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Kristin in Nicaragua

la dalia, matagalpa

la dalia, matagalpa

last week i made my first trip back to the municipality of La Dalia, in the department of Matagalpa. La Dalia is about a 3 1/2 hour bus ride from Managua, half of which is on winding mountain roads lined with potholes, forcing the yellow school buses that serve as the primary mode of public transport to constantly slow to speeds of less than 15 mph. La Dalia is where i have conducted fieldwork before (in 2006), and i was able to visit several of the families i've worked with previously. it's difficult to witness the persistence of poverty and the challenges of local development - La Dalia is essentially a community in transition. most families have settled there within the last decade, relocating from the surrounding countryside, moving off of the land into an urbanizing zone where households are made of wood panels and tarpuline walls and located on small plots with no access to cultivable land. this is the rural-to-urban transition so often studied by anthropologists, and it manifests itself in contradictions: a new internet cafe and bank now located in the center of town where before neither existed alongside persistent unemployment and a rise in pandillas (gangs) as young people finish secondary school and find themselves without options to salir adelante (get ahead). my plan at this point is to continue to work in La Dalia with the NGO Acción Médica with which I have collaborated over the past six years - they have asked me to conduct a community needs assessment (diagnostico), which will assist me in identifying families for my own research. because i also have several contacts with NGOs in Managua, i will essentially be living in the city and "commuting" to the mountains for my fieldwork. at least that's the plan for now...

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