Monday, May 18, 2015


4/5/86, Saturday

Last night we had a frightening experience. Some time between 11:00 pm and midnight, we heard machine gunfire going off somewhere in town. The shooting continued erratically for about an hour while I lay in my bed, feeling scared. I thought the town was under siege. I had to pee desperately but I have to go outside to get to the bathroom, so despite the fact that I was terrified of leaving my bedroom, I quietly walked outside and then tiptoed back again. After awhile, the shooting died down and I was able to sleep a little but I had a pretty good scare.

This morning, nobody seemed to be quite sure what the machine gunfire was all about. My Nicaraguan mother, Francie says she got up and got dressed in case we had to evacuate in a hurry. She is perplexed, she says it may have just been a bolo (drunk) having war flashbacks. Luckily, two of my little sisters slept through the incident. Anyway, the real attack came from the bugs. I’m covered with bug bites despite the sleeping bag, repellent, and mosquito netting. C’est la vie.

Contra (Counter-revolutionary soldier) attacks were very common in Northern Nicaragua during this time period, so people throughout Esteli had legitimate cause to be concerned about their safety. 

Around this time, Sister Nancy Donovan, a Catholic nun who was working in Esteli was captured by Contras while enroute to the nearby town of Limay. Nine people who were traveling with her were slain. She later told her story and related some of her conversations with her captors: 
Sister Nancy: "You people always complain that, with the revolution, there’s a scarcity of certain things; so, why did you burn our vehicle? " 
Contra: "Because it belonged to the state." 
Sister Nancy: "Ask the people from Limay, and they’ll tell you: that was our bus."  
Contra: "No, that bus didn’t belong to the people. If it had, nobody would’ve had to pay." 
Sister Nancy: "Why do you kidnap and kill people?" 
Contra: "We only do that with Sandinistas and the ones who belong to the army." 
Sister Nancy: "But we weren’t with the army." 
Contra: "You’re all Sandinistas." 
Sister Nancy: "Are you going to let me go?" 
Contra: "Is this the first time you’ve had any contact with us?"
Sister Nancy: "Yes."  
Contra: "I bet you thought we were no good." 
Sister Nancy: "It’s not up to me to judge anyone. All people have their own conscience. What’s important are their acts." 
Contra: "We only harm the Sandinistas. The revolution’s evil; it’s communist and atheist."  
Sister Nancy: "How do you know that?" 
Contra: "Before we never had to line up with a card to get sugar. That’s communism." 
Sister Nancy: "And how do you know that the revolution is atheist?" 
Contra: "The nine comandantes are against religion." 
Sister Nancy: "But have you people had any problems practicing your religion?" 
Contra: "No, not us."
Sister Nancy: "Well, I’m a nun, and the only problems I’ve had have been with you people, in places where you’ve been."
Sister Nancy added: “The counterrevolutionaries who were holding me had very good uniforms. The majority of them had the letters ‘FDN.’ One had ‘US Army’ on his arm, and another ‘Soldier of Fortune, Second Convention.’ Everything they had seemed quite new. One of them said to me: ‘There’s a plane that comes by very quietly in the night and drops us really good provisions.’ ” 

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