Friday, March 21, 2008

My Way

I just have to post this. I needed some relax from writing up some hardcore theory :) So I checked Google Earth and to my huuuge surprise Nicaragua was updated!! hurrah! So I measured all the way I had to go to visit my informants. I don't know if you remember this post with pictures of my everyday walking.

So, here is a bird's eye view on my daily route (9,89 km from my apartment in a town to the last houshold I visited. Wow! How did I manage this?!??)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I'm not going to update this blog any more. It will serve as a memory box for me or some casual readers in the near future... Le roi est mort, vive le roi! :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

So-called update

Yes, it's been a long time since I posted here. Why? Too many things to do and too little time. The last two months in Nicaragua I was almost with no electricity so both writing and posting was impossible. But I'm back and I'm nearly satisfied with my fieldwork. I have a lot of data concerning a lot of subjects, but probably too little concerning the one I could concentrate on.... We'll see:) Now, what has happened and what I'm doing now:
1. I got married!! :)
2. I have a new supervisor
3. I've translated one anthropological article concerning European identity and the place of the Poles in the European community. Article was wrote by a Norwegian anthropologist and published in Betwixt and Between 2007. You can read the Polish translation here.
4. My two papers were accepted to presentation at the MASN Conference in Germany:
  • Place identity. Anthropologists and their romantic ideas in the crisis situations
  • Sense dependency vs. information dependency. Can phenomenological perspective be united with Becks theory of risk society?

You can read the whole program here
5. I am a member of the journal of Norwegian anthropology students Betwixt and Between 2008 and trying to write an article to this journal as well.
6. I have no idea how to transform my fieldwork into science...
7. I'll try to post some thoughts about my progress...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mary Douglas

The author of Risk and culture and Risk and blame has passed away, I´ve just read on I don´t need to say that these two books are ones of the most inspiring I have ever read. The other ones have impressed me as well, but Douglas´ risk, danger and blame theories just blow me away! And of course I´ve been thinking about them a lot during the last five months. Douglas has spendt her life studying the idea of purity and now she´s dealing with it herself... May she rest in peace.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A good question is the key

Suddenly things began to go well. What has happened?

I switched the question I stubbornly tried to answer to another one. “WHY do they live here?” seemed to be a good starting point for my interest in this place, but it hasn’t seemed to be helpful in understanding of people’s life. One day I started to ask (also myself): HOW do they live? What a trick, right? :) I was astonished by how this extremely simple change has improved my work! Suddenly I experienced a deluge of information that I’ve dreamt about during last 4 months.

I’ve realized that I’ve been looking for an answer that my informants would never give me (I don’t mean the verbal explication). The subject I’ve chosen to investigate on isn’t interesting for them at all so I couldn’t get any information in a “natural” way. The feeling that ”I have no data” is a plague among all fieldwork greenhorns and I’m surely not an exception. Of course I didn’t want to join the group and was racking my brains over some strategy that could help me somehow in gathering more, important in my opinion, data. And I got a brainwave: why am actually asking one of the most ethnocentric questions in the world and why I am locking myself in this trap? Why should they actually even try to convince me of the reasons to live here?! So I’ve started to watch more carefully HOW they live. What is important for them? What consumes their energy? [thanks to my supervisor for this hint :)] What kind of decisions do they take every day? Small, simple questions… Our life is after all nothing more than this…

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ask about the reasons for any kind of activity that seems surprising or strange to us. It’s human nature to ask and we can’t escape from the feeling of burning curiosity. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t start with looking for “the big answer” if we aren’t familiar with the small, everyday ones…


Wednesday, May 02, 2007


(…) fieldwork must certainly rank with the more disagreeable activities that humanity has fashioned for itself. It is usually inconvenient, to say the least, sometimes physically uncomfortable, frequently embarrassing, and to a degree, always tense.

