Sunday, 6 November 2011

Beware of the Perfume

Flower of Yard Long BeanImage via WikipediaElection day in neighbouring Nicaragua.....and it looks as if Ortega will be re-elected for a third term in a landslide.
The guerilla fighter of the Sandinista uprising against the Somoza dictatorship has become, in his turn, corrupt and keen to hang on to power to the extent of managing to manipulate the bodies overseeing the constitution to allow him a previously forbidden third term of office.
Enriching himself and his cronies he is hand in glove with business and the Catholic Church, whose influence is shown by the ban on abortion in Nicaragua, causing misery to the poor and no inconvenience to the rich, who, in the manner of the Republic of Ireland and the U.K., just carry their unwanted foetuses to Costa Rica for elimination while the Church follows the example of Nelson.
But he'll be re-elected, all the same.

I'd been in the garden when my Nicaraguan friend called round, having headed down there after a heavy downpour to pick the beans before they became tough and stringy.
The sun had come out and as I slushed through the wet grass the heavy scent of the canna india was in the air, pink pom pom blossoms hanging down over the green and yellow leaves perched high on the top of the tall bare stems.

I don't know what these beans are called, but they look like oversized asparagus peas, four lines of frills running their length and they make a wonderful soup - as long as they haven't gone woody.

An easy going recipe too, with not too much emphasis on quantities.

Dice and sweat off some onions, then add the beans, cut into pieces, chicken stock and either fresh tomatoes or tomato puree...just until the stock turns rose in colour if the latter.
Cook until the beans are soft, then puree and seive and add cumin to taste.
It is a soup recipe I have from friends in France...for using up the stringy beans, but it works wonders with these as well and is a good stand by in the freezer.

The bean patch was in full blossom...a wave of lavender blue flowers the length of the section of poles over which they run, and the scent was overpowering...sweet, soft and sensual.
John Clare would have recognised this New World equivalent of his field of English broad beans...

A beanfield full in blossom smells as sweet
As Araby, or grove of orange flowers;
Black-eyed and white, and feathered to the feet
How sweet they smell in morning's dewy hours!
When seething night is left upon the flowers
And when morn's sun shines brightly o'er the field
The bean bloom glitters in the gems of showers,
And sweet the fragrance which the union yields
To battered footpaths crossing o'er the fields.

Faced with such beauty, how could the mind think any ill? But moralists over the years seem to have a thing about the influence of flowers.....

The families of saffron pickers around Pithiviers were warned to keep the sexes separated during the evening sessions of removing the pistils from the mauve flowers....the mind boggles at the inferences drawn by the unco' guid from the activity, but their minds always seem to turn to filth unthought of by others.
Likewise the dangers of beanfields....was it the scent, or was it the possibilities of concealment that drew down the wrath of the self proclaimed godly?

Seeing my friend waving from the top of the garden, I went back, past the tilapia ponds and the papyrus which is now, with the perversity of all plants with runners, extending across the steps rather than parallel to them. I shall wait until it establishes on the other side and then cut out the bits on the steps...but that's for the next rainy season.

Aha, says he. Beans! Doesn't Pythagorus tell us to abstain?

Because of farting, or because of voting?!

We go inside to drink coffee, and I ask him how it is that Ortega is so popular.

Well, it's not as if people don't know how he has become over the years...but what's the alternative?
He does provide education, services, and keeps the economy going despite all the interference from the U.S., so people have jobs, and after these floods and landslides the back up has been pretty good...the Sandinistas have been handing out building materials to repair houses in poor areas...and, above all, he's not seen as 'perfumado'.


Oh, it's a term for those who think they're elite...better than ordinary in a different world.
He might be getting greedy, but he's still seen as one of the people, and while that lasts, he'll stay in power.
He's got rid of the worst of the poverty, too. Well, you've seen Honduras.

I had.

And it's not just the poverty....people know what happens when you have a U.S. backed government in power...they remember Somoza and if they didn't they have the example of Honduras next door.

Ortega might be greedy, but he offers freedom from fear...and that's worth a lot when you've known it.
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Isn't it often "better the devil you know" when it comes to elections? Well you know politics isn't my thing, but this does seem to happen in many countries.

    I'm always looking for new recipes for beans so will give the soup a try...sounds good.

  2. Sometimes the devil you know is a better bet than the devil you don't.

    I hope the bean soup was tasty. I have box of green tomatoes I must do something with soon.

  3. Freedom from fear is perhaps at the root of all other freedoms. You can never be free while you are afraid, no matter how much luxury you surround yourself with.

  4. Lovely, lyrical description, but spiced with your usal wit and healthy cynicism, Fly. From what you say, Nicaragua could do much worse than re-elect Ortega, as long as he keeps delivering a society better than the one it replaced or those that neighbour it.

  5. Most people in UK will barely know where the place is, never mind the politics of Nicaragua. Article in Times today saying US will be happy for him to stay - ultimate survivor, they described him as.

  6. With French elections just around the corner, I can imagine how it must feel.

    I used to think, "better the devil you know" until we got Sarko...can't wait to see the back of him.


  7. Ayak, visiting Nicaragua frequently and now having friends there and Nicaraguan friends in Costa Rica, I must say that Ortega doesn't do a bad job for the majority of people. I'd be a lot happier if he ditched the Church, though!
    He's kept the drug rings at bay far more successfully than Costa Rica, and with his alliance with Venezuela obtains petrol at a decent price to oil the commercial wheels.
    I've visited the remains of the dictator's prisons and, more movingly, visited the local martyrs' museums where family members tell what happened to their husbands and children...these are real people with real stories of murder to wonder they won't risk a return to a pro U.S. government.

    Sarah, they certainly didn't want a change of devil!
    Green tomatoes...apart from chutney, what about slicing, coating in polenta and frying?

    Steve, you are so right...but it's a factor I don't see written about in the press commentaries on the election. Perhaps journalists only mix with the 'perfumados'.

    Perpetua, Nicaragua is a country with a future....if only the NGOs would turn their attention to attracting foreign investment rather than supplying volunteers to repaint murals on school walls they might do some good.

    Mark, nobody seems to know where any of the Central American countries are...or if they even exist!
    Yes, and Ortega has's a pity that his survival has been at the expense of any real democratic practice....but who are we from Europe and the U.S. to throw the first stone!

    SP, I always thought that Sarko had been nobbled by his own party, once they realised that he was opening the trough to people outside the old established hierarchies...but now they're stuck with him as he manoeuvres one after another of his potential rivals to the substitutes' bench.

  8. I saw what the US can do abroad, and people are right to want to go their own way...He's doing a better job there than politicians are here...

  9. e...he certainly is! What about a swap with Obama?

  10. Enjoyed your post. Informative and well-written.
    Nicaragua was a hell prior to Ortega. And he has disappointed in so many ways (not least the alliance with the church). But he has offered a stability and relative freedom for fear that could only previously be dreamt of.

  11. la mujer libre, oh goodness yes. He's a flawed idol..but better than the alternatives.