Tabacalera Fernandez - Simply Amazing
Written by Daniel Lopez

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

User Rating: / 1

profilestabacalera fernandez

A late start on the day Swanson and I make our way to the center of the city and notice that something has changed. Buses and crowds full of sandanistas sporting the RED and Black colors are loading up to head to Managua. The roar of the cheering supporters are filled throughout the city. My goal in visiting the streets of Esteli is to get some footage of locals and everyday life. Here is where I learn a very valuable lession. When you are shooting in an area like this you basically have about 3-5 minutes to shoot footage before one of two things happens. First people will start to change their behavior and this means they are uncomfortable with you shooting them. Second thing that happens is a crowd will start to form. When this happens you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because you realize that you have just become a target with and expensive camera. From this point on I would try to be aware of who was forming behind me and what they were saying. You still want to get the shots but you can not be stupid or naive about where you are at. Anywhere you shoot whether it be USA or Nicaragua has areas that are safer then others. Knowing those areas is key and you will only learn as time goes on.

We make our way back to the factory just in time for the streets to fill with a youth parade. Later I would take the camera into the crowd as far as possible before hearing the words yelled about President Ortega and noticing some sandanistas trying to gain support in the crowd. I got that gut feeling again since I was the only 300 pound guy in the crowd and remembered that the USA backed the Contras. Seemed like a good time to make a quick walk back down the street about a block or two away into the factory.

Kris comes into the factory and lets us know that we will be going to a house in Grenada instead of Managua for the next two days. We will enjoy Grenada, Nicaragua for the next two days and on Sunday we will fly out of Managua. We shoot a few photo shots of the factory and people in it before we leave. I thank A.J. for giving me the chance to shoot video of his operation and for treating me so well. He tells me the door is always open and loads me up on cigars to try. We load up the truck and jump in ready for our trip to Grenada, Nicaragua.

Engelbert Humperdinck and Neil Diamond blast on the radio as we fly down the hiway headed for Grenada. Not my generation of music but wow those are some great tunes. I take time to pause and think about the current setting. Ok I am in freaking Nicaragua blasting 70's American music smoking cigars and loving every second. Awesome is the only word to describe it. Within 30 minutes we are all singing along right as we get stopped by the Policia at a road stop. This happens all the time and basically the Policia can recongnize an easy buck. In Esteli all the police know Kris's vehicle and never stop him. Since this is the hiway to Grenada it is different. So here is how it works, the Policia stops you. Then you simply ask them a question, "Have you eaten anything today". They will reply "No Senor". Pull out about $10 worth in the local monetary unit you have separate from your wallet and hand it to them. They then tell you to drive safely. Same goes for airport areas you get tied up in. BTW - Yes those are real automatic weapons they are holding and yes this is normal so get used to it. People got to eat and the Policia do not get paid much down there.

Ok so back to 70's songs and night time falls as we enter a gas station only to notice rows of buses and lots of sandanistas everywhere. We grab some snacks for the road and are offered cocaine on the way out. We get back in the truck and I notice that one of the buses has chanting sandanistas in it. So here is where the stupidity comes into play. Yes I know it is dumb to want to go on that bus. On the other hand if civil war breaks out before Sunday I will have video of chanting sandanistas on their way to Managua in full face paint and colors. I ask Kris if I can take the small camera and just film them quickly and then leave. He reminds me again that the USA backed the Contras and these are Sandanistas. I explain that I will not speak one word so there is no way they are going to know I am american. At this point I am reminded that I stick out like a sore thumb anyways. Old age and treachery overcomes youth and enthusiam for good reason. I stayed in the truck and we made it to Grenada safely.

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