Morning in San Juan del Sur -
after a restless night, the stirrings of first light are soporific and calming. Sleep finally comes along with the daylight. A few hours slip by, and we are awakened by loud small-engine sounds. This must be an all-too-common rude awakening for homeless trying to sleep through the noise of leaf-blowers in a park, but we are not homeless right now, nor in a world with leaf-blowers. We are in an inexpensive upstairs room in a Nicaraguan pension, at the end of an Escheresque labyrinth of unevenly rising and winding stairs and wooden planks with uncertain orientation and unpredictable gaps.
Our room has big windows facing out onto another maze of stairs and composed entirely of horizontal slats of frosted glass, mostly all there except for the few open slots that the household wasp uses to come in & reconnoiter the kitchen every few minutes during the day. Generally speaking, there is no airflow barrier between the inside & outside in these tropical places anyway, and the rickety arrangement of glass slats with its frequent gaps only accentuates that fact.
So when a thick smoke smelling of insecticide started billowing in the window, we had no choice but to jump out of bed, throw on whatever clothes were there, and run out the door and into the street holding our breath until we reached something a little less chromosome-bending than an insecticide-cloud to breathe. Only there were men with backpack sprayers filling the street with the same stuff.
We hurried down to the cafe, where the smoke was more like a light fog, and sat down to breakfast and to share our bewilderment with other diners while we had our coffee with it's sickly sweet insecticide aftertaste.
Log on, get stuck on Facebook for 15m, then resume conscious life and look around for information on what this pesticide might be. Nothing - lots of tids about spraying and that it's happening, but no information on exactly what is being sprayed, save for a few cryptic remarks about how damaging it is and how it's banned here but they still use it there. Circuitous as the internet can be, I am soon navigating a completely different story-line, discovering about how the CIA has been caught deliberately infecting people in Nicaragua and several other places, as well as in poor black neighborhoods in Florida, and allegedly en masse in Cuba, with Dengue, as a 'biological weapons' test.
I am so disgusted by the predatory psychosis of the US government that, at least for a few minutes, I am completely free of worry about what has just been jammed down our respiratory tracts, and a little disappointed that a citizenry that are quite literally being murdered by their government in the US would not be more inclined to return the favor.
So the question remains - what in the world did we breathe this morning? The scene was so surreal. It took less than a full minute between the time we realized the noise was fumigation and the smoke in our room was so thick you could not see the door. The trip down the uneven meandering stairs, over the cement ridges and soaked floor-mats in the darkened inner courtyard, and out the door, was dream-like. It felt like archetypal images from the collective consciousness of the American Embassy in Saigon in '68 - scurrying through something difficult to comprehend in the moment except at the base level of needing to get out of there, following a small window of light that seemed to recede almost faster than we could move, and landing outside in a crowd of equal parts complete bewilderment and absolute apathy - as if these two parallel worlds coexisted here al the time - one that clings instinctively to survival, and one that simply accepts it as inevitable, until it isn't.