December 22nd – the Solstice. There is no sleep on the eve of the longest night.
Up at 1:30 am to drive to the airport under the full moon. I am accompanied by Elizabeth and her sister Erika. On the two hour drive, I suggest that Elizabeth purchase the sheets for Casa Materna while they are here but she explains that the wholesale market is not open. Erika describes the poor working conditions for Nicaraguan laborers at the Chinese owned textile mills. I wonder why China has come to Nicaragua.
It’s because of the canal. Construction will begin this coming year. European and Chinese interests are funding it. Nicaraguans will build it. The plan is to widen the existing river – San Rio. The Panama Canal will become obsolete. Importation to and from Asia and Europe will through this wider deeper Canal will change the face of Nicaragua. When I speak my concern of communities and wildlife existing by the river and the loss of the fresh water, my hosts agree that the canal will destroy much virgin land. Progress comes at a great price to the new heart of the earth.
I learn that Erika has taken in an impoverished girl from the mountains. She clothes her, feeds her, pays for her education. Her mother says there’s no need to go to school when all she’s destined to live hand to mouth having baby after baby. The fifteen year old does not want to spend Christmas with her family. If she stays in town with Erika and finishes her education, she just might have a chance to break the cycle of poverty.
Mangua international airport is small but modern. I am on the first flight out of the country. Elizabeth and her sister stay with me until I pass through security. I promise to text them when I arrive. Although I cannot get the special Nicaraguan aged rum with my connection in San Salvador, I have enough mountain grown coffee, honey and rosquillas to share when I get home to Ojai.
This has been the adventure of a lifetime. So much accomplished in less than a week. I hope we have changed lives. I know my life is changed.
Quilali, I’ll be back.