There's vultures everywhere. They must be the national bird of Nicaragua. My eyes are not being tricked. There are volcanoes in every direction, burning trash, banana trees, dust fills my lungs, rice and beans, stories of the Nicaraguan revolution, and I'm still not sure whether or not the Sandinistas were the good guys. But if there’s one thing I know, many Nicaraguans are dancing on a balance beam between marginalized living conditions and the will to survive.
Some of these people are truly living off the land, and many of them have no choice. One mountaintop village in particular is so remote, the government doesn’t send teachers to the school for some 70 students. Instead, the village relies on volunteer teachers to teach the kids on the weekends. Meanwhile during the week everyone chips in on the tasks to keep the village afloat: they are gathering water, washing the clothes, growing crops, fixing their machines, and caring for themselves. They split the profits amongst themselves and since there’s so much work to do, there’s barely any alcohol or drug abuse in the community.
We have been going nonstop since day one. I’ve hardly had time to gather my thoughts. Instead, they are scribbled in my notebook and scenes are filling up my hard drives.
By day 4 I was feeling ragged. I just wanted to explore by myself or learn a few things about this city. Instead, we settled into our accommodations in Leon and set out walking across town for dinner. From my understanding, this city was a major battleground during the revolution in the 1980s. Contra tanks were standing off in these streets with the people who sought to resist the overthrow of the government, and those people were the Sandinistas. While walking, my yearning for some alone time was interrupted when all the lights in the city went out. The whole place went black. A few people in our group ran toward the square, feeling it was the safest place, but the others eased their fears and we all decided to continue our walk in a tighter formation on to our destination. Had this been 30 years prior, we could have been in the midst of something very bad. My feelings of desired solitude quickly dissolved.
Now that we are at the beach I finally found a few bits of rest. And the vultures continue to consume the decay and turn it into something good for their survival.
Onward to Masaya and Managua.