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So many emotions are flowing through me. I left Ometepe and saying goodbye is never easy. I had mixed feelings, because I was also looking forward to the rest of my trip. Anyway, I took the ferry and on the other side there was a local friend picking me up, to share a few days together. I had no expectations and it was great. We went to a deserted beach in the south of the country (playa el coco). A pretty wide, long stretched beach, with no bars or restaurants, just a few private houses and one accommodation. They had an apartment with a very comfy bed, a little kitchen and a balcony right on the beach. Our balcony was actually the only one that you could see clearly being in the sea or from further away. Also we got very lucky when we found out they were releasing little baby turtles onto the beach into the water. An interesting spectacle that is difficult to encounter. And now I am on that tiny, car-less bounty island that I talked about in my previous blog.
Nicaragua is a poor country, with lovely, humble and genuine people.
Poverty doesn’t mean that everyone lives in little huts without proper hygiene and food. You will see people with smart phones, nicely dressed and clean. Although many people appear to have a good life, many still have problems with getting by in daily life. People have big families, haven’t learned a lot yet about family planning and it’s important for them to have new stuff (clothes for example) and look good. Who wants to look like they’re poor?
Asides from that, you don’t earn a lot when you actually have a job, either in a company (a little bit more) or working on a (family) farm 6 days a week from early morning to afternoon. Also there are men who don’t have a job and drink a lot. Alcoholism is a problem everywhere.
The reason I came to this subject is the following: this morning I was having breakfast at a local restaurant and I had a chat with the owner. Before I’d already noticed that the restaurant had been quite empty. She explained me she just had a baby and her pregnancy had been complicated. She was on and off in the hospital for 9 months (hospital on the bigger island and on the main land). Because of that the restaurant was closed for a long time. She also talked about the competition on this tiny island. Her neighbour also has a restaurant, selling the same things and they agreed on asking the same price for the food (they are even family). But in the end the neighbour lowered the price to attract more customers than her. Asides from that, she cannot speak English, which makes it harder to attract tourists and have them to come back. She and her family have a hard time getting by. I’ve supported her a little with positive reviews and changing the menu. Hopefully it helps.
Also: I’m not sure about the organization of health care here. I just now that a friend with several children had problems buying treatment for her ill baby and her other ill kids. Talking about poverty and not being able to receive the necessary care to stay healthy.
There used to be a centre on the island of Ometepe for children with disabilities (day care and professional help), but because the government closed almost all NGO’s, also this one was closed. Now these children have to be taken care of at their own home. They have difficult behaviours and one of the family members always has to be present to watch and take care of the child. I noticed this when I was visiting a family with a child with a mental disability. It wasn’t easy.
People live day by day, in the moment. Sometimes something brakes, like a fridge (if they already have one) or for example a phone, and they don’t have the money to repair it. The device will just sit there, waiting to be repaired or to be thrown away all together; waiting for the next device to come along.
There’s so much more to tell, but this is just an attempt to describe what’s invisible from the outside.
It is very difficult to change behaviour patterns that are so deeply carved into society. Patriarchal society. And who are we wanting to change something somewhere in a culture and country that’s so far away from our own?
I already feel very grateful having given the chance here to make a difference in just a few people’s lives.
I’d like to end with illustrating my life at the moment:
I just finished writing this blog (on my phone) and I’m at a really good restaurant. I ate vegetarian tacos and had a brownie for dessert. I am on the beach and look out at the sea. Now I will go for a walk and then I’ll be going diving. Later I’ll sit down again for food, maybe a piña colada and probably a nice chat with a local or another traveler.
In 2 days I’ll be going to the bigger island for one night, where I’ll be taking my flight the next day (Thursday) in the morning to Managua. In Managua I’ll be meeting a friend again (how nice), while waiting to take my flight home (first Panama, then Amsterdam). Good thing spring started at home. Can’t wait!