Tasbapauni and Pearl Lagoon
After staying in bluefields for a while i met a brother from a neighbouring english congregation. He came from a town called Pearl Lagoon, which is labelled as "Laguna de Perlas" on the map, even though the community is entirely english speaking. There they have a small congregation of 12 publishers (at the time) and a special pioneer couple. The town is on the southern shore of the Pearl Lagoon, which is a very large body of water. The territory of this small group is extensive, so the congregation has their own panga which they use to reach the communities and farms around this lagoon and on the connecting rivers.
The group travels out once a month to its more isolated territories and i had the opportunity to join them on one of these trips. We were gone for about one week, and we went to a miskito village named Tasbapauni, which in miskito means "red dirt". The group was leaving early monday morning, so i had to leave bluefields sunday morning to make sure i was there the night before. When i got down to the wharf i was told there were no pangas going to pearl lagoon today. "Is there any way at all to get to pearl lagoon today?" I asked. The man said that if i had to i could take a panga to another town named kukrahill, and from there catch another boat or even a bus to pearl lagoon. Since i had to be in pearl lagoon by evening i went with this option.
So one hour in a panga heading north, and i was in kukrahill. A small, mostly spanish town in the jungle. There were taxis waiting to take people from the wharf to the bus terminal, obviously i wasnt the only one heading to pearl lagoon. The taxis had to take several trips to get everyone, and somehow i ended up on the last one. I wasnt in a big hurry because at this point i was only an hour from pearl lagoon. However, when the last taxi made it to the bus terminal, the bus had left. And there is only one bus in kukrahill. So now me and a few people from the boat were stranded in kukrahill. I asked around, but nobody seemed to have any ideas on how someonemight get to pearl lagoon. Except that there was a bus about 15 minutes ago, and contrary to what i was told at the wharf in bluefields, there were no pangas leaving from kukrahill.
I phoned a brother in pearl lagoon to ask if they had any ideas, and he said that there should be another bus later that evening. The other people that were on the boat confirmed this. That bus was coming at 5 pm, it was now around 10 am. I decided to walk around town a bit, and find something to eat at a corner store. The owner of the store went inside to get my change, and a little boy was standing in the doorway, staring at me with his jaw almost on the floor. His expression was one of complete shock and bewilderment. "De donde usted?" (Where are you from?) He whispered. I told him i was from canada, and he ran back into the house. I guess they dont see a lot of tourists in kukrahill.
I placed some magazines with some of the others from the boat who were with me waiting at the bus terminal. As the sun was starting to set, a blue van finally pulled up to the bus stop, and slid open the side door. This was the bus. Apparently the regular bus had broken down but the van had room for everyone. The driver tied everyone's luggage to the roof and we all crammed into the van. It wasnt too tight really, everyone had a seat so no one had to stand.
I guess the driver was feeling adventurous, since he decidede to take a "short cut" to pearl lagoon rather than taking the road. So off we went driving through the tall grass on some old forgotten trail through the jungle. About 10 minutes in we had a flat tire. Either due to a rock, or the bus being overloaded, or both. Everyone got out and we stood around watching as they changed the tire. Everyone was calm, and seemed to be in a good mood. That stood out to me about the caribbean culture, laid back and worry free.
Finally we made it to Pearl Lagoon, and i spent the night at the special pioneer couple's house, which was also the kingdom hall. It was a treat, because not only did they have running water, but they had a water heater as well. I had my first hot shower in months.
The next morning we loaded eveeything on board the "Mensajero 3" and set sail for Tasbapauni (Though not literally because its not a sail boat). The weather was not ideal, although it usually wasnt. The congregation went on these trips once a month regardless of the weather. It took us 3 hours to reach Tasbapauni, it was raining hard on the lagoon, and there were strong winds creating waves taller than the boat. There were 5 of us on the boat, and we shared pieces of 2 or 3 rain suits. Some of us got jackets, and some got pants. One sister wore the rain pants on her head to keep her hair dry. We used cut open milk jugs to bail water out of the boat. The only dry thing in the boat was the litrature, which was in a plastic bin.
As soon as we made it to Tasbapauni we started witnessing, ignoring the fact that we were sopping wet from head to toe, and that the town was in the middle of a tropical storm. One brother stayed behind to guard the boat, the two sisters went to do a return visit from when they came a year ago. Myself and the captain (special pioneer brother) went to do some territory. We came across a shelter near the wharf where a group of people were taking shelter from the rain. We went inside and the brother started witnessing to the whole group while i handed out magazines to everyone inside. They all were very excited to get the magazines and seemed very interested. Most people in Tasbapauni speak 3 languages: Miskito, English, and Spanish. We had literature in all 3.
Every home we called on was very receptive, and the entire week we spent there was extremely productive. We didnt stay in Tasbapauni at night though, as the navy had warned us that we should leave before dark. Although to us it seemed like a peaceful and quiet little town. Instead we stayed at a farm on the other side of the lagoon, where a local sister had prepared supper for us each night. After supper he brother would tell us stories from the nicaraguan revolution by candle light. The farm house had no electricity, but did have running water thanks to a rain water tank on the roof. I can remember laying down at night, and as soon as i closed my eyes i could feel the motion of the waves even though i had been on land for hours.
I was so glad to have had the opportunity to go on this trip. Many need greaters have gone to pearl lagoon over years, and they often say "if you go, you HAVE to do the boat thing!" And i agree completely.