Nicaragua

    I never much liked the word “vacation.”  Sure… the implication is wonderful.  Vacant.  Devoid of the stress and worry of real life.  It can be that way.  When you’re lying on the right stretch of beach, doglegged just enough around a grove of exotic trees to obscure the other tourists and most of the locals.  When the breaking waves mask the squeals of nearby children.  When your only concerns are a dry towel and enough liquid refreshment.  Even the towel is optional given the right sand.

    But that’s just the implication.  The reality is an unfamiliar landscape of responsibility.  The plane.  The transportation.  The hostel.  The literal burden of a fully stuffed backpacking frame.  And your traveling companions.  Maybe the Europeans that prefer the word “Holiday” have it right.  Most vacations I’ve been on have felt more like Thanksgiving dinner than transcendental meditation.  I play mediator more than sightseer, and pick more fights than seashells.  It’s cabin fever, only the cabin follows you wherever you go.

    In Nicaragua.  In San Juan del Sur.  I was given two days of perfect mental vacancy.  After two days the others were ready to move on.  We were on a schedule.  Three weeks, that was the deadline.  A checklist to rival year’s worth of actual work blotted my vision.  See.  Photograph.  Move.  Repeat.  I couldn’t be bothered with the planning, so I sang.  We sang.

    Ometempe by morning…

    Up from South San Juan…

    Everything that I got…

    Is just what I got on…

 

    Hours of buses, ferries, and securing a bed for the night.  Each task accompanied by heat and the pressing weight of shoulder straps.  There are no real beaches on Isla Ometempe, only Volcanoes: the extinct Maderas and the immaculate Concepcion.   It was for the latter we had come.  To ascend the slumbering cone until just below its peak and bathe in the hundred foot waterfall that could be found there.  To disappear, if just for a day, inside the rarest of ecologies: the Cloud Forest.  It was a short hike, no more than two miles, but in one-hundred and ten degree weather, backpack getting heavier with each step, you could really feel climb.

    The others flitted up the trail.  Everything moving slower in heat distorted air.  Like a lagging computer, their images resolving farther in the distance with every second.  I adore a walk on level terrain, but here I faltered.  Too bashful to remain at the hostel, I was left behind nonetheless.  Grumbling.  Whining.  Wheezing.  The effort of my legs yielded glorious results.  The effort of my mind only bitterness.

    I remember scrolling through the images on the camera’s display, disappointed by my camera’s inability to capture the breadth of Concepcion’s waterfall.  It was a vision—a presence—that refused to be comprehended by any unwilling to make the climb.  Except me.  I had been unwilling.  I made the climb anyway.

    After Nicaragua.  On the plane to Seattle.  In the car ride across the flatlands of Eastern Washington. The others continued to drift away.  Like family members pushing away from the table, bellies full of turkey and gravy; we knew each other well… and hated each other all the more.  I did.  I fled.  Righteous in my contentment to be free.  To stop following.

    I’ve never much liked pictures either.  They never turn out the way you want them to.  I only took the shots I did out of boredom.  No.  Out of fear.  Fear that my unease would spoil another’s joy.  So why should these imperfect images affect me so much?

I barely remember the idyllic lagoon.  Shaded beneath plantain trees emitting the kind of comforting immensity a small child feels from their parents.  It was hardly a hidden location.  The bartender was absent, so too were the rest of the tourists.   The bird refuge is a similar blur.  And the children missing school to hunt turtles for dinner.  I only remember the climb.  Resolving in my mind identical to the digital image before me.  A handful of backs, fading into the distance.

    Because they drifted away.  Because I let them.  Asked them to.  They vanished into the shimmering heat.  Into the future.  Only now, seven years later.  Now, when I am no longer vacant.  The memories of Ometempe make me courageous.  Enough to reach out.  To call out.  To catch up.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Lisa Niver Thailand Koh Lipe Sunset Beach 2014

Thank you to all the writers who participated in the 2014 Gratitude Writing Contest! I hope you will choose to share your stories. The 2015 Independence Writing Contest will open in May 2015 and close on July 4, 2015.  The 2015 Inspiration Writing Contest entries are being published and the winners will be announced in June. Over sixteen hundred writers from over seventy-five countries have written about their experiences and transformations all over our planet in the last six contests.

Lisa Niver Thailand Koh Lipe Sunset Beach 2014

AND THE WINNERS ARE:

First Place Winner:  

THE MUSINGS OF A BACKPACKER IN CANADA

 by 

Second Place Winner:

THE LAST LONG DAY IN NEPAL

 by 

Third Place Winner:

CLOTHES TO GROW INTO IN NICARAGUA

 by 

WSGT Writer Credly

The We Said Go Travel Team thanks everyone who shared, tweeted, promoted and participated in our Travel Writing Contests. We hope you will join in our next  Travel Writing Contest.

Thank you to our esteemed judges!

Richard Bangs, the father of modern adventure travel, is a pioneer in travel that makes a difference, travel with a purpose. He has spent 30 years as an explorer and communicator, and along the way led first descents of 35 rivers around the globe, he is currently producing and hosting the new PBS series, Richard Bangs: Adventure Without End

AnneLise Sorensen is a travel writer, editor, photographer, and TV/radio host who has penned – and wine-tasted – her way across four continents, reporting for multiple media outlets, including New York Magazine, MSN, Time Out, Yahoo Travel, Rough Guides, Gourmet, and Galavante. AnneLise regularly appears as a travel expert on NBC and CNN and she teaches popular travel writing classes and workshops at Mediabistro and travel events and shows.

Thank you for your participation in creating a growing global community of engaged travelers and concerned citizens.

 Other Contests, Courses and Books about Travel Writing

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED! 

