They're huge. The fish. At Rio Indio Lodge the fishing is good. Great actually. This Nicaraguan oasis was built on the Indian River (Rio Indio) through the vision of Dr. Alfredo Lopez. Dr. Lopez, a Costa Rican physician and businessman saw the potential of what could be done, not just for tourism, but also for the local tribe of indigenous people in this part of Nicaragua, the Rama. This incredible lodge is in the southern tip of Nicaragua, just over the northern border of Costa Rica. Walking into the lobby after a four to six hour longboat ride up the beautiful jungle lined Indian River is like dropping into a dream. The lodge was built in the Rio Maíz National Park, adjacent to Rama villages.
The walkways are elevated, Swiss Family Robinson style in the event of high water and to create a perfect view into the rainforest. Its like being at a five-star tree fort.
And the fish. Are huge. Check this out... http://www.therioindiolodge.com/activities/sport-fishing.html. We are here to film for the Exploration Nation project, but the other guests here are sports fishermen that go out every day with the guides Dr. Lopez and his business partners have retained to take fishermen to the hot spots along the river, and out into the Caribbean. They've come back with huge, I mean Labrador retriever sized fish. These guys know their stuff, they are Rama. This is a world class stretch of river for tarpon. We've seen them offload massive snapper, jack and snook. They served it up here at the lodge, their chef Johnny showed me how its done. The snapper was so big it would never fit in my oven at home. Johnny baked it first then put a rub on it and grilled it, serving the whole fish on a table that appeared to sag under the weight of it. Every section of that fish was white creamy mild and most of all ... fresh. I have not wanted for anything in terms of quality of food on this trip, and that has been true of Rio Indio Lodge.
It would be a great place to go for a vacation sometime, the jungles here having doubled as my office, its been hot sweaty work punctuated by great food and a comfortable bed. Every now and then, we catch an eyeful of a basilisk lizard or poison dart frog, white faced monkeys or the rarely seen, but often heard howler monkeys. I'm not complaining but it would be a great thing to come here and relax a little.
Dr. Lopez is always present it seems. He has been treating the Rama since he first came here for diseases and triage. He's a kind soul. Today we will travel to a Rama village with a team of doctors from the US that have flown in to provide a clinic. Our days work on Thursday was to visit the local shaman ... a medicine man. He is ancient, and, his knowledge of the rainforest is unmatched. He is also the last if his kind. Our interview with this quiet holy man was very ,moving actually. Say what you will about jungle medicine, Narcisso, the shaman, has held cancer at bay, cured malaria, and managed diabetes using only the plants and resources he finds in the rainforest. He has no need of a smart phone, I get the feeling his response to most questions would be, "there's a plant for that". I might be more skeptical were I not on the shoot with two medical professionals, one of whom is an ER doc in Texas, and a third expert on jungle survival - Sam Kaufman of The Human Path, (www.thehumanpath.com), a survival school I hope to attend in the future. Sam was even wide-eyed as Narcisso described the tip of the iceberg of what he knows about simple and complex cures and preventative medicine.
The Rama, the guides and shaman, the cooks, those that this wonderful lodge has employed and helped through Dr. Lopez's efforts, live in this mutual symbiosis with the visitors and business partners of Rio Indio Lodge. The fish are huge. But I think even for the fishermen, its not just about the fish. Its about living somewhere exotic if only for a few days and leaving the demands of whatever it is that complicates your life for a while. I'm hoping this place is hard to forget.