(Shaffir and Stebbins 1991:1)
Funny that we need to hear mentors voice not to feel guilty about our feelings …

Shaffir, W.B. and R.A. Stebbins. (eds). 1991. Experiencing Fieldwork: An Inside
View of Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pros and cons

I miss jazz, but I felt in love with baseball :)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Village fieldwork?

I wrote in the last post that I am doing ”village fieldwork”. It’s not exactly that. The place isn’t what we can easily call for the village, and my study is not what we can call “classic/traditional fieldwork”.

The place

People themselves while talking about this place don’t use a term “village” neither. One of the habitants tell me: “We are not a village like you can see other places. There is one house here, one house there. I don’t know how to call it (…) They say comarca (region) or just comunidad (community), but I don’t know (…) No, we’re not living together like this [when I explained how the most villages look like (or what is MY image of them)]. It’s because of the mountains…”. And this pattern of settlement is surely common in other mountainous regions.
I don’t know if I’ll use the real name of the region in my thesis or I’ll keep it anonymous so for now I’ll call it ambitiously for X :). At the same time I am publishing pictures from this area so I don’t know if it stays anonymous anymore :). Luckily (for me) the area influenced by the gases of Masaya is pretty big and it’s doesn’t matter actually where I took pictures (they are also from places where I don’t have informants) as long as I don’t write what has happened in this or that household and I don’t present any important information.

The whole region is about 7 kilometres from the nearest town and is situated more than 800 metres above the sea level. X consists of about 40 households on the terrain about 15km2. As you can imagine 40 households on such a relatively big area doesn’t make the region a densely populated. That also means that the houses are sparsely spread and the mountainous character of the region doesn’t help in communication between households. This has a lot of consequences for how both the social and personal life of these people looks like, how the social relations are shaped and how the values and priorities are created. This has also methodological implications for me. The limitation of social relations and the dynamics social contacts and communication is a challenge for everyone who is going to sketch a system of relationships. The households are relatively far from each other and while I am visiting one, there is almost no time to visit another the same day. It means that I am doing the participant observation but within one household per day.

The work

To make things clear – I don’t live in the X which is situated about 7 kilometres from where I live and this also has consequences in the way I conduct my work. This can be also the reason of the problems I described in the last post. I think this subject deserves separate post, but I need to spend more time with these people to see how being non-live-in guest from the town influences our relations.

Anyway, there is no regular transportation here. I resolved this problem by borrowing a motorcycle from the District Council. This helped a little bit. I have 5 kilometres less to climb to the top of the hill :). Of course it was extremely tiring to go these kilometres in a dust, heat and volcanic gases everyday (especially that I’m not a sporty type! :). This was also frustrating at the beginning since I knew I wasn’t at the excursion, but that I had things to do. I felt like I wasted so precious time. But I didn’t have a choice and for over 1 month now I’ve been taken the same route up almost everyday. Being a supporter of the phenomenological perspective on the landscape (Tilley, Ingold) and theories about the bodily experience of the world (Merleau-Ponty) I think that this what I first had perceived as a problem has increased my knowledge and understanding of how it is to live “in the gases”. Often I’ve also shared some meters or kilometres with people who were heading home or work and this turned out to be an incredible way to experience how the communication on the way looks like. I couldn’t have get to know it if I had taken a car whole the way. Now I am glad that I’ve decided not to rent a vehicle to get there every day without any trouble. I’m not saying that “martyrdom” is the best and most effective way to work, but sometimes it pays.

So, I can’t say that I am doing the typical fieldwork “round a bonfire” (H. Wike) that gathers villages members that are connected by a net of complex relations. Surprisingly, people that have the same experience (the destroying influence of the Masaya volcano) can live so separately and within one’s own family. They say so themselves: “No, we’re not living much together (…) we like each other, but we don’t have time to visit. And we like to spend time with our families”. It’s also amazing how many different ideas about the volcano, health, poverty and life in general can be found up there in the hills.

