Nicaragua Begins!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Friday, February 9, 2007

Again, the border crossing is easy and we´re crammed on a chicken bus heading south. The landscape is very green, and we can´t help thinking of the people who lived in these mountains during the civil war. Maybe it´s our imagination, but the locals seem a little more closed and sullen than Honduras - a war will do that.

We arrive in Ocotal and there are more beggars than we´re accustomed to. We leave the café at the bus station noticing that every last scrap of meat from our chicken bones is being voraciously polished off by an old man and young boy.

Ocotal is a pleasant, unremarkable town, with a central plaza and a well-preserved colonial church. We meet Juan-Jose a French-Canadian who has lived and worked in Central America for 11 years, a man with an intense dislike for the United States and its interference in the region´s politics. He is critical of the Peace Corp, which he says imposes the American private-enterprise structure in the local economy in return for providing assistance. He maintains that collective-based existence (a socialist idea) is more successful in Central America and suits the nature of the people better.

Although not immediately obvious to us, he says there are many social problems resulting fom the civil war. People displaced, missing, and ex-soldiers trying to deal with the reality of normal life through alcohol - a familiar story for Australians with the legacy of the Vietnam war.

We buy him dinner ($1-2) in exchange for the local knowledge, and drink a local beer together.
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