On Day 2, I woke up to an incredible morning thunderstorm. Light rain and claps of thunder filled the air as I took in the morning from the back porch of the lodge, something I did often during my first trip to Guanaja 5 years ago. We got a little bit of a late start to fishing, but that didn’t slow anyone down. Light rain continued throughout the morning, however, I had just enough light to get a shot at a permit on the North Side of Guanaja. All the stars aligned and I was very fortunate to land my second permit and my first here at Fly Fish Guanaja.
After our morning of fishing, we grabbed some lunch and ventured into Mangrove Bight to get to know some of the local people. Our mission was to find a random person and ask them a series of eight questions to create a profile for them. All of the people I spoke with were more than happy to share a little bit about their everyday life and their experiences on the island. One thing that always blows my mind about this place is the openness and hospitality of the locals. Three people in particular, Troy, Lenny, and Emmie, all had incredible stories to share with us, and I am thrilled to be able to share them here:
Lenny moved to Guanaja from Connecticut in the 1970’s. Lenny worked as a US military helicopter mechanic and then was a pilot. His time in the US military sent him all over the world and instilled a desire to travel. At 79 years old he has been content with living in Guanaja since he first came. He has survived helicopter crashes, stage 4 throat cancer, and Hurricane Mitch. After Mitch hit, Lenny recalled the destruction. “A wild rabbit could be seen from miles. The jungle was destroyed and swept away, and the land was barren. But the people pulled through.” Lenny has found his home in this tropical paradise and loves connecting and trying to reach the local kids. He shares a similar vision to the students and staff at Fly Fish Guanaja, as he hopes to change the community through developing lasting relationships with the people and he hopes we can keep coming back.
Born and raised on The Cay, a village on stilts just off the main island of Guanaja, Troy has worked all of his life on the water on fishing boats and dive boats. Troy sees the beauty in the serenity of Guanaja and is thankful he doesn’t have to worry about violence. The biggest challenge Troy sees facing the island is the fact that it is difficult to bring people together for a common cause when the day to day necessity of sustenance is the biggest worry. In his many years in Guanaja, Troy recalls times on the high seas in storms and uncertainty and once his small snapper boat was even hit by a ship while returning home with a huge haul. “It’s just another great day to be alive and well.”
Though only 14 years old, Emmie has been through more in life than most people can imagine. She was born in Guanaja but crossed the border into Texas, where half of her family remains. Back on Guanaja, Emmie helps out by helping clean homes and appreciates the fact that young children can roam free and safe, as everyone is caring and sweet. Pictured here with Emmie is her younger brother Jayden who is actually a US citizen having been born in Texas after Emmie and her mother ventured across the border.
By: Jake Wood and Knox Kronenberg