The seminary here in Nicaragua is located in what the people refer to as a “red zone.” I am unaware as to the historical context of this name, what red exactly refers to is a mystery, though when comparing the place with other areas that are given this name you immediately take in their similarities. The seminary is located in what was once the heart of the Managua, a bubbling hub of commerce and business with sky scrapers, skywalks and was named the diamond of Central America.
However, the earthquake in ‘72 shattered that diamond with only one building of significant size left to stand in the once bustling downtown of Managua. That is where the seminary is and has been located since the 1930’s. The rubble and destroyed buildings still remain and thus, the heart of the city is now home to many of those who otherwise would not have a roof over their head. Thus, Cassie and I find ourselves walking through one of the most dangerous areas of the city as we make our way to work each day.
One morning, I passed by two young men who were visibly affected from their night of drinking, the almost finished bottle still lying between the two of them. One rose and stated that he was going to rob me. I stopped, explained who I was, why I was there, where I was going and also showed him the few books and papers in my bag, assuring him that he had little to gain by robbing me.
Exasperated he informed me that he and his brother were drunk and that they were hungry. I could see that this was obviously true so I invited them to the nearest tortilla stand with me. Once there, we slowly conversed over our breakfast of cheese and tortillas. We got to know a little about one another. I learned that Marcos and his brother have been living on the streets together for as long as they can remember. It seems as though when they were both very young they were abandoned by their mother. Without a home, without a family, any education or supports in this world they are making their way, doing the best they can, seeking to survive each day.
This is not the first time that I have seen these two young men. I am pretty sure that they have taken residence in a dilapidated building just two blocks from the seminary. I am glad that a conversation has begun between us and am open to the possibilities in our future. Hopefully we will talk again soon, probably over a breakfast and learn more about one another - why we do what we do, why sometimes the street is the most comfortable place to sleep and hopefully have a dialogue that will lead to a more positive prospective for us both.