“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?”
― C. JoyBell C.
Tito told me of the small fly named Envy, that is creating cracks in the sidewalks along the San Fernando Island in the Solentiname Archipelago. I wanted to know if the sidewalks in the Solentiname Islands connected the people like the sidewalks in El Castillo. What I discovered was somewhat surprising, yet understanding the jealous nature of many Nicaraguans, I gained a new appreciation for Tito, the grandson of a local businesswoman on San Fernando Island. Tito has several plans to reconnect the people and mend the cracks in the meandering sidewalks.
I won’t go into the history of the Solentiname Islands, so check out this descriptive article In Lush Nicaragua,Legacy of a Priest for more information. Tito is the grandson of Ms. Guevara Silva, the owner of the historic Albergue Celentiname Inn, where we stayed.
We arrived at the Malecón de San Carlos to wait for the daily boat to the Solentiname Islands. Finding a boat schedule online was difficult, but a captain at the Malecón reassured us that there was a daily boat which left at 3:00pm for the archipelago and returned to San Carlos at 9:00 am.
Malecón de San Carlos has free wi-fi! It was such a treat to finally be able to check my email while waiting for the boat to take us to another town which had no cars, no motorcycles, no internet, and limited cell phone coverage.
Tiny, uninhabited islands dotted the landscape.
But, what happened here? The fancy French lamp posts lining the sidewalk appeared to be vandalized. Tito explained that the fly of envy destroyed the lamp posts using slingshots and flying coconuts. “But, why?” I asked.
According to Tito, several NGOs installed a solar panel system on San Fernando Island several years ago. They built the sidewalks to connect the tiny communities and installed the lamp posts to light the path at night.
One day, the Albergue Celentiname Inn noticed that they didn’t have any electricity. The other community told them, “Oh, a tree fell on the line.” Electricity was never restored to the Inn, so the Albergue Celentiname Inn installed their own solar panels. Much arguing and bickering among the communities commenced. In retaliation, some young boys used slingshots and small coconuts to destroy the lamp posts since they didn’t work anyway.
Tito suspects that the trouble began when the other hotel owners became jealous of their historic Inn,”the first inn ever in the Solentinames, built at Father Cardenal’s suggestion to house international visitors who came to see his ministry,” ( In Lush Nicaragua,Legacy of a Priest)
Tito repeated what the islanders had learned from the priest, “If you have 30 tomatoes and a neighbor needs 2 tomatoes, you should give him 2 tomatoes,” he said. “This is community. This is what Ernesto Cardenal taught.”
In his community oriented spirit, Tito plans to reconnect the people through an automated system of hotel reservations. If hotels have vacancies, they can list the number of vacant rooms on a central board and hotels who have no vacancies can send clients to the other hotels. What a splendid way to reconnect the communities and swat that fly named jealousy out of the picture.
Walking along the sidewalk, we became friends with wandering dogs…
photographed old outhouses encased in tropical weeds, oohed and awed at the picturesque boats and docks, and passed nurseries of avocado trees.
Climbing a steeply terraced hill, we came to the museum of the Solentiname Islands.
The doors were locked, and it was still early. A man living beside the museum pointed in the direction of the lake and said, “If you don’t mind waiting, the museum director is rowing to work. She should be here in five minutes.” We looked across the lake, and sure enough the museum director, her husband, and son were rowing across the lake from the teeny island on which they live.
“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish!”
The next time we return to the Solentiname Islands, particularly San Fernando, I know we will see the communities reconnected and the sidewalk cracks mended. For Tito has big plans and these lovely people live the words of Ernesto Cardenal, “If you have 30 tomatoes and a neighbor needs 2 tomatoes, you should give him 2 tomatoes,” he said. “This is community.”
We’re off to the Caribbean Islands of Big Corn and Little Corn for a week of more fishing, fun with friends, and snorkeling. See you soon.