“Before your elders you must stand...” -Leviticus
Larreynaga is a small Nicaraguan farming community located 26 miles east of the city of León. It is a harsh, arid region that’s sparsely populated because it borders on being inhospitable. The median age in this, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, is twenty-four. Nevertheless, in this out of the way impoverished village with limited access to health resources, there are a considerable number of elders, people ranging in age from 70 to 105.
Over the past twenty years I have made formal black and white portraits of these resilient individuals, many of whom express deep spirituality in crediting “La Fortaleza de Dios”—God’s strength—with helping them survive. “I am happy I have reached this age,” the 102 year-old Martin Mejilla told me. “I was orphaned at 7 and had nothing but God. He gave me only opportunity.”
God's opportunity, as it were, seems to have been the bestowal of a considerable length of life, and of robust good health, on these remarkable people.