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World Association of International Studies

Post Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast
Created by John Eipper on 08/24/19 4:08 AM

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Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast (Richard Hancock, USA, 08/24/19 4:08 am)

I have not posted to WAIS since March of this year. I was suddenly hit by a terrible skin disease which caused me to be the sickest I have been in my entire life. I have almost totally recovered but there is a danger that this skin problem might return.

I have noticed several posts on Nicaragua. I visited Nicaragua several times beginning during my time served as Peace Corps Director of El Salvador (1963-64).  When I started to work at the U of Oklahoma in 1965, as the director of International Training Programs, I was asked by the Bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma to serve as the Director of a companion Diocese relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Nicaragua. The Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Nicaragua was the Rt. Rev. G. Haynsworth, who had been our priest in El Salvador and confirmed my wife Nancy at that time. OU also had a three-year technical assistance contract with USAID on educational development in Nicaragua, which was conducted by my Department at OU.

While I was the Director of Peace Corps in El Salvador, Nancy and I drove through Nicaragua on several occasions to visit a fellow Stanford graduate, Graham Webster, who lived in Costa Rica. We were not impressed with Managua. We could hardly park in front of the only tourist hotel there because of Nicaraguans seated on the curb with their legs extended into the street who would not move. I also had to report to the military office to record our visit to Nicaragua. I was waiting in a long line behind another American, who told me that he visited there on two different occasions and each time they would not recognize that he was legally in Nicaragua. When he presented himself to the Captain in charge of immigration, he complained of being delayed in being recognized as a legitimate visitor. The Capitán handed back his passport and said, "Come visit me tomorrow."

While visiting Graham Webster, we commented on our dissatisfaction with our experience in Nicaragua. He totally agreed with us and told us stories expressing his problems with Nicaragua. When I commented that Nicaraguan Rubén Darío was one of the greatest poets in Latin America, he said, "Well, flowers often bloom on heaps of garbage."

In March of 1972, I visited the east cost of Nicaragua, where Bluefields was the largest town, with a population at that time of 16,000. This area is where the largest number of Episcopalians live. Many people are quite African in appearance, having descended from the intermarriage of escaped African slaves and Miskito Indians. Most are bilingual in English and Spanish and a number are trilingual, also speaking Miskito. They are more strongly related to the US and England than they are to the Spanish-speakers of the west coast.

In addition to the above activities, I was running programs in the OU center in Colima, Mexico. We ran many different programs. The most successful of these were painting workshops run by a man named Milford Zornes who is probably Oklahoma's most famous artist. Milford was the official artist for the US Army in the China-Burma-India Theater in 1943-45. From 1951 to 1955, he worked for the Air Force base in Thule, Greenland. He painted and conducted workshops in many parts of the world. He celebrated his 100th birthday on January 25, 2008 and died soon after.

In Colima during a painting workshop, I spoke to Milford about my visit to Bluefields, telling him that it would be helpful to those people if he would conduct a painting workshop down there to teach them to paint, thus giving them a much-needed source of income. He agreed and went on a painting trip to Nicaragua, from April 29 to May 17, 1974, during which, he produced 26 large watercolor paintings, 32 by 28 inches.

Nancy and I attended a presentation in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in which he exhibited his pictures and discussed the experience of visiting the interesting communities of the east coast, including the Corn Islands. We decided that we should publish these paintings and his comments. After many difficulties, I was able to get my Department to publish A Journey to Nicaragua--Paintings by Milford Zornes in 1977. We printed 3,000 copies at $12.50 per copy. We sold all of them. I recently googled Amazon and found that they offered 3 copies for $120 each.

In viewing these pictures and reading the commentaries, I feel a deep satisfaction in the knowledge that the reader, whatever his motive in reading this book, will share to some extent in my sense of awe at the painter's ability to communicate those things that are both "seen and unseen," and will also become acquainted with that "different republic," the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, a unique outpost of Anglo-American culture.

JE comments:  WAIS is simply not WAIS without our veteran colleague in Norman, Richard Hancock.  Delighted to have you back, Richard!  Artist Milford Zornes experienced both Greenland and Nicaragua, two of the Forum's "featured countries" of recent days.  It's hard to think of two more contrasting places.  Have Zornes's Greenland paintings been published as well?

Zornes was part of the "Grapes of Wrath" generation of Oklahomans that moved to California during the Dust Bowl.  He used watercolors primarily because of their low cost:


Finally, don't forget the time Richard and Milford dined together on iguana.  This January 1st post kicked off 2015, and it remained one of that year's most memorable:


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