I hate spiders.  Hate them.  With a passion.  Yet, that first morning in Nicaragua, after sleeping only three hours following a delayed flight from the United States, I stepped into the eco-hotel’s bathroom…and a spider was exactly what I saw.  Brown, hairy, and huge, that awful thing could have eaten a small child.  Or at least a small mouse.

 

‘Welcome to Nicaragua,’ I thought, my eyes bleary, my mind weary, as I turned on the shower, careful to give Mr. Arachnid a wide berth.  He disappeared beneath an area rug, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  Thank heavens the water was warm.

 

Mindful of Nicaragua’s water shortages, however, I ended my shower only three minutes later–a record, in my mind, given that showers at home routinely last ten minutes or longer.  Anxiously peering out of the shower, I noted that the spider had vanished completely.  Good.  With my confidence bolstered and a wide smile on my face, I left the bathroom and awoke my eight-year-old daughter.  Our two-week sojourn in the Western Hemisphere’s second-poorest nation had begun.

 

While I hadn’t anticipated my early morning meeting with the pico caballo spider (absolutely harmless, I later learned), neither had I expected the delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs, and coffee awaiting my daughter and me in the hotel’s open air dining area.  Or, now that the sun had risen, the stunningly lush jungle greenery surrounding the eco-hotel.  I hadn’t known that Nicaraguans were so warm and friendly, that hearing the rooster crow at 4 a.m. and sleeping beneath mosquito netting would soon feel natural, or that, the following week when a monkey grabbed my daughter’s flowery summer skirt and left a muddy handprint, my initial reaction would be ‘that mark will be a pain to scrub out.’  Given all laundry was washed by hand, my assessment of what constituted “clean” and “dirty” had rapidly changed.

 

Oh, the things I discovered about this beautiful, yet impoverished country–and about myself.

 

Changed, too, were my perceptions of poverty.  In the United States, all but the poorest of the poor have cell phones and flat screen televisions.  No one washes laundry by hand or lives in a home with a dirt floor (if they do, they are the rarest of exceptions).  All children, regardless of socioeconomic status, receive an education.

 

Not so for the children of Nicaragua.

 

I spied two such children just a few days before my daughter and I returned home.  We had been lounging on the hammocks in the eco-hotel, visiting with the other travelers, when we heard the tell-tale sounds of the ice cream man coming down the lane.  My daughter had turned to me, asking, “Mom, may I please have some cordobas for ice cream?”  The ice cream bars were nothing special; at home, we could walk by the same ones at the grocery store without giving them a second glance.  But here, they’d become a treasured treat.

 

I’d nodded, and as we’d happily joined the other travelers outside the protective walls of the eco-hotel to purchase our ice cream, that’s when I saw two boys sitting along the roadside.  With dirt-streaked faces, the younger of the two appeared to be four years old; the older, perhaps twelve or thirteen.  Their clothes were faded and torn–not even fit for a rag bag.  Behind them stood a man, presumably their father.  He may have been my age (31)–or younger.  Beneath the dirt coating his face, it was tough to tell.

 

‘It’s a school day,’ I thought, as my daughter and I joined the ice cream line.  Why weren’t these boys in school?

 

Because, I later learned, they were farm workers.  Field hands.  Their labor was needed to help support their family.  But, for now, they silently watched as foreigners like me shelled out money enough to purchase one, two, three days’ worth of rice on something as frivolous as ice cream.  My fear of Nicaraguan spiders paled in comparison to the worries these boys must daily encounter.

 

Pulling my daughter from the ice cream line, we approached the boys.  I saw a flicker of curiosity in the older boy’s eyes, uncertainty in the younger’s.  I knelt before him, asking in Spanish if he’d like some ice cream.  Shyly, he nodded.  My daughter led him over to the ice cream man, he politely made his selection, and then I posed the same question to his older brother.  He, too, nodded.  Though I saw astonishment light his eyes as he selected his ice cream, as he sampled that first delectable lick, he maintained a composure found in few adults. Both boys politely thanked me.

 

From an outsider’s perspective, it may look as though I saved those boys’ day.  But, to be honest, they saved mine.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

 

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I memorized all English-language warnings before I left.  Keep your important documents in a money belt close to your body.  Bring change so you don’t have to pull out a large bill.  Don’t wear jewelry or nice clothing.  Carry your backpack on the front of your body so it cannot get yanked or cut away.  Never walk alone.  Don’t hang your camera around your neck.  Never leave your hotel at night.  Yet, there I was, in a town square, snapping pictures of a church when I realized I had lost my friends.  I was alone in a strange and dangerous city.

I sat down on a bench hoping they would find me if I just didn’t move.  Despite my dirty-hostel-staying hair and complete lack of jewelry, I was approached by everyone: the lady with the watermelon slices she carried on top of her head, the man with heavy blankets draped over his arms and his shoulders, the guy pushing a homemade, rather broken cart full of candy, the woman with an overflowing handful of plastic bags filled with juice.  And I rigidly refused each of them, covering my money belt and hiding my camera.

A young boy approaches me and asks me what I am doing.  I guess he’s about eight years old wearing clothes he can grow into.  I tell him that I lost my friends.  “They will come back for you,” he assures me.  “Don’t be scared.”  Its adorable, his concern for me and I’m surprised that he can read my fear.   My pale skin and weird hair did not frighten him away, however, and this oddly puts me at ease.  And then he asks if he can shine my shoes.

“No,” I say, trying to smile, “These are sandals.  You can’t shine sandals.”  I wanted him to go away, but I wanted him to stay.  I wished he was just a kid.  I could not, with any sense of justice, let this child shine my shoes.  “You will see”, he says, “I will make them beautiful.  Please.”

