Friday, May 13, 2016

Day 5 Estelí to Matagalpa

Today we started our adventure in the city of Estelí.  After another early breakfast we set out to explore the city, famous for its murals, cigars, and location as the entrance to the mountains (an important area during the revolution and the Contra War that followed).  We drove through the busy streets and visited the house of an ex-guerilla Sandonista fighter, Juan Daniel Moreno, also known as "El Retumbo" (the boom). As a group we sat in the living room with Moreno and his wife, listening to him recount his role in the revolution and his service under "El Zorro," a famous Sandinista commander.

We spoke for nearly an hour until we thanked him and his family and hit the streets of Estelí.
We visited a museum commemorating the local Sandinistas who made major contributions in Estelí. Fallen heroes like Francisco Rivera known as "El Zorro" (the fox) had brief biographies under their portraits explaining their contributions and efforts to help the Sandinista cause. 
We then walked around the block to another museum honoring the young Estelían people who gave their lives for the Sandinista cause. Both young women and young men were honored for their efforts. It was saddening to see the number of people close to my age, from one single town, who perished during the war.

After visiting the two museums, we walked farther down the road to a street corner where the remnants of a Somozan bomb were transformed into a statue honoring the Sandinistas. The bomb, a symbol of violence, had been transformed into a piece of artwork located outside of an elementary school, showing the drastic change that has occurred since the fighting ended.
After exploring Estelí, we returned to the hotel to grab our bags and make our way to the mountain region of Nicaragua and the town of San Rafael del Norte. Here we visited the beautiful church where Franciscan Padre Odorico D'Andrea once served. Nicaraguan soldiers and Contra soldiers from Honduras who were fighting in the area during the 80's, came together peacefully to listen to Padre Odorico's masses. 

We also visited a cemetery where Sandino's wife is buried. She was a telegraph operator and helped Sandino's rebels communicate. We stopped to eat lunch at the only restaurant in town and then continued on our way through the mountains to our destination in Matagalpa. The view along the mountain road was breathtaking and the winding sloping road took us to a vista of the valley below where we took a group photo. We stopped briefly in Jinotega where some of us bought bags of coffee beans to bring home. We are now staying at a coffee farm in cozy bungalows tucked among the mountains.
Colby Runk

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