Or how my mid-life crisis got its ass kicked (PART 1)

BASED ON A TRUE STORY (sort of)

By Nick Dangier

There is no easy way to extract a 7 inch long coyol thorn from the testicle of an enraged 2,000 pound Brahman bull. Not for you and most definitely not for him. In this particular case a bull known for his extreme anti-social behavior even in the best of times. Add to that the satanic heat and the whole situation was beginning to take on the characteristics of a promotional trailer for the Faces of Death video series. For a brief moment I mentally calculated the time it would take for a Cruz Roja ambulance and paramedic team to cover the distance from Orotina to our ranch.

Luca Brasi, our prize bull, was laying on his side trussed up; his massive chest heaving like Iron Mike Tyson in his prime, waiting for the starting bell to unleash his fury. He glared at me with those dark, bloodshot, baseball sized, hate filled eyes; nostrils flared, head swinging, snot and slobber flying with a look on his face that seemed to say: “Hey, Nick! The first chance I get, I’m gonna stomp your guts out… just so you know, buddy.”

The poor brute was laying out in the open on an easily 110 degree (F) day. My neighbor, along with my cunado [brother-in-law], two of my older kids and myself began our day in the wee hours, before sunup, when it is cooler and the damn wind hasn’t really gotten howling yet.

The first thing we had to do was round him up, which is easier said than done. I mean it’s not like calling in an Uber. The ground Luca was roaming delirious with homicidal intentions is full of volcanic rock outcroppings and islands of thorny coyol thorns and matapalo vines. This our smallest pasture, is roughly three and one half acres square. The terrain is mountainous where our family run cattle ranch is located. This pasture covers a slope which runs at a roughly 45 degree angle and contains one of our fresh water springs and a deep natural pool at the bottom of the property. It functions as our family swimming hole.

Besides not getting gored we also had the burden of keeping our mounts from losing their footing on the difficult terrain, causing them to stumble and go down, very probably crushing us. Thank God your typical criollo pony doesn’t weigh as much as a Clydesdale. The horses we rode were good proven mounts, but they knew Luca was on the war path; filled with pain provoked rage due to the 7 inch thorn stuck in his now swollen and clearly infected nut sack. For that reason our ponies baulked and refused to go any closer to Luca than 20 yards or so; just enough of a head start for them to bolt to safety if the crazy bull charged. And charge us he did. Several times.

Twenty yards is just shy of effective roping range for my crew of non-Texans, so we brought out the big guns: Mangoes. Eventually we were able to lure Senor Brasi into our corral with nothing more than a sack of fermenting mangoes. Sore balls or not, Luca is a sucker for the sticky sweet fruit and he has been ever since he was a wee calf.

By early afternoon we finally had him in our recently de-roofed corral roped, tied and down. We tried to rig up a couple of old tarps so as to provide the incensed bovine with a bit of shade. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the Costa Rican sun can be merciless this time of year. In spite of our efforts though, the gusting gale force January winds tore them from our grasp before we even had them anchored. The two 20 foot truck trailer tarps shot off in the general direction of Puerto Caldera like a renegade pair of riderless magic carpets.

A lesser man would have every reason to take enthusiastic delight in Luca’s suffering after our aptly named bull tried and failed to shwack me out on no less than three separate occasions in as many months. Just this past Christmas Eve he got loose and crushed the driver’s side mirror on our truck with a swat of his long, sharp horns. All of the local kids make the sign of the cross and cautiously peer around our front gate, as if there are snipers in the area, before dashing across to the other side. They understandably fear Luca may be loose again and chase them all the way to the school house, which I’m sorry to say has happened before.

Honestly I don’t hold any grudges against Luca for trying to kill me, f#cking up my Hi-Lux or making us the pariahs of the neighborhood. I understand it’s nothing personal. I realize as a semi-intelligent and now nearly 12 years a semi-sober individual, that Luca is a bull simply being a bull. Of course you go and try explain that to him. Just make sure you do it when he’s all trussed up. And heavily sedated.

