Blogging is difficult when you’ve been in a country for less than 72 hours and you’ve already done more than in the 39 days you were home away from Berkeley…
Getting here was exhausting–a delayed plane ride and a tight connecting flight left me in a flurry rushing from one place to another. I was the last one to board the plane from Houston to Managua. As I made my way all the way to the back of the plane I sat in the middle seat next to Enrique; a cuban man traveling for the first time to Managua. On the ride over he shared with me his story about escaping Cuba on boat to Honduras and then crossing into Mexico where he received a passport. It was his first time using it and his first time traveling out of the United States since he had arrived there. What caught my attention most was how trusting he was: when arriving to Nicaragua he asked me to fill out his immigration papers. Handing over to me his passport with all of his personal information with no worry. Honestly I was taken aback; I thought he was joking initially when he asked but when I saw that he stared confusingly at the paperwork as I filled out mine I offered to help and he handed everything over to me.
In the plane ride I also observed a large family who surrounded the seats around me. I heard as the little girl constantly asked questions about “Ma-na-guava”, which was how she constantly mispronounced Managua, one of which was, “Are there cookies in Nicaragua?”. I listened eagerly to the answers that were provided to her thinking to myself that my first grade teacher Ms. Gallardo was right when she prompted us to not be shy and ask our questions because someone might have the same one. This same family inspired the title of this post “Somoza Forever?”. Once we arrived and the little girl knew that in Nicaragua there were “really big cookies called rosquillas” and that if she didn’t stop asking questions her dad would “Ma-na-guava” her I heard the grandpa of the family talking politics. The grandpa spoke to his son about how Nicaragua was on its way to becoming a capitalist nation again. He told him how soon he would see how all the Sandinistas would be out of there. He ended his shpeel with the phrase that has stuck with me so far: “Somoza Forever”. (Brief history side note: the Somoza regime was a dictatorship that lasted about 5o years with a supposed liberal economy. It was overturn by the communist Sandinista Revolution. As far as I know a popular saying of the late 70s when the Sandinistas had recently come to power was “la misma mierda solo las moscas son diferentes” which translates to the “same shit only the flies are different”. So do the people of Nicaragua need more Somozistas or Sandinistas in power? Frankly, it’s an issue too complex to be put in black and white, either or, as most things are. The exact reason for the question mark in the title.) That moment did however allow me to come to the realization of the highly political nature of my trip thus far. In my two interactions it was necessary for me to have known a history of colonialism, revolution, and racism to appreciate the value in the narratives.
I wait anxiously to start my work with Centro de Mujeres Ixchen tomorrow and keep learning.