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With Nicaragua's Grand Canal route now defined, we want to document the its people and places before construction begins in December.
With Nicaragua's Grand Canal route now defined, we want to document the its people and places before construction begins in December.
20 backers pledged $2,443 to help bring this project to life.

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Nicaragua's Grand Canal: "Route 4 Before" Expedition project video thumbnail
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$2,443

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Have you heard about the largest engineering project in human history? 

Construction starts in December. I want to get the unheard story of who and what is there now, before ground is broken. I will be delivering a series of articles and videos published on nicaconexiones.com and other Nicaragua news sites.

It's Nicaragua's Grand Canal project being undertaken by the HKND group and the Nicaraguan government. When finished it will be the largest transcontinental shipping canal in the world, 3x larger than the Panama Canal. There were six routes proposed and Route 4 was chosen due to its shorter distance and lessened environmental and socio cultural impacts. 

Route 4 will cut through three wildlife reserves, directly impact at least four more and cut the indigenous territory of the Rama-Kriol in half. 

Proposed Canal Route and the Areas It Will Impact
Proposed Canal Route and the Areas It Will Impact

Some call it the biggest mistake in Nicaraguan history. Many consider it to be the best thing that could happen to this poor Central American country. One thing is for sure, this is a huge deal for those living in the canal's path, and so far nobody has gone to get the complete story from the people who live right on top of where the canal will be dug. 

I want to make a photojournalism expedition following the proposed Route 4 from ocean to ocean, talking with people and visiting the places that may soon be just a memory. I want to talk about what life is like now and how the locals see their future. I want to hear their hopes and fears, I want to see their homes and families and I want to put it all together so that the world can know what life was like before the largest engineering project in human history begins. And if possible, I want to create a time-lapse video of the entire canal route from ocean to ocean. When the trip is done we will put together a story that we hope to publish with a major news outlet. 

The plan is to start in Bluefields and discuss the canal project with the government of the Rama-Kriol and others here in the largest city on the Caribbean coast. From there we will head south to Monkey Point and trek to the small indigenous Rama village of Punta Aguila where a proposed deepwater shipping port is to be constructed. 

We will then trek to the remote village of Punta Gorda, I have been to the mouth of the Punta Gorda river but this expedition will take us into the jungle of the Punta Gorda Reserve. We will pass through what is planned to be a large man-made reservoir, Lake Atlanta, which will completely destroy the reserve and affect the other reserves north and south of it. Eventually we will exit the river close to the headwaters and begin the trek up the low rolling mountains that separate the coastal plains from the largest lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua. 

From there we will follow the river Tule down to the lake and sail from San Miguelito to Solantimane islands reserve, then up to Ometepe island and then to the mainland again. We will then make our way overland to the mouth of the Brito river and the Pacific ocean.

From the Caribbean to the Pacific we will be collecting stories, sharing experiences and taking photographs to document what is there, now, before the roads are built, the tourists resorts are constructed, the artificial lake is dug and the excavators arrive. 

We will be departing in October to have the story ready by December when the construction is slated to begin. 

The amount I am asking for is the minimum amount needed for three of us to make this two-week trip. Kickstarter funding is tricky...the minimum has to be reached to be able to fund your project but beyond that the sky's the limit. Excluding the minimum needed, there will also be equipment to buy in preparation ($500+), funds to sustain our families while we are gone ($400+ for my wife and two kids, not including the needs of the other members of the trip) and production costs after the expedition ($400+ in professional services). 

This is a real game-changer for the country of Nicaragua, its environment and its people. The Route 4 Before expedition could be the only voice people will be able to remember after chainsaws have started.

Risks and challenges

The biggest risk is this project not reaching its funding goal. If it is just a dollar short, Kickstarter returns all the donations and that's that. No trip, no chronicle of the "old" Nicaragua as it will be referred to after this canal is built, no voice for the people living in its path.

Challenges are many but I am uniquely experienced to take them on. I have made long treks across remote regions of the country:
http://rightsideguide.com/2863/ancient-ruins-deadly-snakes-and-lost-exploring-nicaragua-the-hard-way/
http://rightsideguide.com/drug-smugglers-she-males-and-thieves-bluefields-to-puerta-cabezas-to-waspam-part-13/

I also write travel guides to the country http://nicaconexiones.com/ncx-guide-to-festivals-and-events-in-nicaragua/
and have kept a blog about the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua for about 4 years now so the writing after the trip comes naturally.

The two other people who will be making the trip have lived in the country for many years, speak excellent Spanish, have tackled expeditions larger than this and are very critical thinking, quick on their feet types who know how to resolve issues both technical and personal.

Will Martinez is a Nicaraguan American who is a pro at taking portraits in the field. He recently came back from an expedition to the Amazon. I have worked with him on the Caribbean coast and look forward to working with him again. Check out Will's portfolio: http://willmzapata.com/rama-cay#/id/i3650277

Guthry McCrea is Rama indian from Punta de Aguila, the village that will have to make way for the port on the Caribbean side. He and I spent several years working together and made a trip from the border of Costa Rica following the coast up to nearly Bluefields, a walking journey of nearly a week. He is tough, smart and can open a coconut faster than anybody.

If this trip gets funded, it will happen.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Get the photos!
    We will invite you to have access to view the photos from the trip. This photo account will be kept private but Kickstarter backers will have access.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Get the story, uncut!
    Receive the first draft of the final story in its edited but uncut state. All publications have a limit on length, so pledge $25 or more and get the story in its entirety. Also get access to the photo account.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Ask a question!
    We will include any question you would like to know in our interview with the local people who live along Route 4. What a great deal...whatever you would like to know, we will ask and include it in the report! We will also send you the uncut story and give you access to the photo account.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Get a postcard!
    We will be taking lots of photos along the way. Pledge $25 and receive a Route 4 postcard featuring one of our best photos and a personal thank you message hand written on the back. We will also ask any question you may have to a local along the way, send you the complete edition and give you access to the photo account.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Get Casey's books!
    I will send you a copy of each of my books, the NCX Guide to Festivals and Events and Sons of Pirates: Conquered by the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. We will also send you a postcard, ask any question you may have to a local along the way, send you the complete edition and give you access to the photo account.

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    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    Handmade art from the communities!
    I will find something handmade by someone in the communities we cross, ask, buy or trade something for it and send it to you with the story of the previous owner. Think wood carving, braided or sewn piece or kite. Original souvenir from a community that may soon be underwater.

    Plus all the above goodies.

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Funding period

- (14 days)