It was lunch time. We were all caked in a muddy mixture of sweat and dust; resembling a fine yet gritty body paste. Queenie my wife and Lady of the manor, would not let us even think about going anywhere near the house in our current state. She did take some pity on us and appeared on the back porch lugging out a five gallon bucket of iced down limonade, plus a big tray of fresh fried chicken along with a steaming hot stack of criollo style corn bread, lathered in melted garlic butter and natilla; just the way I like it. We didn’t bother with plates, utensils or glass ware. We ate with our hands- after washing up in the bodega first, of course. Sharing the bucket of limonade we passed around an old plastic soup ladle for us to quench our insatiable thirst.

Although Luca is well restrained and virtually harmless in his current state, none of us let our eyes stray from the pissed-off bull for long. We all have our personal tales of terror regarding Mr. Brasi. For that reason we give him the sort of respect an absolutely bat-shit nuts wrecking machine warrants.

Queenie likes to say in her down home kind of way, that Luca is so mean even the terciopelos prefer to slither a kilometer out of their way in the scorching sun than take a chance of crossing paths with him in the shade. It sounds much better in Spanish.

So this is how I pass my days now: De-skewering bull balls and lunch time chit-chat on the habits of deadly serpents. Maybe on my annual day off this year I can spend it welding up a new wind-proof roof for our corral… Yippee! Actually my life wasn’t always this glamorous. I used to work for a living.

Truth be told, poor Luca’s testicles were the least of my worries. After all they weren’t my testicles. What with the current cycle of problems up north, an ever increasing number of my in-laws have begun abandoning Nicaragua bound for- yup, you guessed it- our humble home here in peaceful [relatively speaking] Costa Rica. Here on that 15 acre slice of paradise we affectionately refer to as: “Castle Skeletor” [this is what can happen when you let your 5 year old name the spread]. So now I’m Harriet Tubman over here.

President-for-life his Excellency El Generalisimo Daniel “Danny Boy” Ortega’s Sandinista thugs, otherwise known as the Nicaraguan Armed Forces and Policia Nacional along with government sponsored and sanctioned paramilitary motorcycle gangs have been working overtime terrifying and murdering all who dare to oppose the Fuhrer and his First Lady: Vice President-for-life and number one partner in crime dona Rosario Murillo.

My wife’s family is Nicaraguan. They hail from REDACTED. Her baby brother [we’ll call him ‘Sven’] until recently had a sweet job as a helicopter crew chief in the Nicaraguan Air Force. Sven and two of his cohorts had deserted their base a week prior and have been hiding out with us ever since reaching Costa Rican soil. If their story is true and I have no reason to doubt them, then what is happening up in poor, cursed Nicaragua is nothing less than bone chilling. If not infuriating.

It is enough to make a cynical person jaded, that after all the blood, sweat and tears spent [not to mention $ spent] to bring down the Soviets and provide unimpeded freedom- both social and economic- for Third World people such as the Nicaraguan people, that they would turn around just a few years later, and freely elect their would be oppressors back into power [think Venezuela]. It’s all a bit personal to me and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, truth be told.

I tease Queenie all the time about the brain power of her pueblo, with jokes like: How many Nicaraguans does it take to change a light bulb? Answer- zero. Because nobody in Nicaragua knows what a light bulb is. Of course Queenie always counters with her joke about the smart ass Gringo who had to sleep in the barn. For a month. So I don’t do my Shecky Dangier-field act very often.

Mr. Dangier-field will be appearing in the barn for the next thirty days…

According to Sven the day he and his comrades made their break for Ticolandia, they had been ordered on a “combat” mission to the Nicaraguan Department of Masaya and a small village about 40 kilometers outside Managua. Their target was a growing crowd of civilian anti-Ortega protesters numbering in the hundreds by the time the commander of Sven’s helo’ received his Warning Order. The excuse given to them by their superiors for ordering the massacre of innocent civilians, was that those protesting “traitors” were blocking a crossroads of strategic importance to “La Patria”.