The fact that I’m not living there, the landform features and the transportation “problem” makes my visiting time highly limited. And I don’t live their life 100 % like the “traditional fieldwork” likes to demand.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Field break. Back to myself

This will be a really messy post. Some thoughts without an order…It’s really hard to express everything I feel now in words…

After 3 months I took a one week break. We went to Guatemala and visited Tikal – the old Mayan capital. In spite of 3 days in a bus, it was so worth it. And I am not talking just about the tourist, aesthetics and travel experience in general. This tour made me remember of who I am and that I AM. Really, after 3 months of being “nobody” it was high time to restore the inner me. I am writing “nobody” because I am, at least I was, nobody for the community I am working with. I meant nothing to them, I am and I’ll go – this is how we all start, I think. Do I have anything in common with these people?!

Where is the boundary between the tolerance, acceptance and kindness, and the unhealthy acting, the unfair for our informants spectacle the anthropologist arranges? Does the end of this theatre depend only on time we spend in the new place? I don’t think so. I’m really trying to do my best. I’m not judging these people and I don’t feel better than them. Not at all. I’m listening and I’m talking. But I’m not myself. I just can’t. I don’t feel the thread of mutual understanding. Have you all been yourself totally and deeply during your fieldwork? Did you feel uncomfortable with the situation you’ve created? How did you deal with the feeling of absurdity of your thoughts while being with your informants?

I can’t neither tell these people what I am really thinking, I could heart them. Am I not trusting them or they are not trusting me? Maybe here the time would help. But I don’t have time. 6 months is really nothing, especially when someone uses more time to find a place to plunge her ethnographic tentacles for a longer time! :) (bad me!). I know that these people don’t need to “get me”, but how I am supposed to get to know and understand them if they don’t know me? Is it fair? Have you ever thought that your personality is an obstacle for your work?

The break was important to me. And I think that this is why the new chapter of my work started much better. I was remembered of who I am, what I like, how I live and where I belong to. I was so concentrated on how the people live and what they think that I forgot why I actually came here and what I want to achieve… Total immersion? No, not at all. You are just sinking in the search of the nucleus of their life… You are not living their life. At least not at beginning where I still am, I think. It’s been more like desperate searching for answers that maybe don’t exist. Asking those who don’t know. Finding what you didn’t come for. I needed this one week off to start again. It may seem naïve and stupid, but now I know that nothing happens if I don’t find the answers. Why was I so stressed out?! I needed to be reminded that there is a world out there such as it used to be and that MY WORLD is still waiting for me. I think I don’t believe in the unity of the worlds… Does it make me a bad anthropologist?

I just have to say that it’s not because of the “cultural shock” or the language problem. I don’t have neither problems with being “exotic” to the natives. Having come to Norway some time before the “polish invasion” there, I am used to being “the other” and “the exotic”. I am used to all those sometimes irritating small questions (come on, it’s not fair, we’re asking them the same irritating small questions). Living in a foreign-language country toughened me also up so I don’t suffer from the classic frustration a lot of us have when coming to the field. These people didn’t surprised me. I surprised myself…

I’ve never wanted to do “the village fieldwork” and it turned out to be so. Maybe this fact put me off my stroke… I just wanted to work with something that was impossible here and this could be the main reason to my disappointment. But now, go me! I have to use the time I still have and try to learn a lesson and keep doing what I am expected to and what I really dreamt about.

The heat drives me crazy! :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hegel about science

I´ve never supposed he´ll be inspiring me in this period...
"Naukowe poznawanie wymaga (…) by oddać się całkowicie życiu przedmiotu, albo – co na jedno wychodzi – by mieć przed oczyma jego wewnętrzną konieczność i konieczność te wypowiadać."
"Toteż przy uprawianiu nauki chodzi o to, by wziąć na siebie wysiłek podążania za ruchem pojęcia. Nauka wymaga skierowania uwagi na pojęcie jako takie, na proste określenia (…); te określenia są bowiem takimi czystymi samodzielnymi ruchami, które można nazwać „duszami”, gdyby ich pojęcie nie oznaczało czegoś wyższego niż dusza."
G. W. F. Hegel „Fenomenologia ducha”

