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Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain
Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain
Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain
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Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain

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Rich with detail, exciting and intense. It plunges the reader into a struggle for survival under a political power clash where friendship, love, betrayal and revenge highlight and intensify the human story. Captures a perfect pitch from his democratic centralist’s perch and tilts his pen at the crooked windmills of both Left and Right . . . engaging and unforgiving . . . it follows the story even up until present . . . informative . . . a political chronicle that is also a page-turner; successfully develops characters who are caught in the whirlwind of a historical event; the settings, descriptions and issues from the first pages infatuate you, pull you in to the swirl of the people and places, so that your mind is transformed into a sort of sponge effortlessly absorbing the gripping narrative. You’re going to enjoy the ride and be informed while you’re getting to where it sends you: the Sandinista revolution and the Contra reaction studied under a magnifying glass
This work was enlightening in regards to the politics of Central America and equally critical of both sides of the conflict in a original way that I have never before seen. It educated but wasn’t highbrow; it entertained, had a common vernacular and was funny. I felt miserable for both the Conservatives and the Liberals; the Somoza family were terrible despots and the Sandinistas were fanatics . . . as the author says, ‘Poor Nicaragua.’ Though the Central Americans are similar in their aspirations, they seem to change as soon as you cross a border. An enjoyable tale . . . not suited for those with narrow-minded political views . . . a suspenseful story while also incorporating intelligent humor.

Release dateMar 3, 2010
Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain
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E A (Edward) St Amant

E A St Amant is the author of How to Increase the Volume of the Sea Without Water, Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain and Stealing Flowers.

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    Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain - E A (Edward) St Amant

    Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain

    Published by E A St Amant at Smashwords

    Smashwords Edition January 2012

    Verses and poems within, by author.

    Web and Cover design Edward Oliver Zucca

    Web Developed by Adam D’Alessandro

    e-Impressions Toronto

    Copyrighted by E A St Amant May 2006

    Author Contact: ted@eastamant.com

    E A St Amant.com Publishers


    Thanks to the many people who did editorial work on this political chronicle and especially my diehard leftist friends. My appreciation to my friends from Nicaragua as well, who despite their long hours of work in Canada, found time to help me with the manuscript. Thanks also to Robbie Morra and Adam D’Alessandro. This is a work of fiction. The characters were created by the author, and any similarity or resemblance to any actual or deceased person is accidental. All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, emailing, ebooking, by voice recordings, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author or his agent. Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain, ISBN 978-0-9780118-1-9; Digital ISBN: 978-1-4523-0275-1. The local of Palvara Prison is invented, as are the Contra Camps, the Sandinista FSLN bunker and the Contra leaders. Some other locals are real and events are based on historical facts. This story is viewed through the eyes of an American commercial pilot, a Contra rebel and a businessman who has saved a democrat who was sentenced to death by Somoza and robbed and wounded by the Sandinistas; its perspective is in no way meant to justify the horrible atrocities committed by some units of Contras. Human Rights abuses were committed on both sides during the long conflict. This is the 2015 Edition.

    By Edward St Amant

    How to Increase the Volume of the Sea Without Water

    Stealing Flowers

    Spiritual Apathy

    This Is Not a Reflection of You

    Five Days of Eternity

    Five Years After

    Five Hundreds Years Without Faith


    Black Sand

    Book of Mirrors

    Perfect Zen

    Fog Walker

    Murder at Summerset

    The Theory of Black Holes (Collected Poems)

