Tag Archives: nicaragua

A little more Nicaragua

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…

Hola, Nicaragua!

It’s been two weeks, and I’ve hardly knit a stitch. But I have a good excuse…


I went on a service trip with a group from my church, through el Porvenir (the Future). El Porvenir works in partnership with the rural poor of Nicaragua through sustainable self-help water, sanitation, and reforestation projects. Our mission last week? To build a lavandero (bathing and laundry/wash station) next to the community well in a rural village. Our worksite was pretty remote, about 45 minutes from our very basic small town hotel (no hot water or daily, or even weekly, housekeeping service) down the highway, through a tinier town, over 6 river crossings (some dry, some not),


into the hills along the back roads,


through a spent cornfield, and into a grouping of a few houses.


There is no running water in these houses; water is fetched from the well about 200 yards up a foot path. No indoor plumbing, but el Porvenir has worked with this community before. All the houses have latrines behind them, and the well was also an el Porvenir project two years ago. There is no electricity in the village, except for one house that has a single solar panel.


Enough for some light during the winter, and probably a source of charging for the cell phones! Yes, there are 2 bars of signal from Claro Nicaragua. I thought I’d be completely off the grid, but I guess not.

The kitchen of the house where we had lunch each day was basic, but enough.


It even had a hen and her chicks, who were too young to be in the yard with the rest of the animals.



I love this picture; it looks completely unfocused, but each area has something going on. On the left, on the machete-crafted sawhorses, we’re making reinforcement beams with rebar, rods, and wire, that will be filled with concrete. Directly behind that people are digging for the foundation slab. On the right you can see the blocks that will become the walls of the lavandero, and behind those are people bending metal rods to make squares to shape the reinforcement beams. The kids helped us cut thin wire to wire the squares to the rebar, and men of the village helped with the concrete work. The women also helped shovel, and gather rocks to fill in the base for the concrete slab. This is what I found most impressive about an el Porvenir project. We didn’t come in to build a lavandero for this community; they worked alongside us to do it. Our contribution, more than anything, was to purchase the materials so that they could make this happen.


Building materials were carried up to the worksite by wheelbarrow, pack horse, or hands. The stone blocks in the previous picture came up by horse. Another feature of the worksite? Free-roaming cattle and chickens!



But the best part of the project? Meeting the children. Even though my Spanish is very limited, and their English was even more limited, we became friends. We read stories in Spanish (Eres mi Mama? Are You My Mother? Big Dog, Little Dog…the older kids helped me with my reading) and worked together.

Elieser and his brother Osman took turns taking care of baby brother Egner.

Evert was a source of fun, always!

Elieser and Owen, and Jazz Hands with Gloves.

Jamileth with brother Carlos Manuel and Egner.

Mariela at the well.

Me and my wire cutting brigade!

We also met the matriarch of the community, Hermenegilda, who’s 95. Her son Jose Angel is on the left, and one of her daughters (didn’t catch her name) is on the right. Hermenegilda is related to everyone in the community.


We knew we wouldn’t finish this project in the time we had there, but the community will get it done. Eventually it will look like this one:


But when we left it looked like this:


I’m happy to say I helped build these shower walls!


My brigada (brigade):



And a couple of pictures from the road.



We spent a lot of time trying to get just the right picture of this rocky mountain. It’s hard to get a good picture when you’re standing in the back of a moving pickup truck!

And how was your week? Did you miss me? What did you do while I was gone?