ISLA DE OMETEPE, NICARAGUA –
In Nicaragua, Sunday is known as “libre.” For many it means a day off and a few libations. It was dark when the old farmer who I would later deem the Machete Murderer happened upon my porch. He found me, Alejandro and Mara sitting on a rocking chairs staring at the star pocked sky as the sounds of a nearby neighbour snoring in front of the television soundtracked the dark night.
We didn’t notice him at first. In the farm lands of Ometepe, a farmer yielding a machete at any time of day is akin to a business man answering emails on a cell phone in North America. So when the knife tip caught the porch light as the farmer gestured into my backyard, I thought nothing of it. Alejandro went to greet him; a pat on the back, a rapid exchange of Spanish, followed by a long, hard stare into the yard.
When Alejandro returned, he shook his head with a grin. The old man gingerly walked back the way he came, waving goodbye with an “adios” and a “buenos noches,” tipping his machete like a top hat to the sky.
“The man,” Alejandro said waving back, staring after him. “He is looking to kill someone.” We laughed.
“No, I am serious.” He said, still grinning. “He is a farmer and had bought a gun off another man. He paid $250 and now the seller has run off with his money, while laughing at the farmer. You know… machismo. So the farmer is wondering if he went into your backyard because he wants to find him and kill him.”
The porch plunged into silence as I looked at Alejandro and Alejandro looked at me.
“It’s okay,” Alejandro said. “I told him that I am a lawyer and I advised him to visit the police tomorrow because they will help him get his money back.”
A lone cow complained as she wandered down the dirt road. The television blasted. But no birds sang.
“And then he said to me, ‘Really? They will help me?’ And I said, ‘Yes, do not worry. No need to kill him.’”
“Where is he going now?” Mara asked.
“He is going home to bed. Tranquilo. It’s normal here.”
I should have known.