If you have not been following the situation in Nicaragua, it’s too complex for me to explain here. I don’t even know if I can summarize accurately, but we’re experiencing severe civil unrest as the division between those who support the President and those who demand his immediate removal deepens and grows more violent. If you want to know more, you can read these articles or contact me.
We’ve lived here, in this “developing country,” for seven years and experienced some inconveniences and a few genuine problems (the kind that might make you self-consciously dub yours “first-world problems”). We’ve also experienced a massive adjustment and adaptation–as well we should have. We love living here. To be more precise, we love the people here, and we have grown to love this beautiful, troubled country.
We’ve never before experienced anything like what is happening now.
My daughter just said, “I’m sick of all the uncertainty. I just want to know what’s going to happen.”
We’re all inclined to think about things in terms of how they impact us. This is human nature. I don’t think it’s a bad thing unless it’s to an extreme; perhaps the process of maturity is growing to think about situations, and life in general, in terms of how it impacts others and not just ourselves. I’m talking about myself here, not my daugther.
The impact on us: our school has been cancelled for the better part of three weeks now. Shortened days or no school at all starting two days after we went to Ireland, so the twentieth of April. I think we’ve had 3 full school days in three weeks. Last Friday, we tried to cancel school because the busses would have to cross through demonstrations and some could not make it to school at all. The ones that made it through were told, just as they arrived, to turn around and take the students home again.
These aren’t easy decisions for our administration to make. There is much at stake. Obviously, the safety of our kids is the highest concern. Information we obtain on what is happening around Managua is always uncertain. We know certain locations simply are not safe now. But others can flare up instantly. We hear about planned protests and counter-protests. We use the best discernment we can in a morass of uncertainty.
Our basketball teams, boys and girls, just went to Costa Rica for the yearly sports festival to which we’re invited. We departed Wednesday, after a very long and complicated decision-making process about whether we should go at all. The pressing question was: will the kids be safe, especially on their return?
Then last night (Saturday), we got word that there were massive protests scheduled for today and, moreover, that tomorow (Monday) would likely get much worse with the scheduled dialogue between the government and protesting parties. Nobody knows for sure what will happen when such news goes out. But decisions have to be made. Our administration decided we needed to skip each team’s last game and return as early as possible Sunday (yep, today. Good math.) to be cautious. To be wise. To be better safe than sorry.
Nothing happened on the way home. We left five hours earlier than originally planned–we would have left at 11:30AM (at the earliest), and this after our games had already been switched to the first scheduled for the day–and made record time getting back. We saw two small groups of people, within a few kilometers of the school, standking on the side of the road, waving flags. That was all.
However, we’d gotten reports that one of the towns we needed to pass through might be blocked. The bus company from which we rented the bus, which has direct knowledge of all its routes, took the extraordinary precaution of having us switch busses, mid-route. I know, it sounds like something you’d do if you were trying to elude your pursuers (“We’ll stop and switch getaway cars in that deserted garage…”), but we did it in case we had to take backroads or go through large blockades and needed more mobility. In other words, the bus company anticipated we might have a much harder, more precarious drive and took steps to prepare.
To be clear, I’m not complaining that we came back early–though as coach, sure, I was disappointed–I’m giving this example to convey what we’re experiencing right now in this country we love. My daughter is in her senior year and everything about the end of this school year is uncertain. We are preparing to move back to the States after our school year ends, but in addition to making plans and prioitizing good closure, we’re trying to navigate each day’s developments and variables and be wise and cautious While. Not. Overreacting.
No one knows what will happen here next. Will violence increase? Will there be any compromise reached when the dialogue, reportedly scheduled for tomorrow, takes place between the government and the protesters? Will the protests lose momentum as people suffering poverty reach their limits–when you live without margin, this can happen quickly–and have no choice but to return to “normal” life?
Several friends have told me that what is happening now resembles what happened in 1979 and 1980. This startles me the most. We know our history.
We pray to learn from history.
We pray for peace and justice.
We don’t know what will happen next.