Stab Magazine | Bug Candy, More Empty Surf, And No Love For Daniel Ortega

Bug Candy, More Empty Surf, And No Love For Daniel Ortega

North to south, the people of Nicaragua are over Ortega, and more than welcoming to traveling surfers smart enough to visit. 

news // Aug 22, 2018
Words by Rory Parker
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s a five and a half hour drive from Thunderbomb Surf Camp in Aposentillo to Two Brothers Resort in Popoyo.

My driver, Guillermo, was a stocky Nicaraguan with a remarkably soft and high pitched voice. He lives in Chinandega and, while initially cool to my attempts at conversation, began to warm up as the drive progressed and I offered to buy him something to drink, or eat, or whatever he wanted.

He declined the offer but I think it was one of those instances where it was the thought that counted.

Our respective grasps of English and Spanish were enough for some rough attempts at conversation. He was curious about the type of fish we catch in Hawaii. I learned that almost everyone in Chinandega works in some form of agriculture. Harvesting, processing, that sort of thing. It’s also home to the Flor de Cañafactory, some of the best rum in the world.

The Flor de Cana factory. Photo courtesy TripHobo.

You can usually tour Flor de Caña’s production facility and sample some of its fine wares. But, like almost everything in this country that caters to tourists, it is currently closed.

There is a lot of poverty in Chinandega. Agriculture workers live in poorly constructed shantys comprising scrap wood and black plastic sheeting. They look like they would be sweltering nightmare in the equatorial heat.

They also wouldn’t look out of place in the ‘first world’ nation I call home. (The only difference between Chinandega and Kaka’ako is that the Nicas don’t need to worry about HPD bulldozing their living arrangements. It’s a cold hard fact that we Americans need to face. Our country features crime and poverty on the level of all but the most failed nation states. American exceptionalism is now, and has likely always been, an absolute fucking myth.)

I switched drivers in Managua, a process which left me momentarily confused, though it makes far more sense than some poor bastard driving the entire trip both ways.

My new driver, Oliver, specializes in transfers to and from surf camps in the southern part of the country. He says it’s a good job, has been doing it for the last five years, but echoes the fact that the recent downturn in visitors has left him struggling.

We stopped in Masaya for quesillos, delicious snacks of corn tortillas wrapped around white cheese and grilled onions. Oliver had chiles included in his but didn’t ask I wanted them because he thought it might be a bit spicy for my gringo pallette.

This is the kind of racism we whites must endure.

Masaya was a notorious hotspot during the recent unrest. Four police officers and six civilians, including a ten year old girl, were killed. 

The city hummed along with only the graffiti and defaced Ortega billboards hinting at any recent political unrest. The graffiti was the same as everywhere, save for a new line being added all over the city’s walls.

Daniel violador pedifilio

Regardless of whether Ortega is in fact a rapist pedophile, man, do the Nicas ever hate Ortega these days. The sentiment does not belong to outliers. The vast majority of the country truly wants him gone.

My route took me from Aposentillo, through Chinandega, past Leon, back toward Puerto Sandino, through Managua, then Masaya, before turning onto a dirt track to Rivas. It was forty five minutes down a rutted road Oliver knew like the back of his hand before turning right up the ridiculously steep Bean Hill Road where Two Brothers sits on the highest hill in the surrounding area.

Two Brothers Surf Camp.

Two Brothers was as empty as everywhere else, save for Auggie Gregory, Felipe Bouzon (one of the two brothers for whom the place is named and a dual-role surf guide and tech master), and a few members of staff.

Auggie is taller than me, so handsome it’s slightly annoying, and at nineteen years old has a fairly rad gig going running the place in the absence of his older brother and father. Auggie likes it here, but is understandably slightly bummed the place is now devoid of the backpacker girls who had only recently begun frequenting their accommodations.

I like Felipe a lot. He’s funny, has put me on some killer surf, and only recently joined the Two Brothers crew. He’d become unhappy with his workaday existence in Brazil and decided to blow it all up at thirty to go chase adventure.

Not Rory Parker, just another happy Two Brothers visitor. 

It was Felipe who was responsible for one of the better sessions of my life. The kind you always kinda remember, becoming a fond tale based in fact even if memory makes the waves slighter larger and your performance slightly better. He recommended we paddle out at a too-low tide Popoyo on a rising swell.  A powerful rip combined with howling offshores made staying in position a chore. I spent the first hour paddling madly, missing waves, getting caught behind sections, and severely doubting his advice to paddle out early rather than wait for the tide.

When I realized I could simply sit in the channel on the inside and let the combination of wind and current push me into position my spirits began to improve.

Felipe knows his shit and as water began accumulating on the reef it turned to perfection.  The sections merged in the middle of the reef creating smoking lefts and rights. The wind held up sections I was sure would close out, creating run-and-gun reelers that left me giddy as I kicked out. We had it to ourselves for hours, until the tide peaked, the wave softened, and what seemed like the entire expat community of the area appeared from the bushes at the exact same time.

The view out front, back when it was still “crowded.” 

By then, my arms were so burnt I could barely push to my feet and my legs so tired I could barely turn. Combined with the prior day’s outing to a thumping beachbreak I was so sore I could barely move when the adrenaline and stoke wore off. If it weren’t for the lubricating qualities of Oxaforte I’d’ve likely spent the next few days bedridden.

Not that it would have mattered. With the following day came my time to leave. Pack the gear, catch a lift to Managua where I’d booked a room at the Best Western across from the airport. Spend a pleasant few hours passing big rigs around blind corners in the typical Nicaraguan fashion. Ask my driver, Oliver, what the signs selling miel de abeja meant.

He didn’t know the English word. Some sort of dulce de insectos was the best he could explain.

Bug candy? What the fuck is that? My mind conjured images of a bugs suspended in hard candy, or strange species of fly excreting a disgusting sap then rendered into an edible mess of which I wanted no part.

I chalked it up to cultural differences. Who am I to judge what people eat?

Twenty minutes later my brain clicked and it made perfect sense.

Honey. Fucking honey.  Which is, really, nothing more than a sap excreted by a fly. But, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem disgusting at all.


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