    The Circle Cluster, Book I, The Great Betrayer,

    The Circle Cluster, Book II, The Soul Slayer,

    The Circle Cluster, Book III, The Heart Harrower,

    The Circle Cluster, Book IV, The Aristes,

    The Circle Cluster, Book V, CentreRule,

    The Circle Cluster, Book VI, The Beginning One


    Atheism, Scepticism and Philosophy

    Articles in Dissident Philosophy

    The New Ancein Regime

    By E O Zucca and E A St Amant

    Molecular Structures of Jade

    Instant Sober

    Table of Contents

    Chapter One

    Chapter Two

    Chapter Three

    Chapter Four

    Chapter Five

    Chapter Six

    Chapter Seven

    Chapter Eight

    Chapter Nine

    Chapter Ten

    This book is dedicated to Roger Membreño S

    Chapter One

    I remember how afraid I was when Bharlina and I arrived in Managua that day, July 19, 1979, and how I couldn’t eat or drink on the plane because of it. It was an early morning turnaround Air Canada flight from Toronto, a fancy Boeing 747 with a classy breakfast and free liquor. The flight had been arranged to pick up Canadian diplomats, or those Canadians who thought there might be open fighting in the streets, or those who had too-close ties with the Somoza Regime and their American supporters, or those who were escaping before the Sandinistas could question them. Bharlina and I were just out of our teenage years, and were not seasoned journalists by any means. This was always at the back of my mind. It was rumored that the revolution was rolling into the city even as we landed. We were excited to bear witness to a violent event, but frightened too, or at least I was.

    Bharlina worked for the Canadian Tribune, a labor newspaper that I considered a propaganda rag. I was her cameraman, just as sure as she was my Pakistani princess. She was a good sport in bed and let me pretty much have my way with her. She had this stereotypical Asian female ideal of sexual sacrifice for a long-term cause. That pretty much summed her up politically as well. I think the long-term cause, in my case, was to convert me to Communism and then marry me.

    She was a woman of means, as they say, and we checked into the Inter-Continental Hotel. It was a fine old place, and one of the few large structures in Managua that had survived the most recent earthquake. After we made out–I burn hot, especially when I’m nervous–we rented a jeep and rushed back to the airport. She wanted to interview the incoming Sandinista hierarchy and I wanted to take pictures of the famous Somocistas National Guard cornered on the tarmac, waiting for the Hondurans and Guatemalans–read, the CIA– to come and rescue them. We were authorized by the Sandinistas, or at least she was, but I remember how I felt when I found myself alone in the abandoned airport. The smell, the temperature, and the sounds were seeping into my body as though by osmosis. I was pretty darn scared.

    I caught myself looking up through the holes in the roof of the airport that afternoon, and in the shifting perspective, I blinked away the bright Central American sun. I wondered again how safe I was, then glanced down to get equilibrium, scanning back and forth and verifying the footholds. I wore a loose t-shirt that fell well past my hips. It had a Montreal Canadiens logo. Cement debris littered the floor. The holes in the roof, made by mortar and bullets, looked recent, maybe even from this morning. The walls were pockmarked. In a strange way, I felt detached from my immediate surroundings. That’s what fear will do to people like me if they try to ignore it: it comes back like a dream. And besides, the twisted paths to this story prohibit too much logical interpretation.

    Late last night, disorganized groups of the Sandinista rebel coalition poured into the city from all corners of the Central American country of Nicaragua, I said quietly into a recorder, which was strapped to a bag holding my camera equipment. I stopped and bent to pick up the pages that I had dropped, then started again. The strong-arm dictator, President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, known here as Tachito, has fled the country.

    I stopped again and peeked around a corner and down a hallway, which was also strewn with rubble and litter. I saw no rebel soldiers. As I said, I wasn’t afraid of them, only of being shot by accident. I stepped out into the hallway and continued to walk.

    The brutal and notorious National Guard is even now dissolving, I continued. A neighboring country, Guatemala, has promised the United States of America to come with their air force and rescue thousands of National Guards, known here simply as Guardia. This will avoid the Guardia’s almost certain slaughter at the hands of the unruly rebel forces.

    A shot resounded from inside the building and I lowered my voice. As I make my way to the roof of this quaint and shot-out airport structure, the remaining Guardia, by some miracle, still hold the airstrip to the north. Well, it’s no miracle, really. It’s known that while the international community watches, the Sandinista leadership, the FSLN, doesn’t want the blood of the Guardia on their hands. FSLN is an acronym for Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or Sandinista National Liberation Front. Since last July, just one year ago, more than 10,000 people have died in this civil conflict in a small country of three million people.

    I made my way up the stairs. Two young men with rifles, wearing FSLN insignia, hurried in my direction. I pointed to my press pass and made sure that the Canadian flag sewn to my backpack remained in open view, but they completely ignored me.

