New horizons

Chapter 3… The Chinandegan magpies

The beaches at Poneloya and Las Peñitas Leon, Nicaragua
The beaches at Poneloya and Las Peñitas
Leon, Nicaragua

My grandfather’s name was Jairo Alonso Díaz Alvarez García y Hernández, or at least, that is how it was officially registered in his birth certificate. He never introduced himself as such. To those who knew him personally, he was called Jairito or simply Jairo.

Grandfather was born in Chinandega City (1941), northwestern Nicaragua, near the border to Honduras. With his characteristic sense of humor (at times a bit dark and dry), he used to say that at the time he was born, only the churches were still standing, in that one-horse, two-bit, bicycle town. He was surely talking about the devastation, brought about by the artillery bombs that destroyed most of its colonial district, sadly including its graceful old houses and its elegant mansions. This happened thirteen years before he was born. Once more, the constant encounters between Conservatives and the Liberals (or in his words: another spot on the leopard’s skin). On that particular occasion, the bombs fell as part of General Sandino’s campaign to run the American forces, mainly the US Marines, off Nicaraguan territory… one more time…


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A change of address

All’s well that ends well

William Shakespeare

Cisnes en el río Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Swans upon a river
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

“Now, having reached this point, you could politely mention that this particular story, about how a ball game was born…, has nothing to do with how I became an antiquarian. And in fact, you would certainly be justified to do so. I will simply say that is has nothing to do, at all, but that I found it an interesting tale to brighten the moment, and it does explain how I came to live in the countryside, right in the middle of the island.”

Having said that, Sir John began to laugh, in a most contagious way. Almost immediately, Alicia, also, began to happily share his good mood and join in the laughter. Recovering himself and after having refilled the delicate porcelain cups with fresh tea, he continued:

Las antiguedades literarias Stratford-upon-Avon
Literary antiques
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

“You see, the thing is that when I was yet to turn thirteen, my grandfather inherited this magnificent property, quite close to where we were living at the time. Shortly after, we moved to this other lovely town in the same region where the property was located. Now, this town was well known; because, William Shakespeare, our most prestigious poet, playwright, and writer was born there. He once mentioned that hell was totally empty, perhaps you have heard this before?” he inquired mischievously.

El estudio stratford-upon-Avon, UK
The studio
stratford-upon-Avon, UK

Alicia, surprised by his question, answered that she ignored it, though her curiosity was plainly displayed in her voice.

“Of course, my dear lady, for he pointed out that, in fact, all the devils were to be found right here, comfortably settled in among ourselves…!”

After which, they both began to laugh in chorus…

La librería Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
The Bookshop
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK


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A town, a game and a history

How many times, without even thinking, much less dreaming about it, we manage to create an idea or an action that remains behind for others to enjoy…

Streets downtown
Downtown streets
Rugby, Warwickshire, UK

“In reality, Rugby, as a town in itself, it is well known, only to its own residents and perhaps the neighbouring communities. I very much doubt that you have ever heard it mentioned before and more so, back in Bogota. Nonetheless, this charming small town has a relevant fact, in its recent history.”

El patio Ayacucho, Huamanga, Perú
The corner
Rugby,Warwickshire, UK

“A couple of decades ago, in that community’s school, this ball game was born. The game carries the town’s name. At the time, you see, football had become a popular sport among the schools in the country.”

Loa arcos Ayacucho, Huamanga, Perú
Country life
Rugby,Warwickshire, UK

“There, in Rugby’s school, an interesting variation happened. Instead of kicking the ball around, they simply decided to pick it up and run with it to the goal. Soon this practice extended throughout the country and even had an echo in Scotland. I know by references that in America, to be more precise in Uruguay… the game has won a wide acceptance and there are a few teams that play it. As far as I know, they are pretty good at it, as well.”

“And there you have it in a nutshell. A small town, nothing in particular to stand it out, yet in time, it might find it makes itself a nice little niche in our history books. Odd how things happen in the world. Sometimes we do these little things. Why? Because it felt right, an inspiration, for some odd reason you can think of. The fact is that without intentionally setting out to make a mark, we make it happen… and there you have it, the history of that charming little place where I grew up!”

