Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gracias a la Vida

This past November we celebrated Thanksgiving at the Casa Ben Linder, a community of social justice-oriented English speaking folks (and Spanish-speaking amig@s) who live and work in Nicaragua, many of whom are missionaries sent by U.S. and Canadian churches. Since Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Nicaragua, it was great to have a chance to eat stuffing and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Plus there was a turkey piñata!

The community was founded by internacionalistas in the 1980s who held weekly protests in front of the embassy against U.S. intervention in Central Ameria. It is named in honor of Ben Linder, an American engineer who was killed by the contra while building a micro-hydropower plant in the war zone. These days it is a pretty lively community of folks who organize weekly talks and social gatherings (and the occasional protest). It has been a great support network for us during our time here.

Anyway, the prayersong at the Thanksgiving gathering was "Gracias a la Vida" (Thanks to Life) by Violeta Parra, a Chilean singer-songerwriter who is known as the founder of the Nueva Canción (New Song) movement. The song was later made internationally famous by Joan Baez and Mercedes Sosa. If you've never heard it before, it's legitimately haunting. The poetic lyrics speak of the beauties of life and love, but the minor key gives it a bittersweet tone, especially so once you learn the story behind it. Apparently there is a new film out about her life, which I haven't seen yet, but which looks really interesting. (Lyrics in spanish and english.)

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