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"We only take enough to feed our families," one man protested. "We are hungry." "Then why do you come with those sacks and horses?" Welcome demanded. "You got more eggs than you can feed to 10 families. You take them to the market, that's what you do."
One of the poachers just sat back on his haunches grinning, a splinter between his teeth. But others glared hostilely. All seemed amazed at this stranger who was ranting and raving in an accent that identified him as coming from the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. "It's easy for you to say," said one of the hueveros. "You're all getting a salary. We're starving."
"You think we like being here?" replied one of the guards. "We don't get paid to do this work. We do it to help save the turtles." That was certainly true. The guards had come from Managua, and they had worked all night for no extra pay.
Another guard, tight-lipped and obviously not enjoying the situation, added, "We're here, and we talk to you like brothers; we don't come down with the military. And what do you do? You take the female off her nest right when she's laying, and she gets disoriented and ends up in the mangroves, and you expect her to live?"
Some of the hueveros looked guilty; they said nothing. The guard went on: "You've just got five more days before the season opens back up. It's only five days, not five years—five days you have to obey the law. Is that too much to ask?"
The debate went on for nearly an hour as the sun rose above the beach and the morning mist burned away. The hueveros grew tired of standing in the hot sun. They saw that the guards and the students weren't going to budge. So, reluctantly, they started packing up. Suddenly a wiry little man with a mustache grabbed his machete, slapped it loudly against his leg, stomped past Welcome and furiously whacked the back end of his white horse with the flat of the blade, causing the horse to rear. The man moved 15 or 20 feet away, jammed his stick into the sand and started digging for turtle eggs.
Welcome bellowed with outrage and distress, "What are you doing, mon? Have you not listened to a thing we said?"
"To hell with you," the wiry man replied. "I come a long way. This is my living, and I'm going to take the eggs."
Welcome grabbed a rifle from a startled guard and fired a quick burst of shots into the sand directly in front of the huevero. The sand erupted from the impact of the bullets.
The huevero rose stiffly and snarled at Welcome. "Go ahead and shoot me," he said. "You black man, you outsiders from the Atlantic, coming here to tell us what to do. It's no business of yours. Go back to where you come from." Defiantly he went back to scooping sand from the hole. Everyone watched, waiting to see what Welcome would do.