|PLAYAS DE NICARAGUA|
|RIOS Y VOLCANES|
|PLACES DE NICARAGUA|
|NEWS AND NEW GROUPS|
The way to know my country is
to live it, to feel it, to breathe it in the street, the plaza, the market,
the workshop, the country side. This is the Nicaragua that pulses
through its architecture, its paintings, its music, its religion and its
politics. This is the country that, proud of its nationality,emerges through
a complexity of myths,beliefs, rituals, traditions and ethnic mixes.
Full country name: Republic of Nicaragua
Area: 129,494 sq km
Population: 4,275,000 (growth rate 3.4%)
Capital city: Managua (pop 933,600)
People: 69% mestizo, 17 % European descent, 9% African descent, 5%
Languages: Spanish, English Creole, Miskito
Religion: Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant 10%
President: Arnoldo Aleman
With the exception of the city of
Bluefields and the ports of Puerto Cabezas and San Juan del Norte
on the Atlantic coast, almost all the towns are located within a 100 km wide strip of land running
parallel to the Pacific coast.
Nicaragua is a strong link the Ring
of Fire, with over forty volcanoes - many active, in this area alone.
Together they make up the Cordillera de los Maribios, a chain of peaks running from the Gulf of
Fonseca to Lake Managua. The volcanic soil makes fertile farmland, and fields of maize, sugarcane,
beans, cotton and, in the higher areas, coffee, dot the landscape.
The population is increasingly urban,
however, and over 60 percent of Nicaraguans live in the capital
city Managua, on the shores of Lake Managua. There have been two major earthquakes in the city this
century. The second, in December 1972, destroyed most of the center and this area has not been
The population is less dense to
the north, where the lowlands give way to rolling hills and some
sizeable mountains, and virtually non-existant in the tropical rainforest that covers the eastern 50
percent of the country. The Atlantic region, known as the Mosquito Coast, is accessible only by boat
Nicaragua has seen extraordinary
shifts in the size of its population over the past couple of decades. It
is estimated that around 20 % of the population fled during the civil war, many returning in the relative
stability of the early 90s
Today, as always, they are picking
up the pieces and starting over. With their deep pride and fierce
determination, Nicaragua is working to overcome the personal loss and economic chaos resulting from
the recent revolution. The army has shrunk from a high of some 100,000 soldiers during the 80s to the
present day level of 10,000 and there is very little physical evidence of the recent war and no visible
Today the only explosions you hear
come from thousands of squawking parrots disturbed from their
tree by church bells; the only explosions you see are the bursts of color from violently hued flowers
and fruits in the market stalls. And the only uniforms are worn by squeaky clean school children. The
country is a democracy now and people are slowly returning from exile to claim lost properties and
begin life anew.
Turbulent is the best way to describe
Nicaragua's recent history. The name conjures up images of the
bitter revolution fought between the Sandinistas and the Somoza regime in the late 70s, and the U.S.
backed Contra war against the victorious Sandinista government that followed in the early 80's.
Perhaps a developing tourism industry
will help bring some prosperity and stability to country that is
attempting to recuperate and eventually replace images of a country racked by war, with images of
golden beaches and untouched rain forests. But, until the memories fade, the ability to talk first-hand to
the people who fought on both sides is a fascinating and humbling opportunity for people interested in
understanding the facts beneath the propoganda.
Man's early presence is evident
in Managua where 10,000 year old footprints - the Footprints of
Acahualinca, have been preserved in volcanic ash. Sculptures and carvings dating back to the 10th
century A.D. are testament to a highly developed Indian culture, particularly on the shores and islands
of Lake Nicaragua.
Gil González de Avila led
the first Spanish expedition into Nicaragua in 1522. Two years later,
attracted by tales of gold, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba arrived to kill or subjugate the local
Indians and build the cities of León and Granada.
León, the former capital,
was flattened by an earthquake in 1610 and rebuilt, but many of the oldest
buildings in Granada still stand. Granada, on the northern shores of Lake Nicaragua and accessible
from the Atlantic, via the lake and the navigable Rio San Juan, became a vital trading point between
Europe and the Americas and cosmopolitan and prosperous as a result.
People traveling from not only Europe,
but the east coast of the U.S. took advantage of Cornelius
Vanderbilt's speedy land and water transport service across Nicaragua during the California Gold
Rush. The potential of a coast to coast canal was enormous, and finally, after organizing a coup to
depose the President and install the first of several pro-U.S. replacements in 1909, the United States
won exclusive rights to build the Nicaraguan canal.
The North Americans stayed a dominant
power in Nicaragua until 1933. Before they finally left, they
trained a Guardia Nacional (led by Anastasio Somoza) to protect their interests. Somoza assassinated
guerilla leader Augusto Cesár Sandino who had led opposition to U.S. intervention, overthrew the
President, and put himself in power.
