Almost every January since 2006, I have had the privilege of leading a study tour of Bridgewater State University students to Nicaragua. My intention was to take my Geography of Coffee course to Nicaragua once and then to circulate among other countries in the Coffee Belt.
Something curious happened on the way to Matagalpa, though: I fell in love with Nicaragua and Nicaraguans. I now spend the first part of almost every January there, in a way returning to my second home every year. During these journeys, my students and I often meet other people traveling in groups from Massachusetts or elsewhere in New England. Sometimes it has been at MIA, which I have come to regard as the "Capital of Latin America." Sometimes it has been while waiting for aduana in Managua, or in a restaurant or coffee beneficio.
These encounters are invariably brief and energetic, as we excitedly share stories about our partnerships and projects, the people and places we know in Nicaragua, and our traveling companions. Those partnerships can involve commerce, public health, development, coffee, and much more, and they take place throughout the country, though generally in the more densely-populated western portion. The traveling companions can include employees, parishioners, volunteers, or students from many disciplines. Always the chance encounters come at times that we are too busy to linger or too exhausted to make any future plans.
Thus was the idea of Nicaragua Nexus born. The idea is to gather people from our region who frequently travel to Nicaragua, especially those who travel with groups or who have partnerships with groups in Nicaragua. The NEXUS refers both to a general network of groups and to an occasional meeting of those groups. No grand scheme or formal organization is envisioned. Rather, the NEXUS is simply an invitation to connect for a leisurely exchange of ideas, experiences, and stories about a place we have come to care deeply about.
The first of these occasional meetings is to take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012 on the campus of Bridgewater State University, about an hour south of Boston. A separate post will serve as an invitation to the meeting itself.