I swear I felt my heart turn to lead when I handed him the filthy sandal.

But then I thought of the many times when I, as a kid, would earn a quarter and run with joy to the store around the corner to buy some candy, remembering how it felt to skip back to my street with a little brown bag stuffed full of glorious, sweet, colorful sugar.  While he scuffs and wipes, I try my best to talk to him about kid stuff in broken Spanish.  He kindly corrects my words without judgment, like no adult ever would.

Another younger boy comes over, his brother.  He seems shy or suspicious of me and sits a safe distance away, sneaking glances in my direction, but never making direct eye contact.  I don’t blame him; I don’t look like anyone else around here.  How old is your little brother?  “No sé”; I don’t know.  Well, how old are you?  “No sé.”  When is your birthday?  “No sé”, he shrugs casually.

My friends find me and the boy is genuinely as happy about this as I am.  Even the tiny one lets out a sly half-smile.  We pour coins into their hands, more than the cost, but much less than we could spare.  And we ask, “What are you going to buy?”  He looked up, smiling huge, the way I must have smiled on my way to the candy store with a quarter, and he replied, “I’m going to get shoes someday”.  My eyes dropped and for the first time I noticed his bare feet.  And my head just remained fixed in that downward position.  He did not ask to shine anymore shoes and he just walked away across the hot cement with his wooden kit in his hand and his silent little brother a few paces behind.

I realized then that all the fear-inspiring travel warnings I had been adhering to had ironically been what robbed me.   Holding on so tightly to what I possessed, I missed the chance to appreciate what I had, what I had to share, and what I had to learn.  This little man showed more compassion and humanity to me than I had offered anyone that day.  That shoeless boy with no birthday changed my life.

About the Author:

Tina Murty is a waitress who saves all of her money to travel.  She never walks alone down dark alleys, but also never again refuses the chance to chat with a woman carrying watermelon slices on her head.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

It’s 7 a.m. and the metal bus outside my house rumbles to life. Drenched to the bone with sweet, sticky sweat, stiff and nervous, I arrived in a little Nicaraguan village called La Ceiba. I mulled the words over in my mouth like a smooth caramel, “La…Ceiba. La Ceiba.” The sting of diesel, the unsullied smell of camaraderie; each permeated my nostrils as I descended the metal steps of the rickety bus.

The streets, barely three meters wide, were bristling with life, every door left ajar. The distant echoes of children’s songs, the gentle rustle of the palms, the intensity of the sun on my bare legs; all characterized this small community. The dogs were the only ones to sense stranger’s breath; they began to bark from within the shrouded courtyards, the darkened back-alleys.

I gaze curiously at the little alabaster school we finally pull up to. Hundreds of eyes line the barbwire fence, each child on tiptoe trying to be the first to see the strange gringos. Still more create a barrage in the entryway, one pushing another creating a kind of swaying effect on the whole sea of children. Entering through the gates of the kindergarten I feel a soft touch on my left hand, the slide of flesh on flesh. I turn to face a pair of huge round brown eyes. Su nombre? Maria.

The 10-year-old Maria led me by the hand to the back side of the school, the streets of La Ceiba—poverty at its darkest. Maneuvering down the dusty road, the stench of stale earth engulfed my lungs burning my throat and my corneas. The strength of the sun was tremendous, no trees to offer protection from its blazing might. We passed structure after structure: most fabricated of cardboard and black plastic Hefty bags. The lucky ones had tin roofs. There were no cars, no garages, no evidence of multimillion dollar housing and floor plans. Yet people still emerged from their homes. Unembarrassed. Unshaken by their current situation. Young mothers with infants, small, shoeless children in rags, shirtless teenage boys—all led us into their homes without a second thought. All greeted us from within a doorway or behind a makeshift wooden fence. All were smiling from ear to ear.

It’s time to leave and I am with Maria still. Hand in hand we make our way toward the bus, walking at a snail’s pace so as to avoid the impending sting of inevitable goodbyes. She stops me. Qué? I feel my hand drop as she lets go of my hand for the first time in hours, only for a moment, and slips from her finger a small silver ring. Grabbing my hand, she slid it onto my finger before returning her hand to its customary place. Mi amiga. Te amo. I love you.

Later that night, retreating to my bedroom, situated behind a floral sheet hung where a door should have been, I peeled off my blue jeans. Relief. I sensed happiness rising in me like warmth, from my feet to my shins, my thighs, my chest. Hungrily, I inhaled the fragrance of Nicaragua and of my new home. The aromas of friendship, passion and humanity were overwhelming, remnants of a life in America which now seemed more foreign than here.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Telica Roars in Nicaragua

Now and then, we come across a place that is so awe inspiring it brings back your entire lifetime in front of you. It reminds you of every choice you made and every decision you took. It convinces you that when you arrived at various crossroads of life, you chose one path over another just so you could get to that exact place at that exact moment. Telica imparts a sense that you would not change the path that brought you there, even if you had the chance to.

Looking up into the sky, I am reminded of the vastness of the universe. Stars dot the black dome overhead in numbers that one cannot dare to fathom. A few hundred meters away, Telica lets out her mighty roar sounding as if one jet plane after another might is taking somewhere close. And yet amongst the bombardment of ones ears, there is a certain stillness. The thunderous noise of gases exuding out of the earth is somehow accompanied by the calm silence of the universe. It compels you to comprehend the universe’s enormity, and as you come to realize, of your own immense significance. I made up my mind not to sleep that night as soon as I first glanced at the floating clusters of stars overhead. I was not going to waste my time in such a paradise of a place. I was not going to let this moment of freedom slip away. The brilliance of the moment reminded me of my own individuality that allowed me to make my own decisions, and yet, at the same time how integrated I was into the entire universal system.

