Today we had a very educational day touring Managua and Ciudad Sandino. We started at CEPS with a delicious breakfast of rice and beans, fried plantains, fresh fruit, and coffee. Then, we all piled into the van to start our adventure. Our tour guide, Becca, is from JHC, and she gave us a very comprehensive experience with Nicaraguan history and culture. We visited the Lead Hill, which is the home to the Memorial of Heroes and Martyrs. While we enjoyed the view, we were sure to keep in mind the past use of the land as a dumping ground for the bodies of those tortured by the Somoza dictatorship. After that, we visited the Ben Linder House, which is now owned by JHC. They strive to preserve the memory of an American electrical engineer who supported the Sandinista cause, and brought electricity to many rural villages to protect against the Contra attacks. Ultimately, he was murdered for his involvement in the revolution, but his contributions live on in the form of beautiful murals that covered the walls of the courtyard. It was inspiring to learn about the courageous work of this young American, and the difference he could make in Nicaragua. Then, we visited the plaza in old Managua. It is home to the original cathedral, Palacio Nacional, and the Casa de Pueblos. It’s an interesting intersection of politics, history, religion, and culture. We learned that when the revolution ended and Somoza was run out of the country, the revolutionaries all celebrated in the plaza together, shooting their weapons into the air! We got to learn about (and reenact) the Sandinista takeover of the Palacio Nacional. This was our transition into the museum, where we had a chance to discuss the colonization of Nicaragua, look at some cool fossils, and also some art. There were even some fossilized Bison footprints! From there we walked to a beautiful park, where we had a refreshing lunch of papusas and cold beverages. Papusas are a Salvadorian, fried corn tortilla with fillings. We got to sample some with beans, cheese, and vegetables. There were a few attractions around, such as a miniature version of Managua before the earthquake, an airplane (most Nicaraguans never get the chance to fly), and a fantastic view of the lake. Next, we went to a grocery store to stock up on Chikys and other treats. We ended our day with a visit to the Cultural Center, where we saw some more murals and learned about the history of the organization and how it serves the community as a church, school, and an arts center. This is also the only place within four neighborhoods that has a library, and we learned that most public schools do not have one. With true Nicaraguan hospitality, the artist and his wife welcomed us into their home to look at some of their crafts and artwork, before we headed back to CEPS for some much needed dinner and rest. We are about to do reflections, and there is certainly a lot to think about! Looking forward to a great first work day tomorrow in Nueva Vida.
Chiara, Payton, and Tahlyn