    Being neither a journalist nor a Canadian, I was happy about that. I had false papers and identification, but it would take little research to discover that I held American citizenship and had studied business, not journalism. I made my way to the roof to take pictures of the Guardia leaving or being killed, whichever happened. Those pictures might be worth a hefty sum in the days ahead.

    Here in Managua, it’s already begun to get uncomfortably hot, I continued. From beyond the airport, I can hear gunshots being exchanged between the Guardia and the rebels as high noon draws close. That’s when the Guatemalans will start airlifting the Guardia. Barriers between the airstrip and the rebel positions around the airport keep the enemies apart–for now. The FSLN hasn’t officially arrived in Managua: so far, their supporters are respecting the ‘Free Zone’ designated by the Red Cross. I can’t see where the gunfire is originating yet, but the Guardia on the airstrip is in serious trouble if the airlift doesn’t start soon. They must feel abandoned. They have been defeated by the Sandinista Coalition and betrayed by Somoza, who fled days ago.

    I stopped in front of a wide brown sign, with ‘ROOF’ hand-painted on it in both English and Spanish. Behind me in the corridor, which led to the observation platform, another sign read ‘Offices of Nica Airlines - Employees Only.’ I peaked in and looked around. I saw that it had been ransacked, and heard a moan. In the middle of the floor lay a short, stout man in a pool of blood. He was partly obstructed from my view by a desk and a large open safe, but I went in and crouched beside him. Can you hear me? I whispered, staring at the blood on his clothes.

    I’ve been shot, he moaned with a whimper of pain, but managed with difficulty to lift his balding head to look at me. His English was without a trace of an accent. His body had blood coming from his legs, arms, and chest. I could see that he was possibly dying, and I was terrified by the sight of it.

    I’ll get help, I promised.

    You’re American, the man gasped. Don’t go. Sandinistas did this, after they robbed me. If you go to them, they’ll come back and finish me.

    I felt adrenaline rush through my body. Could it be true?

    I bent toward the man’s ears and lowered my voice. The building is in rebel hands. I’ll get a cart or something. I can’t possibly carry you all the way out of here myself.

    I hurried out and made my way down the hall. I remember being struck by my own mortality, and I thought fearfully of leaving him to die. Reconsider what you’re doing, I whispered to myself.

    Indeed, I even stopped for a second. I had already heard whispers that the rebels had begun to arrest many of the old supporters of Somoza. Perhaps this guy you are trying to help is one of them, I said to myself. I scratched my head. Let the Sandinistas look after it, I urged my cowardly self. It’s really not your problem.

    I began to walk again, dragging my feet, and soon I saw several small airport carts. I took one of these and returned to where I had seen the wounded man, cursing myself. Inside the room, I stepped over to him and again crouched. What’s your name?

    Although the man’s eyes were closed, and he appeared to be listless, with a gasp he whispered, Alfonso Memorio.

    Are there any blankets or towels in the office?

    He indicated a cabinet to his left with a weak gesture. I rose and soon found clean grey wool blankets. I placed a small filing box into the cart to level it out to its sides, and then placed one of the blankets over it. I put my arm under him and felt the wet blood. A shiver went through me. With difficulty, I raised him to the cart. He groaned in pain. I threw the other blankets over him and pushed him down the hall to the stairwell. His clothes were covered in blood, as now were mine. There’s no ramp, I whispered. Hold on.

    I counted fourteen steps, and could see that each one caused Alfonso immense pain. We reached the bottom of the stairs. I wiped his sweaty brow and my own with the corner of one of the blankets. My jeep is a hundred or so yards away, I said softly.

    Christian, what are you doing?

    I turned guiltily around to see Bharlina. Her round and youthful face expressed exasperation, but her bold eyes always neutralized that unpleasing aspect. She wore a Guatemalan huipil shirt, with a blue design on white silk, worn loose, not tucked into her jeans and falling past her waist. Against her light brown skin, the stunning effect on her svelte body was evocative. She wasn’t a hundred pounds, but her breasts stuck out unabashedly. It made her seem impossibly attractive, especially given that she wore no makeup except lipstick, and no jewelry except bangles.

