Day 6: Nicaraguan Journal

First stop was Condega’s, Pre-columbian Museum which has a good col­lec­tion of pot­tery includ­ing clas­si­cally shaped and elab­o­rately painted bowls. There was much spec­u­la­tion as to where the pre-columbians got their colours, as we’re pretty sure it wasn’t from a pot­tery sup­ply house.

After that we drove up the hill to look at one of Somoza’s planes that was shot down by the Sandinistas dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. Quite a prize for this north­ern town who refused to coop­er­ate when the gov­ern­ment in Managua wanted the plane as their own sou­venir. Last year the plane still had a few holes torn in it and we could climb up on the wing to peer inside the win­dows, but now it has been cleaned up and put on a higher pedestal so that all we could do was look at it. Beside the plane there’s a new 3-storey look­out plat­form that shows off a great view of the val­ley below, where two rivers over­flowed into each other dur­ing Hurricane Mitch and flooded the whole area.

Later, on a wind­ing road through the moun­tains we encoun­tered the first of a series of stone stat­ues of gordi­tas (“fat ladies”) and this one was read­ing Geist! The stat­ues (there are 20 in all) are the work of the local stone carvers and each one depicts “women’s work.” We fol­lowed the stat­ues to San Juan de Limay, a sleepy lit­tle town of bicy­cles, horses, dogs and roost­ers (more on these later) and had lunch at what looked like an ordi­nary house but turned out to be a comidor.

Spent the after­noon at the home and stu­dio of the stone carver Oscar Casco where we learned to carve mar­molina (soap­stone) using first a machete and then finer instru­ments. Oscar put both his stu­dio and his work­ers at our dis­posal and some of us man­aged, with a lot of help, to end up with carvings.

That night we stayed at Casa Baltimore, a well-worn old house owned by a non-profit group in Baltimore, Maryland and my favourite place to sleep in Nicaragua. Reminds me of the villa in “The English Patient.” We slept on can­vas cots on a cov­ered patio and washed up in a roof­less cement enclo­sure in the mid­dle of the court­yard, halfway to the outhouses.

Despite bark­ing dogs and crow­ing roost­ers  (the dogs wake up the roost­ers and then the roost­ers wake up the dogs),  we man­aged to get some sleep but in the mid­dle of the night some of us were awak­ened by Maritza who had heard some­one break­ing into the house and was call­ing out to our dri­ver, Ivan, and walk­ing up and down the patio stomp­ing her feet. Ivan the Brave inves­ti­gated, going through the few empty rooms with Maritza close behind him, and then he heard the noise too and opened the street door to tell an intox­i­cated man to stop bang­ing on our door. Just to be safe, Maritza put a stout stick from the court­yard beside her bed before she went back to sleep. In the morn­ing Mike con­cluded that there were more roost­ers than peo­ple in Nicaragua and Robert, who had slept through all the excite­ment, con­fessed that the care­taker of the place had warned him about the drunk who might bang on the door.

This was first posted at

This entry was posted in Nicaragua. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>