In writing, the temptation to be dramatic is always there. I feel that temptation more than ever after returning from Nicaragua, where the ingredients for embellishment are plentiful. The story-teller in me wants to take advantage of that – to use Nicaragua’s reputation to make profound statements or important-sounding conclusions.
But I don’t have any. I saw and felt a lot of things on my 11-day trip: I spoke with and interviewed people who have lived off trash for generations; I helped a girl with polio buy a bike so her dad can take her to treatment twice a week; invested in a jewelry cooperative that will help some of Nicaragua’s poorest women have a new source of income; I proposed to my girlfriend on a large lake at sunset with two volcanoes behind us; I danced with her on a mountain farm deep in Nicaragua’s interior beneath undiluted stars and above a shifting blanket of lightning bugs; I interviewed taxi drivers, farmers, surfers, hostel owners, those who love the government and those who hate it, volunteers, and nurses.
I won’t strain to give conclusions where I don’t have them or pretend to know things I don’t. At the end of 11 days I have more questions than answers and even now the experience of this trip begins to fade. As I settle back into my routine, get used to paying high prices, taking warm showers, and sleeping in trusted beds, I feel the urgency to get my thoughts onto paper before they become diluted and insincere. Nicaragua is a troubled country. It has been through earth shaking changes over the last 50 years. It is also complex and difficult to understand. My only task as a writer is to say what I saw. I’ll introduce you to the people I met, show you the sights, and paint of vivid picture of some of the issues that confront them.
Steinbeck had the same approach when writing about the South during the time of segregation:
With all the polls and opinion posts, with newspapers more opinion than news so that we no longer know one from the other, I want to be very clear about one thing. I have not intended to present, nor do I think I have presented, any kind of cross-section so that a reader can say, “He thinks he has presented a true picture of the South.” I don’t. I’ve only told what a few people said to me and what I saw. I don’t know whether they were typical or whether any conclusion can be drawn. But I do know it is a troubled place and a people caught in a jam.
– Travels with Charley
I bring you the honest observations of a curious man: a short travel memoir about my second trip to Nicaragua.
A short overview of the trip:
We were in the country for 11 days, visited Ometepe, San Juan del Sur, Managua, Rio Blanco, and a few towns around those areas. Our goal was to experience Nicaragua and its people, find some people to help with donations given by readers, and learn something new. We arrived in the country with few fixed plans, leaving the trip open to spontaneity. The result can be found in the pages to come 🙂