The Atlantic coast is home to a number of distinct communities including Rama, Miskito and Garifuna people. We managed to visit two villages, the first was Awas.
It’s a Miskito community descended from the original indigenous people of this area. Fishing remains the traditional occupation. The few households live in small wooden stilt houses on a grassy area beside the sea. The land is eroding – we learnt that a palm tree on a small island nearby was once the centre of the village. The only brick built buildings are the baptist church and school; the small houses are timber built and raised off the ground. They are mostly in pretty good condition compared to what we’ve seen elsewhere, although the inhabitants are clearly impoverished.
This part of the country is called the Autonomous Region of the South Caribbean Coast which indicates a degree of local control. However the national government presence is evident and possibly there has been housing assistance.
Apparently Awas is a popular destination for Nicaraguan families from the cities during the Easter holidays. A number of ‘ranchos’ (concrete circles shaded by palm roofs) have been provided and there is a large restaurant, only open at busy times. It was all closed up on our visit.
A couple of people stopped to talk. One walked off as soon we identified ourselves as tourist people, not ‘Witness People’. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strong presence here.
After our paddle, Mr Orlando came out to talk to us. He explained he has been trained to work with tourists and acts as a guide. He showed us some glowing references. He also makes jewellery from dried fruits and seeds so we bought a necklace and a lump of Ms Orlando’s delicious gingerbread.
The walk back to Pearl Lagoon was too much for us – we rode back in a moto-taxi (tuctuc)!
We had taken our lunch but, as we hoped to swim, nothing of any value, which means we have no photographs other than this one of me modelling the necklace!
The next post, by Alan, will explain how easy it was to get around!