    I’ve found a wounded man, I said apologetically.

    She brought her hand through her thick black hair and gathered it at the back, a movement that indicated her anger. He might be one of Somoza’s men.

    You don’t mean one of the lepers, I said, sorry about it as soon as it escaped my lips. My chances for more sex today had just disappeared. She swore in Urdu. I realized that she had called me a homosexual and the bastard son of a pedophile. I had been translating her expletives ever since our first fight, over two years ago. Okay, what? I asked.

    We’re not in the safest place in the world, you know, she said. He is likely one of Somoza’s. You’d better check.

    There isn’t time to check whether he is ‘us or them,’ is there? Help me get him to the hospital.

    She looked at me in defiance. Again she swore in Urdu. She said my mother had mated with monkeys, and that my family was as ugly as a baboon’s ass. Let the Sandinistas worry about it, she added.

    He says the Sandinistas shot him.

    What did I say? Remember, we’re guests here, but if we’re caught helping Somoza’s men, we will be asked to leave. I want to cover this story.

    I grunted and bent over Alfonso. Are you with Somoza?

    I’m the President of Nica Airlines, Alfonso uttered in painful gasps, lifting his head to look at Bharlina.

    What did I tell you? she asked.

    Did you want me to shoot him, girl, and we could both watch him die? She spun on her heel and began to walk away from me.

    Does this mean you’re not willing to help me? I called after her. She turned around and came back, cursing again in Urdu. She said that my penis was like thread and was only good for flossing her teeth.

    I’ll drive, she said.

    I gave a little laugh and made to kiss her, but she pulled away. As we rushed to the jeep, I removed Alfonso’s wallet from his back pocket and looked at the identification.

    Alfonso Memorio, just like he stated, I said. I put the wallet into my own back pocket.

    That doesn’t prove anything, she retorted. You would expect him to at least give his right name.

    I laughed again. You crazy bitch, I said to myself, then added aloud, He said he wasn’t with Somoza. That’s good enough for me.

    Allow me the courtesy of thinking what I want about a stranger for whom we are risking everything so that you can fight against the left in your own pathetic way.

    The open jeep came into sight. I turned the cart toward it and considerably picked up my pace. She hustled up beside me.

    Let me talk if we’re stopped, she said. Whatever you do, don’t admit to anyone that you’re an American, or that this man is the owner of an airline.

    Fraulein Chickadee, as you wish.

    If you hadn’t suckled at the cock of the bull so long, she said in Urdu, You would be half-human.

    I laughed for a third time. Her sense of humor was crude, but it worked for me. He said he was the president, not the owner.

    Bharlina watched the blood drip out of the bottom of the cart without changing her expression. Down here, it’s the same thing, she said.

    We laid down blankets and placed Alfonso in the backseat. She began to race out of the airport. We’ll have to avoid the streets that lead to the National Palace, she said. I’ve heard they’re blocked because of the celebrations. That’s where we should be going, and we would be, if you hadn’t gotten greedy and wanted those photos of the Guardia’s escape. She looked over and pouted. In Urdu, she called me a stinky purple fart whose odor stays in the room all day. They shouldn’t be allowed to even leave anyway, she added. They should be put on trial for what they’ve done. We’ll have to avoid the roads monitored by the Rebels under the junta’s control. They’re checking for ID and arresting Somoza’s people.

    I looked at her with some sympathy and then looked back at Alfonso. He’s in rough shape. He’ll be long dead before we get him help by that route. The sweat and blood are literally pouring from him. Isn’t there a Red Cross Station near the airport?

    We screeched to a stop. I forgot about that, she said. It’ll be in Sandinista control, though.

    If we want to save him, we’d better turn around. She looked uncertain, but after a second, turned the jeep around and drove along the airport road. There won’t be much there in the way of medical people, I think. You might have to sew him up yourself.

    Me? I said.

    You’re the one who’s so concerned about him.

    You don’t have to be so nasty–being disinterested will do. I know you dragged me down here to witness the glorious revolution and I’m ruining your fun, but really, I won’t be able to forgive myself if I don’t try.

