A chicken decided to crash our briefing from the Masaya women’s co-op.
MASAYA – It shouldn’t have come as any surprise when the large chicken joined the meeting, striding around as if waiting for her turn to talk.
After all the dog had already done his inspection, and the cat made a brief cameo prior to the chicks deciding they were going to make a crossing. Nobody seemed to mind.
We had travelled from the capital to Masaya to visit a former Horizons of Friendship partnership project that no longer needed Horizons. In the development world, that’s an outstanding success. Goal achieved.
Fifty-five women belong to the Masaya-based co-op that is involved with everything from mixed farming to embroidered clothes, artwork and producing dolls. The farm was just one site where we could see the co-op at work.
Gathered in a circle in an open shelter, several co-op members introduced themselves and talked about what the co-op meant to them.
MANAGUA — The entire Managua tour bus erupted with laughter when the guide suggested that Canada was a balanced country.
The young Nicaraguan was trying to describe how Nicaragua had skittered from the “dictatorship” of Anastasio Somoza to the “dictatorship” of the Sandinistas. Canada was supposed to be a model of what his country truly needed – balance.
Yet he describes Daniel Ortega, recently re-elected in 2011 as Nicaragua’s President, as a champagne socialist who portrays himself as a “practical socialist.”
That practical side is raising eyebrows as the Sandinistas have a new slogan – Christianity, Socialism and Solidarity – a sign that the Sandinistas were finding new accommodation with the conservative Catholic Church. There is even a faith park near the National Palace with an obelisk commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II.
Managua is an odd city. Scarred and scared by the 1972 earthquake that devastated the Nicaraguan capital, there are few high-rise buildings despite a population of 1.4 million people. The low-rise capital is spread out overlooking Lake Managua and a distant landscape of volcanos. The guide tells us that earthquakes are a regular part of life here, the ground under their feet rattling at least once a month.
The capital Managua.
It is also a young city, but different from our own. When wages are so low, the population doesn’t wander around staring at their smart phones. For most, things are decidedly low-tech here.
While the setting is dramatic, the city is far from attractive, much of the historic architecture that most cities exploit for tourism purposes lost to either natural disaster or revolution. While Nicaragua is a beautiful country, Managua is a visual blight in it.