My Nicaraguan producer has often pointed out to me the important role “the park” plays in this documentary. She likes to refer to it as another protagonist. And she might have been right, were it not that all access to the park has now been closed…
When I first met Sujeylin, nearly a year ago, the park was green-yellowish. Medium high grass was everywhere, as well as lots of garbage since the market stall owners would use it to dump stuff. This was october, near the end of the rainy season. I returned a few months later, right around new year’s, and the grass was even taller. Then, when I returned last march for the main portion of the shoot and the birth of little Karla, the grass had been cut and the garbage had disappeared. Obviously, in an attempt to clean up, the municipality had given it a serious once-over. It was just dust and cement. And trees.
Yet this past June, the park was so beautifully green again. And there wasn’t much garbage yet. The rainy season had started again, and the entire country showed itself in different shades of green. My visit this past August was a little bit similar, although with more garbage again.
I hadn’t considered how the park goes through cycles as well. And how it has become a serious location in the film. The one place Sujeylin can call home, and the place we always return. They know us there. And they are happy when we arrive. The youngsters start talking to us, and to the camera, about their recent adventures. Some of them ask to be filmed. And of course Sujeylin has her friends there, and a dozen or so godfathers and -mothers for Karla. It’s where she lived for years, where she first met Juan Carlos, where the baby was conceived (I suppose) and where it spent a lot of time straight from her second day of life.
All that has changed now. This week I received an email from Alejandro, our social worker, informing me that some “owner” had shown up and that the park had been closed. My film’s main location: vanished!
I don’t know the details, but it seems a strange idea. This was the one focal point of my visits to Managua, and will in effect be an important character in the film (Martha Clarissa is right I think). And it has closed. No access allowed.
There were also a few makeshift homes in the park, and a bar where older men would gather daily to play chess or checkers. Besides the very close knit group of homeless dwellers I had started to consider my friends, there were other people – families with children – whose lives were based there.
I have a phone call scheduled with Sujeylin tonight (in about five hours). I’ll see what she has to say about it and will write about it tomorrow.