Where the Heart Is
Iglesia Guadalupe in Granada, the city where I was born.
Though the Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto César Sandino has boasted jet bridges for several years now, I still expect to descend directly from the airplane onto the tarmac. In the 80s, excited family and friends would crowd together mosh pit-style on a terrace that overlooked the landing strip, everyone calling out and waving signs like crazed fans awaiting a celebrity’s arrival on the red carpet. But they were just waiting for their exiled own, coming home for the holidays.
Granada by coche, a horse-drawn carriage.
My trips to Nicaragua are bittersweet, especially during Christmas. My passport still marks me a citizen, and I do call it “home” whenever I refer to it, but Nicaragua hasn’t really been home for a very long time. I’ve moved on, but that first sighting of dusty olive green land from the scratched acrylic windows makes my heart cramp. Memories of trips when my family lived in the U.S. and Mexico during the 80s jumble with those from college breaks and the more recent perfunctory visits. The childhood jaunts were all fun and adventure; I was mesmerized by ox-pulled carts on the main roads and street vendors pouring sodas into plastic bags—mini-udders that dispensed Coca-Cola. But even in the haze of little-kid wonderment, I knew everything was broken, and it made me deeply sad. It’s sadder today. But, there are uniquely beautiful and wow-worthy people and scenes to be found, and I appreciate them all the more.
San Juan del Sur, the beach town I grew up going to—and now a must-see on tourists’ itineraries.
The new spear fishing technique. We’d gone to the dock and carefully packed our catch of the day in a large cooler when we spotted these kids. They were much hipper than us.
Red snapper, the catch of the day: $2/lb.
Lunch at El Timón, an establishment in San Juan’s “pueblo.” Fresh-caught fish (snapper, in this photo) is coated in pinol, a corn and cacao-based meal, then fried and served with a tomato and onion sauce (salsa criolla), white rice, and plantain tostones.
To market, to market…
Ripe papayas and watermelons.
Melocotones y limones (star fruit and limes).La asunción de la Santísima Vírgen María. The Virgin Mary is a religious and cultural symbol. This image of the assumption is found everywhere, even in markets.
“La quema del viejo” — a local tradition. These life-size dolls sit on people’s stoops or front yards, awaiting the new year. “El viejo” is stuffed with gunpowder and will be set on fire at midnight to blow out the old year and ring in the new.
Sunset over the bay of Nacascolo.
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