The enthusiastic young die-hard Sandinista Party member and Air Force Captain in charge of Sven’s helicopter troop, spoke with great passion and soap opera-like drama in his voice while passing on the order for the Masaya mission. You’d of thought young Sven and his buds were King Leonidas and his brave 300 Spartans going off to seal Hell’s Gate from an invasion force of one-million Persians; the very future of freedom and democracy hanging in the balance. Oh the irony. The young clueless Capitano “Brown-noser”, as Sven and his compas referred to their former CO, didn’t understand it was they- the government who were the villains.

The protesters were mostly elderly pensioners, who had not received their meager pensions in months. Among them veterans of Ortega’s civil war to oust Somoza from power and put Ortega on the throne in the first place, those now many years ago. And due to the fact that the schools had been ordered closed by Ortega’s government, there were dozens of elementary aged children present at the protest as well. These civilian protesters were of course unarmed.

Ortega is no newbie when it comes to dictatorin’, no siree Bob. The very first thing he did this go around was disarm his critics and other law abiding citizenry, while at the same time arming to the teeth his supporters, such as murderous masked motorcycle goons loyal to Danny Boy’s thoroughly corrupt Sandinista regime. This disarmament of his law abiding populace was actually overseen by the United Nations and was applauded by so-called freedom loving governments around the globe. Of course in private, behind closed doors, away from the pesky and stupid world press corp ole Dan-oh was laughing his ass off. There was even a highly publicized “Food for Weapons Exchange Program” also promoted by the U.N.

In hindsight it is now abundantly clear that no one was made safer or more secure for the however well-intentioned program. Certainly no more free. In hindsight it appears that an impoverished people will sell their freedom for a sack of frijoles negros if they’re hungry enough. It does at first glance look reasonable. What could possibly go wrong by getting heavy military weapons off the street? What possible dastardly motive could Daniel Ortega have in disarming his people?

Before they’d even lifted off the pilots and crew of Sven’s gunship were in complete, though secret, agreement that, “pasa lo que pasa’, there was no way in hell they were going to mow down unarmed civilians. And fellow Nicaraguans at that!

A tail rotor problem became their fictitious excuse to bail on the op’. So after a couple of low level, fish tailing passes over the crowd- never firing a single shot- they headed for home confident they’d gotten over on their bosses. Of course the ruse fooled no one. They could see half a dozen military police gathered down on the landing pad waiting for them as they were arriving back at base. When Sven noted that one of their welcoming party was a general, he knew their bacon was cooked. Sure enough, the main rotor blades of their chopper had not yet finished spinning down before Sven’s commanding officer and their co-pilot were handcuffed and marched away at gun point. The rest of them- Sven and his two crew mates were confined to quarters and ordered not to talk to anyone regarding the mission to Masaya. It took all of about three seconds for them to make the most important decision of their young lives.

They made their escape about an hour before daybreak; taking advantage of a change of watch between base security personnel. Staying clear of roads and moving only at night, they made REDACTED, Costa Rica in roughly two days. Once on Costa Rican soil the first thing they did was request refugee status. The second thing they did was call me.

There is strong evidence suggesting that Ortega has death squads operating in Costa Rica with the dual objectives of silencing dissidents living in Puravidaville whose numbers are now in the thousands, continue to grow and of course dish out payback to former loyal Sandinistas- such as Sven and his two buddies- who according to Ortega: “betrayed the revolution” and deserted their posts. So keeping a low profile in Costa Rica these days should be of prime importance to any “Pinoleros’ currently on the lam here in Costa Rica who’d like to live long enough to see the Red Sox win another World Series.

