All Roads Lead to Cola


It’s 90F, 90% humidity, it’s noon, the sun is high and scorching. All you want is a cool, sweet, liquid to combat your sweaty, thirsty, fatigue….soda.

And it’s readily available for you! In a plastic bag on your bus ride or at the nearest pulperia (corner store). I am still surprised by the remote corners I see houses with soda ad murals painted on the sides and the tiny rural stores where over half of the space is filled with soda alone.  It’s common where I am to see people riding along on bicycles with their single grocery item being a 2-liter bottle of gaseosa.

Sadly, a majority of Nicaraguan sugarcane workers suffer from the often fatal Chronic Kidney Disease of non-traditional causes. The exact cause is currently unknown, but this type of the disease is prevalent in hot lowland climates among heavy agricultural laborers, especially among sugarcane workers.  These laborers harvest sugar in the very same conditions that might make you want to reach for a soda. Companies may also distribute sugar-hydration packets to workers during the day who may then go home to drink soda or alcohol at night. Hmmm.

La Isla Foundation, a León-based organization that I taught fundraising yoga for, works to help these Nicaraguan communities where almost 70% of male sugarcane workers get this disease, dying from it as young as age 25. Take a few minutes and check out the work they’re doing and see the faces of those affected.

I call on this information in my personal battle with the “white devil” (maybe you share this battle?) as I work to be more mindful about what I consume, where it’s coming from, and what it’s taken to arrive in front of me for my consumption.


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