Someone Else’s Island

I don’t often respond to the WordPress Daily Post, however Someone Else’s Island spoke to me personally. Ron recently asked me, “Debbie, what would we take if we were forced to leave Ometepe Island?” My post is a twist on Someone Else’s Island, instead of being stranded on an island, what would we take if we were forced to leave?

Everyone is nervously awaiting the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal by the Chinese. Construction is supposed to start on December 22nd. I am taking this personally because what if Ometepe Island becomes someone else’s island? I heard rumors…that’s all we get…that over 300,000 Chinese will be granted Nicaraguan citizenship to work on the canal.

The map below shows that one half of our beloved island will be controlled by the Chinese. Everything in red along the canal route.

Where will they all live? What will they eat? Over six miles of beach front property has been measured by the Chinese on Ometepe Island…two properties away from our property!!! Maybe they will build a mega resort, then again, maybe the land will be expropriated for homes for the new Chinese workers. Who knows?

All I know is that I am worried and anxious. What if Ometepe Island becomes someone else’s island? Where will we go? What will we take with us? It’s frightening for me to think about abandoning our island home and our dear friends.

Some news reports say that we should prepare for another civil war because the Nicaraguan people won’t give up their land and homes without a fight. Other news sources say that everything is speculation, and we shouldn’t worry because the Nicaraguan people will have thousands of jobs. Who knows? Without any transparency, we are left to wonder, to worry, and to fret about our lives in Nicaragua.

What would I take if we were forced to make a quick move?

1. My 2 cats and my puppy
2. My camera and laptop, mainly because it has my Nicaraguan life in pictures.
3. I’d bundle up all my memories of my life here and tie them with a banana leaf bow.

Everything else is expendable. I’d have a giant give away…everything goes. Believe me, it would be gone in a few hectic minutes. Our entire lives could be squished into a small backpack. It may sound weird, but it would be exciting to just give our lives away. Freedom at its best!

Where would we go? Who knows? Maybe we’d go to Panama to live. We have a house in the U.S., but I’ve always said, “Been there. Done that.”

Meanwhile, snapping back to our real world, there are leaves to rake and bananas to harvest. Will Ometepe Island become someone else’s island? Who knows? All I know is that we’re still here… gardening and harvesting sweet potatoes…swimming and kayaking in our enormous lake, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America. Life is good no matter where we hang our hammocks.

30 thoughts on “Someone Else’s Island

  1. The Chinese abroad in third world countries do not typically hire any any local labour…hence the 300,000. workers who are paid very….very low wages….They…the workers prefer to stay in those countries….i predict an influx of Chinese restaurants as is happening all over the Caribbean…Some Chinese integrate easily…but other remain in tight cultural associations for generations….

  2. When we lived on Padre Island off the coast of Texas we had our exit plan in case we needed to evacuate our waterfront home in the event of a hurricane. Figuring out what we couldn’t replace or couldn’t give up (family photos for me and artwork for my husband) made it much easier when we decided to get rid of everything. My husband donated some of his collection to historical museums and many to charities we supported for fundraisers. I scanned my photos onto my laptop and had the really good photos professionally scanned with everything backed up in the cloud. Everything else we sold or donated. In the event that the worse happens, having an exit plan and knowing what’s important to take can be extremely freeing once you know that most things can be replaced and your memories are portable. Maybe it will help you feel that you have a modicum of control over your life… I so sympathize with you – it’s the uncertainty and speculation that can be your the worse enemy! Anita

    • I envy you! I am such a collector of stuff. But, your thoughts are important to remember because our memories are portable. Most everything else is expendable. It was exciting thinking of just walking out the door with our backpacks and our pets. Thanks for sharing this with us, Anita.

  3. Reblogged this on FindingMySelfinPanama and commented:
    Deb Goehring posted this….after reading it I feel sick and angry at the same time…it’s like a bad dream…Kris and I visited Ometepe recently and fell under it’s spell. I can’t just believe what they say may happen will come to pass..”say it ain’t so.” The canal would change everything and I doubt the gains would outweigh the losses. Rant over.

  4. are you and bob/piran cafe connected? he’s tweaked his antennae toward the canal project and has a dedicated page that he’s updating as often as possible.

    my heart goes out to all of you; it has to be very overwhelming as you stand by in limbo.

    am writing from el matal where the ocean sounds loud and fierce here at my friends home. i keep wanting to go out and see if it’s gobbling the sand bags… their next test will roll around in two weeks, and they are also in a state of limbo as they wait to see if another shoe drops and the ocean advances.

    i hope that your sweet ometepe never changes.


    • Hola Lisa,
      I’m trying to type with one hand. I was cleaning the fence line yesterday and was bitten by those nasty ants..AGAIN! Yes, Bob and I correspond regularly. He has a great page about the Nicaraguan canal with daily updates.
      Every morning I read the La Prensa, and now the protests are getting louder and bolder. This morning I read that they burnt tires across the road in San Jorge in protest and the day before that, they stoned a vehicle of the Chinese while they were out measuring land. The Catholic church has come out against the canal, which is great news because the church influences so many people in Nicaragua. Only time will tell.
      My heart goes out to you as well. Mother nature always wins in the end. Have you seen these great commercials?

  5. I didn’t realize that things are this close…wow, that sounds like a tense situation. Having just read the book “China’s Second Continent,” I am afraid for your little island. China has a tendency to give a lot of gifts and promises upfront, but the reality later is often very different. Politicians are bought to overlook environmental impact, poor treatment and payment of locals. The Chinese will operate their own hotels and boarding houses, bring their own shopkeepers and others necessary to maintain their culture. Jobs available for locals will be the most menial and lowest paid positions. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is what’s going on throughout Africa, wherever Chinese manage to take a foothold (think mining in the Congo, clearcutting of old growth timber in Tanzania, etc.).

    • I know, Annette. That red line not only cuts Ometepe Island in half, but it literally cuts the country in half. When I started my research on the Nicaraguan canal, I researched Tanzania first. I was trying to find something hopeful, like infrastructure improvements, good medical care for locals, and jobs for the local people. The only facts I found were full of gloom and doom. The local people and their natural resources were exploited. Only time will tell what happens. Keep spreading the word.

  6. If you have to leave, I will be sad for you knowing how much you love Ometepe, and remembering how quickly we also fell in love with it and the people there. If something does happen though, remember you have friends in Panama who will take care of you until you figure out your next move.

  7. All you can do right now is go about your daily life until something concrete happens with the canal. As far as what you would take, you have your priorities in order. It always boils down to pets and pictures.

  8. Yes. Here in Quintana Roo, Mexico, we have been fearing the influx of Chinese for several years concerning the nearby development of DragonMart — huge huge huge — ?did I say HUGE? — wholesale commercial center, alluding to the promise of thousands of jobs for local Mexicans and the reality that the Chinese were marking off roads for incredible housing developments for their own workers. Project’s on. It’s off. It’s on. It’s off. Demonstrations by thousands of locals. Permits granted. Then declined. Signs. No signs. Right now – no signs and rumors that the project is off. But tremendous handfuls of cash magically erase ecological studies and recommendations. Sigh.

    Thank you for sharing.

  9. Seems to me somewhere there’s a saying about thoughts of the past bringing sadness, thoughts of the future bringing anxieties, leaving only ‘living the here and now’ – which is what you seem to be doing. “Leaving it all behind” isn’t so bad either, done it a few times already —-

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