After twenty years as dictator,
Somoza was himself assassinated by the poet, Rigoberto Lopéz Pérez,
in 1956. First one son, then the other, continued the Somoza dynasty. In 1961, an opposition party,
the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) was founded. In 1974, the FSLN kidnapped a
number of leading government officials, triggering murderous reprisals.
Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, owner
and editor of the newspaper La Prensa, led the more moderate
opposition party, the Unión Democrática de Liberación (UDEL). It was his assassination in 1978 that
set off a general strike and finally a civil war.
The Sandinistas took power in July
1979 and enthusiastically set about nationalizing former Somoza
property and launching health and education programs. Soon, however, faced with record levels of
unemployment and inflation, widespread poverty and chaos, the government found itself to move the
country forward as it had promised. The situation was exacerbated by internal power struggles, U.S.
trade and aid embargos and the presence of the well-armed, highly-trained Contra rebels, funded by
the U.S. during Reagan's administration.
Nicaraguans lost faith in the government
and, in 1990, voted in the Unión Nacional Oposición party,
led by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (widow of Pedro Joaquín). With the Sandinistas out of power,
the U.S. removed the trade and aid embargos and withdrew the Contras. The Sandinistas were
defeated again in the most recent elections by Aleman.
Nicaragua, privileged by nature(It has dozens of lagoons, two grate Lakes, an impressive volcanic chain and a rich maritime continental Shelf) has been also blessed with laboriously people who not content with just one Capital City, has given themselves three.
Those are the colonial cities of
Granada and Leon whose importance changed from one to the other during
the past century, until a President with a vision on the future decided
to end the rivalry between the two Metropolis by establishing Managua,
a small village located in half the way between them, as the new Government
Nevertheless, Leon and Granada were not willing to lose their best years of glory, so each of them have the honor to head the Country on two important headings: culture and tourism.
Leon still keeps the creative and
restless spirit of the best poets of the last century on its walls. These
poets could turn the dust of the streets into a spiritual bread, making
our Country famous for being dwell by a race of poets.
Its University was formerly one of the most important in Central America and known as "the seat of the
knowledge", being an honor and pride to have graduated there.
At the beginning of this Century, some youngs of Granada decided to revitalize the nicaraguan literature starting a new movement: Vanguardista (avant-garde).
This new movement would preserve our poetic tradition, and could be explore new expressions in the enriched language that Ruben Dario gave back to the Land of Cervantes.
Granada also known as "La Gran Sultana" (Great Sultaness) conquered a new title: Tourism Capital of Nicaragua, despite it was destroyed by fire in 1856, that disaster did not destroy its heart. Granada was the first city built in
our continental land by the Conquerors in 1524, so the Ministry of Tourism aware of that and on behalf of the Government of Nicaragua, decided to give an Official Title to Granada: Tourism Capital City of Nicaragua. This is where our journey begins.
Take a walk around the long and narrow colonial streets in Granada is the very thing to do when you arrive, then you can take a relaxing horsecab ride to the Lake Walk that costs between 1 and 2 dollars or a complete ride around the City that might cost 10 dollars. If you want to enjoy one of sweetest flavors of the Country ask your cabman to take you to the Egdulia Rodriguez de Mena house, whose family has become famous by creating and keeping the tradition of the most delicious jelly in the surroundings.
During your visit to the City you are required to stop at the clean and ordered Central Park and eat our Vigoron (boiled cassava, fried pigskin, cabbage and tomatoes) with any of the season's natural juices, or if you rather like a more typical place, go to the City market where you will find a larger variety of meals.
In front of the Central Park the
soberness-colonial Cathedral and the Municipal Palace are an important
architecture joined with of saxophonic twisted shalf columns with the Episcopal palace and the Lions House which keeps the original and oldest font of the City, near the Heroes of 1856 memento Plaza.
The rebuilt San Francisco Convent and Church has the most important collection of Idols statues found in Zapatera Island where the swedish Carl Bovallius and the american diplomat Ephraim George Squier identified a peregrination Site and religious sacrifices Altars of the Chlorates Culture. There were found petrography in Mutator Island that shows an idea of rich cultural life of that time before spanish conquerors arrived, and may be explained the quite life of grenada's people who are proud of this important bi-cultural legacy.
Grenada's and Alhambra Hotels are
the best and most comfort alternatives for lodging to visitors, nevertheless,
it is planned to rebuild old colonial houses into small good hotels, taking
advantage of the colonial architecture big
If you wish some peace, you should take a boat ride around the Little Islands of Granada so quite that time seems indifferent infront all the beautiful vegetation with lived colors and you will be enjoying temperature changes once you enter the Sweet water Sea of Granada.
It is possible to get luncheon and rest facilities especially at the Nicarao Lake Resort and Mrs. Olga Cardenal's Island. You can rent a little Island for the weekend, so you will have your own paradise for 48 hours.
