I was fortunate enough to stay in a small community in a nature preserve here in Nicaragua. A place the inhabitants worked hard to protect. Staying in a woman’s home where both the chickens and the dogs sneak in through open doors, the piglet runs through woods and back again beneath the garden gate, the roosters chase chickens all day, and ruffled hibiscus dangle their blooms for large hummingbirds to dip their beaks into, I met big hearted people neither bitter nor angry after the war, when U.S.-backed Contras forced them into hiding in the wild whenever word came of soldiers aiming their way in the middle of the night. People, even entire families, were killed. These people made it through, though they’d return home to find it destroyed, their food thrown on the ground, inedible. They rebuilt again and again. Opening their homes and sharing their stories, I learned of traditional medicinal plant use from the kitchen to the clinic, where old ways have slowly revived in places, often born of necessity for medicine after pharmaceutical imports were shut down during the war. There is life in death. Such loss still rings through lives here, trauma finding expression in insomnia and anxious memory. Sometimes the roots we send down, the dark rich earth offering solace and quiet and nourishment, also bring us to those others have grown deep, and the tendrils sense each other through tender root hairs. We don’t even have to touch. We can merely sense. Connection grows. And, above ground, just before leaving, I can say that the unexpected hug from the house mother, with whom I could speak only hello, thank you, and goodbye, may have been one of the best hugs I’ve ever been given. I do hope she felt from me even half as much. None of what they have experienced, or offered, shall be forgotten.

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