the travel geek

"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

Rivas Isthmus

As we passed through the Rivas isthmus, our Nicaraguan friend talked about the country and it’s people.

“Nicaraguans are very honest in their communication,” he tells us. “If I were to attend a meal where the food was not good and the host asked me what I thought of the food, I would say, ‘I don’t think the food was very good.’ And, I would tell the host how I think they can improve. Why wouldn’t I do this? How else can people be better? How else will they know to change?”

I’m barely an hour into the country and already I really like the people.

He continues, “The people are honest because of hardship. This is a country of people who have suffered and a country that has been set back many times.”

What immediately springs to mind is the December 23, 1972 earthquake when at 12:29 a.m. an earthquake struck the centre of Nicaragua’s capital city: Managua. This was followed by two more earthquakes in rapid succession. Approximately 5,000-10,000 residents of Managua were instantly killed and 20,000 injured; more than half of the population of the city were left homeless.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch and mudslides killed 4,000 people and left between 500,000 and 800,000 homeless. This particular disaster was further compounded by the uprooting of over 80,000 live land mines left by the Contras during the insurgency against the Sandinista government.

Neither of these, however, can match the impact that politics, war, violence, insurgency and counterinsurgency have had on the country. During our stay we heard many stories, but I’m not sure how this could be quantified.

“All of these things set a people back. Send them back to the beginning.”

These days Nicaragua seems to be very safe. Our friend tells us that, “If someone were to rob or harm a person in the street, the people around would chase and swarm the perpetrator. It is a very honest country.”

We saw nothing to suggest otherwise. All the people we met and talked with were friendly and nice — and very proud of their country. There is also a casual easiness that we found very appealing.

One final off-topic note: the roads in this country are amazing. During our travels we experienced only smooth, pristine and unmarred highway.

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