For the moment I was in Leon, the intellectual hub of Nicaragua, where Dario’s ghost looms largest.My Dario journey began in earnest a few years ago when I got in contact with Immanuel Zerger, a German immigrant who moved to Nicaragua in the 1990s.
Now this poet, diplomat and hero of Nicaragua lay at my feet, very much alive at 101 years dead. You’ll find Calle Ruben Dario in Mexico City, Panama City, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Dario’s tomb lay near the altar under a life-size sculpture of a lion with a face frozen in anguish. I sat in a pew, alone, watching how no one seemed to come inside for the saints.Dario himself was weary of the US role in Nicaraguan affairs, particularly during the Banana Wars from 1898 to 1934. “You think that life is a fire, that progress is an irruption, that the future is wherever your bullet strikes,” Dario wrote.“No.” Low buildings in pinks, yellows and greens slid past the windows of Immanuel’s truck.Greater Managua, with about 2.6 million people, felt less like a metropolis than a loose bag of a suburb.In 1972, an earthquake reduced most of the city to rubble and left it with an ill-defined centre and a strange vernacular for navigating.