In one week we will have been traveling for 11 months. Today was one of the best & worst days. Let me explain. It is not that today was so much different than other days, except that I didn’t have any particular place to go. I rode by myself, as Gaila and the OverlandingTheWorld.com crew (Jeff & Monica) lounged by the pool recouping from their reggae party extravaganza. I was really tired from being in the sun much of the day and was quite enjoying my book so I stayed home for the deep dive and missed the drink fest.
Maybe it was completing this particular book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man or maybe it was the culmination of months south of the border so things could finally set in my brain or perhaps just maybe, things were just this bad. I suspect it was all of the above.
I set out with a simple plan to explore and adventure ride away from our one week base camp at Playa Gigante
. Ultimately I needed to end up in Rivas were I would hopefully find some proper motorcycle oil to give the girls a little love. (Lucille my F800GS & Sassy Pants Tona, Gaila’s F650GS) Sadly, I did not score the oil I was seeking but I did secure an awesome ride and a good soul searching. First the ride – lots and lots of loose dirt, gravel, rocks, dry river crossings and one small wet one. It is super hot and dry here right now as we are in the “windy” season. And it is!!
A couple of times my front wheel lifted or washed a bit with heavy gusts. Couldn’t decide if bike was better or worse without the side bags. Some steep hills, blind corners with trucks and normal mammal dodging.
You know, the usual: dogs, horses, donkeys, pigs and chickens. Only this time add some very large Ox carts too. They are everywhere off the beaten path in Nicaragua.
What really made the biggest impression today was the poverty. As before, we have seen it in many places but today it sank in and hit home. Perhaps it was shock of coming back from Costa Rica and Panama. Yes to some degree that is it, but they have poverty there too. It just seems so much less. Well, not the slums of Panama City
. Frankly, that is a story in it’s own right as PC has one of the most impressive skylines I have ever seen and yet the tragedy and presence of their slums can not be ignored.
But back to today. Seeing sheds for homes, not even having a real roof and sometimes random boards, tarp or sticks for walls just drives a point home. Naked kids and whole families piled into one hammock was a visual I can’t get out of my head. Starving animals and constant strays are a never ending stream of eaters trying to find any good piece of vegetation or scrap food to consume. Often from the roadside trash left or burning in so many places.
And yet, so many smiling faces. Especially if I offer a wave, a smile or a honk of hello – a common means of communication south of the border. (Honks are seldom in anger, rather meant as a “Hi hello, or go ahead or sometimes coming through if needed, but not as a way of showing frustration etc.)
Seeing the well dressed children in nice white shirts and pants walking to or from school made me smile every time. I think it is the hope and continued need for improving educational systems that offer the greatest promise. Sadly, while volunteering
in Mexico, we learned that not every kid goes every day and the actual schools themselves are lacking in so much.
Today I am actually feeling guilty. Guilty about not being able to speak Spanish and even more guilty for the few things I have with me. I know that even my little tent and bike life is nicer than so many homes. In my brain I am trying to come to terms with how I could even help. What should I do? More importantly, what would they want me to do???
It seems that handing my way of life over would by myopic, but surely there is something like more education, better paying jobs and real waste disposal or clean water that might make a difference I don’t want my life for them – or anyone else for that matter – but I do want children and families to have a chance, to have the fundamentals that give them choice to build the life they want and the happiness deserved. Such an important topic that deserves so much time and consideration.
At this moment I am resolved to continue a program of Do Good As You Go
, supporting programs like Riders For Health
and just doing my best to be a kind and positive ambassador.
After a good sleep I woke with the same conflicted feelings this morning. Yes, it is another beautiful morning (albeit windy) here in wonderful Nicaragua. I wonder what the world will show me today? On the simple side it will be time maintaining the bikes, posting this blog and checking emails. A walk to town and the beach will give me new sights and sounds for the day. I hope we can meet some more real locals and learn about how they feel when gringos invade…