There's a new mall in Managua. People come from all over the country to ogle at the escalator and take camorder videos of their mothers riding up and down in amazement. I went there with some Peace Corps Volunteers to see a movie in the air-conditioned multiplex. Before the movie started, there were dramatic clips of somewhat recent Nicaraguan natural disasters - a volcano explosion, a major earthquake, Hurricane Mitch - put together in the style of a movie trailer. At first, I was surprised that there would be such a high budget movie about Nicaragua, then I realized that it was a commercial for an insurance company.

Natural disasters are all too common in Nicaragua. Nicaraguans have also had to deal with decades of the brutal (U.S. supported) Somosa dictatorship, civil war to overthrow Somosa and establish a democracy, and then another civil war when the U.S. aided the Contras to try to overthrow the Sandinistas. None of this has helped Nicaragua escape pervasice poverty.

In February, I spent three weeks visiting my brother, a Peace Corps Volunteermet, and the fantastic murals that are still numerous in cities like Estelí and Leon. Of Course, I brought my sketchbook to record what I saw. I was inspired by Nicaragua's majestic landscapes, the beautiful people I me, and the fantastic murals that are still numerous in cities like Estelí and Leon. The Sandinistas are fond of painting the walls of their country with their heroes and with the history of Nicaragua. Sadly, the current (U.S.-backed) Aleman administration has been painting over many of the murals. The members of the Treasury Department no longer see huge portraits of Che and Sandino when they enter their offices

2000, Josué , Don Valeriano, Todd, Sandino, Ché, Bolivar (one of many beautiful murals in Estelí)