Before we left Managua for our worksite, we had a history lesson and a whirlwind tour of Managua. The old portion of the town was hurt badly by the December 1972 earthquake; modern Managua has grown up around it. At the Plaza de la Revolucion, the Catedral Vieja (Catedral Santiago de los Caballeros) is not safe to enter; the outside is still striking, though.
The clock on the tower is stuck at 12:35 a.m., the time of the earthquake.
We went up to the Parque Historica overlooking Laguna Tiscapa (a volcanic crater lagoon); from this high point you can see a lot of relatively flat Managua. There is an enormous silhouette of Nicaraguan hero Augusto Sandino up there.
During our work week, we met the vice mayor and mayor of San Lorenzo, the town we stayed in. We also visited a health clinic and a school, where we donated school supplies. These visits were interesting and informative, and gave us a better idea of life in Nicaragua.
city hall, San Lorenzo
emergency room at the clinic
maternity house, where 4 moms-to-be wait for their time
1st-3rd grade. The 2 room school house has grades 4-6 in the other room, about 60 students total.
After our work week in the village, we spent Friday night at Aguas Claras, a hot springs resort. It was a step up from our hotel in San Lorenzo: hot water! No shower heads on the shower pipes, though, and oddly stained sheets. The many swimming pools full of hot water were lovely. I have no pictures of them, just of this gecko who joined us for breakfast.
The next morning, we headed for Volcan Masaya National Park, home of a steaming, active volcano.
There is a cross up on the hill overlooking the volcano. The first cross placed at this volcano was erected in the early 1500’s, meant to drive the devil out of the smoking inferno. It’s still smoking.
That afternoon brought us to the colonial city of Granada. Our hotel was right across the street from Iglesia Guadelupe, which dates from 1626. On Sunday morning, the bells start ringing at 5:30 a.m., then at 5:45, then a long clamorous tintinnabulation at 6 to call people to church. 200 people in church at 6 a.m.!
I felt a distinct culture shock on arriving here. Hotel Granada is sprawling and beautiful. The rooms were lovely, with ceiling fans, nice beds, real pillows that didn’t feel like they were full of lumpy mashed potatoes, nice tiled bathrooms with hot and cold running water and showerheads, a piano in the high-ceilinged stone-walled restaurant, and a fabulous swimming pool. After a week in the country, I felt stunned that a hotel could be this nice. Heavenly!
We toured the Antiquo Convento San Francisco in the afternoon.
Lots of history here, including a mural of the history of Nicaragua, and an impressive gallery of pre-Columbian statuary from Zapatera Island.
(Edvard Muench’s Scream? Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone?)
And if that’s not enough in a day, we also took a boat tour of Las Isletas in Lake Nicaragua. You can see Volcan Mombacho in the background.
Yes, monkeys, but imported, not native to the tiny island they live on.
Nests of weaver birds, oro pendula.
Sunday morning took us to Laguna de Apoyo, a volcanic crater lake, for swimming. This was a gorgeous place to decompress before heading home.
In the afternoon, we headed to the craft market in Masaya. This platter came home with me. It’s by Jose Ortiz of San Juan de Oriente, titled el Volcan. I love it. It will always remind me of my time in this beautiful country of volcanoes.
Many thanks to our guides from el Porvenir. They made the week perfect.
Driver Jairo, Tania in Managua and Granada, Marcos all week as interpreter/guide/general all around helpful guy, Catalina all week organizing, and cooking our lunches in the village.
I’ll close with a video of some of the girls singing at our worksite. They dissolved into giggles when watching the playback of this on my camera!
And now, back to my knitting…