PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua - Cecil Clark and Manuel Vendless could see the lights from land, could see safety, when Hurricane Felix's waves picked up their boat, slammed it deep into the ocean, and spit it out into the darkness again.
Still alive, Vendless clung to a rope and Clark somehow crawled onto what remained of their simple fishing vessel. But it wasn't long before Vendless looked up at his friend, his face flashing before Clark in the lightning that crashed overhead, and said simply, "I'm not going to make it."
After Vendless died, Clark lashed the body to the boat and assumed he was next.
Hours earlier, dozens of fishermen diving for lobster in the sea around a cluster of remote cays off the coast of Nicaragua were unaware that miles away one of history's strongest hurricanes was racing toward them. While the rest of the world, connected to Internet or watching 24-hour news channels, saw Felix's deadly path through the Caribbean Sea, the Miskito Indians, who live in jungle villages and on tiny reef islands, had no idea the monster storm's eye would pass over them.
The first word of the storm came on radio and from Nicaraguan sailors who passed by on boats, urging fishermen to return to ports and others to evacuate low-lying islands where they lived. But the Miskito Indians, descendants of Indians, European settlers, and African slaves who speak their own language and have a longstanding mistrust of Nicaragua's central government and President Daniel Ortega, paid little heed to the official warnings.
Clark bobbed in the ocean for more than three days until he was found off the coast of Honduras.