DAY 1: Nicaraguan Journal

Potters for Peace is an NGO that works with sub­sis­tence pot­ters in Nicaragua and once a year they orga­nize a “brigade” of peo­ple, usu­ally pot­ters, from other coun­tries (mostly North America) who travel through the Nicaraguan coun­try­side to visit small pot­ter­ies there. I have travelled on the brigade twice, and both journeys were unfor­get­table. This journal is from my second trip.

Potters for Peace has two main activ­i­ties: sup­port­ing Nicaraguan pot­ters and facil­i­tat­ing the build­ing of fac­to­ries that make an effec­tive but inex­pen­sive clay water fil­ter.

DAY 1:
Members of the brigade included Robert Pillers, an American liv­ing in Managua and the leader of the expe­di­tion; Alvaro Aburto, Robert’s son-in-law and our leader-in-training; Beatriz Fiallos, our Nicaraguan inter­preter and her hus­band Fred Hamann, an American pot­ter; Ivan Hernandez, our dri­ver; and the brigadis­tas: Allison (California) Chris (Kentucky), Daisy (New Mexico) George (Iowa), other George (Florida), Maritza (La Sabaneta, Nicaragua), Merilee (Maryland), Mike (Oregon), and me (Vancouver, Canada). We got to know each other over a home-cooked break­fast on the patio of Kairos Centre, our hos­tel in Managua and then we piled into the van and drove to the nearby sub­urb of Ticuantepe to have a chat with Judy Butler, an American jour­nal­ist and co-founder of Envio mag­a­zine, who has lived in Nicaragua since 1983. Judy filled us in on Nicaragua’s trou­bled his­tory of nat­ural dis­as­ters (vol­ca­noes, hur­ri­canes and earth­quakes), inva­sions (over 100 by the U.S. alone), wars and rev­o­lu­tions, and talked at length about her feel­ings for this tiny coun­try and the rev­o­lu­tion that seems to have gone wrong.

Next stop, the colo­nial city of Granada (about 45 min­utes away) where we vis­ited Mi Museo, a museum that houses the pri­vate pre-Columbian pot­tery and arti­fact  col­lec­tion of Danish-born Peder Kolind. Fertility icons, jew­el­ery, volup­tuous funeral urns and pots cov­ered with faded paint­ing. Peder Kolind also runs Carita Feliz, a non-profit group that works with under­priv­i­leged chil­dren in Nicaragua.

After a walk around the town square we climbed to the top of La Merced Church where we had a 360-degree view of colour­ful and multi-textured rooftops. Then it was back to the Kairos Centre for more good food, cold show­ers and an early night.

view of granada

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