A sunrise I have a lasting impression of

12 07 2013

I have enjoyed catching the sunrise ever since I watch my first, one that was over the South China Sea from Kemaman along the East Coast of Malaysia, back in the early 1970s. It was across that same sea – and the ocean beyond it, that I was to catch on of which I also have a lasting impression of – a rather spectacular one in a faraway place I would prior to that, never dreamt of going to. That sunrise was one which greeted my arrival, one January morning in 1985, into the port of Corinto on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua – the gorgeously colours of the lightening sky revealing the volcanic silhouettes tracing the part of the Ring of Fire that runs along the west coast of the country on the isthmus which connects the two large American continents with the Volcán San Cristóbal, which at 1745 metres, is the highest volcano in Nicaragua, standing out.

Sunrise over the Volcán San Cristóbal as seen from the Pacific Ocean, December 1984

Sunrise over the Volcán San Cristóbal as seen from the Pacific Ocean, December 1984

The country was then still fresh from a revolution which freed it from the U.S. supported Samoza regime – the bullet holes that riddled the walls of many of its towns and village, decorated by the symbols of revolution, did seem like they had been made only yesterday. The country was brought to the brink by the effects of a stranglehold placed by the United States which cut-off access to finance as well as to a market where the bulk of the country’s produce were traditionally exported to. What did give hope was that not all in the free world did go along with the actions of the U.S. government – their European allies refusal to participate in the sanctions was to provide the hope which the sunrise was to perhaps symbolise.





San Juan del Sur

9 05 2009

There is an idyllic bay in some far flung corner of the world I spent some three weeks at, which had some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Clear blue waters and a wide sandy beach lined with wooden beach side cafes, San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua seemed like paradise, particularly with the exchange rate on got on the black market for the US Dollar which was controlled by a leftist leaning government that came to power on the back of a bloody revolution fueled by a intense resentment excesses of the US supported dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza (Jr). As a result, the locally brewed Cerveza Victoria cost something like 10 cents a bottle, a bottle of the local rum went for something that translated to maybe $2, and a plate of Langostino grilled to perfection and served with a generous serving of plantain prepared as we would french fries, and fresh salad, cost maybe $1.50.

Las Lugos Restaurant Receipt, Dec 1984.

Las Lugos Restaurant Receipt, Dec 1984.

Evidence of the Revolution was everywhere … the uniformed soldiers, the murals of the revolutionary figurehead, an Augusto César Sandino, who had led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Somoza’s father, the senior Anastasio Somoza in the early 20th century, and the black and red flags of the FSLN, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation, named after Sandino, and numerous walls scarred with bullet holes.

The Beach, San Juan del Sur

The Beach, San Juan del Sur

The hardship caused by the economic sanctions imposed by the Ronald Reagan led Presidency was also very evident. Even basic neccessities such as soap and toothpaste was in short supply. Shelves of the few shops I found would seem like how Mother Hubbard’s  cupboard would have appeared to her poor dog. What made up for the dire situation the people were in was the warmth they exhibited. Somehow, admidst the hardship and poverty, there was also hope for a brighter future promised by the Revolution. Also, for the first time, I witnessed how, with so little in life (from a material standpoint), people were happier – thankful for the little that they have. The local beverage, referred to as Refresco, made from pureed melons, sweetened and served with ice, was a nice discovery I made, particularly refreshing in the muggy climes of the tropics.

Sunset over the Bay, San Juan del Sur

Sunset over the Bay, San Juan del Sur, 22 Dec 1984

Sunset over the Bay, San Juan del Sur, Christmas 1984

Sunset over the Bay, San Juan del Sur, 5 Jan 1985