Episode 17: Orinoco and The White Lobster
Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
290Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Garifuna Backpackers Hostel
In small villages up and down Nicaragua's Caribbean coast you'll see it; those that have won the lottery and those that haven't. It's easy to tell who the winners are. They're the ones with the nice, new, modern construction home with the satellite dish mounted to the roof. If it's a waterfront property, there may be a well built fast boat tied to the pier powered by a brand new Yamaha 225 four-stroke outboard motor.
The lottery, as it's known around these parts, is about finding the elusive white lobster. Each morning, fisherman and local residents search the sea and coast line to see if they have won. It's a remarkably simple but oddly complex distribution system driven by the law of supply and demand. If you find a brick of cocaine, you simply hang on to it and keep it safely hidden in your ramshackle house. You now have the winning ticket. As the U.S. Coast Guard and other authorities chase down the drug running boats going north, the occasional load of contraband will inevitably be sent overboard to float the ocean's currents and drift aimlessly about. But everyone knows where these aimless currents go. They come right to the residents along Nicaragua's coast.
I won! How do I get paid?
It's now a waiting game. With an entire boat load of cocaine now safely in storage in people's homes up and down the Caribbean coast, the product must be recollected for further shipment toward the United States. Eventually, the drug runners will come around and BUY IT BACK from you for $6000 thousand dollars per kilo (2.2 pounds). This sounds like alot but the street value of that kilo of coke is closer to $100,000 so it's just the cost of doing business. You can start building your new house soon.
I won! How do I screw up my life permanently?
Greed. If you take it upon yourself to become a temporary local drug dealer and make a lot more than the standard $6000 storage fee, the proverbial white lobster will no doubt come back and bite you in the ass. Drug cartels do not appreciate you selling their product and your punishment is not a kind one. Ask the three young men that live in the village of Set Net Point why they are missing a hand, for example.