Before visiting the rest of the
Country, and leaving again from our Tourism capital City, you should go
to the San Juan del Sur, the most beautiful bay in the pacific coast, its
famous indian face, and its wonderful 14 twins beaches.
Take the road to San Juan del Sur from Granada through Nandaime where you can stop and try some of the local specialties that girls and youngs will offer anxiously to sell. Rivas is less than an hour from there on the panamericana road the takes to or from Costa Rica. In this famous Mango Town try some rosquillas so you will compare them to those that are made in the north of Nicaragua. Once you leave Rivas behind: Surprise! there is the Cocibolca sweet waters and the Ometepe Island with its two volcanoes in beautiful sights that seem to call for a visit.The no expert driver will pass through the Junction at la Vírgen to the border with Costa Rica without realizing that la Vírgen, road to San Juan del Sur is kilometers away, so will have to turn around.
Finally in the right road, San Juan del Sur is near, you can tell because of the blonde soft pastures of the country in the dry season which are like baby skin touched by the mother mature. A hill is the sign and border between the port's view and the rest of the journey, but once you have leaved the hill behind you driving the road you will see the bay and some small private yachts and fishing boats. San Juan del Sur is a favorite summer beach in Holy
Week for nicaraguan politician and officials that make good use of the vacations and gather with their colleagues, giving new life to this peaceful town.
There is two kind of hotels in the port: those that are in front of the bay 30 meters from the water that touch the sand, and the Barlovento Hotel built in the top of a hill, where you will enjoy the view of the town and bay, and even the mysterious Indian Face.
On the right side of the mountains forming the bay, there is a face that has been carved bay the Sea waters and winds during thousands of year that resembles an indian's always watching the Sea, and ready to bring the news to the people of the bay.
If you can not see the "Face of the Indio" at first, try to get the best position until you find it, while you try please decide to buy some decoratives made from shells and other products of the Sea that are offered by children in the beach at low prices.
The pleasing surprise of the existing of San Juan del Sur's beautiful beach is beaten by a divine blessing: The bay's 14 twin beaches that resemble one to the other is their main attraction. At the same time, one can enjoy their own particularities.
Ostinal beach is a red-weavers town that every day fight against the Sea for a living. At El Coco beach you should leave before sunset, because some stories say that satan himself will give Morgan pirate's treasure buried 300 years ago there to those who would give him their own child on return.
Nacascolo beach is covered by little rocks splitted by time and the sea waters. This beach resembles to a Sea Lagoon, quiet and beautiful, waves are so on its surface that you will not feel their movement while bathing.
La Flor beach stands out, from this group, on the reproduction of turtles and either Chacocente in Carazo and Juan Venado island in Chinandega. They are the most important beaches where thousands of turtles put more than a million eggs every years.
Masaya and the White Towns.
Our new direction will lead us to
some small and picturesque towns call "The White Towns". These beautiful
towns are in the Coffee plantations' zone of the pacific of nicaragua.
Traveling around and between two giants: Mombacho Volcano in Granada and
Santiago Volcano and National Park with its undeniable touristic attraction.
Leaving from Granada on the way to Managua, there is the Apoyo a Volcanic lagoon whose waters contain a great variety of fishes for the fishing lovers, and sharming people that goes to the vicinity and sell its products for living.
As travel goes on before reaching the City of Masaya there is a circumvallation road which takes to catarina Overlook where the Ministry of Tourism has created a handicraft Center together with restaurants and bars in order to complete a pleasing visit to this wonderful view. At Catarina old people still tells about the train which usedto transit in the lagoon's slopes until a terrible accident happened and nobody likes to remember now. The view is incomparable. The Mombacho volcano's vegetation, and its tele-communication towers, the tallest buildings of Granada, Cocibolca waters, restless waters of Apoyo, and the everlasting green of the crate's slopes that seems to be the most impossible gulf camp nobody could imagine are some of the things you will see there. Catarina is also known for the ability of its people in bamboo shaped goods and national ornament plants. Next are Diria and Diriomo famous for their high number of witches and also San Juan de Oriente whose craftsmenshape the so called black ceramics.
A few kilometers ahead is Niquinohomo
that prideful gave the Nation such a big hero as Augusto Cesar Sandino.
Masatepe known nationwide for it's Mondongo soup (stomach soup), delicious
taste for those who have come and tried it from every point of the nation.
