This man is a pimp.
Not in the way we use that word in High School – “Ah, man! That’s so pimp!” Literally, this kid sells women for a profit.
The first time I was in San Juan del Sur, one of the first kids who talked to me called me over and said, “Hey! ¿Como está, amigo? ¿Te gustan las chicas Nicas?” (“Hey, how are you, friend? Do you like Nicaraguan girls?”)
Tonight, Britney and I were eating dinner and we saw this fine chap. He came up to the 2nd floor of the restaurant, which we were enjoying just fine by ourselves, sat down, and started making out with one of the girls. He was wearing a ridiculous vest that showed his chest and abs, and, based off my first experience, I assumed he was a pimp and the girls were prostitutes. I faked like I was taking a picture of Britney and I, from different angles, and snapped this photo, and then we asked our waiter. He tilted his head and scowled, wondering why I was asking, but after I assured him I was “just curious” he admitted that he new the guy and was pretty sure he was, indeed, a pimp.
I saw an elderly lady, she looked around 75 but was probably 55 or so, who was sorting through trash to find cans and bottles to sell for 9 Córdobas a pound (about $.375). She usually gets between 3 to 9 pounds a day, using a walker to get around from restaurant to restaurant. She doesn’t have any family in the area, but is likely here because tourism makes it easier to survive. I told her to meet me at 5:00 and I’d buy her a meal, chat with her, and pay for her taxi ride to the outskirts of town. I was planning on spending about $25 on supplies for her as well – whatever she thought she needed. She wasn’t there, probably not trusting that I would be either – if I wasn’t, and she waited, she’d have to make the long walk home in the dark.
The girl we helped yesterday – Mariselda – her father rents out an acre and a half of land for 2,500 Córdobas a year and makes about 5,000 Córdobas a year from his crops – beans, corn, and rice. His seven brothers help him with his harvest and he helps them.
The taxi driver who picked us up from the ferry today made $24 (576 Córdobas) to take us for the 45 minute ride to San Juan del Sur (we split the cab with some other Americans). He pays 180 Córdobas a month to be part of the cooperative that operates out of the ferry area, and pays them about 30% of each taxi fare as well.
Those are just some random facts, in case you’re as interested as I am.
Many Nicaraguan youth leave their families and migrate to Costa Rica to find work, unable to scratch out a living here.
A million people make a million different decisions based on what they know and what they think will benefit them and their family. A strong economy would do more for these people than any social program. I’m happy to do what I can to help individual people, though I’m even happier to see successful organizations like Project Schoolhouse and Comunidad Connect that have a consistent and long-term impact.
I’d be happier if we all weren’t needed, if the economy were strong, if these people each had opportunity.
Idealism, socialism, and militant control have left deep scars in Beautiful Nicaragua.
On a lighter note, the beach in SJDS is absolutely beautiful. As the tide went out and the beach grew, locals grouped together and played fútbol until dark. The brief but warm rain made the sand glisten even more against the light of the setting sun.
(p.s. – I’m not trying to give a bad rep to San Juan del Sur by pointing out the pimp. This place is fantastic. Tourism, unfortunately, attracts a different type of economics which can be very good, and most often is, but can also be very bad. 99.99% of them are great, sincere, happy, and awesome people and the town is very safe.)