Reading Geertz´ reading

Weekends in La Concha are days of a corrida. It’s not a typical corrida with toreador, but more like a blend of corrida and rodeo. It’s a pretty easy to interpret sign of cultural mix in Nicaragua. The Spanish heritage coexists with the North American reality of the Wild West. I’m not an enthusiast of this kind of fun and I’m not going to describe in details how the game looks like. The most significant for me was thoughts that this event triggered off. To outline the situation briefly – one man breaks in a bull and other males are running on the arena trying to enrage the bull and when the beast attacks to escape as fast as possible. Surprising to me was that anybody from the spectators could get on the bull and try to stay at one as long as possible while others spectators use red sheets (mostly old clothes), throw the bottles, cigarettes, small stones and sand at the animal. I asked one from the public if they have to pay for participation. He said no. Then I asked if they get money for participation. He answered that neither that. Well, why do they do this then? Of course, in such a poor country like Nicaragua the first explanation that comes to one’s mind is money, but it’s not the case as the corrida buddy told me. Then I looked at those men on the arena and observed how proud they are when they are moving closer and closer to the beast. They are strutting around like peacocks when they manage to escape from the dangerous horns. Why do they do this, I asked myself one more time. Now the new explanation seemed obvious to me. Male pride? Fame? Prestige? Heroism? Maybe that. It seemed logical to me, but then I thought about Geertz and his cockfight. How could he observe the game and come with such extraordinary explanations? When I was looking at the corrida and the public I was indeed “reading a text”, but did I read it correctly? Did my interpretation of this drawing have something to do with their reality? (I think actually that there is no difference between “text” or “drawing” (or “painting”) metaphor. Text is a drawing, a drawing is always a text and so on. So we read drawings, paintings, like icons… I don’t know actually why “writing and reading” phrase is used almost only to the Orthodox icons.) Weren’t my thoughts about the male pride and prestige the most ethnocentric solution/answer? Where did Geertz take this certainty from? Is certainty needed? How did he actually justify his interpretation?

To read Geertz one more time (though I’m not the biggest fun of the cockfight story). This time with a new look and experience. I’m sure that now I’ll be reading the literature in a completely different way. Especially the methodological part and I’ll definitely focus more attention to the argumentation, process of reasoning and concluding. I think I was too theory orientated in my reading. I’m already looking forward to trying some new monograph after coming back.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The bright side of (field)life…

Where the pineapple is born?

Did you know that both me and Bartek had thought that the pineapples grow up on the trees?!?!?! You could imagine our faces when seeing this…(as a consolation I’ll add that I’ve already got messages from two European that they had lacked this knowledge as well! :) And I’ve always wondered why the pineapples have this strange, hard end and where it came from! Well, I still have a lot to learn…

I was almost on the Nicaraguan television!!!

The day of the workshop at INETER Bartek was watching the evening news and he saw the director of the geophysics I was just talking with, giving a TV interview. I completely forgot that the television was there and we didn’t catch the whole report, but I saw the people from the event… So funny. I have to write to them and ask about the copyJ Maybe I am there too…

What is the best way to learn riding?

I had never before mounted a Nicaraguan horse. I had never before ridden any horse! I had never climbed a mountain on a horse! I had never before climbed a volcano on a horse!!! What an experience! Telica volcano reached! Generally speaking I’m afraid of animals and have a little fear of heights and I don’t know how I survived this most extreme riding school! It was fun, but after 6 hours there was only weeping and gnashing of teeth! :) The local farmer took no notice of my pain, tears and frustration, just making fun of us by showing the acrobatic manoeuvres on his animal. But the view was worth it.

(How did they do this??!!)

(view on the San Cristobal -the highest volcano in Nicaragua)

(And on the way down...)

(No, I didn´t like him any more ... :)

(But I survived...)

And after all I managed to talk a little bit with our “teacher” about the volcano and hot springs San Jacinto.