I’m not sure I fully understand why, but for some bizarre reason the more things heat up in Nicaragua the younger I feel. It’s as if my adult life is coming full circle; history repeating itself. All I need to do now is get a mullet haircut, a silver Members Only jacket, a big ole bag-o-weed, rolled into pinners to sell in the parking lot outside the Van Halen concert and it could literally be 1985 all over again. Of course to cinch it, the Cervezeria would have to go back to charging 20 colones for a Heineken and believe me when I tell you folks that ain’t about to happen.

Not twelve hours after finally getting my mother-in-law and her sister off to Miami, Sven and his buds show up. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good people, but they’re beginning to cramp my style, and if they devour one more jar of my “gringo caviar” [peanut butter], without asking permission first, I might just drop a dime and collect the bounty Ortega has on their heads. Who knows? It might just cover the cost of a new roof for the corral. Maybe enough for the roof and for Queenie and me to fly up to Arizona this March for the annual Big Sandy meet. Ortega personally and publicly put a $55,000 USD bounty on the head of some poor Nicaraguan college student hiding out in The States who has been a major and very vocal opponent of Ortega and his crooked regime via the internet from his new home in the U.S.A. My three Pep Boys could easily fetch a hundred grand; probably more. Certainly enough money to keep on ranchin’ for three or four more years. Or the money ran out. Whichever came first.

The operation to remove the thorn was a complete success. Though not completed before Luca got a chance to kick a hoof full of dirt into Sven’s eyes and bellow in a blood curdling, deeply unsettling, high pitched screech the likes of which I had never in my life heard from man or beast before. It was loud enough to be heard in the western Philippines. Upon hearing the terrible shriek, a flock of brilliant snow white garzas abandoned their perch atop our bodega and frantically flew off toward Canada. As gently as possible we slid the seven inch wood spike out of Luca’s scrotum. Lucky for the big fella, the damage to his livelihood was all sack and no nut. Assuming the antibiotics worked he’d be good as new in a week or two and back on the job.

Our job was not quite finished. The only thing more perilous than throwing an ornery bull is letting him loose after. He’s not falling for the old mango trick this time and he’s now pretty sure it was you who put the thorn there in the first place. The poor, confused, pea brained, homicidal brute… you can hardly blame him. So on the count of three, carefully, but quickly- like a gang of teenage pranksters leaving a bag of burning dog poop on Whitey Bulger’s mom’s front porch on Halloween- we pull loose the three lariats or sogas in Spanish, which had been restraining Luca. The sedative we’d given him had nearly warn off. So once everyone else was clear I yanked Luca’s blind fold and in the very same motion I jumped off his tree trunk-like neck, where I’d been kneeling to help control him. That’s when I ran like hell for the nearest side of the corral. I went tumbling over the top rail with all the grace of a drunkard on ice skates. My kids thought it was the most hilarious thing they’d witnessed in a long time; fist bumps and shit eating grins all around. “Another good one for the Facebook, Pa!” My eldest said while recording it all on his smart phone.

OPERATION TENDER NUGGETS behind us it was time to get cleaned up for supper. Before heading into the bodega to hose off first, I hung back for a moment to take one more look at our ungrateful patient. Luca squared off his powerful chest to me. He lowered his huge head and pawed the ground a couple of times, kicking up a dust cloud that refracted the orange light of the setting sun. Then as if nothing had ever happened, he turned his filthy rear end to me and went back to his sack of mangoes.

After dinner I retired to the den and began calculating the cost of roofing materials to repair the corral. I had every intention of taking advantage of all this “free” labor being delivered to me of late. I mean, hey, have you priced a jar of peanut butter in this country? Queenie, Sven and Sven’s buddies were still gathered around the dinner table. They gossiped in their native tongue and spoke of news and folks back home in Nicaragua. Half way eavesdropping on their conversation as I tapped out numbers into my ancient Radio Shack calculator, something I heard them mention, repeatedly, stole my attention and caused me to interrupt them: “Que es Harbor Head?” I asked; baffled by an English word amidst a conversation being conducted exclusively in Spanish.

