Granada, Nicaragua Part I: The Questions.

I pulled up my chair to the participant’s desk. An old air conditioning unit creaked, drowning out the sounds of Granada, Nicaragua’s bustling streets as he turned the computer screen and handed me headphones. “Mira,” he beckoned, “Watch.”

The anti-child exploitation video “Preparame la Cena” enveloped me. Compelling images of Nicaraguan children, a steady yet ominous rhythm and heart-wrenching lyrics–prepare my dinner, I’m coming home soon–reverberated Nicaragua’s dark truth: commercial sexual exploitation of minors.  I shuddered, inhaled deeply and returned the headphones. With a handshake and a “gracias por todo,” I headed out.

I wound my way through the boisterous streets, dodging horse-drawn carts, fried plantain stands and hips swinging to bachata. Vibrant, mismatched homes and brilliant cathedrals lined my path. I paused, wiping sweat from my brow and catching my breath. How, I thought, how can Granada be so beautiful yet broken? What truly lies beneath the surface? Who am I to delve deeper? What is my place in this city? 

I flashed back to September 2012, having packed my bags and moved to Nicaragua for nine months. I had settled into Calle Arsenal, a spirited street minutes from my exact location. It was there, blocks from tourist-Granada, where I first discovered the dark secret. Each sundown, I witnessed child prostitutes migrate towards the central park. They would slowly approach tourists, selling cigarettes and offering ‘additional services.’

The striking experience challenged me to push deeper. Who were these girls and boys? How had they come to such desperation? Do they consider themselves desperate? If not, what distorted their self-worth to such a degree? Who are the individuals purchasing their services? How could they possibly partake? The questions continued, leading me down a path of hard conversations and personal research upon returning to William and Mary. . . . ultimately pushing me to pursue preliminary thesis research with SuRGe.

So there I stood, notebook in hand, fresh out of my second interview. To consider myself overwhelmed was, well, an understatement. Yet I knew that somehow, deep down, goodness existed. Amidst the questions there were answers, amidst the hurt there was light and I was along for an incredible, thought-provoking and exhilarating adventure.

 

Granada

 

Comments

  1. Hi Kylie,

    This was a very moving post. I know this is a difficult topic to research, but it sounds like you are well-prepared to undertake this important work. I hope the rest of your interviews went well. Best of luck with your project!

    Libby