Of course you can hitch rides in the Ocean and between Islands! I will tell how I did it.
First of all, the dynamic and development are completely different. When you are hitching rides on a highway expecting a car to stop and help you, you put yourself in a vulnerable situation, but the situation also puts the driver in a compromising spot.You both are trusting each other while one is helping the other. But when you are hitching rides in the ocean it not a matter of trust, it is a matter of…
What can you offer to the boat owner?
It all starts with finding someone on the ocean front who happens to be going to the same place you are and on the same day you want to get there but most importantly, that needs some kind of help or assistance that y0u can provide in order to hitch a ride for free. So yeah, not a walk in the park (or the beach?).
Touristic boats are off limits now. They don´t need you, they have employees to do everything for them and trading social media marketing with a local Honduran who doesn´t even have a web page will take you nowhere. So I had to stick with the local food and supply traders.
This people get paid by locals to bring or deliver goods from mainland to the islands or from one island to another. Every extra kilo or pound has to be accounted for and needs to be paid for, so imagine how hard was for me and my 80 kilos (175 pounds) to get free rides.
From Mainland to the first Island
This adventure starts on a friday morning. I was staying in a village that lives completely off of fishing and hunting in Northeast Honduras. Very early in the morning I went for a walk and also to scope my options and I saw this boat:
Right, too much movement to be 6 am. They have to be preparing for something, hopefully a small trip to the Cayes – I was going to Hogs cayes – so there is nothing wrong about asking. They happened to be waiting for some cargo arrival so they could leave to one of the cayes, not my destination but it is a start. I asked to speak with the captain – yeah, they have captain even for those small boats, and only the captain can go through the trip stansing up, everyone else has to be sitting – and managed to get a quick deal.
The boat was already full with food and supplies, I had to make a good offer. But in order to make a good offer you have to know about boats and island commerce. Two things I know nothing about. But I know about logic and deduction, a lot if I may be presumptuos, so I analized the situation and this is what I reached:
I could ride for free as long as I help carrying all the cargo when we get to our destination, I must wash the boat when we get there but most importantly, I will help getting the boat to the ocean.
Yep, you read correctly. If you take a closer look, that boat is on a river. This river goes to the ocean but the strong currents and the tide makes it nearly imposible to get to open water using the small motor this boat has so…
You have to Push the Boat
We both jumped into the water and pushed the boat against the waves but it wasn´t enough, other people came to our aid when they noticed we couldn´t get it done by ourselves and then, all at once – coordination is key to succeed – pushed and after 10 minutes we reached open water and jumped on the boat, ready to attack the Cayes.
After one hour navigating the Caribbean we reached this island called Chachahuate, an island full of houses and people, literally no space to build another house, every available inch had already something built. I have to admit I was a little dissappointed. When people told me about this Cayes they referred to them as Virgin and this was nothing close to virgin.
We unloaded all the cargo, oh well. I was already friends with the captain so I asked him if he could take me to an island I could camp with no people. He accepted and took me to a private island, he knew the owner so all he could do was introduce me to him and see if it worked out. It did but this story is about hitching rides so I won´t tell you about it.
From one Caye to another
The next morning I didn´t hitch a ride to the big island I was going to explore in search of boas, the owner of the island took me for free but we met a guy sailing a canoe and he hitch a ride from us! Ohh the irony in that situation was marvelous.
We got to the biggest island in this archipielago and I said goodbye to my new friend. Explored the island, got to see some reptiles in their natural habitat and afterwards I met some cool kids. I went to their school with them and taught them some stuff, we practiced spanish and math. It was getting late and I needed to find a place to sleep so I asked around and saw the school teacher gathering all the kids in the harbor. What?
After a small conversation I noticed the obvious. This island was deserted but has 25 kids in schooling age? Mmm.
This island has only 100 people living in it but as it is the biggest the school is located here. But these 25 kids are all the 15 cayes children population and they get here in the teacher´s boat. It was time to take them home and the teacher offered me a ride to any Caye I wanted…
I had hit the jackpot
My last water hitch
I decided to stay in the island where one of the older kids I met lived. He introduced me to his family and I slept in their backyard right by the ocean. It was a very nice family and I actually met a german girl that was staying in another house nearby.
The morning after, very early, as early as we could, they all took me to Chachahuate, the mos populated island where I could pay for a boat to take me to mainland. I decided to pay for that one as I was tired of the most amazing weekend I´ve had so far in Central America.
If you think hitchhiking is fun you have to try ocean hitching. That one is out of this world.
This adventure was marvelous just because that idea, the one I try to have always in my mind, was present all the time, I always tell myself…