Friday, March 28, 2008

Punta Mayalas

My second day in Plan territory I explored and photographed some other Plan communities and projects including the community of Punta Mayalas on the east shore of Lac Nicaragua. It is 26km from Juigalpa along one of the worst roads I have ever encountered. This has to be one of the poorest communities that I have ever seen. Houses are basically shacks but at least most have new latrines courtesy of Plan. Surprisingly the people appear happy despite their daily struggle.

The beauty of the place cannot be described. In the distance, no less than 3 volcanos can be seen, one of them active on the Island of Ometebe. The only livelihood in the village is fishing and one of the reasons we were here was to eat fish. Apparently people come from miles around to eat here despite the kidney jarring trip to get here. 

We chose our own fish from the icebox and it arrived whole and headed. I ate most of mine but my Nicaraguan friends sucked every bone clean including the skull. I went and took photos not wanting to witness the pure joy that they were experiencing.

On the way back we took a detour to visit the Mayalas Nature Reserve located at the junction of the Rio Mayalas and Lac Nicaragua. What an incredible place. Bird life in numbers that I have never witnessed before waded, flew, and just generally hung out. We were given a free boat ride upriver where we saw numerous birds and I got some great photos including a stunning photo of a huge Egret shadowed by the Ometebe volcano.

All good things must come to an end and we headed back to Granada, passing on the way through Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, a place that guide books and previous visitors told me to avoid. What a hole of despair. Rivers were flowing with garbage, every available space was covered in bad grafitti, emanciated dogs ran free everywhere, the streets were filthy, the housing mostly shacks apart from the rich areas and the people basically bored with nothing to do. The pollution from the numerous buses and moto cabs was intense. We quickly passed through and I was back to Granada, a haven of colonial tranquility in a mad Nicaraguan world. There I ran into John Oliver, my rastafarian street artist friend who has slowly been telling me his story. Tonights chapter was the time he fought with the Contra´s in Nicaragua´s civil war. As he explained, you either fought for the Contra´s or the Sandanista´s or one of them killed you. Pretty hard to imagine but that is Nicaragua!