I was also satisfied with the visit at San Jacinto village. Again, after reading some materials about these hot springs (connected to Telica volcano and emitting SO2) I thought also about going over this place with a toothcomb, but one geologist I had talked to said that San Jacinto was so local phenomena that I could be disappointed by doing research there (he also wondered if there was any point doing fieldwork there – well, I thought about the words on the website of my university that says: no ecosystem is too small to being investigated. I think these words are also relevant for any group, community and even relation). And he was right. There are a few families that are living near Hervideros de San Jacinto and the SO2 isn’t so unbearable as I had supposed after reading the reports. It’s also a finding one could say :)

It was also funny to read danger plates round the village that says like this one: “Be careful. There are dangerous places at the hot springs. Please use a guide!”. Being a guide round the hot springs is almost the only source of income for the local. Playing with a fear?

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The gases of Masaya

Yesterday I found two reports about the Masaya volcano. One made by INETER in 1990 and the other from 1999. I paste a map from 1990 that shows the area of the gas emission from this volcano. I don’t have tools, so the look is a little bit clumsy, but it illustrates what I want to show. The orange means the area most affected by the gases. We are not living there (firstly, on account of our health and secondly, it’s not easy to find an accommodation there). We’re living in an area of “medium risk” as the map states (I’m not yet 100 % if I marked our location correctly). People here say that it’s only a few times a year that the wind changes and the gases come to La Concha. “Then you just close the windows and don’t go out” (said a lady who owns windows! There are not much of them here).

Based on “Analisis de riesgo volcanico. Caso complejo volcanico de Masaya” by Garcia-Spatz, R.M. 1990, UNIO, Managua, s. 6
The other report states:

“The large quantities of SO2 released in the atmosphere by Masaya produces volcanic air pollution, which consists of poor air quality, hazy atmospheric conditions or smog, and acidic rains (McBirney, 1956, Johnson and Parnell, 1986; Stoiber et al., 1986). The effects of this volcanic pollution are geographically widespread downwind from Santiago crater and include damage to forests, cultivated crops, machinery, and buildings. In addition, many people report headaches and respiratory difficulties during periods of poor air quality.
We monitored the average SO2 dispersion and dry deposition of the plume with a network of diffusion tubes (Downing et al., 1994) and sulfation plates (Huey, 1968). These passive reactor devices were exposed during four weeks in March-April 1998 and February-March 1999. The 1999 surveys reveal that Masaya's plume affects a region of about 900 km2 (…). Time-averaged concentrations of SO2 exceeding 30 ppb are commonly observed under the plume up to 30 km distance from Santiago crater. Such high gas levels are considered unheathful (e.g., Turco, 1997 (…)).”

“Integrated geochemical, geophysical and petrological studies illuminate magmatic process at Masaya volcano, Nicaragua”. By Delmelle, P. et. al 1999. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, s. 7

At least I have already one scientific evidence! J I am sure I’ll find more at the INETER or CIGEO’s libraries, but there are mostly geological and such analysis of the crater, not the influence on the people. We’ll see. I’m going to read the rest of the reports and prepare myself to meet the doctors tomorrow.

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The project revisited. We’re moving

After one month I suppose it’s high time I rethought the project with which I came here. I think that after one month one should really stop finding any excuses for doing nothing that have something to do with for example the problem definition included in the paper. You can read my whole project here (Norwegian) and here (summary in Spanish). I’ve already mentioned it in English in some old posts.

