Filming Diaries Pictured Report 4 (July 24th-27th, La Chureca)

During the next four days we were working in Managua, filming in La Chureca (Managua´s garbage dump).

Only two years ago, it was a place where you could find a 24/7 asphyxiating atmosphere of dark smoke and sharp-painful smells, ragged mothers fighting with vultures for the bones of dead animals; kids with empty swollen bellies picking bags up off the floor that contained milk to booze; absently-gazing people walking without shoes on a ground covered with glass and needles; cows eating human tumors and limbs from red bags of hospital waste, or a little child opening one of these bags with blood remains and throwing away the blood to keep the bag as his little treasure…

Nowadays, La Chureca is a place where everything is changing fast and the winds of change are bringing new hope and dreams. Hopefully, all the community will benefit from a project donated by the Spanish Government to the Nicaraguan nation. The old dump is sealed, a recycling plant will be working very soon, therefore, the inhabitants will have a house and a job.

Garbage & water.

A day at work in La Chureca.


Rivas’ Family. Faces of Hope.

There is always time for FUN.

– Manuel Martínez.

Filming Diaries Pictured Report 3 (July 23rd)

On July 23rd, we visited the community of ” El Dorado”, next to “Apanas” dam. We found water everywhere but most of the times, it was polluted by pesticides used in coffe production. Our friends Jairo and Alfonso, who worked for the Swiss Cooperation Agency, showed us the project that they were running. They were working along with the community and CARE. Everybody in the communty will have access to proper sanitation and clean water soon.

Maria Ines Rizo with her family. Washing their clothes and bathing their babies in the contaminated water of Apanás.


Maira Rizo washing clothes.

El Dorado’s canal shared by humans and ducks.

De-oxidation basin to provide fresh water.

Processing water plant in El Dorado.

Manuel Martínez

Filming Diaries Pictured Report 2 (July 19th-22nd)

Then, on the 19th of July, we went to the 33rd Anniversary of the Sanidinista’s Revolution to gain a better understanding of the political context in Nicaragua.


People on their way to “Plaza de la Revolución”, Managua.

The crowd waiting for Daniel Ortega’s speech.

We were that close to the President. (Thanks Jorge)

On July 21st, we went to visit La Laguna, a Matagalpa’s indigenous community where we knew about their struggle during centuries fighting for their rights against landowners, governments, and private companies. However, they finally succeeded bringing water and proper sanitation to their houses and producing coffee.

Panoramic view of Matagalpa’s mountains from La Laguna.

Leo, our beloved friend from La Laguna!!!

The 22nd of July we visited different places nearby Managua to film and illustrate the abundance of water (Lake Xolotlan, Masaya, Puerto Salvador Allende, and Laguna Tiscapa) in this region of Nicaragua.

General view of Laguna de Tiscapa

By Manuel Martínez

Filming Diaries Pictured Report (July 7th-18th)

From July 7th, when we arrived, until July 18th, we had different meetings and tours to dig in the water puzzle in Nicaragua.
We came together with different organizations and experts as “Red Nacional de Comités de Agua Potable y Saneamiento” (CAPS), “Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo” (AECID), “Cooperación Suiza para el Desarrollo” (COSUDE ,programa AGUASAN), “Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo” (UNDP), “Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua” (UNAN), “Empresa de Transformación Agraria” (TRAGSA)

We also visited La Isla de Peñas Blancas and San Antonio (Matagalpa) where we visited projects developed by the communities helped by the municipalities, COSUDE, and CARE:

As you can see, Richard Hansen was risking his life walking through an aqueduct….

The joy of water!!

Proof: Clean and Fresh!!!

By-Manuel Martínez.


El Canal

Abandonment and resignation, two elements I have seen repeatedly in the eyes of our interviewees in communities we have visited. Not having something so basic as access to clean water and proper sanitation and specially the sinking feeling that you cannot do anything about it will do it. Today we visited a neighborhood/slum called “El Canal”. This neighborhood is located within the city of Bluefields located in the Caribbean/Atlantic coast of Nicaragua.

Bluefields has the appeal of an afro-Caribbean island stuck in colonial times. It reminded me of San Lorenzo, a city in the northern border of Ecuador. Very poor, rough, and neglected but filled with diversity, humidity and taxis. A warm and wet breeze flows through the streets and the fans in our hostel carrying with it reggae beats and Spanish-English-Creole words. “El Canal” is a slum planted in the bay and called like that because there is a little channel that crosses through the neighborhood. It used to be a swamp and now its home for hundreds of families. There is no access for cars and no access to potable water either, just a labyrinth of shacks made of practically “anything you can find” and an alleyway with a narrow concrete trodden path, which connects them. Clear water falls from the sky constantly and black water surrounds our feet (the only day I decide to put on flip-flops, great!) while we trudge through garbage and our shoulders occasionally touch the shacks and latrines next to them.

