A youth dance troupe performs for us at the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Community Centre in Nandaime.
NANDAIME – Valentine’s Day in Nicaragua is as much about friendship as it is love. Before the day was out, we would be finding both.
Nandaime is a quiet town of 40,000 residents – 20,000 in the so-called “urban area” – located south of Masaya. It fits the form of many other Spanish colonial towns built around an open square with the municipal building on one side and a church on the other.
In a country where people are continually in the streets, there were few people about town until the local high school emptied at about 11:30 am of the first shift of the day.
Education is a challenge in Nicaragua, and the local high school accommodates the local population by teaching three different groups per day in consecutive shifts.
You also notice that water runs through the streets of the town, turning into a significant flow on the street where the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Community Centre is located. Nandaime cannot afford a sewage system.
“In the flash of this moment / you’re the best of what we are / don’t let them stop you now / Nicaragua.” – Bruce Cockburn (1984)
MANAGUA – Nearly 30 years ago I had lunch with Bruce Cockburn as preparation for a feature I was to write about the singer-songwriter’s tour of Guatemala and Nicaragua. Having lunch in the old Hotel Nova Scotian, I asked Bruce about his trip, and it was more than an hour before I got to ask the second question, not that I needed to ask any more.
While I did my best to tell his story of witnessing the early days of the Sandinista revolution and the horrors he learned of in Guatemala, he said it best himself with the album Stealing Fire. One minute he’s angrily pounding out “If I Had A Rocket Launcher,” the next stirring hope with “Nicaragua” or “Dust and Diesel.”
Cockburn was not the only pop culture artist to get swept up the aftermath of the Sandinista revolution. Rolling Stone magazine still considers the Clash’s “Sandinista” to be among the top 500 albums of all time. It seemed everyone was watching Nicaragua.
Thirty years on you don’t hear as much about this Central American nation wedged between Costa Rica to the south, El Salvador and Honduras to the north, bordered east and west by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As part of my preparations to come here I spoke with someone at my bank, who wanted to know how one spelled ‘Nicaragua’ and where it was.