As it turns out Harbor Head is the area Nicaraguans call the area Costa Ricans call: Isla Calero. This tiny island of jungle and marsh is located in the extreme northeast corner of Costa Rica bordering Nicaragua where the Rio San Juan meets the Caribbean Sea. Next to Talamanca it is probably Costa Rica’s least populated, most virgin and inaccessible region.

WE GOT GOOGLED

This would be a good place to back up a bit. In the early hours of 8 November, 2010 without any provocation by Costa Rica or warning by Nicaragua of her intentions, a battalion of Nicaraguan troops crossed the San Juan River and with nothing there but an old sun faded Costa Rican red, white and blue tri-color flag to stop them, seized Isla Calero (Harbor Head) without firing a shot.

For no apparent reason other than to show tiny, defenseless Costa Rica: “WE CAN!” uniformed Nicaraguan military personnel in clearly marked Nicaraguan military vehicles paraded through the streets of Puerto Limon. They waved and honked their horns while sneering tauntingly at the stunned Ticos lining the streets to witness what was happening in total disbelief. Out west near Esparza in the Costa Rican Pacific province of Puntarenas, young red bandana clad Sandinista Party activists- mostly Nicaraguan nationals- blocked the Inter American Highway in support of Ortega’s aggression. Danny boy’s message was pretty obvious. He was telling his old nemesis nation that these were new times and Ortega wanted his southern neighbor to understand in no uncertain terms that their fate lay in his hands, and if he feels like it he can bring business and transportation to a screeching halt in Costa Rica and there isn’t a damn thing the Ticos can do about it.

Ortega’s justification for invading Costa Rica was historic. He claimed that “Harbor Head [Isla Calero] belongs to Nicaragua because…” [Are you ready for this?] ” …because Google Maps says so.” Never mind that since 1858 and the Cleveland and Alexander Accord the free world has recognized all territory running east and south of the San Juan River all the way south to the Panamanian border [happily NOT in dispute] as belonging to Costa Rica. Calero Island falls within that area. Google or no Google.

Costa Rica went through all the motions- filing protest after protest with each passing year and presidential administration in Costa Rica to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands. Each time the court decided in favor of Costa Rica. Yet to this day, a contingent of Sandinista Marines remain on that narrow, mosquito infested spit of sand; the flag of the Republic of Nicaragua flying over Costa Rican sovereign territory.

The Hague being an institution with zero enforcement power of its own and Costa Rica being a country having disbanded its army back in 1948, ole Danny Boy had little to fear as far as repercussions.

In any other time in U.S. history a battle group of U.S. Navy war ships would have been dispatched to the area, prepared and fully capable of sending those invader forces back across the river at a sprint. As a major contributing member of the Organization of American States, the United States is obliged to defend the autonomy of any co-member nation against any invader. More so in the case of teeny-weeny Costa Rica which has no military force of its own. To the surprise of many Costa Ricans as well as many U.S. expats living in Costa Rica this did not happen.

Following the anemic Obama non-doctrine doctrine of appeasement and retreat in the face of non-democratic nation state aggressors, then U.S. President Obama, “leading from behind”, as he phrased it, chose to do nothing.

Due to the remoteness of the region and scarce local press coverage regarding Costa Rica’s humiliating loss of national territory to the dictatorial bully across her northern border- except for small blurbs in the back sections of local newspapers and blog sites, regarding Costa Rica’s victories in international court- most Ticos have no idea that the barbaric invaders from the north are still there.

“President” Ortega’s official spokesman was crystal clear and unambiguous when he declared, on behalf of his boss in response to the Hague’s decisions saying: “Harbor Head is Nicaraguan territory. Period.” All the press conference lacked was Ortega’s mouth piece dropping a hot mic’, like Kanye West at the Grammys, before swaggering off stage to the bewilderment of the international press corp gathered. Ortega’s message was clear if not at least brutally frank. His troops were staying put and the whole wide world can step right up and kiss his hairy bean bag. You’ve got to hand it to the demented maniac. He’s got balls and then some.

