Literally, in Nicaragua
I am not the ravenous reader that I once was, but I do go through spells of mass consumption; and then there are times when setting and timing perfectly align for specific pieces of literature. I had never heard of Belli or her book, but as I sat on the shores of a dormant volcano in Nicaragua, I hugged it close to me. Before I turned the first page, I knew that I was going to love it.
We enjoyed our time in Granada – please don’t interpret that as anything else – and I’m especially glad we started there. But as I got further into Belli’s book and started to get a deeper view of the country, I knew that we did not osmose much culture beyond the colourful facade.
And I really wanted to know more.
Back on shore I picked up Belli’s book and it began with her upbringing in the elite of the capital city of Managua. The following day we left the Laguna, headed north, and raced through her home city. I scanned every street trying to pick out some of the exact things she described. Our next destination, aptly so, was the revolutionary city that, like Belli, wears its heart and scars for all the world to see. We had a few days to spend in León.
Francisco told us of his decades of involvement, and revealed his struggles with PTSD, which is not at all surprising given the devastating affects of the revolution and the fallout that continued.
It was unbearably hot at midday, but when we reached the other side, we lingered to watch all of the activity below. Feeling braver, we followed him again to the far side for an opposite view.
It is safe, Francisco kept insisting, but if you fall through, don’t worry. We have free health care here.
In between excursions in León, I devoured pages detailing Belli’s involvement in the rebellion that saw her expelled from her own country, separated from her daughters, and in and out of several important relationships that each carried an intensity not dissimilar to the love for her country.
Dare to change the world. There is nothing quixotic or romantic in wanting to change the world. It is possible. It is the age-old vocation of all humanity. I can’t think of a better life than one dedicated to passion, to dreams, to the stubbornness that defies chaos and disillusionment. ~ Gioconda Belli
Her country is vastly ahead of where it was, but not without current dilemmas. She attests to problems and mistakes made on both sides that have provided for many of the challenges. Decades of conflict and natural forces also kept the country in ruins for a significant amount of time. New power struggles keep it from progressing to where it might otherwise be.
It’s not often that we leave a destination with such knowledge from such a short time frame, nor such inspiration to see our own world in a different way. I have admitted before that I am so intrigued by revolution – maybe because I feel it is inevitable within my lifetime, and I wonder if I will have the courage to stand and face it.
Especially now, I think I might.
Where we stayed
León: We again were in a small hotel near the centre, although Hotel La Posada del Doctor was a bit of a miss for us. Although clean and comfortable, with great breakfasts and friendly staff, the room was barely big enough to turn around in and the street was quite noisy.