Almost every artisan's house in the road offers their wickerwork furnitures
and rocking chairs waiting for clients that would stop to buy some of this
Following our direction turning at San Marcos junction there are two of the new international tourist attractions made in Carazo Plateau: Hertylandia and las Vegas Jr. Amusement Parks. Minicar and motorcycle rental for the young adventures, shows, restaurants, vegetation paths, rest areas and a small zoo are Hertylandia's main attractions. Las Vegas Jr. varieties of native and exotic animal species, terror castle for adults and children, different types of restaurants and kiosks are waiting for visitors. Between them, Jinotepe the cleanest city of Nicaragua, it's beautiful Church windows and original Christ's Passion representation, half sculpted and half painted artistic expression, Where if you wish can rest or eat. It is possible to return to Masaya from Jinotepe by the circumvallation road where we started. Masaya Keeps, in it's market a large variety of artistic expressions made by skilled artisans such as leather, wood, textiles, precious stones and lots of natural fibers works. Sellers themselves have realized the keeping-clean need for the clients' comfort and hospitality in the most important crafts plaza of the Country.
Lots of colonial Churches and its Masaya Lagoon's overlook between the baseball stadium and the City are preview of the Santiago Volcano that formerly frighten the people. The tourism and Environment Ministries efforts have made possible beautiful spots and overlooks that became main attractions for national and foreign visitors.
Six kilometers of good road takes you to the rim of the volcano's crater after passing through the "Center for nature interpretation" that guards the history of the Park including the vain efforts of spanish religious trying to descend to the crater believing what they saw boiling, was liquid gold.
An international restaurant and a meeting room are part of this complex once used for a Summit of Presidents of Central America, it is also surrounded by the Coyote path, where coyotes use to go the edge of the lagoon to drink water every night. In front of the complex there is small park for children to play, before the last journey starts: Santiago crater which will not be complete without taking thousands of stairs to the echo balcony and the Bodadilla cross designed to look as so, from any point or angle you see. It is not any more possible to see the crater from the Zapper Plaza on the other side due to multiple landslides which have made it dangerous, but you can go to San Fernando extincted crater covered by vegetation, Borrascosas Peaks so called because the strong winds that blows there, and the Tzinancanostoc Cave whose indigenous name means Bats Cave.
Geologists state that this cave was formed by a air bubble in the center of the burning magna moving down this zone in one of its eruptions centuries ago. Once lava stopped and solidified, the air bubble formed the Cave's labyrinths where bats find the best environment to live and reproduce.
The presence of thousands of parrots in this molesting gases region is visible attraction, even researchers still do not find an explanation on why do parrots not affect the smallers birds.
The Bride of the Xolotlan.
West and Pacific Beaches.
Leaving Managua on the Carretera
sur and turning right on Nejapa junction, two things can not be missed:
Nejapa Lagoon that survives from a "heart attack" suffered in 1992, and
beginning the best highway of Nicaragua from Managua to Izapa junction.
At kilometer 30, after the southwest hills of Managua, a junction road that takes to possibly the most beautiful beach in the Pacific: Montelimar. It is owned by the Barcelo Hotels Chain; the old former president Somoza's Casona together with comfortable bungalows built decade ago and remodeled by its new managers, the best and biggest swimming pool in Central America have made Montelimar the most preferred summer place for Americans, Canadians and Europeans tourists that come to our Country.
Long beaches, lots of facilities and promotions have recovered Montelimar's prestige and has obtained the best beach hotel Tittle and the attention of International tourism interest in Central America.
Masachapa and Pochomil are popular beaches where thousands of people go on january 1st and Holyweek mostly, they celebrate big music shows where youngs enjoy excited on fun nights at the beach. Turning back to kilometer 30 and following the highway to Leon through El Tránsito, El Velero, and Puerto Sandino beaches, and Izapa reservoir near the famous town of La Paz Centro.
The university City (León) has so much to be proud of. Most of the best poets of Nicaragua have lived or died in León, who were inspired by the Prio House, Sesteo restaurant, long León blocks and gave us their poetry. Rubén Darío is among them, he renovated spanish language with his pen, and started the so called Modernism Movement, with creative work giving the Mother Nation-Spain-back a richier language compared to the one they brought to us 4 centuries before. Azarias H. Pallais, Salomón de la Selva and Alfonso Cortez complete the spearhead group of nicaraguan poetry that León celebrates time to time.
León has a colonial baroque
Cathedral adorned with crying stone lions that will be always sorry for
the absence of Rubén Darío, whose life can always be tell
visiting the house-Museum that guards his loved belongings. Los pescados
restaurant offer you to choose your own fish and will be prepared inmediately.
Poneloya and Las Peñitas beaches are preferred by the people of León, whose City has lives in the shadows of the near volcanoes (Momotombo at León's first enclave at the Lake Xolotlan's edge, Telica and Cerro Negro where it is now), while their neighbors of Chinandega watch the sleepy Cosiguina.
A good beach for them is Jiquilillo or Corinto the interesting Island Port that has the first place of importance as a gate door for merchandize in the Country. The tomb of Rosa Sarminto mother of Rubén Darío, and the existing of a
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