This last weekend, Kelsey and I journeyed the 4 hours up through the mountains to San Nicolás to visit our fellow VMM’ers, Sarah and David. We arrived, and were pleasantly surprised at how cold we were, and were excited to finally be able to use the sweatshirts and long socks that we had packed. Sarah and David live in a house that is shared by a natural medicine clinic, and is right along the main stretch of the tiny town.
Early Saturday morning, after they shared some of their homemade banana bread and coffee with us, Sarah and David led us as we trekked up outside of the town, through the rain and cow patties, to arrive at the small wooden house of Artist Alberto Jiron. The elderly gentleman greeted us warmly, cutting off sweet limes from a nearby tree for us to snack on before taking us on a tour of his work. Alberto led us up the trail to his workshop, the side of the mountain. Along the side of the mountain were meticulously carved trees, animals, buildings, humans, the list went on. We wove around the cliff until he said, “you should sit under that ledge, it’s going to rain.” And sure enough, within five minutes the sky had darkened and it had started to rain.
When the rain let up, he began to share about when he began carving into the cliff, and what many of the different sculptures meant to him. He spoke of the strong indigenous culture that existed in Nicaragua, and the jaguar; both of which he explained don’t exist in this part of the country anymore. And as we passed each flower or tree, he pointed out, “Es bonito, verdad?” (This is beautiful, isn’t it?). As he smoked cigarette after cigarette, he explained to us that he worked on his art each morning, and in the afternoons guides each group of visitors up and down the mountain to see his work. Alberto started sculpting here in the seventies, and has been gaining fame and notoriety ever since- but hasn’t seemed to notice. He said he enjoys his life how it is, with his routines and living close to his family, and plans to keep working on his carvings into the cliff for the foreseeable future. He said goodbye to us warmly, and proclaimed that as we head back we should say hello from him to anyone he knows. Exhausted and amazed, we climbed back down the mountain after a lunch of coffee and güirilas with cheese, a sweet tortilla made from young corn.
That night we reflected on our experiences in Nicaragua thus far, and all four of us expressed gratitude in the relationships we were making and an excitement for what the next few months would bring. After yoga, a hymn, and banana pancakes the next morning, Kelsey and I were on our way back to Managua, already planning our next trip north.