Friday, August 02, 2013

San Juan del Sur

Today was the big day. Everyone who had already been here for a week spoke about the sailing trip with reverence for its absolute funness. The drive there was long but eventful. We saw lots of countryside with small but prosperous looking towns. I think that pretty much everywhere we go is prosperous compared to Nejapa, the suburb of Managua where we stay. It was a good showcase of all the crops that grow in the country. We saw sugarcane, corn, and even some swampy rice paddies all pretty close to one another. The city of San Juan del Sur was like Granada in its obvious touristic disposition. I saw a few rare white people in the streets. There was no time for city exploring though. To the ocean!

In a Herculean show of self control, I didn't sing even one verse of the Banana Boat Song.

Now is a good time though. Give me a minute.

View San Juan del Sur in a larger map
The blue dot is marking where San Juan del Sur is located. While I have your geographical attention I think it's a good time to talk about why the US was so interested in meddling with Nicaragua. Before the Panama Canal and the transcontinental railway were constructed, this was a major route to ship people/things between New York and California. Ships would travel the San Juan River until they reached Lake Nicaragua and then the cargo would be transferred across that narrow bit of land near Rivas via stagecoach to reach the Pacific.

In the late 1800's the two candidates for awesome canals were Nicaragua and Panama. Nicaraguan General Jose Zelaya proclaimed that only Nicaragua would have sovereignty over a canal in its territory. So... the US built its canal in Panama. Later Zelaya was in talks to with the Japanese to build a canal to rival ours in Panama. So... we sent in the Marines to oust him from power. While under US occupation Nicaragua was so kind as to sign a treaty granting the US perpetual right to any canal built in Nicaragua. Not because we wanted one, but because we didn't want them to have one. A principal actor in the fight against the US and its Nicaraguan allies was General Augusto Sandino, the cowboy looking gentleman I mentioned being plastered all over the country in my previous post.

While chatting with our friend Emilio he wondered why Americans don't learn about any of this in school. I replied that if we spent time learning about every country we've screwed over the years we probably wouldn't have time to learn about anything else. End Tangent.

We were taxied out to a good size catamaran sailboat. The captain was an amusing character. I think he was Nicaraguan but he had a cool Californian/Hawaiian sort of beach bum way of speaking English which I appreciated. The bow on the package was his Beavis and Butthead t-shirt. I was impressed how short a time it took for the Nicaragua I’d being living in to disappear. There was barely any other sign of life, just beautiful water and beach scenes.

We drifted by a spot with two rocks jutting up from the water a ways out from the beach. It turns out that the two seasons of Survivor that were filmed in Nicaragua took place on this beach. I religiously watched the first couple seasons of that show, so I appreciated that bit of Survivor trivia. A few of us on the boat reminisced that when the show first came out we were crazy about it, but that was before Tivo and watching TV online so we all had to just be in front of the TV at the same time each week. And watch commercials! Gasp! Dark times indeed.

The other crew members spoke English really well also. Not only did they do all the rope pulling that a sailboat requires they served as bartenders and waiters as well. One of the few rules of the Nicaragua trip was no drinking and this was our one day of dispensation. We had a bit of time to swim to shore and mess around. The beach was in movement, with shells moving about on top of hermit crabs. There were some larger bright orange crabs living past the beach line but if you got too close they would scamper into their holes.

On our return journey, when we were approaching the port at San Juan, there were only a few lights to be seen despite the recently set sun. Our captain chimed in that this was because the city’s power was out.

Luckily electricity returned by the time we arrived at the pizza joint.

No comments:

Post a Comment