The most crucial element for my work was meeting between the local people (lay perspective) that live under the volcanoes and the experts (like geologists, medical stuff and so). By this I wanted to see how those two groups are interacting with each other and how the communication/transmitting/translation of the scientific data is going. I wanted to investigate differences in the perception of the nature, danger, risk and health issues. I didn’t want to compare those (it’s both a time issue and experience I obviously lack), but rather see how they coexist in the given situations like evacuation (also forcible), education projects, campaigns and information about the geological hazards. That is why I needed a real meeting between the experts and the lay and I wanted to participate in such. While writing a project it seemed easy to carry out this task, but when I came here things began to look different. After conversations with some specialist (both geologist, volcanologists, doctors and representatives of the Red Cross, Ministry of Health, Defence and others that have something to do with the natural disasters) I realized that people actually don’t meet the representatives of the “scientific world”, and definitely don’t deal with “scientific data” as I had thought. It meant that I would need to spend more time with those groups separately and then make some comparison. I don’t think I have time to this. Neither I feel like doing this kind of fieldwork. It was so easy to imagine the conflicts and the dynamics when I was just reading some reports from the education programmes and so. It’s not the case. Well, maybe it would be if I could participate in some of those programmes, but there are not any right now and I didn’t want to risk that I would be sitting and waiting for anything to happen.

The other problem was that the health issues don’t seem to be so important/dramatic as I had supposed after reading some reports (for instance SINAPRED’s reports). I was explained at one meeting: “Those reports are focused at only one case and it can look really terrifying when you are reading them, but it isn’t so. Additionally, when doing reports about risks in the area we base on the worst scenario. It can be dangerous, but doesn’t have to be. And if nothing happens, nothing happens”. It’s also a finding – the politics of the information available to the public, but I can’t take up every aspect and phenomenon I discover here, right? And because I wasn’t interested in POSSIBLE ERUPTIONS, but in a CONSTANT HEALTH HAZARDS I was in a fix. Wanting to stay near my (written) project I had some alternatives:

1. The first one was staying in Leon and doing fieldwork about people’s experience with the eruptions in the past and their feelings about possibility/probability of the eruption. I had taken this plan B into consideration before leaving Norway in case of what I had described above, but I really don’t feel any passion for this kind of “probabilistic” investigation. Well, the results can be interesting, but I am so influenced by Douglas and Wildavsky’s idea about “the risks that are socially constructed” that I feel strange to ask people “Aren’t you really afraid of living here?”. I addition I think that this kind of question is so ethnocentric that I just couldn’t base my work on them. Also, I didn’t want to fall into a trap of using place identity to explain every phenomenon (like risk perception and management). Maybe I will have to – but I don’t want to take anything for granted.

2. Moving to the capital and working only with the group of experts. I want to make such a study some day, but for now I feel that I’m not brave enough to talk with those people. In my opinion this kind of study requires a lot of self-confidence. You have to be able to talk freely with people that have some kind of specialized knowledge and not necessarily are interested with sharing it and, what makes it more difficult, belong to the same epistemological system as you do (I really assume that this is the case). And of course I wasn’t prepared for this kind of work, both mentally and theoretically (I do love Bruno Latour, but he scares me to death!:) I had no idea how I could change my project and use it to a new study. I didn’t have time to write/think a new one. I really felt paralyzed by my previous writing, plans I had made and, of course, by my expectations. “It could be so great if it was like in my paper”, I thought. But It wasn’t and I had to do something with this.

Luckily, I turned out to be a textbook example for the fieldworker that can say: “A lot on the fieldwork depends on coincidence!” During the workshop with INETER (governmental institute for geosciences) in Managua one of my contact persons suggested that I should try to go and visit Masaya volcano south from the capital. I was said that “People there are living in the gases! You can see it, you can smell it. It’s a constant risk and people live there. And there are still people who are moving in there. I don’t know why. And nobody does anything with this case”. I got a brainwave! How could I miss this volcano, why nobody has told me about this case before, why haven’t I found any report about this case?!?! Is it really truth that nobody makes an investigation of the influence of the gases on the people that are living there? I felt myself getting goose pimples all over and finally I felt something I needed – a real interest. INETER organized an excursion and next day we went there.

I was speechless at what I saw. The wind this day was perfectly designed to feel the drama of the Santiago crater. I could hardly breathe. The view was fuzzy, the houses and persons were vague because of the SO2 (sulphur dioxide) emissions.

Do you see the gas plume?