The hike getting there is equally as enchanting and liberating as the view from the top. It reminded me of nature’s candor to sprawl its seeds in any corner of the world, and consequentially, the liberties of its creations. One comes across majestic, shady trees that Mother Nature must have surely nurtured for the very purpose of sheltering those who braved to climb the volcano. The shades of the trees rejuvenate the body, the colors of the landscape rejoice the eyes, and the sounds of nature tranquil the mind. You hike through lush green vegetation around the mountain under the scorching sun, climbing up steep slopes at times. Nevertheless, one seldom gets the chance to think about the difficulty of the trek. The first sight of the volcano with its thick cloud of smoke rising above it persistently reminds one of nature’s incredible might.

The moon glistens the land at night. Its silver rays eventually disappear behind the blanket of smoke and then behind the barren flanks that characterize Telica’s summit. As dawn impedes the night, the golden beams of the sun reflect off the rocky, ferrous earth reminding one of a Martian landscape only to realize it is covered with lush green trees in the distance. The dying bonfire almost parallels the ruddy refection of the earth. As the sun marvelously silhouettes multiple layers of hills that it rises above, its rays eliminate the chill from the crisp breeze. From the edge of the crater, one can see a mosaic of tents just down below. Their scattered colors gently dance to the rhythm of the zephyr that almost gives out a sense of piety.

I had decided to impulsively join three other travelers who had crossed my path just the day before. I was not bound by time. My resolve to accompany them on the trip was fully justified there and then. And for reasons more than one, I had met them and made my decision within the split of a second. Vulcan himself must have led me there.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Sitting on a beach is perhaps the most stereotypical place to ‘find yourself’ but my experience was a little different. Yes it was a ‘tropical’ beach with white sand and clear warm waters in Mexico but it represented to me everything I didn’t want and everything I wanted to be free from.
Hundreds of burnt reality-escapees lazed around me, occasionally applying more suncream to their already damaged skin, talking little, taking selfies, drinking the latest craze and cooling off in the just as packed sea, over-heating sea.
And it was here that I had come at the end of my travels to relax and unwind one last time before heading back home. But I just couldn’t stop thinking back to the other places I had been. Places I had really felt free but hadn’t been able to appreciate it until now. Seeing how the other half live – I knew it wasn’t for me.

I’d gone to Central America to volunteer on a conservation project in the south of Costa Rica in a little place called Piro, an hour and a half bumpy collectivo ride from the nearest town. As you head down the road, away from the civilization, you soon lose phone signal, as the cables all disappear and the roads get less cared for and the houses turn to farms. This was the real side to the country – where ordinary people lived their ordinary lives that were so far away from my own. I spoke little of the language, I had turned up by myself and I felt alone and vulnerable but free. It was scary of course, but it was the only way to become a proper part of the local way of life.

From this place to the Cerro Negro volcano just outside Leon in Nicaragua I learnt a lot. It was a tough walk up, the path winding between rocks and craters and the wind was so strong at the top that you had to actually concentrate in order to not fall over. But once at the top you could look down across the remnants of previous eruptions and see the string of other volcanoes stretching far into the distance. In that moment you are shown how big the world is and how small you are. That can be too overwhelming for some. But for me, it reminded me that if I was small, so were my problems. That the life I lived at home was not everything, in fact to the people who would be wiped out should these volcanoes erupt – it was nothing at all. I realised right then I could do anything I wanted, and whether I succeeded or not, the world I watched from atop the volcano would continue just the same; so why not try?

Another city in my travels – Granada, Nicaragua, I sat upon a hostel roof looking out over the tiled roofs baking in the sun. I couldn’t see down to the street but I knew the people were there. I realised that I could have been anywhere just then. That all the unseen people were not so different really, everyone has these same thoughts and goals and basic human experiences and the lucky have the opportunity to do what they choose and if that’s the case, we should do it, even when it scares us. And if it all becomes too much for me, now that i’m back home. I will think back to those people on the beach, the people whose lives I didn’t want, and think back to the people of Costa Rica, living a simple but happy life. I will think back to what I felt on top of the Volcano and remember there is so much more than this moment, and everything can change in a second. I’ll remember that feeling and I remember I am free to live.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Going to Central America?  WSGT found these travel books and gear to help you prepare.

Central America on a Shoestring:  Don’t have a lot of money but a travel lust?  This is the perfect book to help you plan!

Spanish phrasebook:  Learn some of the local lingo before you go.

 

leonWhile in Nicaragua in November, George and Lisa met Marcelo at the Museum of the Revolution in Leon. We interviewed him and invited him to share stories of fighting as a youth for freedom. Here is his story in his own words. We hope to publish a translation soon and to have many more stories in multiple languages on our site.

Proceso de Lucha Insurreccional por la Liberación de Nicaragua.

Historia de la Toma del Comando de la Guardia Nacional (GN) del Municipio de la Mina Limón

 by Marcelo Leonel Pereira Ordoñez

La Mina del Limón es una comunidad del municipio de La Reynaga Malpaisillo del departamento de León, la Mina se encuentra ubicada en la parte Noreste del municipio de León, a unos 32 kilómetros de la ciudad de León, lugar que desde hace más de 60 años se ha venido explotando los yacimientos de Mina de Oro por empresas transnacionales, dejando solamente el sudor, sacrificio, hambre, explotación, miseria y muerte a los trabajadores de la mina.

A partir del proceso revolucionario, la mina en la década de los sesenta y setenta fue  un punto estratégico de la lucha sandinista a través de diferentes acciones, tomas de tierra, paros, huelga y manifestaciones en contra los principios de explotación de la empresa minera.

