Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Beautiful Life? part 2

It was a typical evening at Nacascolo Bay just outside San Juan del Sur Nicaragua in late February. April and her son, mother and 4 employees were closing up their restaurant for the evening. For April, the restaurant and garden hotel was a wonderful investment, quiet, scenic, away from the hustle of the town but blessed with a breathtaking view of the bay and the ocean beyond.

Eight armed assailants quietly entered the compound, knocked out the guard on duty at the hotel, entered the restaurant and changed April and her family's life forever.

Taking everyone captive, including the family dog, the gunmen drank the restaurants supply of liquor, ate and then terrorized the captive family and employees. One of the guards was beaten severely, the other and his wife kept silent that their two young children were sleeping in their apartment in the compound. April had her throat wounded by a knife, she watched as the gunmen held a gun to the head of her 14 year old son, they stood helpless as the beaten guard bled and became unconscious.

Early on the morning of February 25th, the armed men forced everyone into a hotel vehicle where they took them 30 kilometers away to the municipality of Potosí near Rivas and parked in front of a sugar cane field. They thought it was over. But luck finally smiled and a police car noticed the activity and investigated, the kidnappers fled into the dark cane fields.

Sadly, for April the biggest nightmare was yet to come. The kidnapped family and employees then went to the Rivas hospital and one of the guards reported the incident to the police.

The police could care less.

The police did not even search for those responsible. April gets visibly angry when she recalls finding an identification card of one of the kidnappers that had been dropped in the hotel. The police have not even arrested this man.

The Rivas police said that they were very busy with their Semana Santa Coverage Plan (Holy Week, the week before Easter is basically a national holiday in Nicaragua) but a quick glance at the calendar will show Holy Week was then three full weeks away, so they were not able to get to this case fully, but now that it is over they are going to search for the criminals with full force and put them behind bars.

Yeah right.

Too late for April, she is leaving. She hates the place, hates her hotel, wishes she had never set foot there. The place is for sale, but she is not abandoning it, she is selling on her terms, she will leave when she is ready. The restaurant re opened for a bit, but she and her family will be traveling a bit in the meanwhile. Anywhere but home.

The police know who did it, they are scared to do anything about it. They don't even act like they care. The other rich gringos in the area tell her to get over it and keep quiet, you are scaring away the investors. The look of sadness and betrayal in her eyes at that statement speaks volumes.

"Nicaragua is a fucked up country and it seems to enjoy being so", said my friend Grant in Managua. He should know, he has lived there for 20 some years. Corruption is rampant, the government inept, Daniel Ortega has degenerated in to as shameful a raper of the country as Aleman and Somoza.

Beyond the palms and sunsets, sweet smooth rum and delectable fish lies a more violent, corrupt Nicaragua. It doesn't scare me away, but saddens me that again the country is sliding into the morass of corruption and a divided society,one with everything and one with nothing.

I am confident April will find her beautiful life... sadly it will not be in Nicaragua.

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