #37
  18. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    The face tells a similar story, disgust with a hint of a smile; it could have been worse right:lol3
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    My poor bike, I was sad I couldn't get it off it's top:cry
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    #38
  19. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Things I remember: staring at the blinking lights on the spot beacon; speculating about how long I could stretch the half-camelback of water I had left; wondering if the first person to come along was more likely to rob or help me; berating myself for being such an idiot to let this happen; staring at the road and trying to discern from the tire tracks how often this road was traveled. It was Friday afternoon and I remember thinking that sat/sun were probably not high traffic days. On the entire ~80 mile ride from Puerto lempira I didn't remember seeing any other vehicles at all.

    After about 2 hours I heard the rumble of an engine. I was part excited, part nervous. When it came into sight it was a single guy on a motorcycle loaded with stuff. I started waving my arms. He was spooked and paused maybe 100 ft away. For a second I thought he was going to turn around. Then he came forward slowly and paused again, close enough for me to say "por favour, ayuda me, estoy herido" (please, help, injured). Once he realized I didn't have buddies hiding in the bushes he lightened up. He said he was a school teacher going into PL to get supplies and that he had just passed an army truck full of commandos 20 minutes before. I said "commandos narcos or commandos militar?" He said military.

    He waited with me and sure enough 20 minutes later a big army truck full of soldiers came rumbling down the road. It stopped and I was literally surrounded by like 20 Honduran army guys smoking and staring and asking questions in spanish. The comandante spoke some english, enough to say "who are you and what the fuck are you doing on this road??" They said they were on their way back to a base, which was back near the last checkpoint I had passed, and did I want them to take me? Answer: hell yeah!!! Like 8 army dudes shuffled me into the back of the truck and they left three armed soldiers behind to guard the bike. Oh man, things were really starting to look up at this point. I hit the "OK" button on my SPOT to let folks back home know everything was ok.

    View from the back of the truck:

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    Here's where they dropped me off at the base. it was like a concrete area with a cover on it.

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    They had a medical guy there. no medical facilities (or power for that matter) but he did have some drugs. They shot me up and then got the boot off (which still hurt like a mf) and splinted the leg. With the splint on the pain went down a lot.

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    They set me up with a cot right outside the comandante's office in a covered outdoor area. Talked to the comandante about options. He said the hospital in Puerto Lempira was a shithole and did not even have an xray. When his soldiers get hurt he flies them to Ahuas, which is a remote town in the middle of la moskitia with no roads. He said it was the best hospital in the area and at least they have an xray, but no orthopedic people on staff. I did not like that idea because ahuas was even more remote, and if something was seriously wrong with my leg I knew I would want to get to a proper city. At this point I was thinking it might be best for me to sort out my own flight from Puerto Lempira into Tegucigalpa and find medical care there.

    They had recently gotten a cell phone tower at the base so I was able to communicate with back home. I called my travel insurance company to discuss options and find out what all exactly they would pay for, since there was not really a "cheap" way out of this little mess as far as I could tell. It turns out that part of their service includes planning all the logistics of a medical evacuation, in addition to paying for it. The army base had it's own (gravel) air strip so I gave them my gps coordinates and they started looking into ways to get me out. Unfortunately they said that no planes could fly into la moskitia at night due to all the narco flights. The narco planes are unregistered and unmarked, making the skies very dangerous. So I settled in for a long night.

    Next morning I talked to travel insurance again and a big weather system had moved in overnight. No flights for at least 24 hours and maybe more. It was raining hard out. So I was stuck. Had a bottle of Xanax in my own medical kit which, while they didn't help with pain, they did help me chill out and pass the time.

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    The comandante. this guy is the real f---ing deal. When I finally left the base, I asked if there was anything I could bring him from the states. His answer: "how about a gringa." haha. We had some good chats.

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    Comandante had a bag of coconuts outside his office and chopped me up one too occasionally.

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    Some American soldiers had left an MRE which they gave me.

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    One night the power came on for a few hours!

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    Check out the weights. They are made out of some kind of machine gear filled with concrete.

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    Got to see a lot of army life down there. Man these guys work their asses off. All day every day, 40 days on and then 2 weeks off. Weekly fire fights with the narcos.

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    No broom

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    At the end of day two on the base it was still raining but the insurance company said they were expecting a break in the weather the next morning.
    #39
  20. Scubalong

    Scubalong Been here awhile

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    :eek1
    :bow To you Sir.
    Good luck and hope you can get some help soon.
    Thanks for sharing your RR.
    #40