The year 1987 is the first in the story of La Mariposa — a Spanish school and eco-hotel in Nicaragua’s San Juan de La Concepción, a small community that sits in the shadow of a smoldering volcano.
Paulette Goudge, an Essex native, made her first trip to the Central American nation that year.
The country was at war. Counter revolutionary forces financed by the United States government and Sandinista fighters — many of them poor young men drafted into military service — fought bloody guerrilla battles across the country’s northern border with Honduras.
As a volunteer in a Managua orphanage, Paulette wasn’t party to the battles raging to the north. The Contra War claimed at least 30,000 lives; children were not spared from the strife. Young people disabled by wartime injuries or orphaned by the violence took refuge in Managua, the country’s capital.