A year ago I just arrived in Managua on my Fulbright Grant and was spending my first week in León with UNAN León and CEPRODEL.  A year later I’m still here, and presently spending a very intense full week with SosteNica’s visit to Nicaragua.  CEPRODEL is hosting magnificently; we witnessed a momentous signing of an agreement with the UNAN León Agroecology department and are filling 14 hour days with lots of farm tours and information packed presentations.  It’s tiring but also very exciting – and hey, we’re heading to the beach tomorrow.

I’ve been mulling over how to possibly reflect on a year in a Nicaragua in a blog entry; how to explain what I’ve learned about myself and the world, the stronger commitment I feel to play a role in creating a truly sustainable and positive world, even down to the nuances of negotiating “Nica time” and “Nica bureaucracy” I’ve discovered.  Instead, I have translated the chorus to a song by a well known Nicaraguan singer songwriter that my friend Brigido Sosa sings, and I’m posting the first of what I hope to continue as a monthly tradition – a gallery of random pictures taken during January that didn’t make it into other postings.

(Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy)

Y fue creciendo y creciendo                                                                      As I grew and I grew
me sorpendió el silabario                                                               the syllables surprised me
y descubrí mi futuro                                                                        and I discovered my future
en cada trazo inseguro                                                                          in every uncertain step
y en cada abrazo de hermano                                              and in every brotherly embrace.

Y fui creciendo y creciendo                                                                      As I grew and I grew
desde mi mundo de enano                                                                       out of my little world
y comprendí que las cosas                                                                I understood that things
sólo serían hermosas                                                                                      are only beautiful
cuando luchamos por algo                                          when we are fighting for something

In early January there were deep piles of beautiful shells washed up at my favorite pacific beach, Las Peñitas.  The beach here for me is a tactile reminder of constant change; every time I go, even several weeks in a row, the shape, color, and feel of the beach is different.

A new year welcome speech given by Daniel Ortega was his usual rambly affair; we were lured by whispers that Hugo Chavez would appear – which he didn’t – but the Plaza in the National Assembly building complex was festive, and the event was free, so not much lost.

A neighbor varnished the cropped dead nancite tree in front of our house, and planted ornamental plants in the holes to create a natural work of art.  Unfortunately watering the plants requires a team of circus artists, and with the lack thereof they only lived for two hot dry Nicaraguan days.  The tree, el palo pelado, is still beautiful and shiny.

In Somotillo, where I will be helping with a vegetable plot drip irrigation project, I discovered a hidden Nicaraguan treasure:  the delicate, barely visible jocote tree flowers.