Rumors abound as to Ortega’s motives in grabbing this tiny [less than one square mile] patch of jungle, sand and swamp. Many speculate that China wants her own canal in the Americas, and bases on the South Atlantic for its growing blue water navy, and would pay handsomely, up front, for the chance to make it a reality. Part of China’s long range plan to leverage the U.S. out of the western Pacific [namely the Taiwan area] by muscling its way into America’s backyard. From the Chinese stand point it makes perfect sense. And any student of the great military bible: The Art of War by General Sun Zu, will tell you they are following the very strategies laid out by their legendary countryman a zillion years ago in his book. Due to ridiculous trade policies with nations such as the United States going back decades, China’s pockets are deep and flush with cash. Latin nations are always finding themselves needing an economic bail-out for reason or another.

Over the course of just this last decade China has managed to get a financial hook into every country in Central America; similar to how organized crime groups, in the U.S. and other countries, prey on the weak minded and degenerate among otherwise good, law abiding citizens for which to milk them dry through loans there is no way in hell the poor shmuck can ever pay back. The wise guys actually have a name for it. They call it “busting someone out”. It’s how the Mob infiltrates and eventually takes over legit’ businesses. Giving China the canal concession could go a long way in not only paying down Nicaragua’s sky-high debt to the Asian giant, but create a wind fall of profits for ole Danny Boy and his criminal cabal until the end of time. Of course it would be impossible without seizing Isla Calero. The critical component in all of this.

AT SEA – APRIL: A PLA Navy fleet including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, vessels and fighter jets take part in a drill in April 2018 in the South China Sea. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images)

Others say Ortega wants the oil and mineral rights to hundreds of square miles of sea floor fronting Calero. The area is believed by experts to be rich in both.

No big surprise Russia, China, Iran as well as all the usual suspects in Cuba and Venezuela are backing the Ortega regime in its conquest of Isla Calero. There is little doubt those preceding nations are all looking for a financial payday once revenues, potentially in the trillions over the next couple decades, start pouring in.

Ortega is a graduate of the Soviet Union’s University of Bullshit and Propaganda, holding a minor in propaganda and a master’s in bullshit. He went directly to the old commie stand by excuse for his bellicose behavior by blaming the United States for his necessity of turning Nicaragua into the most heavily armed nation in all of Central America and quite possibly the whole of Latin America. There is one nation boldly and bravely confronting Ortega’s bullying tactics. That nation is Colombia.

Ortega began building his formidable war machine starting the very day he was sworn in as the freely elected leader of Nicaragua on 5 November, 2006. A stock pile of modern military equipment well beyond the defensive needs of any nation of the Americas in this day and age. Well beyond the budget of a poor nation where the average person goes without basic electricity for days at a time, on a regular basis.

The lion’s share of this military hardware comes from Russia. Directly. No phony statements of denial from the Kremlin like back in the 1980’s, during the peak of the Cold War in Central America when the Russians surreptitiously supplied the socialist dictatorship in Nicaragua [Danny Ortega’s first go around] in addition to supplying Marxist insurgency movements across Central America, South America and the wider Caribbean through the Castro brothers in Cuba.

According to my three house guests/intel’ assets, Ortega has accumulated a serious inventory of top-of-the-line modern Rooskie military hardware. Something that has Costa Ricans in a near panic. Or as near to a panic as Ticos are capable of being. A quick study of Nicaragua-Costa Rica relations over the last 100 years and you’ll soon understand why.

Costa Ricans in a spontaneous exhibition of panic over Nicaragua’s military build up. Not pictured in photo is that they’d actually run out of ice an hour prior.