En la década de los setenta la lucha revolucionaria se agudiza y se manifiesta de manera más constante y se hace sentir la presencia del movimiento obrero organizado en sindicato, en organizaciones gremiales y políticas, tales como; Central de trabajadores, CTN, Partido Socialista Nicaragüense y el FSLN, es de esa forma que se hace sentir la presencia de la lucha revolucionaria obrera.

En ese sentido es importante mencionar que esta comunidad de la Mina de Limón, es un punto estratégico desde la perspectiva de la producción del Oro, además que era la presencia norteamericana y que el dictador Somoza, tenía que garantizar la seguridad tanto de los gringos presente en la parte administrativa como la producción de Oro, en vista que Somoza también era parte de ese negocio natural como era este material precioso, es así que en plena insurrección armada del pueblo nicaragüense, se plantea la ORGANIZACIÓN MILITAR DEL PUEBLO (OMP) brazo armado del Partido Socialista Nicaragüense, organización política militar encabezada por jóvenes de diferentes sectores de la sociedad leonesa específicamente, se plantea en mera insurrección de darle un golpe más a la dictadura planificando la Toma del Cuartel de Guardia Nacional, acción que llego a concretarse en unidad con la estructura del Estado Mayor del Frente Occidental Rigoberto López Pérez, encabezado por la Cmdte. Dora María Téllez, Cmdte. Leticia Herrera y muchos otros compañeros comandantes que dirigían la guerra en León por parte del FSLN, como también los miembros del estado mayor del Comando Rigoberto Palma Sandoval, estando formado por el Cmdte: Fernando Vargas. (Cmdte Ricardo), Cro. Dagoberto Pérez Montano (Político del Comando y qdep), Cmdte Oscar (Marcelo Pereira), jefe militar del Comando y otros compañeros más  tomaron la decisión de preparar una columna de combatientes formadas por veintiocho miembros.

La mina del Limón era un centro estratégico del punto de vista económico y político, se puede decir que es una de las minas de oro de mayor envergadura en américa central, la producción de Oro era significativa y las utilidades eran incalculables, el oro lo extraían  y luego lo procesaban maquila en caja de madera de Caoba, con alambres de acero con diámetro de 10 mm, con un sello de seguridad en el centro de la caja lo que formaba una estructura tipo trapecio con un peso de aproximadamente de 45 Kgs, con un alto costo en el mercado internacional.

Una vez coordinada la acción entre el estado mayor del frente occidental Rigoberto López Pérez y el Estado Mayor del Comando Rigoberto Palma Sandoval, se planifica la acción para la toma del comando de la Guardia, donde existían aproximadamente unos 30 guardias y una decena de paramilitares (orejas o sapos), personas que capturaban, denunciaban, torturaban y asesinaban a los jóvenes o a quienes ellos querían asesinar, viendo la necesidad de tomarse ese cuartel por las fuerzas revolucionarias conjunta, se procede a ejecutarse la acción la cual se plantea de la siguiente forma:

1.- Coordinación de ambos Estados mayores, donde participo en dicha reunión conjunta como responsable militar, donde el Cmdte. Oscar, (Marcelo Pereira) se le asigna la responsabilidad de controlar, dirigir y ejecutar el asalto al cuartel de la Mina del Limón.

2.- Los acuerdos son: que el Frente Occidental Rigoberto López Pérez (FORLP), Facilitaría 10 armas de calibre pesado (FAL, SUBAMETRALLADORA Y GARAND), Además participaría una escuadra de combatientes (10 compañeros).

3.- Los medios movilizativos (Camioneta de Tina), la facilitaría la OMP, además se integrarían 20 combatientes, lo cual así fue, la columna de combatientes se formó y tomo las orientaciones militares para la acción, saliendo en varias camionetas los combatientes del comando central Rigoberto Palma Sandoval, que se encontraba ubicado en la Colonia del Estadio hoy lleva el nombre de José de la Cruz Mena, el hombre leproso y del pentagrama de la música del Vals en Nicaragua.

4.- Una vez conformada y estructurada la columna guerrillera, a eso de las tres de la tarde del día sábado 16 de junio, se procedió a conformar la columna y se escogieron a los mejores hombres con alto espíritu y principio revolucionario, era casi las cuatro de la tarde, después de haber bajado las orientaciones políticas y militares, se abordan las camionetas y se inicia la marcha hacia el objetivo planteado la Mina del Limón.

5.- antes de llegar a la entrada del camino hacia la Mina, se pasó por el municipio de Telica, pueblo que está ubicado a unos 10 kilómetros de la ciudad de León, donde se tuvo un alto para seguir imprimiendo animo e entusiasmo y combatividad a los combatientes, en ese lapso de estadía un compañero llamado Mario, se le fue un disparo de una escopeta 12, hiriendo a dos o tres niños que jugaban en la calle y asombrado por vernos a todos armados, ante esa situación se procede llevar a los niños al hospital de León (Hospital Viejo) y además se manda al compañero que se le fue el tiro al comando militar donde habíamos salido, sancionándolo lo cual disminuyo la cantidad de combatientes, quedando integrada la columna por 28 combatientes, en vista que se queda el que disparo el tiro y conducto, ante esa situación se da la orden de proceder con la marcha hacia el objetivo planificado(Mina del Limón).

Durante este tiempo nos dan las 6 de la tarde el sol comienza a ocultarse y empieza a caer la noche, entramos al camino de tierra y se tiene que recorrer aproximadamente unos 10 a 12 kilómetros para llegar a la comunidad de la Mina de Limón, la marcha es lenta y con luces de los vehículos apagados con el mayor silencio y estrategia militar, todos íbamos con un gran espíritu de combatividad pero también con el recelo que la guardia nos detectara y nos hiciera una emboscada y de esa forma poder fracasar con la misión encomendada.

