Sara in the Land of Dengue

Thursday, August 03, 2006

On route to Puerto Cabezas

I left the mountains, mud and rain of Mulukuku at 5:30am to take the bus over the green wet hills and plains of Nicaragua to Siuna, a mountainous town boasting an airport. The airport boasted 2 employees. One sold the tickets, her technology consisted of a calculator with a pop up screen hanging on for dear life by one dangling cord. I cannot say the calculator was well treated, after every entry she would give the thing a good hard wack – somehow thinking that would make it work better. She confided in me that sometimes at the end of the day her hand hurt from hitting the calculator so much. I wondered (to myself) how the calculator felt at the end of the day…
I went out to a stand to await the plane and saw the runway, a long stretch of gravel that seemed to be a thorough faire for the town. There were cars, dogs, bikes, horses and people. As it came time for the plane to come the place seemed to get more crowded, the arrival of planes seemed to be a point of attraction for the town.
At this time I saw the other employee, a man probably no less than 70, hobbled out to the runway carrying an orange cone and plopped it down – apparently he was the airtraffic controller. Then he hobbled back and brought out my backpack – also the baggage person. If this airport had had security that would have been his job as well.
The plane arrived, the pilots hopped out, went over to the stand to have a cup of coffee and a tortilla. Then we were off. The people in Mulukuku had described the plane as being smaller than a butterfly. While it was small, it still could fit 15 people…and the butterflies in Mulukuku had a wingspan that was as big as my forearm so it was not all that small of a plane.
I soon learned that the Siuna airport was actually pretty developed. We touched down in 2 towns along the way to drop something off. The last ‘airport’ consisted of a dirt runway with 2 men armed with machine guns in fatigues and a taxi. The only building was a little cement shack with a roof – other than that it was all bushes for as far as the eye could see. I wondered what those armed men did all day long to amuse themselves.

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