It has always been my opinion that Ortega’s acquisition of all this fire-power, including sophisticated air defense systems like the SA-7 shoulder fired “man pad”rocket, attack helicopters, Mig fighter/attack jet aircraft and brand spanking new T-72 main battle tanks, is two pronged: #1) To a lesser degree it is to deter any potential U.S. invasion to oust Ortega and his bullshit regime [think Manuel Noriega] and: #2) To a much greater degree it is to force his own defenseless populace to think hard and long before even considering to rise up against his reign. A Russian T-72 main battle tank parked on the playground of the local elementary school sends a clear and daunting message to any tax paying parents who might wish to oppose The Great One.

Nicaraguan soldiers take part in a military parade to mark the 32nd anniversary of the foundation of the Nicaraguan Army, in Managua, on September 3, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Elmer MARTINEZ (Photo credit should read ELMER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
“Okay kids! President Ortega says play time is over!”

Queenie had long since gone off to bed. I was ready to go back to my corral roofing estimates when one of Sven’s buddies [we’ll call him ‘Ricky’ for his striking resemblance to a young heterosexual Ricky Martin] said something that made my ears perk up.

Sven and his refugee pals were partaking in a tad too much Costa Rican “pura vida’ by this point in the evening. They’d already polished off an entire liter of Centenario Gold rum. As for me, I was sticking to my usual poison: Fuze Peach Ice Tea.

“We’re going to miss the big event!” Ricky blurted out in slurred Spanish. He’d said it as a drunk person would: half surprise in his voice, half disappointment. And loud.

“What ‘big event’ do you speak of?” I asked in Spanish, truly curious. For a moment no one said a word. It was if they’d suddenly remembered that they weren’t supposed to be talking about “el evento grande’ – whatever in hell that is. Naturally this only increased the level of my curiosity.

Ricky is what the spooks back in Langley refer to as a “goose”. As in the golden goose that provides golden eggs of solid, actionable intelligence. After I opened another bottle of rum from the stash we keep specifically for our guests [Casique this time. I’m not made of money you know], Ricky Boy turned into a real song bird. It’s “assets” like Rick that often lead to Direct Action op’s like the raid on Bin Laden’s dump of a compound in Pakistan, or the op’ to hit El Chapo’s mountain love nest in Mexico. A literal diamond mine- this kid!

Not only that… But between the three of them, they shared a very intimate knowledge of the inner workings of Ortega’s war machine. Before long Ricky also divulged that he had a first cousin whose wife’s best friend works for the Nicaraguan First Lady’s personal staff. With access to dona Rosario’s and her hubby Ortega’s day to day activities as well as travel itinerary and the names and dates of arrivals of visiting big shots and what not.

This big event my three chiflados spoke of was supposed to take place sometime between the 12th and 16th of February. Just shy of three weeks away. In Nicaragua, according to my trio of geese, there was a total press blackout in place regarding The Big Event.

They couldn’t be sure, but seemed convinced this monumental shindig was going to take place on Isla Calero. Sven’s very helo’ squadron was tasked with providing armed over watch for all the dignitarios who would be attending. For security reasons they were told that they’d be briefed on the exact destination at the “appropriate time and date”. Because of the amount of provisions they were told to prep’ for the helicopter crew- enough for five days and that their designated refueling station would be the Nicaraguan Naval base at Bluefields, Sven and the boys deduced that they were bound for Isla Calero.

All three of them had been to Calero a couple days before this past Christmas, on a re-supply mission to the Sandinista Marines occupying the island. On that run they’d approached the island from the sea, after re-fueling in… Bluefields!

Hours after following Queenie off to bed I still could not fall asleep. My mind was running at 7,000 RPM. The “Big Event” my bro-in-law and his merry borrachones spoke of wouldn’t leave the giant I-Max screen of my thoughts. There was something there. I could feel it in my gut. They say opportunity doesn’t knock twice. In this case I felt like King Kong was playing “Wipe-Out” on my forehead.

