Repentance and Reparations For Coronamania
In April, 2010, I visited Nicaragua with one of my teen kids, Lena. I wanted to spend a chunk of memorable time with her before she left for college. We found $258 round-trip airfares, slept in places that averaged $15/night and ate good, albeit simple food for $10/day. We fulfilled our Spanish-only pact during the week and half stay.
Based on that trip and the two that followed with my wife, Ellen, I could say much about Nicaragua. Above all, being there brought clearly into focus what people needed to be happy and what they didn’t.
For now, I’ll say only that Lena and I met a mustachioed, wiry, loquacious and very welcoming 49 year-old nicknamed Chepe. Chepe operated a small, informal outdoor restaurant, known as a fritanga, on the sidewalk in front of his single story, cheek-to-jowl urban house across the street from the simply-constructed, two-story, deep yellow, lizard-intensive, half-open-air, hammocked, budget Managua hostel where Lena and I were staying. Each day, many fully ripe mangoes fell onto the sidewalks and we ate them. Many iguanas also scampered by. Chepe caught them and cooked them into soup, which he served me several times. Tasty.
We spent hours chatting with Chepe over three days and nights. He told me that one night when he was 15, he was conscripted into the Sandinista Army; grabbed by the shirt, along with some of his friends, by a team of recruiters in a dark discoteca. He spent the next 13 years with an AK-47 in Nicaragua’s northern mountain jungles until the Contra War ended. One-percent of Nicaragua’s people were killed during the war; by ratio, that would be like 3.3 million young Americans dying. I asked Chepe if he lost any friends in combat. He uncharacteristically answered in one word, “Hundreds.”
During the days and nights we
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