The mornings are cool and continue to be my favorite time of the day to go for a run. I have mapped out all sorts of various routes with our house as the start and ending point. Of course we have the normal variations here that one would take into account when planning a run back home. There are hills to run up and down, roads with more traffic, one ways, byways and boulevards. However, I have the added challenge of taking into account the canals of sewage and trash, street vendors who block the way as they travel with their hot dog stands, slushy and ice cream carts and set up shop in order to earn their wage so they can consume a little of what they have to sell.
One of my runs brings me past the U.S. embassy. A fortress of security, of scrutiny, of dreams and hopes situated with its eyes overlooking the majority of the city. Here I usually stop and take in the rising sun in order to stretch out the quad that just seems to never want to participate with the rest me. A park lies across the road and both it and the embassy peer into a reservoir, which once was a volcano, but now provides the city of Managua with a clean source of water.
In this park, there are broken down sets of toys, a small stand where an elderly gentleman sells cheap treats and sweets during the day, and what in my imagination used to be some sort of stage area or amphitheater. Already in the early morning there are men sitting on the concrete slabs that once could have been called a bench. The majority of these men call the park home. There are various reasons for why they ended up here, but everyone who I have met is not originally from Managua. At one point they came to the city with hopes and dreams; they came for work, for a surgery, for a lover, to try their hand at obtaining a visa. So far no one has related a story in which one came with the dream of someday living in a howled out tree or underneath a concrete slab night after night in the park that overlooks the lagoon across the street from the U.S. Embassy.
Raul lives here. He sleeps here, he eats here, he goes to the bathroom here, he washes his clothes here, he entertains his friends here. The park is Raul`s home, a home he shares with others, but his none the less. Raul walked up to me one day as I rested myself on an exposed piece of rebar extending itself from the structure that once may have been an amphitheater as I stretched out my stubborn quad.
He did not ask me for money or for food or for anything nor has he since. He just said, hi, my name is Raul. Every Wednesday I leave our home a little before five. I go for my run as I do most mornings, but Wednesday is different. Wednesday is the day in which I take the route that leads me to Raul`s house. We sit and chat, sometimes we venture into the street and find something to eat. We talk about the weather, about the price of food, about where Raul used to live, about my frustrations with work. I really enjoy being a guest in Raul`s house and I think that he enjoys it when I stop by as well.