Gracias A Dios, se logró llegar o logramos a cercanos a unos dos kilómetros de la entrada de la comunidad de la Mina, entonces procedí a dar la orden de desembarcar de cada una de las camionetas y conformar una columna de marcha a píe con el fin de acercarnos lo más que pudiéramos al poblado, a eso de las once de la noche aproximadamente llegamos y empezamos a penetrar por el área donde estaba la pista de aterrizaje de los aviones que llegaban a recoger el Oro como también para reforzar los puntos estratégicos de la mina como del mismo cuartel de la guardia de Somoza, una vez avanzado y habiéndonos tomados una loma que se ubicaba precisamente frente al Cuartel de la Guardia, se procedió de manera silenciosa y estratégica a ubicar a los combatientes de forma que el frente de guerra fuera de diferentes ángulos lo cual esto traería desesperación de la guardia, la preocupación era que la noche avanzaba y la calle donde se encontraba el cuartel de la guardia se encontraba con niños jugando y por otro lado personas civiles en la acera del comando y su entorno, a todo esto se suma la latidera de los perros lo que nos preocupaba por que podíamos ser descubierto y la guardia podría tomar el avance en contra de la columna guerrillera.

Una vez ubicada toda la fuerza guerrillera, lista para romper los fuegos en contra de la guardia de Somoza, solamente esperaban la orden mía (Cmadte. Oscar), mejor dicho Marcelo Pereira, fue a eso de la tres de la madrugada del día domingo 17 de junio del 79, se rompe el asalto con la fusilería que teníamos y se lanza un cohete conocido como bastón chino, lo que significaba que el asalto había empezado, amaneció y los disparos por ambos bandos se oían con fuerza,  por la mañana se acerca un avión de la Fuerza Aérea Nicaragüense (FAN) de la guardia de Somoza, con refuerzo en vista que la guardia del cuartel se sentía hostigada y las bajas de muertos y heridos por parte de la guardia se hacía sentir dentro del cuartel lo que contribuía a desmoralizarse a la tropa de Somoza, el avión quería aterrizar en la pista, pero la fusilería guerrillera no permitió que el avión bajara con el refuerzo de guardias, ante esta situación un combatiente fue a montarse a un Tractor Caterpellar lo encendió y procedió a destruir la pista de aterrizaje abriendo zanjas por toda la pista lo que impidió que el avión aterrizara, esto obligo a que el avión se retira de la zona, dejando abandonado a los guardias del comando sin poderle ayudar, pasaron las horas y a eso de las una de la tarde, cuando nuestra fuerza tenía poca municiones logro integrar a un joven del pueblo a la lucha revolucionaria y que trabajaba en la propia Mina, este nos llevo hasta donde estaban las cajas de dinamitas que eran ocupadas para la extracción de material de la mina.

Era pasado las dos de la tarde, cuando se prepararon 15 paquetes de dinamitas con 6 candelas de dinamitas para ser explotadas en contra del comando de la guardia, una vez que teníamos los paquetes de dinamitas y lista para ser utilizadas, di la orientación de mandar a cuatro combatientes por diferentes puntos cardinales en relación a la ubicación del comando de la guardia para lanzar los paquetes de dinamitas que se habían preparado, lanzando la primera bomba mi persona Cmdte. Oscar, cayendo esa bomba en el centro del comando y seguido se lanzaron el resto de bombas (dinamitas), esto provoco la destrucción de la estructura del comando tanto de techo que salió por los aires, paredes de tabla etc., provocando esto un gran terror en la  guardia de Somoza, esta acción duro aproximadamente unas dos horas, lo que guardia empezó a sacar pañuelos blancos y salieron con los brazos en alto, en ese momento procedimos a acércanos al cuartel de la guardia y proceder a capturar a los guardias vivos, ya que en el interior del comando solo quedaba destrozo, fuego y muertos de guardias y paramilitares, algunos cuerpos destrozados producto a la acción de las bombas de dinamitas que fueron lanzadas por nuestra tropa.

A eso de las cuatro de la tarde del día domingo 17, la guardia de Somoza se había rendido ante la autoridad moral de los guerrilleros sandinista, se capturaron a unos 10 guardias entre ellos el jefe del cuartel el Tnete., de apellido Tijerino, procedente de la ciudad de León, quien vivía contiguo al comando de la guardia en la ciudad de León., todos fueron trasladados a las cárceles del pueblo donde se procedió a la investigaciones correspondiente y posterior a todo el proceso algunos fueron puesto en libertad una vez finalizada la insurrección final que logro dar con la derrota de la dictadura somocista.

Cuando se tuvo el control absoluto del comando y la población se procedió a buscar al gringo que administraba la Mina del Limón,  encontrándolo en el hotel del pueblo, se procedió a capturarlo y pedirle que entregara las barras de Oro o mejor dicho los lingotes de oro que pesaban 45 kgs, aproximadamente cada barra, el gringo entrega cuatro barras de oro y una cantidad de dinero en efectivo en diferentes denominaciones en moneda nacional y dólar, entrego el dinero y posteriormente lo recuperado fue trasladado en un camioneta que andaba mi persona Cmdte. Oscar, llegando al comando guerrillero en la ciudad de León entre las 6 y 7 de la noche del día 17 de junio, entregando el parte al jefe del estado mayor del Comando Rigoberto Palma Sandoval, Cro. Fernando Vargas, además se entregaron las cuatro barras de oro y el dinero recuperado.

