Our Saturday was jam packed with Nicaraguan adventures, but I want to focus on one at a time. One favorite was a visit to a museum – bare with me!
We walked into a tiny museum made up of a few small rooms. Within a few minutes, one of the students knocked over an ancient pot meant to be a gift to appease a god. Great, I thought, a pissed off Nicaraguan god is exactly what I’ve been missing in my life.
Surprisingly, the museum employee laughed it off, making a joke about drinking too much aguardiente (corn liqueur). She continued her tour in roadrunner-speed spanish as the people who didn’t understand nodded politely at times that felt appropriate.
With the language barrier, some of these artifacts lost appeal relatively quickly, but the true gem of that museum wasn’t kept behind a pane of glass.
Eventually, once nearly everyone had left, I heard an older man speaking adamantly with a student. I was immediately drawn in, trying to keep up with the conversation. He spoke of the Nicaraguan revolution. He described women fighting among men, and children being charged with using sticky bombs, many times with devastating consequences.
As he spoke, we moved towards a glass cabinet which held photographs of various soldiers, protesters, and political activists during that time. Almost nonchalantly, he pointed to the picture you see above.
“The second person back from the driver, is me”, he says in Spanish.
He began to speak of his own stories during the war, motioning to his cane and explaining that it was this war that caused his injury.
When asked about another image on the wall, he replied, “That…was my father.”
The man in the picture wore a white uniform that was distinctly official, in contrast with the appearance of the revolution soldiers. There, he stood with a straight back in front of a line of soldiers, clearly an officer of sorts.
This man’s father was part of the Nicaraguan army, he said, before he was exiled. His father then returned to fight in the revolution. This was a war, he said, that effected three generations of his family and others.
Intermingled between the interesting anecdotes of soldiers using pinatas for target practice and details of their various enemies in that war was this concept that he kept coming back to: This war was one that effected three generations.
The cost was high, and paid for by children and grandchildren, alike.
This random man, given the time to be heard, was revealed to be both a respected historian and a revolutionary soldier. His own experiences held an irreplaceable historical value that will inevitably become lost history, no different than the stories of those old artifacts who can no longer capture the emotion inherent with a person of their time.
I asked the man for a picture, and he obliged excitedly. Immediately he threw his arm around my shoulder with the ease and comfort of a grandfather.
There is something about the way certain people interact with you that immediately communicates solidarity between humans. It’s rare and simply, but it’s grand.
When I thanked him for sharing his stories, he responded with a smile and the response you would expect from a soldier.
“It’s my duty.”