(No, it´s not so bad quality of the pictures, it´s a cloud of volcanic gases)

Later, when I asked one person about why there is no medical investigation done there, he laughed and said that “maybe because they want people to die calm”. I don’t know if it’s true that nobody makes research in this zone. Tomorrow I have a meeting with somebody from the Medical Department at the UNAN (University in Managua) and will surely ask:).

Anyway, we came back home to Leon and packed our stuff (God, how much I managed to collect in one month!!!) and moved to Masaya that is about 120 km from our previous location. Next day we went round the volcano and find a room in La Concepción (popularly known as La Concha) that is about 10 km from the maximal affected zone. Finally I feel that my work has began, although I am still a little bit confused what my next step should be, but I’m really excited and I feel that this place is a right one for us.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A question to anthropologists (and not only)

Do we need/have to like our informants?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Les raisons du Momotombo

I had no idea that Victor Hugo was here! Momotombo is a real miracle! It doesn't surprise me that he became a national simbol. And what beatiful poems were written about him.

Les raisons du Momotombo

« Le baptême des volcans est un ancien usage qui
remonte aux premiers temps de la conquête. Tous
les cratères du Nicaragua furent alors sanctifiés, à
l’exception du Momotombo, d’où l’on ne vit
jamais revenir les religieux qui s’étaient chargés
d’aller y planter la croix. »

Séquier : Voyage dans l’Amérique du Sud.

Trouvant les tremblements de terre trop fréquents,
Les rois d’Espagne ont fait baptiser les volcans
Du royaume qu’ils ont en dessous de la sphère ;
Les volcans n’ont rien dit et se sont laissé faire,
Et puis le Momotombo lui seul n’a pas voulu.
Plus d’un prêtre en surplis, par le saint-père élu,
Portant le sacrement que l’Eglise administre,
L’œil au ciel, a monté la montagne sinistre ;
Beaucoup y sont allés, pas un seul n’est revenu.

O vieux Momotombo, colosse chauve et nu.
Qui songe près des mers, et fais de ton cratère
Une tiare d’ombre et de flamme à la terre.
Pourquoi, lorsqu'à ton seuil terrible nous frappons,
Ne veux-tu pas du Dieu qu’on t’apporte ? Réponds.

La montagne interrompt son crachement de lave,
Et le Momotombo répond d’une voix grave :

« Je n’aimais pas beaucoup le dieu qu’on a chassé.
Cet avare cachait de l’or dans un fossé ;
Il mangeait de la chair humaine ;
ses mâchoires Etaient de pourriture et de sang toutes noires.
Son antre était un porche au farouche carreau,
Temple sépulcre orné d’un pontife bourreau ;
Des squelettes riaient sous ses pieds ;
les écuelles Où cet être buvait le meurtre étaient cruelles ;
Sourd, difforme, il avait des serpents au poignet ;
Toujours entre ses dents un cadavre saignait ;
Ce spectre noircissait le firmament sublime.
J’en grondais quelques fois au fond de mon abîme.

Aussi, quand sont venus, fiers sur les flots tremblants.
Et du côté d’où vient le jour, des hommes blancs,
Je les ai bien reçus, trouvant que c’était sage.
— L’âme a certainement la couleur du visage,
Disais-je, l’homme blanc, c’est comme le ciel bleu ;
Et le dieu de ceux-ci doit être un très bon dieu.
On ne le verra point de meurtres se repaître.
— J’étais content ; j’avais horreur de l’ancien prêtre ;
Mais quand j’ai vu comment travaille le nouveau,
Quand j’ai vu flamboyer, ciel juste ! à mon niveau !
Cette torche lugubre, âpre, jamais éteinte,
Sombre, et que vous nommez l’Inquisition sainte,
Quand j’ai pu voir comment Torquemada s’y prend
Pour dissiper la nuit du sauvage ignorant,
Comment il civilise, et de quelle manière
Le Saint-Office enseigne et fait de la lumière,
Quand j’ai vu dans Lima d’affreux géants d’osier,
Pleins d’enfants, pétiller sur un large brasier,
Et le feu dévorer la vie, et les fumées
Se tordre sur les seins des femmes allumées ;
Quand je me suis senti parfois presque étouffé
Par l’âcre odeur qui sort de votre autodafé,
Moi qui ne brûlais rien que l’ombre en ma fournaise,
J’ai pensé que j’avais eu tort d’être bien aise ;
J’ai regardé de près le dieu de l’étranger,
Et j’ai dit : — Ce n’est pas la peine de changer. »

