Last Friday we returned to capital city Managua for the day, where we spent the first few days after the group arrived almost a month ago. (How did the month of May pass so quickly, we wonder?) We started off with a visit to Mercado Huembes, a multi-block indoor/outdoor market that includes everything from butcher shops and bakeries to furniture stores, beauty salons, boutiques, and handcrafted items. Local artisans selling their wares there use a variety of natural materials for popular souvenir items, including armadillos, snakes, seeds and cow horns.
After satiating our nascent shopping impulses, we headed for the offices of the Mennonite Central Committee, which started in Managua in 1972 in response to the earthquake that leveled most of the city. Lloyd and Goldie Kuhns, Coordinators of the Connecting Peoples program and MCC Nicaragua Director Angela Opimi welcomed us for lunch and a visit. From them and the volunteers and others working in the MCC office we learned about activities and initiatives in peace, justice, the arts and sustainable development. We also learned about the structure of the approximately 230 Anabaptist churches in Nicaragua as well as the organizations that partner with MCC here in Nicaragua (including several where former SSTers have had service placements.) It probably goes without saying that even several thousand miles from home, some of us were able to make immediate connections with people at the MCC office through mutual friends and relations.
Our afternoon continued with a visit to the United States Embassy, where we spoke with representatives from the economic and political sections about the history of U.S. involvement in Nicaragua as well as the effect of post-Cold war policies on this relationship.
Our last stop of the day was the Plaza de la Revolución at the heart of old (pre-1972) Managua. Here we viewed the ruins of the cathedral, which had survived a 1931 earthquake soon after it was built but wasn’t as lucky 41 years later. It is still standing today but is no longer safe to use or enter. We saw also visited the tomb of Carlos Fonseca, father of the Sandinista Revolution. The national museum, cultural center and national theater are all in the vicinity of the plaza as well.
[Although we took lots of photos, we had a problem with the camera and unfortunately don’t have pictures to post with this blog entry. We hope to get some pictures taken by the students that day and will add those as they become available.]
Co-leaders Lisa & Jen