The best of what we are: reflections on the Nicaraguan by John Brentlinger

By John Brentlinger

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Then they walk all night to the town of Masaya, thirty-two kilometers away, where they hold another rally at about six-thirty in the morning. This year some eighty thousand people made the walk, about 10 percent of Managua's population. You need to know that about six weeks before the triumph of the revolution, in the summer of 1979, the Sandinistas had occupied the eastern section of Managuapoor and working-class barrios that actively supported the revolution. Many families had children in the Front, and many helped in various wayswith safehouses, messages, food, and care for the wounded.

Between waves they run among the rocks, then run back or jump up on a rock to keep from getting wet. Acting like crabs. No one else is on the beach. The old man Victor was out digging turtle eggs this morning. A bowl of the white eggs, the size of golf balls, is kept in a refrigerator behind the bar. Victor, alcoholic, nearly always irritable, works in the hotel cleaning and serving. He lives on the far end of the second floor, and at night he paces the hall past my room. He walks on the beach every morning and sometimes swims a little in the shallows.

I want to hold my ears. When the thunder is near, the close, crackling explosions feel as if they are going to crush the roof onto my head. The light often goes out, and the air is so full of electricity I expect these dry old boards to sizzle and burst into flames. I don't feel like touching anything. I nearly always get a slight shock, anyway, turning the light on or offyou have to screw or unscrew the hanging bulb. I close the slatted balcony doors and light a candle for the time it takes the rain to pass.

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