Victor Hugo "La Légende des Siècles”


O vieux Momotombo, colosse chauve et nu...
V. H.

El tren iba rodando sobre sus rieles. Era
en los días de mi dorada primavera
y era en mi Nicaragua natal.
De pronto, entre las copas de los árboles, vi
un cono gigantesco, "calvo y desnudo", y
lleno de antiguo orgullo triunfal.

Ya había yo leído a Hugo y la leyenda
que Squier le enseñó. Como una vasta tienda
vi aquel coloso negro ante el sol,
maravilloso de majestad. Padre viejo
que se duplica en el armonioso espejo
de un agua perla, esmeralda, col.

Agua de un vario verde y de un gris tan cambiante,
que discernir no deja su ópalo y su diamante,
a la vasta llama tropical.
Momotombo se alzaba lírico y soberano,
yo tenía quince años: ¡una estrella en la mano!
Y era en mi Nicaragua natal.

Ya estaba yo nutrido de Oviedo y de Gomara,
y mi alma florida soñaba historia rara,
fábula, cuento, romance, amor
de conquistas, victorias de caballeros bravos,
incas y sacerdotes, prisioneros y esclavos,
plumas y oro, audacia, esplendor.

Y llegué y vi en las nubes la prestigiosa testa
de aquel cono de siglos, de aquel volcán de gesta,
que era ante mí de revelación.
Señor de las alturas, emperador del agua,
a sus pies el divino lago de Managua,
con islas todas luz y canción.

¡Momotombo! -exclamé- ¡Oh nombre de epopeya!
Con razón Hugo el grande en tu onomatopeya
ritmo escuchó que es de eternidad.
Dijérase que fuese para las sombras dique,
desde que oyera el blanco la lengua del cacique
en sus discursos de libertad.

Padre de fuego y piedra, yo te pedí ese día
tu secreto de llamas, tu arcano de armonía,
la iniciación que podías dar;
por ti pensé en lo inmenso de Osas y Peliones,
en que arriba hay titanes en las constelaciones
y abajo dentro la tierra y el mar¡

Oh Momotombo ronco y sonoro! Te amo
porque a tu evocación vienen a mí otra vez,
obedeciendo a un íntimo reclamo
perfumes de mi infancia, brisas de mi niñez.

¡Los estandartes de la tarde y de la aurora!
Nunca los vi más bellos que alzados sobre ti,
toda zafir la cúpula sonora
sobre los triunfos de oro, de esmeralda y rubí.

Cuando las babilonias del Poniente
en purpúreas catástrofes hacia la inmensidad
rodaban tras la augusta soberbia de tu fuente
eras tú como el símbolo de la Serenidad.

En tu incesante hornalla vi la perpetua guerra,
en tu roca unidades que nunca acabarán.
Sentí en tus terremotos la brama de la tierra
y la inmortalidad de Pan.

¡Con un alma volcánica entré en la dura vida,
Aquilón y huracán sufrió mi corazón
y de mi mente mueven la cimera encendida
huracán y Aquilón!

Tu voz escuchó un día Cristóforo Colombo;
Hugo cantó tu gesta legendaria. Los dos
fueron como tú, enormes, Momotombo,
montañas habitadas por el fuego de Dios.

¡Hacia el misterio caen poetas y montañas;
y romperáse el cielo de cristal
cuando luchen sonando de Pan las siete cañas
y la trompeta del Juicio Final!

Rubén Darío

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