from the department of communication, harding university

'Life is hard' at Jinotega, Nicaragua
Written by Flor Ramos   
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 02:57

It was just an ordinary Monday afternoon in the only town she knows. Despite the hard winds and coolness of the previous night, the sun was striking, converting the close, tight space in the market to a vapor pot.

She picked one of the three spots she uses to sell at, the one closest to the food court. It was a slow day. More than half of her merchandise — tortillas — was still in her basket. She looked down, but she was not worried about the sales.


Pilar works in Jinotega, Nicaragua, but she was born in the mountains. Her family moved there when running away from the civil war. She was born a dwarf. Her parents abandoned her shortly after her birth. Her grandmother raised and supported Pilar until she passed away.


At age 14, Pilar found herself alone, independent. She did not know how to make money, and she never went to school.


“With my grandma, I used to work at a coffee plantation up in the mountain," Pilar said. "I was responsible for feeding the farmers and (taking) care of the chores in the main house of the plantation. On grain season I would clean coffee, beans and corn for extra money. I never knew any other way of living."


Somehow, she said, she managed through life. Into her 20s she moved to Managua with a boyfriend, seeking new opportunities of growth in retailing. At age 23 she found out she was pregnant, and her boyfriend left her. With a child to take care of, she returned to the town she knew best, Jinotega.


“Life is hard,” Pilar said.


Pilar said she found it tough to make it as a single mother. She has sold tortillas in the market ever since. Although she cannot cook them, she buys them from a neighbor and resells them.


Pilar said she has never given up on the goal of giving her child the best life she possibly could. But as her son was growing up, his interest in school dropped gradually, to the point where he abandoned school.


“I did whatever I could to keep him off the streets. He was almost 21 years old. Maybe it was not him… Maybe he shouldn’t have died," Pilar said.


Three months ago, Pilar's son took his own life.


“The police accused him of belonging to the gangs, and he ended up killing himself out of suffocation from both the gangs and the police; he died of depression. You do not know how hard that is," she said.


Tears overflowing from her eyes, Pilar described her challenges. She makes about $7.50 a day when she sells all of her tortillas. With that money she pays the rent, buys food and purchases more tortillas to sell.


“I can’t sleep at night, because I miss my kid. He used to help me. He would work in whatever job he could find,” she said. “I have been able to forgive my son for what he did. But I find it impossible to forgive myself."


As soon as she gets off work, she walks to the cemetery to visit her son's grave. Pilar said she believes in God, but she does not believe in churches.


“God knows what He’s doing. He doesn’t forget anybody,” she said while drying her eyes at the presence of new custumers. “One should be content with whatever life gives to you.”


In as short as one hour she had sold a third of the tortillas she had left. She smiled in quietness. She was expecting to leave the market before 7 p.m., before dark, so she could visit her son as she does now regularly.

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Comments (1)
1 Wednesday, 02 February 2011 07:07
I could say of this story, "In her own words." Because you give us that, Pillar in her own words. Nice spot feature.

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