Por la mañana Ayacucho, Huamanga, Perú
A morning stroll
Rugby, Warwickshire, UK


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Colours, ingredients and herbs

Chapter 2… The García girls’ wedding

The bicycle The Merced Church, Leon, Nicaragua
The bicycle
The Merced Church, Leon, Nicaragua

Fully replenished, they danced until dawn, receiving the brand new day in the best of moods. Enabling them to recover their strength, the waiters began to serve the scrumptious fresh red snappers, stuffed with fried shrimp and the typical Gallo pinto (the most Nicaraguan of all the plates presented thus far, a typical combination of white rice and red beans, found every day in any home, in the country or in the cities).

The tables were decorated with the guacamole and the different salsas which were served in assorted flavors and various colors. All of them were most definitely spicy hot, as prepared by Petra. She was a Mexican woman, who came from Oaxaca, Mexico and now, lived at Moyogalpa, on the Nicaraguan island of Ometepe in the south. With her five beautiful daughters, they handmade the fresh tortilla cakes from blue and yellow corn. Freshly done, while hot and still giving off the warm vapors, they were presented in small weaved baskets, made of reed and carefully wrapped in colorful cloths, so they would remain nice and warm. As it turns out, that night three of her daughters met their future husbands, while they were handing out the tortillas, strengthening the bonds between both countries.


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Country-side life on the Island

My life as a child was quite simple… it was in my later years that it became complicated

The bikes Coventry, UK
The bikes
Coventry, UK

“Anyhow, getting back to the matter of my childhood, as it happened, my father would be living, for an extended period, far away from home and relatively close to the shores of the Nile River, Consequently, it was conveniently decided that I should move in to live with my paternal grandparents. Back at home, I had been placed in charge of a governess. Though the arrangement did have its merits, it could never compare with growing up in a proper family atmosphere.”

At the river Stratford-upon-Avon
At the river

“Now, my grandparents lived in a small, picturesque town in the English countryside.” Pleasantly smiling, he continued with his story:

“Well, well… this town I’ve mentioned is called Rugby. It’s in a region, here in England, known as Warwickshire. It’s to be found approximately half way between London and Manchester, another of our principal cities.”

The country-side Warwickshire, UK
The country-side
Warwickshire, UK

“This rural city is in a quaint part of the Island and is sort of in the middle of it all. Life in these towns is very peaceful and easy-going. The locals all know each other well. Actually, life is good in those parts, a simple kind of lifestyle and unpretentious. In the summer days, the fields are beautiful to look upon, and they find themselves profusely decorated with flowers that stand out amongst the green grasses in the fields. What’s more, I dare say these places are homely and cozy, you know?”

Cinema Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK


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Pharaohs and their tombs

Outside, the tomb appeared majestic, truly becoming of a great leader. Inside, as the millenniums passed by… not even dust remained 

The Antiquarium Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK
The Antiquarium
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK

After munching on a few sandwiches, she inquired as to the business, how it had all begun and since when did he get involved with antiques. Chuckling discreetly, he answered that in a way, since he was a child, or that it could, somewhat, be considered that since always. Evidently, the conversation was held in English, which Alicia spoke perfectly, that in itself, constituted a pleasant surprise for Sir John, her host and the owner of the antique shop.   

“You see, my dear Lady, it could be understood that I inherited this business from my father. In a way, I suppose that would make sense. He was the Curator, or was responsible for the British Museum, here in London, by the way. During his long career, first as an archaeologist and later, in charge of the museum, the institution flourished, and its collection grew enormously with important acquisitions from every corner of the Earth.”

The Madonna Coventry, Warwickshire, UK
The Madonna
Coventry, Warwickshire, UK

“Well now, sadly, my mother, God rest her soul, died too young, scarcely a year after I was born. At the time, way before you were born,” he added, smiling gently, “my father was based in Egypt. He headed this archaeological dig, of importance in his field due to technical and scientific considerations, quite dull for those not initiated to these matters and which we could duly skip.”

