Thunder, Lightning, and a Nicaraguan's Perspective
Trip Start Sep 26, 2010
34Trip End Jul 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
The Surfing Turtle Lodge
We decided to at least check it out, and after a 200 meter boat crossing, then a 1.5 km hike through the jungle, we arrived at Surfing Turtle Lodge, a two-story thatched roof building stacked with 16 bunk beds and three cabanas next store. From my bunk on the second floor, I could see four thatched umbrellas set in front of the wide expanse of the Pacific to my west. The sunsets would be spectacular.
Downstairs, the owner, Dave, began preparing a lunch of fresh caught bass and the rest of the occupants casually laid around reading, journaling, or just soaking in the sun. Despite the Janet Jackson playing in the background, Marshal and I decided it would be foolish to leave this paradise.
I decided to get a run in, as exercise had been difficult in the big city of Leon. I got down to the beach and ran two miles in one direction, seeing little more than trees, beach and water. About 10 km of untouched land separated us from the rest of civilization. At the end of the beach is a small river crossing where I swam across to find a few tiendas and locals roaming about.
Alarmed by my sudden re-connection with the outside world, I turned back and trudged through the sand to arrive just as lunch was being served. For five dollars a meal, and 10 dollars for a bed, it seemed things couldn't get much better- especially considering the most reliable wireless internet I had yet was available, giving me a chance to reconnect with some friends and family once more. The first day passed quickly over journaling, reading Darwin's Journey of the Beagle and chatting with the local chef, Micheal.
Micheal, a local Nicaraguan, worked at this hostel when he wasn't working as a chef back in Leon, his home town
After telling him I hadn't really, he told me that the news shows everything; blood, guts, people getting their arms cut off. They even showed a man being burnt to death in a truck after an electrical wire fell on the truck, setting it on fire and trapping him inside. The spectators could do nothing, but a few decided to take video to make a few extra dollars selling it to the local news. Selling video clips like this is no rare occurrence.
He went on to tell me that the problem is there is no sort of parental control or censoring on the television, and parents do little to keep there children from watching violent and profane programs. The children watch this blood and guts, hear profanity, watch fighting and see people having sex, then they grow up wanting to fight, cuss and have sex. Soon enough young girls are 16 years old with three kids and no chance for education
Micheal compared his two children. One of them is five, and lives in Costa Rica. The other is only one and half, and lives in Nicaragua. He said his five year old thinks everything is happy and peaceful, as any five year old should, but just the other day he went home to see his younger one sitting with grandpa watching the evening news, and later that night the youngest hit his Dad with a stick. Micheal classifies this action under the media influence.
Alleviating this influence would be no easy task. The broadcasting networks don't care about the influence they are making, only about the ratings. With that attitude in mind, people will keep taking videos and pictures of gruesome events, and television programs will keep showing them.
Television, many older locals have told me, is leading to the downfall of society. Children aren't playing or reading, just mindlessly watching the television, and parents use it as an excuse to keep their children occupied when they are drinking. It truly is a vicious cycle
It makes sense that one million out of 6 million Nicaraguans have emigrated to Costa Rica in search of work. When I asked Micheal why, he said because it is better work, there are more jobs, and it is safer. But then this leads to international problems. While Nicaraguans are looking for greener pastures, the Costa Ricans are trying to keep the Nicaraguans out, blaming them for theft, murder and taking the locals jobs. After living with a family for one month in Costa Rica, I learned that the problem has lead to racism and escalating violence, a similar story to the immigration problem between the United States and Mexico. Looking at the issue from a Nicaraguan point of view makes the emigration understandable, but causes unfriendly relations over borders. Looking at the issue on our border from both perspectives may alleviate some of the issues we are having as well, but, as always, these things are easier said then done.
Micheal ended the conversation on a happier note, saying “tu hablas muy bien.” That I speak Spanish very well. Hearing this re-establishes the reason I'm down here- to learn Spanish by meeting locals and hearing there stories and perspective. Our hour and half conversation was the longest I had had yet, and while writing this (now about 2.5 months later) I look back on it as a mile stone in my Spanish learning
That night, mother nature gave us an outstanding display of her wrath. The night sky lit up every few seconds for about an hour as the heavens rained down on us, and the earth shook every living organism awake. But once the storm passed over us into the Pacific, a panorama of lightning lit up the sky for the next hour. We sat on the beach in awe of natures beauty and terror.
The next morning we woke to clear, blue skies.
Please enjoy the photos Marshal took, and check out his photo blog as well- http://chupaphotography.wordpress.com/
“Those who visit foreign nations, but associate with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untraveled minds.”
-Charls Caleb Colton, Lacon