Quite a busy day today! After waking up in Esteli, we journeyed to Mama Licha’s midwifery clinic — a beautiful symbol of life and female empowerment. Within a few seconds of meeting this famed woman, we were laughing at the hilarity of her experiences as a teacher who, according to her mother, “didn’t know anything.” Mama Licha challenged herself to become literate and later to become a teacher… and even an expert at cross-stitching. She ignored all taboos of discussion regarding female bodies as she used an avocado to represent a uterus to teach women about STD examinations. Mama Licha kept us laughing through her demonstration, yet also reminded us of her iconic status within this community as an educator who broke through boundaries in order to educate women (and their partners) about health and pregnancy.
After a morning of health education, we ventured to the Gallery of Heroes and Martyrs, a museum especially significant to Esteli as this town was a Sandinista stronghold during the Contra War. Unlike Contras from other cities, Contras from Esteli did not have any sort of reconciliation with their Sandinista residents — in fact, most fled to Honduras. This museum fit into a very important conversation regarding historical memory as the museum’s photographs and illustrations were provided by widows, mothers, and sisters of Sandinista fighters of Esteli. These women have become responsible for maintaining the memory and legacy of these brave fighters; our tour guide, for example, had lost her brother in the Contra War. In a very important way, this experience reminded us as Americans that by traveling to Nicaragua and especially to the Gallery that we are now also responsible for the memory of these soldiers and that when we return to the U.S. we need to tell others what we have seen and experienced. Most significantly, this conflict must not be silenced.
For lunch, we ate at La Casita, a paradise of a park free to the public as well as an organic restaurant serving whole wheat bread, cheese, jam, and fruit juices. The owner reminded us that in persuing our dreams that we must simultaneously follow our hearts. The food was delicious and the mission of the restaurant was beautiful as well.
After lunch, we took a brief stop in a cigar factory across the street from Hotel Luz where we learned about the production of cigars. This factory was relatively small and sold its products to shops in Chicago, a symbol of trade in a globalized economy.
And just when we thought our trip could not get any better… we met Aldo! A true origami wizard as well as expert upon Nicaraguan nature! Aldo’s eyes sparkled as he presented us with origami design after design, explaining that even though he is very talented that he sometimes cannot afford to go to international origami festivals. After only a short amount of time with him, we saw how Aldo could see the world in such beautiful ways, transforming sometimes disorderly nature into artistic perfection.
Thank you again to the CPGC and ProNica for all of these amazing experiences!