A House Sit During a Revolution. It’s Not for Everyone
It’s not the violence, closed stores, lack of food or blockades that make this house sit a challenge. It’s the rumors and uncertainty which take a toll.
Not knowing what today or tomorrow will bring is what works on your nerves and you psyche. Whether it will be safe to venture to the store, or if the armed gangs will be sweeping by to clear local roadways or vans appearing and people disappearing.
The locals have been through this before. They’re stoic.
They put up a food stand, where yesterday they had been forced to close, or they move to another location and then another food stand pops up. Basically, in moments, an instant market-place appears on the streets.
They all still have smiles on their faces and our respect for the people grows daily. They have so little, and yet, even when forces out their control conspire to take it from them, they continue with the same resolve.
Children come out of the woodwork, begging for their families. It’s heartbreaking to say no to them but we help where we can.
“Don’t Go Out Today” A National Strike Looms
We’re one week into the house sit. We know a national strike is scheduled for Wednesday, so we use
today, Monday, to stockpile food and supplies.
The thing about language is that words mean different things in different languages.
“Strike”, to me, means workers taking a day off to protest working conditions.
In Nicaragua, it means “to strike” as in, to hit.
That means on Wednesday, while some people remain home from work, other people will create violent, chaotic encounters with the authorities.
We’re going to stay home on Wednesday.
By Monday evening, gas stations were out of product, locals begin to line up with jerry cans and motorcycles, and there’d been a run on the grocery stores. Not a lot on the shelves.
Miguel, our interpreter and primary contact in an emergency, called us Wednesday morning to let us know that the house-keeper couldn’t get into town – no bus.
He also gave us some friendly advice: “Don’t go out today. To be safe, you must stay home”.
Be Afraid of the Dark
We have no idea what nightfall will bring and there’s nothing we can do to stop anything from happening.
The standard operating procedure for “gringos” is to not go out at night.
This rule is adopted by the local population and most of them don’t go out after 5pm.
All daily business is generally concluded by dusk because the paramilitary may be coming.
Every day there’re rumors.
Rumor or not, we adopt the curfew plan because at night, things get weird with mortars, shootings, arson, kidnappings and the like.
We imagine this house sit is a bit like house arrest.
Tonight, we’ve got a plan. Pasta, wine and live-streaming the Stanley Cup Finals. We are, after all, Canadian. Here in the casa, things are okay.
Revolution Survival Tip: Keep a low profile.
A New Day
What’s sad is watching a population being terrorized by their national government.
What’s uplifting is watching the locals get up and start putting their city back together with no help from the authorities. They’re literally on their own.
Do they complain? Nope, they simply get through the night and then together, start to put things back in place. The cool part? Smiles. People remain friendly.
They shrug off the destruction and hardships and keep on going.
The British, were they around, would be impressed by the way the Nicaraguan people are handling the adversity.
We’re truly amazed at how things change from day today.
Today, video and the news, show that downtown clean-up is well underway and there’re a lot of people on the streets.
That said, we don’t really know what’s happening.
While unnerved, we don’t feel threatened and, in fact, are quite comfortable.
Our neighbors are cool, and we’ve managed to make a few acquaintances.
The pool’s refreshing, the dog’s a blast, the cerveza is cold and the pantry’s stocked for 10 days.
Big Brother’s Watching
There was a post in one of the expat Facebook groups. It told how their internet connection was hacked by a government aligned group.
This morning, while tending to email, our internet is momentarily interrupted. When I look at the network settings, our network has been renamed to: Take Down the Barricades.
So, our network has been hacked. Does that mean the government is reading our posts and emails?
We get things sorted network wise and decide that moving forward, when asked about how things are going, our answer will be that “the situation’s fluid”.
The law in Nicaragua is that foreigners cannot comment on the government. As we’ve no interest in jail or deportation, it’s time to be very careful with our online commentary.
Rumor, Innuendo and The Net
Facebook groups are full of “information” about road blocks, protests, violence and predictions. In the beginning, we have some faith that social media and the news offer us a glimpse of what’s happening.
It’s great to get information but it’s odd that the “bad-guys” advertise where they plan on striking.
The scuttlebutt is that tonight the two big grocery stores are going to be hit, that’s why we did a grocery run.
We didn’t really need them, but what the hell, in this case, more is better.
Last night, some bad-guys took a run at a small local store, but the neighbourhood stood tall. Don’t screw with people’s food. Bad guys 0 – local families 1.
On Sunday, the threat was to the main Mercado. Apparently, the plan was to torch it but, as happens, an accord was reached. The grapevine has it that a protection” fee was extorted.
We wonder why the police aren’t involved. Turns out they are, but on the side of the bad guys, not the good guys.
If you’ve ever wondered what anarchy looks like, come to Nicaragua.
The Weekly Ex-Pat Social
We’ve been here for one week and this is our second get together with the ex-pats.
Every Friday, the group gets together for a social evening; however, as going out at night means risk of death due to snipers, these dinners have become lunches.
Today, we’ve got a group of near 35 people.
These lunches are held at different restaurants so that the cash flow is spread around. We doubt it’ll make a difference, but we can hope.
While we enjoyed our lunch, the eatery across the street packed up and shut their doors. Every day, another business closes and the unemployment rate climbs.
Our last expat luncheon was held at a restaurant that has now closed.
Open Roads, More Social Life
Today, many roadblocks came down so getting into town is a lot easier.
We’re not sure why the roadblocks are down, but don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.
Our house-sitting friends made it into town and together we went for pizza at the only restaurant we could find open.
Good thing we don’t need gas, the line-up’s literally 5 blocks long.
In truth, it’s the only “open” gas station we could find.
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