Momotombo volcano in Nicaragua 

by Gioconda Belli

Körper (Ausgabe II/2010)


At 1,300 metres, Momotombo is one of the highest volcanoes in Nicaragua. It last erupted in 2016. Photo: Jorge Mejia

If you take the Carretera Sur from Managua towards Jinotepe, turn left at kilometre 28 and drive up the hill and you will reach an old coffee plantation, the "Hacienda of the Clouds", which belonged to one of my uncles. The most striking part of the panorama from up there is the Momotombo, a sleeping volcano with a perfect cone shape. In front of the Momotombo is a smaller fire-breather, the Momotombito. In the afternoon it looks like the volcano is taking a walk with its little son. It has a special sort of magic to stand up there, where in wintertime the winds gust and clouds and fog penetrate the houses. I made the most important decisions of my life up there. When I get away from the hustle and bustle of the capital and walk along those old paths that lead through former coffee fields with huge hundred-year-old trees, I breathe a different, thin and clean air. Sitting on the windy hill with the volcanoes at my feet, I am filled with a feeling of deep peace. This landscape is my home, is what I see before me when I think of Nicaragua.

As a child I spent part of my summer holidays at the "Hacienda of the Clouds". Here, near the volcanoes, my political consciousness was also kindled, like a fire that slowly begins to burn. We were forbidden to enter the part of the hacienda where the workers were. But I crept to their lodgings. They were large barracks with piled up compartments where whole families slept, like in a dovecote. This sight startled me very much. I thought, how can my uncle, who is a good man, keep such a bad secret?

Today, along the road to the hacienda, there are countless antennas and transmission masts. Some time ago I discovered a house further down the mountain, which had been abandoned since the Sandinista revolution in 1979. As I walked through the empty rooms, I noticed that the house has the same view as from my uncle's hacienda. I thought it must be a sign. So I bought the house and since then I live there, right next to the Momotombo and the Momotombito.

Transcribed by Timo Berger
Translated by Jess Smee

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