While I was a senior in high school, concerning myself with college plans, 16 and 17 year olds in Leon were dying in the streets fighting with guns to bring change to their country.
The stress I felt over applications seems misspent.
People here are proud of their part in forcing change in their country. Young people, passionate about removing the dictator who had repressed the people for four decades, willingly gave their lives so future generations could have a better life.
Bullet holes are still visible in some of the buildings, graffiti from that era, calling for the death of the imperialist invaders has not been whitewashed. Murals celebrating the martyrs of the revolution cover walls near the central square and in back alleys further afield.
Nicaraguans have been oppressed and fought back throughout their history. Most, today, hate violence and war. Only the police and security guards carry guns. They preserve the memories of war through the bullet holes and graffiti, but also through art and comical theatrics and giant dancing puppets.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are everywhere for sale on the streets. Clothes, purses, jewelry, toys, decorations and art are there as well. Vendors laugh and talk and call out. Everyone is willing to dispense a story with their products. Smiles are always free.
Mornings are hectic. Crowds squeeze through the narrow streets, exploding into the squares. Shops spring up along the way. Doors are flung open, water is splashed on the stoop and swept toward the street. You learn to jump aside at the swish, swish, swish of a broom.
Some seek refuge in the many churches, starting their day in prayer, while others simply push forward.
As the rushing wave that begins the day slows to the steady trickle of the day, it’s more tranquil. Birds can be heard again, singing from the trees and roofs, the dogs trot between trash cans looking for goodies left behind in the march to work.
Buenas dias. Tranquilo.