A house by the sea

Chapter 5… Of poor lovesick poets


The lone ranger Beaches at Ometepe Isle, Rivas, Nicaragua
The lone ranger
Beaches at Ometepe Isle, Rivas, Nicaragua

     When they moved to live in León, the natural curiosity he had within, drove him to wander around each of León’s municipalities. Most importantly, he met and he got to know many of the people that lived in those parts. He extensively enjoyed making new acquaintances and cultivating friendships in the different neighborhoods; he would stroll happily about the Department of León, as if he owned the place, together with its people. It was all but his playground to grow up in. Many years later, he would take me along on his walkabouts, and I would never cease to be amazed, at how immensely popular he was.
Grandfather’s parents owned a lovely weekend house. “We had lived in Chinandega, a small and quiet city. Naturally the beach house was a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of León, for us a big city.” It was located on one of the most beautiful beaches of the Nicaraguan Pacific coast, quite nearby the port of Corinto.


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Back from the market

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


City Hall Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
City Hall                Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

   The entrance to the house was here. It was sheltered, from the sun and rains, by an overhang painted in the same blue color as the facade. It provided a generous shade during the mornings and the sunny afternoons, so typical of San Gil. At the same time, it was a dry spot for the passers-by during the rainy moments that occurred during part of the afternoons.
Without question, it was a cheery street, decorated with facades painted in their different hues of yellow, blue, and green. Many years later, Dora tried to run up it, as if she were still that untiring girl. Laughing at herself, she had to admit: I can’t do it anymore! But, what would you say if I told you that grandmother used to go up and down that street until her death, and she carried heavy bags of groceries from the market while she was at it!


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Love at first sight

Chapter 5… Of poor lovesick poets


The beach cove Ometepe Isle, Rivas, Nicaragua
The beach cove                   Ometepe Isle, Rivas, Nicaragua

     For my grandfather, moving to León was love at first sight. On different times, he talked to me about how he loved to visit León, ever since he was a little boy. At the time, the city held a powerful spell on Grandfather and it fascinated him. He enjoyed walking the streets of Nicaragua’s first capital, admiring its old buildings and lovely colonial mansions, with their history-impregnated walls.
“I could imagine carriages driving down those beautiful streets, my dear child. They were drawn by tall, proud horses with long, silky manes, their heads held proudly high, with elegance, bearing, and style; their hooves pounding the cobbled streets and thundering in the air, as they briskly trotted past. The gentlemen wearing those elegant top hats, riding their stallions and entering the huge houses, through doors so wide and tall, they needn’t dismount to pass through,” he told me once, his voice slightly trembling with emotion. He was in a melancholic and pensive mood that afternoon, while we were up in the cathedral’s roof, lazily enjoying the panoramic view of the city, extending below, at our feet.

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A house with a blue facade

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


The lake Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
The lake              Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

   As you walked from the plaza, you could enjoy observing the old buildings of this quarter of the city and how the gradually climbed until they reached the bottom of Ines’ street. That’s where the final climb to her house initiated, challenging and ruggedly inclined. It seemed to defy the pedestrian and the daring cars, who could barely reach the half-way point before finding that’s as far as they could go!

     From that point on, the street was exclusively for those walking, the cars having to park in front of a wide-stepped barricade. Fourteen steps above, the street kept climbing until it reached a blue facade.

     The entrance to the house was here. It was sheltered, from the sun and rains, by an overhang painted in the same blue color as the facade. It provided a generous shade during the mornings and the sunny afternoons, so typical of San Gil. At the same time, it was a dry spot for the passers-by during the rainy moments that occurred during part of the afternoons.


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A few digestives for the soul

Chapter 4… Baptizing the celebrities


The lake's beach Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua
The lake’s beach
Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua

     It was precisely Grandfather who explained why they had moved to León, “…as my daddy’s father-in-law was growing older (your great-grandfather, Ernesto García), it seemed that his interest gradually changed from taking care of the cotton crops, towards taking care of another bottle of rum, which he stored and hoarded with utmost care, in that wine cellar of his, below the manor, in a seemingly endless supply. Now, I love my rum as much as anyone else; I´ve found it’s good for the stomach, especially with your grandma’s spicy cooking, and it’s good for the soul; but I’m sorry to say, as your dear old Gramps grew older, sadly, the old man began to drink his days away.” Anyway, that’s how Grandfather arrived to stay in León, and there he lived, quite happily, until the end of his days. .

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A steep climb of a street

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


View of the city park Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
View of the city park
Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

     Her grandmother’s house was placed just a few blocks from San Gils’s Central Park. The park was small, yet fresh and welcoming. Bordered by restaurants and cafes that offered tables on the sidewalks, it was a perfect gathering point for the city dwellers. As the sun began to set, it would fill with people enjoying the evening and the cool temperature.

     But, what a steep climb to reach her house. That street, in particular, had steps carved into its sidewalks to facilitate the pedestrians ascending the abrupt slope and was a typical example of the ups and downs so emblematic of the city’s streets.

