Bocay Project - Page Two




Beyond Bocay there are no bridges over streams and rivers.  In 2000, I went with Gary down river to the Sumo and Miskito villages with which the Bocay Project was concerned.   




The suspension bridge in Ayupal, designed and built by Gary Hicks and financed by the New River Bocay Project.   Previously, all visiters to the town from this direction had to ford the river, a difficult task in the rainy season.




Bocay Project boats: dugout trees constructed to hold an outboard motor.   Even thought San Jose de Bocay is on the Rio Bocay, the river only becomes navigable at the town of Ayupal.




  We begin packing the great quantity of supplies that we are taking down river for various villages.    The Sumo and Miskito Indians had been moved from their villages to the Atlantic coast early in the Sandinista period (1979-1990) to protect them from the Contra terrorists who came into Nicaragua from nearby Honduras.   In 1990, they were returned to where their now disappeared villages once stood.  They were sent by boat down the river from here, for there are no roads into their villages along the Rio Bocay and Rio Coco.  They had only the clothes on their backs a sack of beans to start over with.    Gary Hicks and the New River Bocay Project worked closely with the Indians from 1990 until the project closed in 2002.




These "polantas" (poles) are essential for missing rocks and guiding the boat through channels




The Sumo Indians with us know the dangers of the river well.  With motor up, we shoot some rapids




The view from the front of the schoolhouse in the village of Okuli, built by the New River Bocay Project, after having spent the night trying to sleep on the cement floor.




At times the river is calm and very beautiful.




At other times a boat must be emptied while the Indians take it through a rapids.




This photo by Gary Hicks shows the Bocay Project boat navigating the rapids in the Rio Bocay.  The only transportation to the Sumo and Miskito Indian villages is by the Rio Coco or Rio Bocay.  




One of the last projects of the New River Bocay Project in its fifteen year work for the poorest of the poor in Northern Nicaragua (1987-2002) was the hand digging of this canal (during the dry season and out of the solid rock) through one of the worst rapids so that future transportation on the river will be easier.  Photo by Gary Hicks.




Not a good spot to take a swim




Gary reads while his wife, Modesta, keeps watch.




Sumo Indians on the Rio Bocay come out to meet us as we arrive at their village.   The New River Bocay Project built schools, medical centers, and other projects in a number of Sumo and Miskito Indian villages.




Two to three days out to Walikitan on the Rio Coco and two to three days back, depending on how many stops and how long.  At night we slept in plastic hammocks that we had with us or on the floor.  In this village of Yapuwas, we slept on the dirt floor of their small, bamboo walled church.




The church in Yapuwas where we slept.




The inside of the church.




We stop on the shore to stretch our legs and have some lunch




Here we are traveling the Rio Coco (Honduras on the left, Nicaragua on the right) on the way to Walikatan, the largest Miskito village.  During the 1980s, the U.S. supplied Contra Terrorists would cross this river from their safe havens in Honduras to attack the health-care centers, farms, and schools of Northern Nicaragua.




The sign says "Walikitan School: Built by the New River Bocay Project."



The delightful and beautiful children of Walikatan seeing themselves  on the tiny imaging screen of our video camera.   This was the first time ever that they had likely seen any image of themselves or even a videocamera.




Here I help with the struggle of our dug out canoe against the Current of the Rio Bocay on the return trip.  Wearing a hat is a necessity in this tropical climate when spending many hours a day in a canoe navigating these rivers.  The polantas are cut from a particularly hard and light wood that grows in these forests.



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