People gaze at us (carrying tripods, cameras, water bottles, and notebooks) from their beaten-down porch’s and hammocks, with a “what the hell are you doing here?” kind of look, but when we say hi they nod welcomingly with confusion. Do you know what it feels like to wake up at 3am, sick to your stomach (meaning horrible diarrhea from drinking dirty water because the water in her well is contaminated) and having to walk outside your home, through a dark alley-like street to your neighbor’s house, wake him up and ask him if you could use his (fly-filled fetid hole in a platform) latrine? Asks Doña Lidia, a 50-something year old cheery homemaker; while she sits in the doorsteps of her home and kindly tells the camera and us her story. We remain silent because we are filming, but we remain silent in our minds as well, because we do not know what that feels like, and honestly I wouldn’t dare to imagine.

When we speak about having the human right to a life with dignity, we sound off about food security! gender equity!, which is all great. However, at that moment I thought, little things like pooping in the freaking comfort of your own home (even if what you call home is a run-down shack) in a decent toilet is part of that dignity as well, and that every human being should enjoy and many don’t have access to. Yet we forget about those daily and basic parts of life that many people like Doña Lidia around the world have to struggle with, cope and finally (although it wrecks my heart to say it) accept.

Everyday in Nica, these little but real stories sip to the surface, making me the more grateful for having the opportunity to witness them and record them for the entire world to see and do something about it.


The Filming Crew…Lights, Camera, Action!!!

Here, you’ll find some pics of our beloved crew in our daily filming activities.

This is just the beginning…

Richard Hansen, Philosopher and Filmmaker 😉

Cristina López (Director) and Jorge Sánchez (Cinematographer) taking their best shot.

Ignacio Martínez (Director Assistant and Second Operator) adjusting the microphone…

Manuel Martínez (Producer) trying to understand what’s going on…;)

Director and Cinematographer working hard….

Setting up an interview all together…


Filmmaker’s conversations…


Filming water pollution caused by extracting industries…

Ignacio Martinez, alias Pacho MacGyver, fixing technical issues…

-Manuel Martínez

Stories of the Team Chef (Number Two: Ad-hoc Chicken)

Today was a portentous day in the H2Nica household. Clouds, wind and light rain dominated here in Managua, extinguishing almost any desire for accomplishing anything productive. As dinnertime approached, it became evident to me that we did not have very many ingredients to make anything of value. Enter Ad-hoc Chicken, the chicken of the desperate:

  • First, raid your refrigerator and pantry, discovering only onions, celery, dry asparagus soup mix, rice and four small chicken breasts in the back of the freezer.
  • Defrost the chicken.
  • Slice about one onion and chop about three stalks of celery.
  • Next, get the rice cooking…maybe about 1.5 cups, or so.
  • Throw the asparagus soup mix together with about half of the water the package calls for (thus ensuring a thick sauce) and cook according to the package’s directions.
  • Put some salt and pepper on both sides of each breast.
  • Put some oil in a large skillet and toss in the chicken, onions and celery over medium-high heat.
  • After a minute or two, pour a bit of water in the skillet and loosely cover with a large lid.
  • Cook the mixture for about 20 minutes (10 minutes on each side of the chicken).
  • Make sure to keep a copious amount of celery and onions on top of the chicken.
  • Remove the chicken and pour some of the sauce, onions and celery on top of the breasts.
  • Serve with rice and enjoy!

This serves about four people well. Five (like our team) is stretching it. You’ll probably be hungry before bedtime, so plan for a late-night snack of cookies or cake. I would not suggest ice cream, however.

-Richard Hansen

Aerial Shots

Well, I woke up today sincerely believing that this would be the last morning of my life. Why? Because the plan for the morning was to go up in a shitty little Cessna with another member of our team to film aerial shots of some of the beautiful lakes that dot this country. (Spoiler alert: I ended up surviving the flight…just barely.) However, I wasn’t exactly afraid because diving down into Lake Nicaragua in the early morning is pretty high up on the list of ideal ways to die.