    They’ll kick us out if we’re caught helping someone perceived as a Somoza supporter. I’ll go back to Canada without a story for the Tribune, and after all, that’s why we’re down here–that’s why they’re paying us.

    The point is, if Alfonso was a rebel supporter shot by one of the Guardia, you would risk your neck to save him.

    And in that case then, you wouldn’t care.

    That isn’t true. It makes no difference to me. You just don’t understand democracy.

    Democracy? Phew. She said the word with such disdain that I didn’t know what to say. In Urdu, she accused my parents of uncapping my skull at birth and replacing all of the grey matter with shit. I understand a great deal about the USA and what it stands for, she added. Money. There’s no democracy in America.

    Just as there is no political freedom in Soviet Russia.

    A short silence followed. At length she pointed to a Red Cross sign about two hundred meters away. When we entered the airport service roads, the area seemed not to be bogged down in the confusion of the rest of the city. She pulled up in front of a man in bandages who wore the red and black colors of the Sandinistas.

    English? she asked. He shook his head. In Spanish, she asked if there was a doctor in the clinic. The man pointed to a large tent, stuck like a tarpaulin between two old airport buildings, although one of the buildings remained no more than a shack. She pulled up in front of it. I jumped out of the jeep and peeked into the tent, flicking the sweat off my nose. Except for a few wounded men on cots, no one was present. I retrieved a medical dolly at the entrance, and with difficulty, I picked up Alfonso and placed him on it, rolling it into the tent. He was clammy and this time he made no sound: the pallor of death had set in. I’m too late, I whispered to myself. He’s going to die.

    A tall blond doctor in a clean white smock came over from the structure to the east and looked at Alfonso. He was also wearing the Sandinistas’ colors. He seemed as though he would be standoffish, but to my pleasant surprise, his eyes were extremely friendly when they met mine. English? he asked with a Scandinavian accent.

    He’s been shot many times, I said, and is bleeding to death. Maybe he’s already dead.

    The doctor took a pulse, then began to take off Alfonso’s clothes. He isn’t dead, he said with a calm voice.

    I thought this place would be swamped, I returned.

    Excuse me, Bharlina interrupted from behind, I’m going.

    I reached over and kissed her with a light peck, waving a good-bye as she stepped into the jeep and drove away. When I turned my attention back, the doctor had Alfonso undressed. Blood smeared his entire plump body so that his black body-hair was matted crimson red. Who is he? the doctor asked.

    He spun the dolly into the reach of an intense light and turned it on. I looked at the bright red blood and felt as though I could smell it. I don’t know, I lied.

    Nat, he shouted. A tall blond woman with short hair and glasses peaked out from an enclosure at the back of the tent. She was attractive even in a dull white smock. She also wore the Sandinistas’ colors. Get the hypo, he said. Where’s Phyllis?

    Is he going to be okay? I asked like some frightened kid whose father was dying.

    Was he conscious when you found him? he asked as he put on rubber gloves.

    No, but he has been, off and on, since. He has been sweaty, pale, gasping for air, and sometimes unable to talk.

    The two other medical people now joined him. The one he had called Phyllis was a petit brunette with beaming blue eyes who, unlike her co-worker, wore her white smock closely fitted to her slender form. I need pressure and pulse, he ordered.

    He worked quickly, and in a moment, he had checked Alfonso’s wounds by touch. He looked into Alfonso’s mouth. Did you say you knew who he was? he asked again as though sensing that I had lied

    I don’t know, I lied again. I was headed to the roof to take some pictures of the airlift when I found him in the hallway. I’m a photographer for a Canadian worker’s paper, The Tribune.

    Respiration is cold, the doctor said to his associates. Behind the neck it’s gritty. I think that the trachea is pushed over. He looked up and pointed to a long thin needle. Is this the biggest that we have?

    Pressure is seventy-zero, Phyllis said with a nod. His pulse is one-forty.

    I watched while he took the needle and actually pushed it deep into Alfonso’s chest. I paled at the sight of it, and could hear the rush of air come out the end of the needle. The lung is out, he said. Pneumothorax. There. That’s it.

