A Map and Photos of the North and the Bocay Project
The New River Bocay Project was founded in 1987 by Gary Hicks within the context of solidarity with the Sandinista Revolution from 1979-1990. It began in the small war zone town of San Jose de Bocay and focused on health care for the poorest of the poor. In 1990 it turned to the indigenous Indians living on the Rio Bocay and Rio Coco in the Bosawas Forest Preserve north of the town of Bocay. On this map the Rio Bocay flows north to the Rio Coco that forms the border with Honruras. It begins to the north and east of Matagalpa.
San Jose de Bocay is on the Rio Bocay, just northeast of Matagalpa. As seen on the map, the river runs north through the Bosawas forest preserve to the Rio Coco that forms the border between Honduras and Nicaragua. The Rio Coco then runs northeast to the Caribbean.
The bus terminal in Matagalpa where one changes from the made-over school (passenger) bus to an open truck transport like the blue truck at the upper right. From here on the roads get smaller, become dirt, and, at the time of this trip (1996), go through rivers and streams since there were no bridges on the route to San Jose de Bocay where the New River Bocay Project headquarters was.
The only public transportation going north from Matagalpa, transportation that we took on our trip to San Jose de Bocay that year (1996)
Some, like myself, road on top where the view was incredible. One had to be alert for low branches that now and then swept over the truck.
Inside the truck, are sacks of beans, people, luggage, and sometimes chickens or a pig. My 9 year old daughter leans against the big package at the center.
The view of those like myself riding on the bars on the top of the truck as we ascend into the mountains heading toward the town of Bocay.
The rugged country makes one think of Sandino and his band of freedom-fighters struggling against the U.S. invaders and imperialists in the early 20th century.
The countryside from our transport truck.
San Jose de Bocay was simply a number of ramshakle buildings on both sides of the main road that goes on for another 25 kilometers until it ends at Ayupal. On the left is El taxi de los Pobres, the poor man’s taxi of Latin America.
The town of San Jose de Bocay consisted largely of this single dirt road. The child in the front center is my daughter, Rebekah. Gary Hicks, founder and Director of the Bocay Project, is in the red shirt on the right.
Near the center of town is the popular open-air pool hall.
Animals are everywhere in the town. The only autos are owned by projects such as the Bocay Project. Here my wife and daughter walk down main street past a hardware store that includes equipment for horses, etc.
Animals are crucial to many people’s livelihood as in this firewood business.
The New River Bocay Project headquarters where Gary and others stayed when in Bocay. It was staffed year round by a Sumo Indian couple.
An 18 year old girl named Mercedes who was a friend of the Project took us to here mother’s house (above). The shack was about 60 minutes (most of it on foot) north of the town. It had no outhouse (we were told to go behind the bushes near the yard), no electricity, and no running water. All water was from a small stream about 100 years away that was also used by others upstream and downstream. My wife and daughter are in the yard above.
The “living room” in the above house.
The kitchen of the shanty which held a few wooden benches and some plastic jugs and buckets (no food and almost no utensils). The only food to eat was what we brought as gifts.
The extended family living in other shanties locally. Mercedes (right) and her mother (yellow dress) along with sons, son in law, and grandchildren.
Gary visits a poor campesino family who live in a tiny hut on the back side of town.
The waiting hall for the San Jose de Bocay health center. During the revolutionary period, this was a Sandinista clinic, part of the effort to bring health-care for the first time to the ordinary people of Nicaragua. Like the town of Bocay itself, it was a target of the U.S. sponsored Contra terrorists who were housed across the northern border of Nicaragua in Honduras.
We visit the diagnostic lab that was created and equipped by Gary and the Bocay Project in 1987 as one of the first accomplishments of the project in its 15 year history. The microscopes still in use here were first procured by Gary in 1987.
This is the dam that was designed and begun by U.S. Citizen Ben Linder during the Sandinista era. It is on top of the steep hill behind the town of Bocay and was intended to supply water and electricity to Bocay. Ben was openly working on behalf of the Sandinistas and the attempt to establish a decent life for the people of Nicaragua. He was assassinated by U.S. sponsored Contra terrorists not far from this location high above the town.
Water from the Ben Linder dam is piped to the various houses in the town of Bocay where it us used for bathing, cooking, and laundry as in this typical scene. Only about 1999 did it the legacy of the dam also include electricity to the town.