14 November 2014

Rummaging through writings from 1988/89

11 Dec 1988
Riding on horseback up steep mountains and through ravines carrying UNICEF medical bags to a distant gathering village along the northern border with Honduras.  Our mission is to provide first aid, vaccinations and various medications to try to cover for clinics and medics who have been killed in Contra attacks.  Clinics and schools, medics and teachers are the primary target of US backed and advised Contra forces.  I accompany two Nicaraguans, a doctor trained in Canada and a nurse trained in Germany.
Beautiful country, Contra infested.  Parrots flutter from tree to tree.
12 Dec 1988
A four hour ride yesterday, one way into the cloud shrouded mountains.  The war (and its effects) is omni-present.  Visual manifestations of damage to objects and people, teachers...schools...first aid stations.  We were shadowed by a platoon of the FSLN, the Sandinistas...but that almost seems to ensure attack.  RPGs, AK-47s send me into flashbacks.
It was dark on our return. The moon just a sliver and the stars bright as bright can possibly be. The sounds of the jungle immensely powerful.  We left at 0800 and it is now past 1800.  The truck which was to pick us up at a rendezvous point wasn't there.  The horses had been taken to a way station and we waited.  The truck arrived an hour late, it had broken down in a ditch and had to be recovered by oxen.  I took the driver's seat.  The mud from the rain made the clay road slick as ice.  I said, "This is how we drive in a Minnesota winter"...The soldiers in the back hung on for dear life.  Slipping, sliding, careening from side to side...slowing then accelerating...we kept moving forward.  Someone banged on the roof of the cab.  The soldiers wanted out...there was a contra base very near.  They feared attack.  Fanning out, the doctor, nurse and I were left alone in the truck with the headlights still on, engine running.  We were apprehensive to say the least.  Time stood still.  Lights off, engine off.  Quiet was deafening.
The soldiers returned...no sign of the contras.  We continued our journey back to my tent by the river.  Back to a perimeter.

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