Pride of El Castillo

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PRIDE OF EL CASTILLO
By Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director

Upstanders come in many forms. We hear about those who lead movements for social justice, but rarely do we hear about the people who quietly live their lives and stand up just by the fortitude they show in staying the course against great odds. Yamil Obregón Bustos is one such person. I heard about him when I was traveling in Nicaragua.

Pride of El Castillo
Yamil Obregón Bustos
Yamil owns Border’s Coffee, a small cafe and restaurant in El Castillo, a beautiful town along the San Juan River in Nicaragua. El Castillo is a bucolic town with no cars and a historic fortress that draws people from around the world. I heard that Lonely Planet had visited his cafe, calling it the best coffee in the region. They also had written a piece, “El Castillo’s Dirty Little Secret,” referencing the harassment that Yamil experienced as a result of being the only openly gay person in his small town. Yamil has not only been subjected to hateful anti-gay slurs and threats, but also attempts to shut down his business.

I went to the cafe and had a delicious meal and some great coffee prepared by Yamil himself. Then I asked if I could interview him to share his story with our NIOT readers. What struck me the most was that he chose to live and run a business in the town of his birth in spite of the rampant homophobia. He could easily have ventured into a larger city where he would not be so visible and vulnerable.

Lonely Planet publicized his plight and also drew people to his El Castillo cafe in the historic Nicaraguan town. I titled this piece “Pride of El Castillo” in honor of his courage. Listen to him in his own words.

And if you’re ever in Nicaragua, make sure to check out his restaurant.

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