When we got to the airport with a pilot friend of ours who was gracious enough to fly us around, I was immediately surprised by the size of the airplane. This surprise was multiplied when the man who worked at the airstrip was able to easily pull the plane out of the hangar and into position all by himself. 800 kilos? That’s like two large motorcycles! “Jesus,” I thought, “There’s no way we’re going to survive this one.” To give you an idea of the plane’s size, only myself, the pilot and Jordi (our cameraman) could comfortably fit inside without the plane being too heavy to take off.

Miraculously enough, though, the plane was able to take off and away we went! Our route took us all the way up to the perfect cone of Volcán Momotombo, straight down Lake Managua’s shore, over the city, past Laguna de Masaya and Laguna de Apoyo (where we filmed a beautiful time lapse yesterday morning) and back to the airstrip! The flight was disappointingly free of turbulence–good for filming, bad for adrenaline–but it was fantastic to be able to see both the dramatic lakes in this country and its marvelous old cities from two thousand feet (a particularly fantastic experience with the plane’s windows open).

My opportunity for adrenaline came as we approached the airstrip for landing. There was quite a bit of wind on approach and I could not help but to think that we would miss the runway because of how much we were moving from side to side. Sadly, disaster was averted because our pilot was quite capable and landed the plane smoother than I thought possible.

Quite an experience, to say the least. Our shots are beautiful and will serve well to give our documentary the grandeur that it deserves. Off to León on Tuesday!

-Richard Hansen


H2Nica is clearly an international presence here in Managua. The sheer volume of meetings that we’ve been having with organizations as diverse as the UNDP and a nationwide organization that is dedicated to bringing clean water to all Nicaraguans is a testament to this fact.

Every meeting that we have opens the Pandora’s box of the water situation in this country just a bit further. It is almost impossible to keep up with the number of possible stories and contacts that we get from each of our existing contacts. I suppose that it is better to have an embarrassment of riches in this respect rather than having to stumble around in the darkness. However, we are now presented with the almost impossible task of selecting between a multitude of potentially-brilliant stories.

We have tentatively decided to take several trips in order to cast the widest possible net while simultaneously keeping this project at a small enough size to be able to give these stories the deep understanding that they require. Here are a few:

  • We are certainly taking a trip to the Caribbean coast, to a city called Bluefields. Though it is relatively expensive to get there because of the necessity of flying, Nicaragua’s Atlantic regions are historically ignored and merit a good deal of attention just for that reason. Not to mention, Bluefields illustrates Nicaragua’s water paradox well: it is in the middle of more fresh water than the vast majority of places on Earth, yet most of the population lacks potable water.
  • Chinandega, in the northern part of the country, suffers from a more traditional problem: it is in the driest part of the country and a significant percentage of the population relies on catching rain water to get what they need to survive. Therefore, the problem here is really one of a combination of poor management of existing resources and lousy infrastructure.
  • León, which is north of Managua, suffers from problems related primarily to the possible contamination of water by large businesses. We will primarily be looking into some allegations that water contamination has sickened and even killed quite a few people there. This story is a bit more tentative than the others because of a lack of solid information, but has a lot of potential to be a riveting tale.

These are just a few of the themes that we are looking to examine here! The challenge will be to tell the story of water in Nicaragua in a way that is compelling, cohesive and comprehensive all at the same time. No mean feat, but if anyone can do it, this team can. We are committed, passionate and resourceful. I cannot wait to see what the next few weeks bring.

-Richard Hansen

Stories of the Team Chef (Number One)

As part of my duties here in Nicaragua, I have assumed the responsibility of being the team chef. Soooo, from time to time I will be uploading my off-the-cuff recipes. That said, here is today’s lunch, Filete de Pescado a la Hansen:

What you need (for four-ish people):

  • Two fillets of some kind of white fish
  • Cream
  • Capers
  • Scallions
  • Mushrooms (button, I guess)
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Rice


  • Put some salt and pepper on both sides of the fish
  • Heat a bunch of butter up in a pan
  • Cook the fish at medium-high heat for about four minutes per side
  • Remove the fish and set aside
  • Put some minced garlic in the pan and saute it
  • Toss a bit of flour in the pan to thicken up the butter
  • Lower the heat to medium-low
  • Put some sliced mushrooms in the pan
  • Almost immediately after that, put a decent amount of cream, some sliced scallions and a small handful of capers in the pan.
  • Heat the mixture up a reasonable amount, but don’t burn it!
  • Remove from the heat and pour over the fish.
  • If you made rice, use the rest of the sauce on the rice like a curry
  • Enjoy!

This is a good meal to have if you feel like having a hunk of lead in your belly that will keep you filled for many hours.

-Richard Hansen