Every country has national heroes that other countries don’t know about. Nicaragua’s is Rubén Darío. On our way to his house in León, we saw how the common folk live and get around in this country. They generally ride on bicycles or in 1 to 2 person conveyances that look like a Central American version of rickshaws in a nation that is currently under a Level # 3 (reconsider going there) Travel Advisory. The Federal Government warns potential travelers about armed and violent uniformed police and much, much more. The US State Department lists 15 precautions for those who must go to Nicaragua. We heeded them all and stuck with our protected group as we visited León to learn about Darío, a true Renaissance man.
We visited the dwelling where he lived and died. It was a typical Spanish home with many rooms around an interior courtyard that looked like a place for quiet contemplation. Big plant lover Ruth could not identify the beautiful purple flowers blooming in Darío’s courtyard and asked about them. They were morning lilies. Darío lived from 1867 until 1916. Primarily a poet, he wrote more than 40 books that highly influenced Nicaraguan culture, traveled widely, started newspapers in El Salvador and Guatemala, lived in Paris for 5 years, was a noted diplomat and ambassador, etc. He was also a pacifist who tried to get the world to live in peace. He would surely be appalled at the current condition of his native country. His funeral remains one of the biggest in Nicaraguan history.
On our way to his town, we saw brief glimpses of San Cristóbal, the tallest active volcano in Nicaragua. It’s near another active volcano called Telica that erupted in 2015. Our local guide, who should know, told us that there are 8 active volcanoes in his country. Other sources speak of 19, so I began to question everything he was saying. Surely he didn’t mean that 8 volcanoes were currently erupting in his country. What is undoubtedly true is that Nicaraguans live with lava. This is not true in Panama, which is one of the reasons why it was selected for the isthmus-crossing canal that once had 6 proposed routes. The one through Nicaragua was the 2nd most favored, and it still may be built if the Chinese have their way. However, their proposed canal is currently on hold.
Famous Nicaraguans include baseball player Roberto Clemente, who died in a 1972 plane crash while on a mission to deliver aid to earthquake victims, Bianca Jagger, who has become a political activist trying to address her country’s troubles from afar, and Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s current, controversial President. But not so much Rubén Darío.