Mercado Oriental is the largest market in Central America and it is truly a maze of narrow paths between hundreds of sellers. I am sure there is almost nothing that isn’t for sale there - new and used.
However my other reason for going was to see if the library I had visited there several years ago, before an electrical fire had destroyed a large part of the market, was still there.
We started by asking vendors on the outside edge of the market where the fabric stores are. No one knew anything about a library in the market. We then went inside and started asking the vendors there, but again, no one knew anything about a library. Finally Esmerelda started asking the vendors that sell drinks and small snacks. They move around constantly, and sure enough, we started getting directions. They started off being fairly general , ‘over that way’ types of directions but eventually they solidified and we were able to find our way to a beautiful large room, the library! This library is for the use of the children of vendors - and the vendors themselves if they should so wish.
Even though the room was very large it was half the size of the one I had been in before as they have divided it up and started a preschool too. The room has been decorated with historic photos of Managua and colourful shapes and murals including photos of children. There are three main areas - all placed around the walls of the room: an area for children’s books, an area with learning games and the main area with hundreds of books for research etc for the older children to use for their homework assignments. These books look very old - yellowed, in bad repair etc. There are tables and chairs of different heights for the children to sit and work. There were no children there at the time because it was mid morning and most of the children were in school and would come to use the library in the afternoon.
We chatted with the woman who was there to ‘guard’ the books. She was very amiable and I left my card with her for her ‘boss’ saying I would maybe like to try and help in the future. I will definitely take them a copy of Luis Garay’s new book, Mi Delantal, which is about a little girl whose mother sells fruit here in Granada’s market. I will also look out for learning games to take. Anything that will promote the library usage and reading. This is not a lending library but it is one that is truly accessible to it’s clients.
I asked about the fire and was told that it had been all around the library but not touched it. A ‘miracle’ as I was told!
It was so wonderful to see a truly Nicaraguan effort to put books into the hands of children.