Monday, May 4, 2015

Icon Key, 3/30/86 & 3/31/86

Icon Key

I use the following icons in this book; here’s what they mean.

Fuck This! Wrong thinking, bad ideas.

Seeds for Germination: Ideas that penetrated my subconscious and later had an impact on my life.

Upon Reflection: Seeing my actions from a distance has helped me gain a clearer understanding of what was happening in different situations.

Fun Size History: A quick overview meant to aid in the understanding of the diary.

3/30/86, Sunday

The flight boarded late but we’re finally on the plane. At last on my way to Nicaragua! I’m so excited that even though almost everyone on the plane is sleeping I can’t keep my eyelids shut. It’s almost 1:00am and I’m really tired but I can’t settle down.

A few minutes ago I put my head back and closed my eyes trying to relax and doze but I heard the two men behind me talking. I know it’s rude to listen but their conversation drew me in. I heard an inquisitive traveler ask his neighbor where he was heading.

“I’m catching a connecting flight down to Central America,” the neighbor replied. 

I, too was catching a connecting flight to Central America, so his response piqued my interest. I was tempted to turn around and make friends with him right away. Maybe he was going to the Nica school, too! Thank god for the little bit of impulse control that kept me from doing that. The inquisitive traveler continued asking questions.

“What takes you to Central America?”

“I’m on assignment. We’re doing some training down there in Honduras and Nicaragua.”

I realized that the man behind me was going to work with the Contras. I was on my way to help the Sandinistas, he was on his way to train their killers.

3/31/86, Monday

On the flight from Houston to Nicaragua I finally dozed a bit but I never really fell asleep, so I arrived in Managua groggy, somewhat dazed, and sticky after a passenger spilled her orange juice on me. I hate being sticky.

Managua airport is tiny, the size of a small town airport in the U.S. but it was teeming with soldiers, all carrying automatic rifles. I was already disoriented and this was completely intimidating to me. I’m not used to being interrogated by armed soldiers. It snapped me into the reality of this place. This is a country at war.

I walked out into the waiting area hoping to see a representative from the school but nobody was there. I walked all over the small airport but I couldn't find any Escuela Nica personnel and after awhile I started to worry that the whole school for internationalists was one big scam and that now I’d be stranded in a foreign country where I didn't know a soul.

I sat on a bench, waiting and hoping someone would show up. I felt like I was dreaming but I started to plan what I would do if I had to make it work on my own. I figured I could grab a taxi and get myself to a hotel and then try to sort it out. Luckily, the rep from Escuela Nica finally did show up. He was half an hour late but I was so happy to see him that I didn't care!

Now I’m suffering from serious culture shock. Driving through Managua for the first time really makes me feel as though I haven’t seen much of the world. I've been to Europe and I've traveled all over Mexico but only as a tourist going to museums or historical sites...not like this. This is not a place for tourists. 

Everywhere you look there are battle scars: the skeletons of bombed buildings, facades left standing over the ruins of old factories, warehouses and office buildings that have been reduced to piles of rubble. Nothing is new, everything looks ancient or on the verge of breaking down. Sidewalks crowded with people, waiting to catch a ride on buses already groaning under the burden of even more people hanging off the sides and riding on top. 
Hitchhikers trying to catch a ride on military trucks. And poverty everywhere.

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