After plenty of rest, we started our day in Managua. It was just a few days ago that thousands of Nicaraguans celebrated the 35th anniversary of the revolution in the streets of the Nicaraguan capital…
At a local comedor, we had our first Nica breakfast and our Glimpser had their first encounter with the omnipresent Gallo Pinto (beans and rice). However, León, the city of lions was calling us already and after a short stop at a viewpoint (where we saw the volcanoes Momotombo, Momotombito and the lake Xolotlán), we arrived safely in our hotel. Iliana, Norla and Kevin, the hotel staff, were warmly welcoming us and after our introduction seminars, we went to our first lunch at our restaurant “Quiero más” (“I want more”). Gallo Pinto, fried cheese, beef and chicken were already waiting for us.
During our City Tour of León, we had a chance to listen to the history of the revolution by former revolutionaries, who are running a museum in the center of León. We learned about “the father of the revolution” Agosto Cesar Sandino, foreign interventions, Somoza and his US-backed dictatorship, as well as his assasination at the hands of a young idealistic poet, Rigoberto Lopez Perez. Our guide explained to us, how the Somoza sons fought over the power and how eventually the “third Somoza” surpassed his father in cruelty by many lengths, until he was toppled by the Sandinista movement. On the 7th of July each year, the “Leoneses” celebrate the liberation of León, which was the first Nicaraguan city to be liberated!
León is also famous for its gigantic white cathedral, which is a world heritage site and is known as one of the oldest and largest cathedrals of Central America. While we were watching the monumental architecture and beautifully crafted statues inside, the holy mass was being celebrated, so we decided to leave in order to not disturb the religious celebration. On the outside, we walked right into the Mausoleo, where several leaders of the Sandinista movement are being commemorated. In the background on the walls, we saw Nicaragua’s history encapsulated in powerful symbolic imagery, from the pre-columbian times, to the Spanish conquest, William Walker’s “presidency,” General Benjamin Zeledón’s fight for national sovereignity, Sandino, the massacre of th 23th of July, Carlos Fonseca and eventually the successful revolution.
After a long city tour, we enjoyed our well-deserved rest with an ice-cream, before we returned to the hostel to deepen our knowledge about Nicaragua’s complex history. We were asking ourselves why history is important and how it affects the present and future. After dinner, we had our first nightly meeting and had a vivid discussion about whether violence is ever justified to fight for social justice. Although we did not reach definite conclusions, we realized how complex and difficult this topic is. We discussed the differences between violence and self-defense, as well as non-violent methods of conflict resolution, reflecting on Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.
After passing the Herculean task of saying the tongue-breaker “Tres tristes tigres comen trigo de un trigal” correctly in less than 2 seconds, Stely was awarded the “El Lider del día”-necklace for the next day, along with a very special pin by Farima, commemorating her brother, a great leader and role model before he passed away. His memory humbles us in the same way like our discussion about the privileges that most of us took for granted. The simple act of travelling unhindered into another country or having access to good education are not a given for many people in developing countries.
After a long day, full of new experiences and new ideas, we finally got to rest, charging up for another day in the Land of Volcanoes and Poets…