“Allow me to mention, in the passing, that they were recovering a tomb built by one of the first Pharaohs of that great, ancient civilization that belonged to the so called Archaic Period. In his way, the ruler was responsible for joining the Great Egypt, known as the Upper Egypt to the Lesser Egypt, also called the Lower Egypt. Thus, his influence was pivotal in creating the conditions for the future development of this important civilization.”

At the cemetary Coventry, warwickshire, UK
At the cemetary
Coventry, warwickshire, UK

“To be more precise, we are dealing with the Second Egyptian Dynasty, which lasted until the end of the Archaeological Period known as Naqada II. All these facts I am mentioning belong to 3,500 years BC.”

At this point, the gentleman laughed very subtly, and then added, “You see, my dear, as the son of a famous archaeologist, it is almost impossible not to delve in these tedious technical issues and typically lulls the sad listener into a deep slumber, almost immediately…”

La calzada de los Muertos (The boulevard of the dead) Teotihuacan Ruins, Mexico
La calzada de los Muertos (The boulevard of the dead)
Teotihuacan Ruins, Mexico


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Un unsurpassable wedding

Chapter 2… The García girls’ wedding

Sunset in the Nica Coast Playa Las Peñitas, León, Nicaragua

It was during that light that filled the skies, that indescribable blend of colors, the precise moment when the Sun decides to set itself down to rest and bathe the world in its splendor, with a marvelously still warm light, that the piglets were served. Specially brought in from the mountainous lands of the eternal spring, near the northern city of Matagalpa they brought on the oohs and aahs. Impossible to think of such a great circumstance without their presence! And perhaps a little tired from so much dancing and dining, the guests then took to their tables, to sit and feast the palate with the sweets and the buns made from goat milk, while they recovered their energies and refreshed themselves for a spell.

Meanwhile, the evening was enlivened with a local group from the neighboring city of Chinandega and the picaresque mood set by their songs. The banquet proceeded until the arrival of the witching hour; at which point, the musicians from the Atlantic coast entered the halls to the beat of their highly explosive and contagious rhythms, interweaving them to a background of fireworks, the colorful explosions and that distinctive smell of the gunpowder, as it hung in the air.

After so many years people still rave about it. Some swear upon their mother’s grave, while others, prefer to vow by the Virgin Lady of El Trono; but as all completely agree, the fireworks displayed during that unforgettable night, such a long time ago, have never and will never be surpassed.

To the tune of the industrial quantities of Centennial and Solera rum imported from Guatemala, and by the way, the musicians, exclusively brought in from the capital city of Managua, and afterwards followed by an incredible folkloric group from León, the gathering was to say the least, enthusiastic and at its utmost, so much so, that absolutely everyone danced nonstop until the sunset.


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The Lord of the Antiques

When the ordinary object of our life, take us back to times long gone, they acquire a new perspective…

En la iglesia Andahuaylas, Apurímac, Perú
Kensington, London, UK

The interior turned out to be much roomier than it would have seemed from the outside. The first floor consisted of a huge living room that led to different side-chambers and an additional space in the back. Almost upon entering, she was very cordially welcomed by a white-haired tall man.

El parque Abancay, Apurímac, Perú
Wilton Place
Kensington, London, UK

He wore this highly stylized moustache and was impeccably dressed in the most formal manner at that early time of the day. This gentleman, probably in his fifth decade, projected an elegance, distinction and grace that strongly impressed the young woman. The man, delighted to hear she was visiting from Colombia, generously invited her to share tea, though the hour was extremely early for it.

El Río Río Thames, Londres, UK
Bridge over the river
River Thames, London, UK

Enthusiastic, Alicia, Felicia’s future mother, accepted. They accommodated themselves in a small, but exquisite chamber, inside this extraordinary establishment. The tea room was in the back of the main exhibition. It connected to the large central area through a corridor, with its wall decked with intriguing oil paintings from distant times in the past. It was subtly isolated from the exterior by a screen brought from the Far East. These displayed and exotic landscapes, masterfully carved in relief into its fine wood. These, also functioned as a door to close the way out of the passage.

They progressively broke the ice, chatting about rather general and introductory matters, the conventional interchange between two people that are barely getting acquainted, without missing the chance to discuss the London’s weather, of course.

Anclados Río Thames, Londres, UK
River Thames, London, UK


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