2006-03-17 / Travel

The road to Nicaragua Part I: Poverty

A typical road in Nicaragua
A typical road in Nicaragua About the author: Edward Marion was born in Berkeley County, a direct descendant of the Swamp Fox,

Frances Marion. He is the author of The Board of Destiny, a book about a fictional character, Robert Marion. Not unlike the main character in his novel, Edward Marion decided to leave his comfort zone. He began by starting his own entrepreneurial business ventures in the US, eventually leading him to live and work abroad. Aside from his work, during a seven-year stint in Europe, he did some of his own soul-searching, as he traveled extensively and learned two foreign languages. During this time he began writing short stories and sharing them with friends. Their encouragement, led to the completion of his first novel. He met his wife, Emilia, in Poland and returned with her to SC in 2003 to publish his book and start a family. They divide their time living in between Columbia, Nicaragua, and Poland.

By Edward Marion

My Polish friend and I decided to travel from SC, across the US, to Nicaragua. We drove through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Each border produced its own unique adventure.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Poverty is prevalent everywhere. The houses, along the countryside and in small villages, were made of scrap wood, no flooring - just dirt, no electricity, and the beds were either a pile of straw or a hammock.

The roads were bumpy and poorly marked. The maps are non-descript and it is difficult to distinguish which roads are good enough to travel. Nice roads become dirt roads for several miles without warning.

Many children go onto the roads to fill potholes with dirt and then stand by the newly filled hole hoping a passerby will pay them for their efforts.

Some children go to the extent of tying a rope to a tree on the opposite side of the road and when a car is coming they pull the rope taut, causing the driver to stop. When the car comes to a complete stop they run to the window holding out their hand for payment.

Mothers typically stay home while fathers go to work. The men work as fishermen or construction workers. Members of the younger generation usually hold the rare "behind the desk" jobs.

One man said he earns seven dollars a day as a skilled construction worker. Another man proudly informed us he worked on the bus line from San Juan del Sur to Rivas caring for the luggage brought on board, which is surprisingly a dangerous position. Not only does he have to place various items on the roof of the bus, he must ride on top of the bus to hold things in place and, of course, toss down the luggage as needed.

Next week: The beach

Return to top