Sometimes places are more like arranged marriages. Finding a layover or a conference city or a funeral destination loveable takes commitment.
I am convinced that we are born with internal magnets that compel us to visit places. Childhood rereading of The Amazing Story of Henry Sugar got me hooked on India, classes with a little Danish man and his Balinese masks meant a trip to Bali, and a fascination with Islam, race and diverse taste buds brought me to Malaysia.
But in other places being in love seems implausable, until some moment trips me up.
Managua was one of those cities. Our hosts told us to be careful not to go out at night. Or take the bus. Or walk…during the day. It was 104 degrees and our one encounter with playing in the rain ended with one of our hosts shouting, “TOXICO!” and rushing us back into the iron gates of the house before locking the padlocks behind us.
I had plenty of hate for Managua. But then we met someone, or well, heard about someone who loved the city enough to live there fulltime, and visited the school where she used to work.
We lived in the little windowless room that Lauren used to live in. The kitchen sounds filter in in the morning and the walls are a brilliant teal green. We hear about Lauren first, after we jump in the back of a pick up truck and arrive at the school in Camilo Ortega. We hear about her through the essays her students wrote about her. And then she we hear other things, about her love of animals and the environment. We hover over our computer, splicing together sound and pictures in the laptop-melting-heat, thinking always, about what we want to be able to show her family. Below is that regalo, that small gift.
So, though Managua may not have made it into fond memories of ex-loved cities, it’s where Lauren made her home, and where she worked, and she is worth a post of her own.