JANUARY, 2001: We are 14 Weston brothers and four Mexican Benedictine sisters.
Again we walk the
streets of downtown Managua. Again, to the public square in front of the old cathedral
and the Palacio Nacional.
The old cathedral, Managua, January 2001
Again the 90-degree heat. Again the contrast
with the frigid climate of the snow-covered Green Mountains, back home in Vermont.
But this time, the square is quiet. Except for the small gangs of
young children wandering about, it's devoid of people.
Deserted square in front of the Palacio National:
Gone are the crowds we saw in 1988
Areas of the square are chained off, so no
traffic circulates. The steps of the cathedral are closed off with wooden
Damaged by an earthquake in the 1970s, the cathedral is unsafe for
use. A wealthy U.S. businessman has donated the funds for a new cathedral,
which stands in a field some distance from the center of the city.
In the square, most of the children are barefoot, their clothes ragged and unkempt, hands and
faces grimy from rummaging in dust and dirt. They smile, laugh, and grab
brothers' hands as they join the walk.
With their free hands outstretched, they plead with hungry eyes for food or
Down by the waterfront of contaminated Lake Managua, more children join in as
the sisters bring out the sandwiches for the picnic lunch.
Now there is a modern mall nearby, with the variety of fast food selections we find in
our U.S. cities.
Now there are maquiladoras, the modern factories owned by
Now there is a large new cathedral. Elderly and
disabled men and women sit at the gate, reaching out with empty hands.
This is but a first impression, after an absence of 13 years.
We are reminded
of the hope we read on the Sandinista sign in Managua on our first visit: "We
Want Peace With Dignity."
In the days ahead, our Mexican sisters will
introduce us to the new reality that is Nicaragua, 2001.
Barrio Edgar Munguia 2001: Hospitality in a small house
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