    The change in Alfonso’s face became visible, like a man who has come back from the dead, and he stopped gasping.

    Pressure is eighty-ten, Phyllis said, and the pulse is one twenty.

    He then raised the left arm of Alfonso, cut a hole under his armpit and shoved a large plastic bore tube deep into his chest. Thick red blood poured out of the tube in great spurts into a basin, held by the one he had called Nat. I could see that I had placed Alfonso in good hands, but the sight of all the blood made me nauseous and the doctor must have seen it.

    Are you okay? he asked. I nodded. It’s a good thing he’s out, he added. We haven’t given him a thing yet.

    It looks like you have done this a few times, I said.

    I spent my first rotation in Emerge. He turned to his assistant. Start blood stat, O negative, he said. His gaze then returned to Alfonso, with his attention half on me, although he didn’t look up again. I had an option here for my last rotation, he said softly. They liked my surgery, you see, and in Sweden they’re always sympathetic to any small group fighting the Americans. Nat here is handy with a knife, and they thought there would be a bloodbath.

    I looked over at Nat, feeling faint. Don’t pass out on us, he said softly. Look away and take a deep breath before you look back. The lung is better. This man has been shot once through the upper back, exit chest; through the hand, exit palm; through the upper leg above the knee, exit back upper leg; and through the back lower leg, exit front lower leg. Nat, look at this. You know what? All the wounds are from the same shot. What a mess. He must have been shot at close range.

    I watched at this point in somewhat of a stupor. Pressure is eighty over forty, Phyllis said. The pulse is one-fifteen.

    We’re getting there, he said. Start second intravenous.

    He began to sew and bandage Alfonso. I was amazed. Outside of being born, I don’t think I had ever been in a hospital or clinic in my whole life. I hadn’t required stitches, casts, or operations for anything–I never even needed antibiotics. There I stood, in the thick of gore and blood, and I hadn’t even thrown up. I was downright proud of myself. Alfonso’s blood had leaked everywhere, and I looked down at my own clothes. They were full of his blood. It appears that I’ve helped saved someone after all, I whispered to myself.

    The doctor gave me a quick smile. One bullet, close range, he said. Incredible isn’t it? Listen, if you want to come back in one hour, maybe two, then you’ll know whether all of this trouble you’ve gone through leads to the man’s survival. What’s your name?

    Christian Hudson.

    You can see that he’s stabilizing. His breathing has improved. I’ll give him some morphine. He will sleep peacefully. If he stabilizes, he has to go to the hospital. The bullet appears to have taken out only minor arteries, but the next two hours will tell the tale.

    Pressure is ninety-sixty, Phyllis said, and the pulse is one hundred.

    Does it look better all the time? I asked.

    If you could arrange for a taxi later this afternoon, that would be the fastest way to the hospital in this present situation. The revolution has caused major traffic problems.

    Two hours, then? I asked.

    I tore myself away and raced to the roof of the airport, but the Guardia had gone. I took out my binoculars and looked out at the city, but from my angle there was little of the revolution to capture on film. I didn’t know whether I would be safe wandering the streets, and decided to head directly back to the hotel. A ride would have been nice, but I didn’t see any taxis for over an hour. Parts of Managua destroyed by the earthquake on December 23, 1972 had never been rebuilt for fear of a recurrence, and streets flagged and dropped out into open grassy areas. The earthquake had destroyed most of Managua, generating many fires and leaving about two hundred thousand people without homes. Then last year, Somoza had bombed parts of the city in desperation to hold onto power.

    As I passed through the busier street, I saw that the FSLN was definitely stopping many people, especially older men. I got the feeling that they were searching for the Guardia’s leadership. I saw no one killed that afternoon, but I saw a lot of people questioned at gunpoint. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Managua wasn’t pretty to begin with, but with everybody shooting their guns into the air, and with the confusion in the streets, by the time I saw a cab, I jumped in. I had seen all I had wanted of the revolution.

    Although I was close to the hotel, on an impulse, I had the driver return me to the airport. He understood little English, but got me safely back and promised to wait.

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