It was time to head north toward the Honduran border, and learn about life in the campo along the
During this period, and perhaps sometimes in subgroups, we visited Esteli; Condega; Pueblo Nuevo;
Palacaguina; a government project named after the Nicarguan patriot—and assuredly poet as
well—Rigoberto Lopez Pérez, and the coffee cooperative El Chaguiton.
We left Managua at noon on December 20th for a big welcome in Esteli at 3 p.m. On the 21st, I played foreign
correspondent, with the help of Theresa from Canada kindly acting as translator. (Theresa was at least
tri-lingual: French, Spanish, English.)
We interviewed a hotel manager,
Ricardo. (Not his real name. Not knowing attribution protocols, I will opt for anonymity for
the manager here.)
Ricardo was not a great fan of the Sandinistas, but he told us that they were practical, and not
committed to anything like the "communist model" that Washington accused them of.
Ricardo said that many of the nation's buses were being sold to private entrepreneurs, and that the
was being built by the state but would be turned over to the company that ran the Intercontinental. He said
that the state provided scholarships to the tourism school, so Nicaragua could tap into the increasing market
for south-of-the-border R&R.
Ricardo also said that, at least in Esteli, there was no Eastern Bloc presence. His final
comment was that the U.S. was "in error" with its contra program.
We also visited Condega and Palacaguina on the 21st. With the people of Palacaguina we sang Cristo de Palacaguina,
one of my very favorite songs. I have it on Sabiá's famous Green Tape, the first of
their several popular recordings of Nuevo Canción. The people of Palacaguina then sang the Sandinista
anthem, with great pride as always.
Our next stop was the Rigoberto Lopez Pérez project, made up of about three hundred
very militant workers and soldiers. My notes don't show what the project was about, so I welcome any
information that a visitor to this site might be able to supply.
My notes show the 22nd as a day of rest and washing, but it also seems that I went along on a rather bumpy
ride in the back of a flatbed truck, accompanied by about 15 soldiers, to Pueblo Nuevo.
Here, in small, personal meetings with the Mothers of the Heroes and Martyrs, the FSLN representatives
expressed their support,
and their understanding of how difficult it was for these women to celebrate Christmas without their sons and
daughters. These sentiments were expressed with a great measure of pride, dignity, and gentleness.
Later, the mothers said to us: "We may suffer, but we know how to celebrate—the mothers invite you to
dance." And, so we did. There was also spontaneous singing by all in the park as we waited for the trucks to
take us back, on the same bumpy road, to Esteli. Some day of rest!