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Kristin in Nicaragua

barrios populares

i've conducted several interviews for my study this week in popular (working class) barrios throughout managua. while my colleagues (and several earnest taxistas) have warned me that these barrios are "dangerous", that i shouldn't walk around, shouldn't wear a watch or any jewelry, etc., i haven't had any problems with safety. instead, i find the barrios (just like my own at home in LA!) to be friendly places, where people eagerly help me locate houses (with directions like "from where the theater olga used to be, two blocks to the west, one half block towards the lake" -- i'm not kidding, anyone who's been in managua knows what i'm talking about!), where school children leave home at 6:30am with uniforms washed and ironed and return at 12:30pm to share the midday meal with their families, where adults spend afternoons sitting in the shade, drinking fresco natural (any juice made with water and fresh tropical fruits such as nancite, pitahaya, tamarindo, or piña - yum!), while kids play in the street all afternoon - running and laughing and playing with sticks, balls, bikes, dogs, rocks, marbles or anything else they find - until their moms call them inside at dark. the sense of being rooted to families, extended kin, and neighborhood ties is strong. several "experts" i've talked with here about nicaraguan families assert that it is the central and authoritative role of women in family life that has held nicaraguan society together, despite the persistent poverty, lack of economic opportunity and years of broken political promises. i'm not sure yet what to make of all this, but for now i'm struck by these glimpses of life in the barrios, and the common refrain, "hay que salir adelante" (you have to keep going forward), a sense that, despite the fact that "la vida aquí es dura" (life here is hard*), living is about continuing on in the face of difficulties, rooted in the routines of daily life and the necessary labors of raising children and tending to families and communities. [*note: possibly the best ethnography i've read on Nicaragua is "Life Is Hard" by Roger Lancaster. check it out if you want a glimpse into life among families in one of Managua's barrios during the war years of the 1980s and through the election of Violeta Chamorro in 1990...]

1 comentario

Ariana -

I love reading your blog :)
I haven't started my "work" yet but your work is definitely an inspiration.
p.s. the retreat this year is in Panama :( see you here! :)
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