     Dora’s favorite spot, to spend the mornings in, was precisely at the beginning of the steep slope. Merrily, the hours passed, while engrossed in her own, private world she played enthused or read one of the books she invariably carried with her. It was undoubtedly her favorite place, in front of the house with the stylish yellow facade, sitting placidly on those red-tiled steps, so comfortable and so wide. The neighbors passing by would smile and say greet her warmly, for they knew the young girl’s situation very well.


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A change in life

Chapter 4… Baptizing the celebrities


Solitude Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua
Solitude
Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua

     Grandfather was about to become twelve years old, and in those days, he was considered young but of age. As it happened, don Ernesto, his grandfather on the maternal side, was not growing any younger, and, more to the point, his health was slowly failing. For that reason, and against his wishes, his father decided to leave their lovely colonial house in Chinandega, the home where Grandfather was born and raised, and to move out to León, one of the oldest and largest cities in the country.


     His father had agreed to manage the various plantations belonging to his wife’s family near León. Relocating to the former capital would change their lives, drastically and in many ways. It would also place an additional strain on his father’s already busy days; for together with his brothers, they already had their hands full, overseeing their own peanut and sugar plantations close by Chinandega. As a result, Grandfather, the eldest son, was recruited into the lot of new chores and duties to look after, but he didn’t mind and never complained.


     It was precisely Grandfather who explained why they had moved to León, “…as my daddy’s father-in-law was growing older (your great-grandfather, Ernesto García), it seemed that his interest gradually changed from taking care of the cotton crops, towards taking care of another bottle of rum, which he stored and hoarded with utmost care, in that wine cellar of his, below the manor, in a seemingly endless supply. Now, I love my rum as much as anyone else; I´ve found it’s good for the stomach, especially with your grandma’s spicy cooking, and it’s good for the soul; but I’m sorry to say, as my dear old Gramps grew older, sadly, the old man began to drink his days away.” Anyway, that’s how Grandfather arrived to stay in León, and there he lived, quite happily, until the end of his days.

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A grandmother called Ines

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


Facades Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
Facades
Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

     In that easy-going city of abrupt ups and downs of its flagstone streets and its many-colored houses scattered among its hills, lived Inés, her maternal grandmother, who affectionately awaited her arrival. If on that particular weekend, it was her turn to spend it with her grandparents, she would take the small bus from San Gil to Barichara and arrive in another additional hour. There, it was just a short walk to her grandparent’s small coffee plantation. She would return Mondays, before dawn, settled into her seat, with her schoolbag converted into her pillow and her head resting upon it as she slept profoundly.

     Her grandmother Ines was, indeed, a very well-loved person in little Dora’s life. She understood her perfectly well and knew how to treat her as an individual. Never like a child, nor as a grownup, just like another person, always affectionate and with respect. Always cheerful and loving, her grandmother had gone through difficult times in her youth. She knew pain and sorrow, having experienced it personally, and was therefore perfectly capable of recognizing it in others. And, during that time, Dora was going through the irreparable loss of her mother, with whom she had kept such a close relationship ion those few years that barely had to share together. Ines, her grandmother, was that balsam of affection that together with time began to heal the tender girl’s unfortunate childhood.


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Working for the first time

Chapter 4… Baptizing the celebrities


The beach Moyagalpa, Rivas, Nicaragua
The beach
Moyagalpa, Rivas, Nicaragua

     They say that a man is as tall as the heights that his imagination dares to soar. With the tales and the yarns that he so enjoyed to spin, my dearest grandfather, surely must have reached the heavens, where he would likely be sitting comfortably on a cotton cloud, right beside the Virgin of the Throne. If she lets him have his way, he would assuredly convince her that the twenty day festivities during December are held in remembrance of his baptism and in his honor.

     “Tread slowly and tread carefully my friends! When ultimately the rumors finally reached the Blessed and Chaste ears of the Bishop, he came up with a brilliant idea. He ordered the priest repeat it every following year. I’m talking about rising early in the morning and his working up a sweat, cleaning all that silver. Apparently the Old Fox, my mistake, the Bishop, greatly enjoyed this, for he and that little priest just didn’t get along, you know…
“Anyway he was ordered to do this in commemoration of that grand occasion. Yes, I should pretend to be a bit more modest; but it’s understood that my baptism was a major historic event. This time I’m speaking of commemorating, that first one and only time, that anybody, yes anybody in the world had actually seen… padre José working in his whole, useless life.


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Little Dora

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


Bicycle Guatape, Antioquia. Colombia
Bicycle
Guatape, Antioquia. Colombia

Dora was to be the first to adventure down those paths that led to discovering new, forbidden experiences. Since she was a child, she was daring and the architect of the escapes among the three inseparable friends. Dora acted out her role as the intellectual author of their mischief, Juanita performed as the leader of the group; she’d ensure their actual implementation. And the last of the three, Lina Marcela, happy and carefree was the one to enjoy them!

Because of her mother’s death and since she was very young, for various years, Dora had been sent to San Gil, a small city, and to Barichara, a small, quaint village, both in the Santander Department, in the north of the country. During the weekends and the holidays also, she would alternate between both of these two places. Her grandparents lived in Barichara and her maternal grandmother in San Gil City. Upon her mother’s death, her father fell into a deep melancholy, without end in sight. Desperately he sought refuge from his loss, burying himself in his work, and forgetting about himself, his daughter and the rest of the world.


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