Es importante mencionar que durante la toma del cuartel de la Mina del Limón, tuvimos tres bajas un compañero muerto y dos heridos, el compañero muerto fue producto al accionar de un franco tirador de la guardia que estaba ubicado en un árbol, pero lo más relevantes, fue cuando penetramos de manera definitiva al cuartel de la guardia encontramos a un guardia conocido como CINCO BOLLOS, que estaba herido y metido en un pozo tirador, queriendo hacer resistencia, pero fue imposible en vista que un compañero nuestro llamado Elías Carrero, que no se me olvida el nombre, lo encontró y empezó a pegarle tiro y no moría porque supuestamente tenía un pacto con Satanás, hasta que una señora de pueblo dijo, ese hombre anda una moneda en el ombligo tienen que quitársela para que muera, dicho hecho así fue, se le retiro la moneda y expiro, quedando tendido en el suelo, con más de treinta tiro en su cuerpo, era uno de los guardias más temidos y más malo que existía en el cuartel y en todo el pueblo de la Mina.

Posterior a la entrega del parte militar de la acción ejecutada en la Mina del Limón, se hizo la entrega de dos barras de oro a la Cmdte. Dora Ma. Téllez, jefa del Estado mayor occidental Rigoberto López Pérez, con esa acción se cumple con lo acordado entre los dos estados mayores, lo que significó un logro y avance en el proceso de consolidación de alianza estratégica militar para las futuras acciones militares, las dos barras de oro fueron entregadas posteriormente al triunfo de la revolución a altos dirigentes del FSLN, en aquel entonces a miembro de la dirección nacional, una vez finalizada la operación de la mina del limón nos integramos a lucha contra lugares estratégicos militares a como fue la toma final del Comando de la ciudad de León, la veintiuno que era un sitio donde torturaban, asesinaban a compañeros revolucionarios de la época de los sesenta y setenta y se finalizó con la acción de la toma del Fortín de Acosasco, siendo este el último reducto de la guardia de Somoza, esta fue desalojada el día 7 de julio, donde la guardia abandona su posición en el fortín, y escapan con rehenes que estaban presos desde ante del inicio de la insurrección, la guardia encabezada por el criminal Bulcano, Cmdte Evert, los esbirros Pablo Aguilera, Clicho y otros criminales de la dictadura de Somoza en la ciudad de León.

Es importante mencionar que durante la acción al cuartel de la guardia, después de haber finalizado la toma por parte de nuestra fuerza revolucionaria, se recuperaron más de 1500 cajas de dinamita, cajas de detonantes y mechas que ocupaban para hacer los derrumbes en la extracción del material para la materia prima del oro, todas las cajas fueron trasladadas hacia la ciudad de León, en bodegas o casas de la colonia del estadio, como también en el antiguo plantel de carretera o mejor dicho de obras públicas de Somoza, actualmente queda cuerpo de bomberos y comisariato de la policía nacional, además de estos dos sitios también se almacenaron parte de este producto recuperado en la casa Salud de Debayle, ubicada en la esquina Este del hospital Oscar Danilo Rosales de la ciudad universitaria.

La historia no termina ahí, porque una vez finalizada la toma del cuartel de la guardia la población se integra a tomar la administración de la comunidad y se forma una estructura militar con gente del pueblo para que ellos llevaran el control y seguridad de la población, se deja un mando bajo las ordenes de un compañero de apellido Torres, que posteriormente paso a formar parte de la estructura del Ministerio del Interior y de la policía sandinista.

Una vez finalizada la guerra, la mayoría de los compañeros miembros del comando Rigoberto Palma Sandoval, nos integramos a fundar y ser parte de la estructura militares, en este caso a mí persona me toco integrar  y fundar la Policía Sandinista, ubicándome inicialmente en la cárcel modelo del hoy entonces Sistema Penitenciario, posteriormente trasladado a estructura de la misma policía a Chinandega, luego a formar parte de una estructura especializada del ministerio del interior en la ciudad de León, de esa forma me fui desempeñando en diferentes estructuras y actualmente miembro de la Asociación de Combatientes Histórico Héroes de Veracruz, del Frente occidental Rigoberto López Pérez (FORPL), siendo expositor de la galería del museo de la revolución en la ciudad mil veces heroica de León.

De esa forma termina la verdadera historia de la toma del cuartel de la guardia de la Mina del Limón, como también la recuperación de las barras de oro y dinero efectivo, la captura de más de 10 guardias somocista que fueron procesados por la justicia revolucionaria pasando por un proceso de jurado encabezado por el doctor Oscar Danilo Pereira, juez del pueblo en ese momento, que termino con la resolución de culpabilidad por crímenes a la humanidad en contra del pueblo de Nicaragua. Es importante mencionar que dos barras de oro fueron escondidas en casa del Doctor Pereira López, y que posteriormente ahí fueron entregadas a las autoridades nacionales ya mencionadas. Se recuperaron más 1500 cajas de dinamitas con sus accesorios, se formó la estructura militar en el pueblo de la mina para que hicieran de ella el control y seguridad de la población, esta es la verdadera historia de la toma de la mina, otra es fantasía, se tuvieron tres bajas en la toma, entre ellos un muerto, un joven del pueblo de la Mina que se integró por la mañana del domingo 17 a la columna guerrillera, que en paz descanse y que dios de  la santa paz.

Ahora queridos compañeros, amigos, hermanos internacionalistas, quiero solicitarle su apoyo de manera solidaria de forma de una manera que ustedes se sientan tranquilo con su conciencia y con migo mismo, en ese sentido le solicito su apoyo económico que me lo pueden hacer llegar por la Wester Junior o bien por City Bank, dirigido al destinatario:

Sobre el Author: Marcelo Leonel Pereira Ordoñez, en la ciudad de León, Nicaragua, favor avisar cuando haiga puesto el dinero, mil gracias hermanos solidarios e internacionalista y revolucionario. PATRIA LIBRE O MORIR.

terrylWe could never get there fast enough. I still feel that way, even today.

