Hot Pink Travel
Last year about this time, I was taking two high school young ladies to Nicaragua. Our mission was to see a bit of the country and participate in a week of sea turtle rescue with SOSNicaragua.
We spent seven days in a remote part of the country called Padre Ramos Estuary, a few hours north of Leon.
We learned about the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle, and this new population they discovered living in this mangrove estuary. We weren’t alone, as the group included about 14 travelers, a biologist from Fremont, a young family from Berkeley, a turtle-lover from Hawaii. The young man, the organization’s CEO, who lived in humble circumstances to try to save this sea turtle, humbled me.
We were able to release little sea-turtle hatchlings into the ocean, surf down the side of an active volcano, eat street food, and basically enjoy a country that was poor and struggling, but peaceful and kind.
The sea-turtle trip wasn’t my first to Nicaragua. A few years prior my daughter and I traveled in Granada and San Juan Del Sur to explore yoga retreats along the pacific coast and one in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. We had drivers, mostly because I’m too old to ride in a chicken bus, but we had a wonderful and safe time.
Today my friends in Nicaragua who I follow on Facebook are showing photos of people being killed in the streets of Leon and Granada by government soldiers who work under the directive of President Daniel Ortega. The citizens are mostly college students who are peacefully protesting Ortega’s efforts to increase taxes. One was a baby. The government is shooting young people who are peacefully protesting.
All of this reminds me of the fragility of peace. Today, instead of taking US students to learn about sea turtles and witness the work that a handful of humble biologists are doing to protect them, we have to wait until things calm down. Could be months, or maybe years. The organization relies on tourism to fund its future activities. Tourism helps them to buy things that make recovering and protecting the nests easier. I worry about whether this will impact their efforts. I worry about their safety and I watch my Facebook feed with a sad heart.
Today, more than ever, I encourage all of you to travel and experience a different culture. Granted, go someplace without so much conflict, but meet other people. See how they live. Understand their country and lives so that when things like this occur, it’s not just a blip on the news, it’s something that we can view and respond to with context. And pray for peace. Do whatever you can to ensure our world is safer in whatever small way you can.
Let's embrace new cultures, learn new things and see where we'd like to venture next.