José Flores is a former railroad worker. One of these stubborn men who, during the revolution, kept the strange railroad from Masaya to Corinto running. With far too many passengers on a rebuilt bus on rails, they inched though endless cotton plantations at twenty kilometers per hour.
Today he lives on his small pension as a public employee, and from renting some of his house to family members: a daughter, Nubia, and a grandchild, a young man with his wife and a small child.
Another grandchild, Bella, also lives in the house with her three children. She doesn´t pay any rent, instead she takes care of the cooking.
Don José was born on a farm and the farm has never left him – every time I have seen him move to a new place, his patio in no time has been changed into a farm, he is always self sufficient with fruits and vegetables, and has supplied us with the shoots for half the plants in our patio.
He is 87 years old, stubborn and stingy. Until a few years ago he would walk the 10 kilometers from Ciudad Sandino to Bataholla Sur when wanted to see his children. Now his knee is bothering him, but instead of taking the bus, he has just stopped seeing the children. They must come and see him.
His biggest vice is drinking, a vice which he had in common with his wife, who has lain in her grave in Nindiri for 11 years. During the last few weeks he has been attending an evangelist church, one of the many sects which to an outsider mostly appear as an AA-movement.
In the Flores family they mostly laugh at the “little saints”, as they call those that are “saved”, though through the years two of Papito´s children have converted, saving at least one them in a very literal sense, from death by alcoholism. Papito says he goes for the sermons, they are so entertaining. But it is rather striking how little he drinks now.
I was in the patio taking pictures of his great-grandchildren, and also caught him cutting firewood. Later I hear him saying: “He took pictures of me all naked!”
Like so many Nicaraguans, he likes to wash, comb, put on a clean shirt, stand straight and put a solemn expression on his face when he is to be photographed for posterity. I hope he understands that it is not out of lack of respect that I have chosen these pictures to portray him. He is so more beautiful with his axe than with his shirt on.