Part 3: From Pearl Lagoon to the Back Bay
Two young boys prepare their shrimping net. Weekends are slow for fishing because the companies will provide gasoline only on weekdays. These boys and men row their canoes in the lagoon and set out for shrimp. Hansack explains that about a pound nets $1. "But they are fresh," he says as both he and Delmer start to laugh, "It's like Subway, they say 'Eat Fresh.' In Pearl Lagoon, we 'Eat Fresh.' "
We take a "five-minute ride" to a women's softball tournament in nearby Haulover, also on the Lagoon. So small is Haulover -- which sounds like Hanover when Devern and Delmer pronounce it -- a real dock is absent, so we park the boat on a patch of sand and tie it to the outside of this house. The image of a small quaint Lagoon is not what I discover when Hansack shows me how large it spans. Small towns like Haulover litter the Lagoon, some take two hours via panga to reach.
The field is wide and open with women playing softball, and this girl sweetly poses for a photo. The hut in the far distance is an outside bar where we settle and sip Toñas, Nicaragua's national beer. The heat is somewhere in the high 80s, but feels cooler when we inhale the breeze of the Lagoon as it runs through our ears, nose and hair. Reggae music and the occasional country ballad booms through two enormous amps and Hansack sings along, becoming a human Karaoke machine. A game of dominoes is played, and men sit in plastic chairs in the hut watching the women. "See this is our life," Hansack reiterates, smile wide on his face. "I could never, ever leave."
"He'll be better than Mariano," a local Haulover man yells over the music. Which Mariano he's talking about, we're not sure. Even the people here think Hansack will have a shot at the closer's job in Boston. When Hansack was in Portland, Red Sox senior vice president and general manager Theo Epstein was in town scouting the remaining players. After Hansack won the clinching game for the Eastern League championship and was named MVP, Epstein pulled him aside and told him to, "have fun, but not too much, I need to talk with you." Hansack thought he might be released, or perhaps sent to Triple-A. Instead, he'd finish the year with Boston, Epstein said. "I just held my hand on my head for a moment, I couldn't believe it," Hansack says, mimicking the pose. "I called my mom and she said 'Thank God, Baby. You just gotta keep praying.' "
As we were leaving Haulover we walked past this pile of trash. It seems the government does little in providing resources for the Atlantic Coast, and trash barrels are hard to find and usually full. Hansack's father was supposed to be at the game, but he never showed. Hansack's mother was on her way back from a church trip to Managua. The only other way back is a panga to a local port 20 minutes away where the only road to Managua begins. It's about a six-hour drive or more to the capital.
Amy K. Nelson is a reporter for ESPN The Magazine.
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