Nicaragua: Backstory to “Bus a Jinotepe, Rivas”



The name Earl Flint kept popping up in various books I read throughout the year on Nicaraguan history. As I discovered, Flint was an American physician who moved to Nicaragua during the late 19th Century and settled in the town of Rivas, located in the southwestern region of the country. Flint set up shop as a doctor and not long after became an avid (if amateur) archaeologist, who scoured the region for pre-Columbian artifacts that eventually made their way into collections in the United States.

At some point, I wanted to learn more about Flint, yet with so little published information to be found, I decided to go to Rivas, and try to find his final resting place in the town’s municipal cemetery. It would be a start, at least. My trip was not going to be the first to that mysterious yet once important town, but it would definitely be the first with a specific goal in mind.

Unfortunately, I spent the whole afternoon looking through the entire cemetery and was unable to find anything, in spite of the fact that the oldest of its sections were kept in relatively good condition and its graves well-marked. They were guarded, decently preserved, and often strikingly beautiful, including the somewhat dilapidated tomb of former Nicaraguan President Evaristo Carazo, located atop an isolated hill that offered a stunning view of Ometepe Island. It was a little disappointing not to have found Flint’s grave, but I was glad to have committed an afternoon in search of him, and in the process discovering that the cemetery was filled with so much history.

In order to get back to Managua I had to take a couple of inter-city minibuses, the first of which went from Rivas to Jinotepe. As I was waiting in the minibus to leave town, I noticed a woman get on board and sit across the aisle from me. She was carrying a striped plastic bag whose contents were moving around. It struck me to ask her if she wouldn’t mind opening the bag and showing me what was making it move around. She obliged with a smile an opened it to reveal three lovely chicks, all noisily chirping away. And by total coincidence, she framed the bag around them in such a way that it formed the shape of a nest.

Bus a Jinotepe, Rivas (photo: Bernard Gordillo)When I look at the photo now (left), I’m reminded of that moment, yet I can’t help to be drawn to the woman’s hands, which suggest she may have worked in a domestic capacity, either for herself or others. The deep, rich tone of her skin tells me she has spent plenty of time outside in the intense Nicaraguan sun, whose heat you never forget. As for the rings that adorn her fingers, I keep wondering about the women like her whom I’ve come across and if they, too, wore so many rings. Unfortunately, I draw a blank. After I took the picture and thanked her for showing me the chicks, she disappears from my memory. I don’t remember at what point she got off the minivan once we left Rivas.

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