We had to make the sandwiches, tuna fish on sliced sourdough. The canned tuna had to be mixed with the right ratio of mayonnaise, finely chopped red onion and dill pickle relish. Always dill relish, never sweet. My mom didn’t like sweet. I would have been fine with peanut butter and strawberry jelly on soft wheat bread, but the adults, my parents, liked tuna fish.

Once the sandwiches were loaded into our blue and white Coleman, the kind with the button on the side that, when pressed, would allow you to open the top like a convertible on a sunny day, we had to make sure we had the sunblock, the towels, our boogie boards and the chairs. I preferred to eat my lunch cross-legged on my towel, but my parents preferred the comfort of their folding chairs.

Even once we’d arrived, there was still so much to do. We had to pick our spot — close enough for my parents to watch us, and far enough to avoid the risk of our belongings being sucked out to sea by the rising tide. Then, we had to lay out the towels and find a tiny bit of shade for the Coleman, usually behind one of the beach chairs. After all that, came the inevitable ‘come here,’ as my mom squirted a mound of sunscreen into her palm and generously rubbed the thick white lotion onto my face, back and shoulders.

“That’s okay,” I yelled, in response to her telling me she hadn’t finished rubbing it in. I couldn’t wait another moment. I’d had the plastic leash of my neon-colored body board, a gift I’d gotten for Christmas, securely fastened to my wrist since before we had loaded the car.

“Don’t go out too far,” she’d holler.

But it was no use. I was in a trance. From the second the water, warmed by the summer sun and the warm water currents from Mexico, hit my toes, I was in heaven. My heaven. Nature’s playground.

The sips of salty water. The thrill of riding down the steep face of a cresting wave. Paddling out to where the bigger kids sat waiting to catch the ‘real’ waves and waving to my parents barely visible on the shore.

In January, I found myself standing on the shore of Playa Tupilapa in central Nicaragua.

Even though thousands of miles separated me from the beaches of my childhood, the warm water transported me right back to the days of tuna fish sandwiches and hours spent paddling and diving and waving to my parents on the distant shore.

I fastened the velcro leash to my wrist and started paddling. The water was warm and salty, like the water I remembered from childhood. I paddled toward the first set of rolling waves, looking for a place where I could sit and float. When I floated up and over the final wave of the set, I looked toward the shore, eager to wave to my parents as I had done more than 20 years before.

But they weren’t there. In fact, the beach was empty. It was just me, the ocean and my memories.

About the Author: Teryll Hopper, affectionately called La Gringa, is a writer, marketer and project manager. La Gringa studied Psychology at UC Santa Cruz.  She’s an avid volunteer and nonprofit advocate. When La Gringa’s not managing projects in writing or design, she’s probably eating nachos, planning a trip to a foreign country, which she says, is her inspiration for creativity or running on some unpaved surface.  That, or she might be at a thrift store scouring the racks for sweet vintage finds.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

central america nov 2013We Said Go Travel Latest News: Navigating NYC & Nicaragua

Our third and final country for Central America is Nicaragua. After two weeks in Panama, 10 days in Costa Rica and a few weeks in Nicaragua, we are on our way back to Malaysia. Being able to speak Spanish and communicate easily has been extremely helpful and fun.

Our few days in San Juan Del Sur was relaxing but this popular surfing destination does not actually have surfing. You have to take a shuttle to the surf areas. I enjoyed it but was surprised that no one had mentioned that seemingly key fact to us. A highlight of the trip was viewing both Volcanoes: Concepcion and Maderas while kayaking near Merida on Ometepe. (see photo below) We walked from Playa Santa Domingo to Balgue and from Santa Cruz to Merida. While staying in Altagracia at Hotel Centro, we enjoyed the pechuga ala plancha and a local festival. On Nov 18, the saint Santa Domingo was returned to his church with drums and fireworks as the final parade in the six-day festival.

NYC Trade CenterFrom Ometepe, I went via Managua to fly to New York City(see photo below) to visit family and friends and celebrate Thanksgiv-akah! George traveled to Granada to enjoy the colonial town, view volcanic smoke in Masaya and we met up in Leon!

Our third travel-writing contest had over 320 writers! Our three contests this year have shared the stories of over 500 Writers. Thank you to everyone for your participation! We will continue to publish all the entries and expect to announce the winners in January. Click here to read all the entries so far!

Thank you to Nokia who have shared a Nokia Lumia 925 with us to trial on the road for photos, videos and social media sharing. We have been in one article and written another for them. I really love this phone, the photos and video are truly incredible!!

NEW VIDEOSHula Hooping at the Palau Government HouseSwing Bar Fire Hooping, Koh Samui ThailandHula Hoop Show at Niki Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand 2013

RECENT ARTICLES in the Huffington Post: Swimming with Whale Sharks who are as big as school buses in Cebu, Philippines, Secure Attachment: Do Good teachers Need it?, Who’s Psychotic Next about Pete Townshend.

Last month we had some landmarks! On Nov 7, we had our 1001st post on the website, our YouTube channel went over 150,000 views and we joined Instagram. We hope to see you on any and all social media networks.

We appreciate all of you who read our newsletters, articles, website and BOOK! Thank you to everyone for your support of our journey and all our writing. Connect with us on FacebookGoogle+InstagramLinkedInPinterest,  SlideShare,  Twitter, and YouTube.

We hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Safe Travels! Gracias! More from MALAYSIA soon!!!!

Lisa and George (Click here to sign up for this newsletter. )