What you have to understand, most esteemed reader, is that back in the 1980’s when I came to Costa Rica, Central America was where the action was. It was the last decade of the great crusade to triumph over the evil forces of tyrannical Communism. For all intents and purposes Central America in the 1980’s had much in common with the wild, wide open west of the United States in the 1880’s. Though truth be told, the legendary American Wild West of the 19th Century was never in the same league as Central America in the 20th Century, when it comes to wild.

The world’s top international news agencies all had desks in San Jose: The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, UPI and Reuters just to name a few. The guys and gals from the Miami Herald practically lived at the Soda Palace- a legendary 24 hour cafe in downtown that could have served as the back drop for the classic Humphrey Bogart film: “Casa Blanca”. You name the news outfit and chances are they were here. Here, right in my backyard. There was work galore for freedom loving adrenaline junkies, injun scouts and wanna be freelance journalists who got their rocks off letting total strangers shoot bullets and exploding projectiles at them. And it wasn’t just the news agencies who looking for people that could provide solid info regarding Marxist insurgencies throughout the region. Those “patriots” who could speak passable Spanish, knew how to get around and weren’t too squeamish about getting shot at were in high demand by certain three letter organizations. More on that later…

And then came the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent end of the Cold War, followed by the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. So the world was changed yet again. The world’s focus then shifted to the Middle East and southwest Asia.

Remember back before 9/11? Those carefree, heady days when you could board a commercial airliner, half-in-the-bag, with a rabid monkey and a twelve-pack of Rolling Rock tucked under your arm, a lit Marlboro clenched in your teeth… a loaded .357 Magnum stashed in your carry-on… I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. If I could afford it, I swear I’d rent a deep ocean diving bell, go find Osama and kill him again for messing up a good thing.

I still couldn’t sleep. Ricky’s source had said that many big name international celebrities and political and business honchos were expected to be there. Was it some sort of fundraiser? Concert? Was it Ortega’s birthday? Wedding anniversary maybe? I’d have to check into that, get myself on the interwebs.

As far as exactly who these international big wigs invited to the Big Evento were… My sources couldn’t or wouldn’t say. My guess is they don’t know. They were only a short shot or two from swinging from our chandelier [if we had a chandelier] by this point. Any inhibition they may of had was long gone. If I wasn’t worried they’d fall and break their necks, I’d half a mind to send them out to start fixing the corral roof. They probably wouldn’t remember a thing. I could get the job done labor free. Nah… if anything happened to her kid brother, Queenie would kill me…

The nagging question which kept me awake was: Why would there be a major press blackout when so many big shots from the world’s elite were in route to Nicaragua of all places? Why would you want to keep that secret? Seems to me you’d want to do the opposite- you’d want all the press you could get. Wouldn’t you? I mean no offense… but Nicaragua is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about the red-carpet-natti and their favorite vacation destinations. Could this get-together be of a business nature? In Nicaragua?! They just a week ago opened their first buggy whip factory; I guess those business permits must have finally come through… In Nicaragua microwave ovens are wood burning… Okay, that’s it for me! I’m Nick Dangier-field- thanks for coming out tonight, drive safe and don’t forget to tip your waitress…

This BIG EVENT could prove to be just what the doctor ordered. Already I felt more alive. More optimistic than I had for years. This could be my ticket back in The Game while I still had a couple innings left in me. That is if it proved to be anything at all. The little voice in my head was screaming that it would.

So that was it. Just like that. My mind was made up. I was going to Calero and that little voice of mine was telling me my life would never be the same after. I’d need help and I knew exactly which two degenerate lunatics I needed to call. Talk about history repeating itself… The corral roof would just have to wait.TO BE CONTINUED…Catch the next EXCITING part of this 8 part story in PART 2.In next week’s edition of The Costa Rica Post.DON’T MISS IT!

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