Boom – the strikes of mortar fire

Have you ever played the game when you see lightning strike and count until the thunder cracks to see how far away it is? As the seconds decrease and the storm roars into proximity, a weird sense of nervousness, curiosity, and adrenaline settles in.

The indigenous protest in Nicaragua felt very much like this. 

BOOM – a mortar round hits. 
I count, “One, two, three, four.”
I hear distant chants.

Naturally, I peak my head out of my hut to see what is going on. I’m conducting linguistic research on an indigenous tribe right now, in the middle of nowhere Nicaragua – living in a small hut amongst my rat buddies, sweating profusely in the unfamiliar humidity, trying to learn a language about 20 people outside of this community speak, confused and shocked by the level of activity culminating in this town.

Boom – a mortar round hits.
I count, “One, two, three.”
The crowds are getting closer.

What is happening? I’ve been here for 5 weeks and never seen this much commotion. I put my computer down and see what is going on. I stroll outside, everyone left in the town looking at each other, thunderstruck and confused. 

Boom – a mortar round hits.
I count, “One, Two.”
I start to decipher Miskitu language in the chants.

At least I know it is my friends making the noises – phew! I see young kids running out of their straw elevated homes to join the festivities, if that is what this is. Women are looking straight at me, fear in their eyes and sadness in their souls. My heart races, my nervousness take over, my adrenaline keeps me walking. 

Boom – a mortar round hits.
I count, “One.”
I see the mob approach. 

I think it is too late to turn around. I feel like I can hear my heart beat. I need to be a part of this. 

Adrenaline, the antibiotic to feeling out of your comfort zone. 

Boom – a mortar round hits.

I’m fully immersed into the protest. I’m part of the community. I’m freaked out, but intrigued. Everyone around me is yelling in protest on regulations set for lobster exportation, the primary source of economic income for the indigenous tribes of the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua.

My ears ring with loud speakers blasting objections to the proposed regulations. Men and women, marching proudly and purposefully. The community embracing me as one of them, teaching me the chants, rallying me alongside them. 

While terrifying, the protest taught me so much about the community, about myself and my travel capabilities. And it now makes for a great story.