Jeff and I landed in the capital of Nicaragua on Tuesday at noon after a sleepless red eye flight to Atlanta on Monday night. Blurry-eyed and hungry, we were greeted by our driver from the non-profit we’re working for with the news that the highway to Matagalpa (our final destination) had been shut down due to worker strikes.
“We may or may not get through, but we’ll see.”
We ran into the strikers’ roadblock about an hour into the should-be-two-hour drive. A policeman casually pointed to a dirt road off to the left and noted that the detour should only take about 30 minutes.
Our driver seemed skeptical, but we turned onto the road and began bouncing our way through the farmland.
This ‘detour’ was absolute madness. Part of the strike, apparently, is to make it nearly impossible for trucks to make it anywhere with their goods, and they seriously succeeded. The detour was simply a series of almost impassable one-lane dirt and gravel roads, the kind that farmers use to truck around their fields for maintaince. They are not meant for highway traffic in any way shape or form.
Most of the journey was simply bouncing along the poorly maintained roads (and why would they be maintained? They’re for FARMERS), but at one point we came upon a long line of gridlocked cars, trucks, and vans going in both directions. We couldn’t tell what had happened, but eventually found out that there was a giant mud hole that trucks kept getting stuck in at the corner of one the fields. And if one truck gets stuck, then nobody else can pass by.
This gridlock was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Think terrible Los Angeles traffic with every kind of vehicle you can imagine (cattle trucks, big rigs, teeny cars, big orange school busses, city busses, motor cycles, etc.) except instead of a paved highway, we were all stuck on a totally shady one-lane farmer road trying to crawl past each other without getting stuck in the muddy ditches on either side or get hit by a tumbling, top-heavy truck full of cows.
The detour took an extra two hours, most of the time spent sitting in the gridlock while folks tried to pull each other’s cars and trucks out of the mud holes yelling instructions at each other in Spanish.
Welcome to Latin America.
But our final destination is the BEAUTIFUL city of Matagalpa, a smallish town tucked into the mountains and surrounded by rain forest. Our hotel is an adorable coffee plantation 2,000 feet above the city, and our rooms are teeny cabinas with one of those showers with a rain shower spout.
Yeah. It’s pretty cool.
Yesterday, we spent our first day shooting around the colorful but poor city. Our job is to capture the environment, the feel of the city, and the heart of the people.
At one point, we got to chat with a cute little family (we had a translator thank goodness! My crippled Spanish would totally get us in trouble!) and the boys LOVED our cameras.
The best way to get kids to open up? Let them be a part of the photo process.
Not too shabby!
One of my favorites!
Mom let us inside their teeny, one room dirt floor house, built together with scrap metal and wood and inhabited by a single noisy chicken.
After saying goodbye to the family, we drove up into the hills to get a great view of the city and stopped for some street tacos.
Like most Latin American towns, the streets are ripe with color and activity.
And filled with beautiful people.
We’ll be here in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, until Sunday, and there’s so much more to experience! And so much more Spanish to learn – ha!