This past weekend Nicaragua celebrated its Independence Day, which took place on September 15 1821 when the country, along with other colonies in the region, split from Spanish rule. Celebratory activities take place all across Nicaragua – in the city centres, in schools and institutions. I went with my host family to see their daughter dressed up in traditional dress at her school’s commemorative assembly, which began with a marching band making its way through the grounds and included students dancing, singing and reciting patriotic poems. Men sell flags on busy streets to passing cars. On a winding, mountain road I saw the burning torch that travels through Central America, from Guatemala to Costa Rica, transported on foot and carried by hand through each country by more than eight thousand students.
The festivities meant that my Canadian colleagues and I had a long weekend free, so we decided to get away to the popular beach town San Juan del Sur, a few hours bus ride from Managua. It was nice to be by the sea, to see the surfers navigating their way through the waves on mostly empty beaches, to enjoy the calmness of a morning yoga class with the sounds of birds chirping and chickens clucking in the background and, however clumsy I may be, to do my best at salsa dancing in the evenings. I returned to Managua tired, but happy and ready to get back to work.