Some Things You Can’t Plan For in Nicaragua…

You just have to adapt – on any kind of production. In this case, during a ten-day assignment in Nicaragua for Al Jazeera America, our team of four people criss-crossed the country to get ahead of plans to create the Interoceanic AlexinBoatGrand Canal, a canal through Nicaragua that has becomes known as the largest engineering project attempted in human history. You can imagine the logistics, the on-the-fly decision-making and the constant cost-benefit analyses that come when you have a limited amount of time but ambitious plans. Many of the places we were traveling to didn’t have strong communication or even an exact place on a map.

On top of that, weather changes. On the day that we were due to travel down the coast of the Caribbean to an indigenous community called Bangkukuk, we were forced to move ahead and sail into the ocean during a small boat advisory. (It was just an advisory, right?) It didn’t look bad from shore, but once we got out onto the open sea, our boat was airborne at certain points because of the huge waves. A writer in the boat was thrown to its floor so we ended up holding onto each other, in part because I was concerned she would simply fly out. The motor putted out, as it became entangled by seaweed. At that point, I was looking for flotation devices to help get us to shore and barked at everyone to get vests on. All my equipment? Surely a casualty. I switched to an iPhone and ended up accidentally taking a picture of me doing an impression of a wet dog. The first image below was taken with my phone, when our first mate was trying to hang on like riding a wild bull. The image led one of the days of the piece.

We survived and of course had a good story to tell. Below are some favorite images from the project, as we sought to tell the stories that mattered – the people whose lives would be potentially affected by the canal. I’ve added images to my main site. It was a five-day series, so if you have some time, please be sure to read about the fascinating project.

All photos ©2015 Alex Garcia

Several indigneous tribal areas that will be disrupted by the proposed canal project are only accessible by boat. Here, the second mate of a boat headed to Bangkukuk struggles to stay on his feet during a small boat advisory that was issued for the Caribbean waters.  February 24, 2015

Bangkukuk resident Edwin McCrea prepares to cut down bananas in a part of the jungle where he grows subsistence crops to keep his family going.  February 25, 2015

Fishing in Lake Nicaragua, Martin Correa throws out a net at sunset from at pier at San Miguelito.  February 21, 2015

 

Nicaragua fisherman

 

A great egret soars with a fish in its beak above Lake Nicaragua, demonstrating the biodiversity at risk by a canal project that will cut through the lake. Environmentalists and fishermen are concerned about the impact of massive dredging in the lake.  February 22, 2015

 

©2015 Alex Garcia

Pedro McCrea and his wife Cristina, Rama village elders, stand on a point at Bangkukuk that was identified by surveyors with a concrete marker. The proposed canal project is confusing for many villagers, who wish to defend their way of life from the project.  February 25, 2015

Roger Guido, the owner of a small-scale banana plantation, has helped organize opposition to the canal in the western town of Rivas.  February 28, 2015.

Women and children of Bangkukuk regularly play stickball in an open field in the village while the men of the village are away during the day.  February 24, 2015

 

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