A kickstarter to Nicaragua

Sitting in LA 11 is difficult in itself, as fluorescent lights flicker and sap all motivation away from the day’s busy schedule — finish grant, finish documentary, pay parking ticket, pack, pack and prepare…oh yeah maybe learn spanish too.

I should be listening to the professor who stands at the the stage of the room, explaining how primaries, caucuses and elections work in the American political system. I have a final on Monday. I am unaware of the course content, which means I’m unprepared for the exam.

All thoughts point towards leaving to the developing country of Nicaragua, which recently had an election that was the opposite of fair. President Daniel Ortega used executive power to change the constitution, so he could run for a third term. He won with 80-something percent, but the country is protesting. Something is wrong there; something more than FairTrade coffee. Do we hear about this in America? No, why should we care? Did we cause these problems for Nicaraguans? Depends on individual views of Iran/Contra and the history of American Imperialism in Central America. Whatever the opinion — they don’t like us, and we ignore it.

The reason for this random rambling is that two American journalism students (myself and friend, Hannah J. Ryan) are going to Nicaragua to write and photograph the coffee trade between the United States and Nicaragua. Not only will be attempt to report stories and photograph, but doing so we will have to avoid tourist-hungry taxi drivers, panhandlers and sticky-fingered marketeers and do it all with a language barrier for 28 days. My first destination outside Managua will be a market, and my first purchase will be a sweet knife (just in case). Hannah thinks that is dumb (And this will be my first developing motif. We’ll call this foreshadowing).

Traveling is something I love to do, but I’ve been to Australia and Canada. Seriously, how close to America could I go? This is an entirely different nerve I feel, and something that is slowly creeping up on me, as classwork deadlines are met and final grades are developing.

My packing is in stage one. Shit stacked in the corner of my room, hiding my guitar that’s covered in dust from a semester of no use. In a crate I have my backpacking gear: poncho, leatherman, sunscreen, bug spray, dry bags, trail shoes and chacos (probably can leave the bear spray for this trip. Although it would teach those taxi drivers a thing or two). Next to the crate is my camera bag, extra memory cards, two dozen AA batteries, lenses, strobe and chargers. I’m terrible at packing, so this will be the way my room looks until Monday night. I’ll be taking Jerry’s, not Karen’s, packing advice.

I doubt there’s any way for Hannah and I to completely prepare for this trip. Packing is one thing, but how do you prepare for what Managua’s airport will be like at 9:30 pm, when we’ve been flying all day, and the local language will no longer be English, and locals themselves will be looking for tourists for an extra dollar or two? Our parents are nervous that we don’t have an itinerary past check point #2 (1= make it to Managua, 2= get the fuck out of Managua). I’m nervous, and I think Hannah is too (well maybe. She is more badass than I am). But it’s what I want to do. Travel, meet people and tell stories that are more interesting than what’s happening in Missoula.

Over the past two years in the journalism school, we’ve all been hammered with tools and techniques on how to do journalism; what the future holds; and hypothetical situations on what to do if we get caught in some muck. But this is real. This isn’t for a grade. This for experience and something more than a couple good photos and clips for a portfolio. It’s for getting lost and looking for the trail for 28 days, and when we return, there might be a story or two to tell. It might look something like our Kickstarter video or Joe Durso grant query, or it might look like my joke I’ve been telling: “Oh my plan is to get kidnapped by some drug dealers and uncover the inner workings of a Nicaraguan drug cartel.” My bet is that it will be closer to the first idea, or at least let’s hope so.

Well anyways here’s a taste of what to expect on this blog. I’ll be updating it as often as possible, depending on internet availability, and I’ll be uploading photos as well, if I figure out how to use WordPress.

And if you feel like my ramblings enough, please donate to our Kickstarter page, and if you don’t have the cash, please share this on Facebook or word of mouth to someone who might like to learn a thing or two about FairTrade coffee and Nicaragua in general. Hannah and I have spent a lot of money to get to this point, and we’re hoping to break even after Kickstarter and selling our stories when we return in January.

Here’s the link to our Kickstarter (it will be launched ASAP): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/97690654/371574647/edit#define-your-project

Cheerio! (for those who have read my blogs before. And there will be rum featured one or two times.)

Oh and here’s an awesome photo our good friend Sally Finneran took of us.

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4 responses to “A kickstarter to Nicaragua”

  1. Jennifer L. Ryan says :

    Stick together……stay safe……

  2. Jerry says :

    Nice.
    You can pack two weeks early or the night before, but what really matters is getting on the plane.
    Oh – and a small flashlight. And earplugs.
    Happy trails, guero.

  3. Jennifer L. Ryan says :

    stay badass HJ

    xxoo dad

  4. clanham says :

    Don’t ever plan past Checkpoint #2 Beaz. Especially in a developing country, you never know what’s around the next block and it keeps your eyes open to the things that are more interesting than Missoula! And listen to HJ, she is a badass! I’ll be watching both you two and the snow falling outside my work-desk window to the Montana world. Wishing I was adventuring with you.

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