It’s our first day and we’ve already hit the ground running. Today, we woke up to a delicious breakfast and an awesome sunrise. Some of us went on a run, drank coffee and had some great conversations. Today, breakfast was fresh fruit, freshly baked bread, marmalade and butter, rice and beans, and eggs. I’ve never been this well fed in my life.
We went into Managua today and saw many parts of the city. Becca, who has been living in Nicaragua since 2001 and works for the JHC, took us around the city and provided an awesome narrative of the history and culture of Managua. We visited a memorial to the martyrs during the Somoza regime, which overlooked Lake Managua. The lake has been environmentally destroyed by the Kodak company. After this, we went to the market. We were given 200 cordobas to put ourselves in the shoes of someone making minimum wage who must provide food for their family. We were asked to purchase at a bare minimum two pounds of rice, two pounds of beans and oil. We also had enough money for some vegetables and fruit. We had at least one Spanish speaker in each group to help negotiate with vendors. It was really eye opening to learn how to maneuver food markets, and learn what is and is not suitable/affordable for feeding a family.
We also went to the national palace, the old cathedral. At these locations, we learned about the origins of the Sandinista revolution. We learned about the incredible strength that came from the youth-driven revolution. It was amazing learning that many college aged and younger students and citizens put their education and life aside to aid in the liberation of the people. Additionally, we learned about the necessity of being resourceful while participating in underfunded revolutions.
After an emotionally heavy morning, we headed to a lake side park where we eat lunch that consisted of papusas and some fast-melting ice cream. The park had places for families and young couples to enjoy the weather and each other companies. We were given some free time to walk through a miniature replica of Managua buildings.
After taking time to refresh, we headed off to the biggest hill in Managua, which was once the palace during the Somoza regime. Currently, the palace does not exist and only a few walls remain with a massive tribute to Sandino. Sandino remains a national hero due to his liberation of the people from United State’s military control.
Our next stop was at the “New Cathedral,” which was funded by the CEO of Dominoes (yes, you read that right). The Cathedral was built by a Mexican architecture and was built in an extremely modern style, which was unlike most traditional churches in the country. We were able to look inside see beautiful portraits and statues.
Next, we visited the the home of the imfafous artist behind the mural of seventh street cafe by the name of Gerardo. His whole family was very welcoming and Gerardo spoke about the intersection between commodore, spirituality, and kindness. He mentioned how financial impoverishment is irrelevant if one lacks spirituality. This spirituality was that of human connection and not of religious focus. He now works as an art teacher for the local cultural center, hoping to encourage his students to use their art to empower their hearts and minds. Gerardo introduced us to the work coloring the walls of the cultural center; the murals painted depict the history of Nicaragua as viewed and felt by the students themselves. A part of the mural depicted Sandino’s infamous hat as a volcano, the sparks flying out in an attempt to save Nicaragua from the political oppression of the United States and the Somosa rule. Despite the many tragedies the artists behind these murals have experienced, their work showed us how much hope they still have for the future.