Thus far my experience in Esteli, Nicaragua has been amazing and packed full of adventure. One such adventure was my trip to Matagalpa from Esteli with my professor Norma from Sacuanjoche Spanish School.
The day began at 6:30 with the rushed arrival of Norma. The taxi, she hissed as an explanation of her tardiness while she rushed me to the street and pushed me into the car. Five minutes and one run later we sat on the bus ready to start the trip and while the bus started to move, Norma explained her 30 minute late arrival.
Her day had started off just fine, she began. She got up early, ate, and caught the taxi 20 minutes before she was supposed to pick me up. Unfortunately the taxi choice would prove to not be such a great decision. Her taxi was occupied by both the driver and his girlfriend who made it very clear that her desires were more important than the client’s: Norma. Forty five minutes and five stops later Norma arrived at my house, frustrated and late. Thankfully the beginning of the day was the only stressful, not so enjoyable part.
Norma and I arrived in the bustling streets of Matagalpa after an easy 1.5 hour bus ride. Upon arrive I had a choice to make: should we head straight up to Selva Negra ( a private owned nature preserve/ coffee and banana farm/ hotel) or should we walk around the town first. Walk, I chose, I really enjoy feeling a city pulse beneath my feet while the lives of it’s inhabitants rush around me.
Matagalpa is a beautiful city. Tucked in the misted of a mountain range, the name stems from the local indigenous people who called the region home before Spain, attacked, and colonized the area, making it the third colonial city of Nicaragua. The colonial houses line the roads in the city that wind like snakes up and down the hill side.
There is color in Matagalpa wherever one looks. The houses range from mud brown to apple red. The people embody the rainbow as the streets are lined with signs,”Leche” “jugo” “abogado”. I watched these colors as Norma began to explain Nicaraguan history.
For decades a family by the name of Somoza ran the Nicaraguan government. Put into place in the early 1900’s by the US government (a move trying to guard against a pacific- Atlantic canal which would have destroyed the investments made in the Panama Canal) the Somoza family ran the typical dictatorship complete with little regard to the poor of the country. Fast foreword to 1930 a man by the name of Sandinista began leading a rag band of guerrilla against the dictatorship before he was gunned down while leaving a peace talk. Matagalpa is the home city to the man who began, what is now known as the FSNL political company, and which eventually over threw Somoza. Matagalpa lays on what is now called the “Sandinista trail”.
Norma and I just so happened to have arrived in Matagalpa on of the birthday of Matagalpa’s founder of the Sandinistas, Carlos Fonseca Amador. As a result, we happened to stubble upon a celebration held by school children. Dancing, singing, and laughing the children celebrated the man who directly influenced what Nicaragua is today. I am incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to observe this display of culture.