A month-ish ago we went back to the Rio Coco. Cassie and I have had the opportunity to venture down this river through the spectacular canyon of Somoto many times. In fact, some of our most memorable Nicaraguan experiences have occurred in the "Grand Canyon" of Nicaragua. This experience proved to be no different.
The water levels were high so we needed to do little swimming, but instead floated along like we were on a lazy river at your local water park. However, we were surrounded by birds, butterflies, rocks and trees instead of plastic and cement. Estela loved it. She swam and floated and eventually ended up in a small inflatable boat (which we were all thankful for when we passed through the canyon were the river is over 40 feet deep). Our friends were happy about the boat as well, as they were still getting the knack for floating in a life jacket.
We ventured there with some lifelong friends from Esteli. Cassie lived with them for a while during her language acquisition. Over the years they have been our brothers and sisters and parents here in Nicaragua. As I waded into the water my Nica dad told me that he had been in the Rio Coco twice before. Both times when he had crossed he carried his children, neck deep in water, the entire family unable to swim. I asked why.
The family crossed through the Rio Coco twice in the 80's; once to get out of the country and once to come back in after President Ortega had first been elected. I was retold the story of how the country was torn apart, about how families were forced to flee in-order to save their lives or to avoid their young sons and daughters from becoming soldiers. And then I was told that it was because of us, because of our desire to control the world around us, and to tell people what to do in-order to benefit ourselves.
As we waded through the river I was happy and sad at the same time. I was overjoyed to hear my daughter’s laughter echo through the canyon as she watched a big blue butterfly skim over the water right before her face. I was happy to share this moment with my family and with our friends here and think about what peace and friendship looks like instead of war. But I was saddened to think about our past, ponder about our present, and the great need we have for peace.