Nicaragua Study Tour: Managua to Matagalpa

James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D
Bridgewater State College

Day 3: January 5, 2006
Revised January 22, 2006
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January 3
Overnight Managua
January 4
January 5
January 6
January 7
La Corona
January 8
La Corona
January 9
January 10
January 11
Finca Esperanza Verde
January 12
Finca Esperanza Verde
January 13
We spent our second full day in Nicaragua exploring the villages and volcanoes to the south of Managua, including the National Park at Masaya. and the villages of the plateau Meseta de los Pueblos.

The environmental education materials in the visitor center of the Masaya National Park include this amazing mural. The border of indigenous motifs is connected to several elements in the main image, which depicts an ideal of sustainable development. Notice that this vision has room for both nature and humans, including a wide variety of natural elements and human endeavors.

Volcanoes The visitor's center at the national park includes detailed educational exhibits about the volcanoes of Nicaragua. They form a straight line parallel to the Pacific coast, because they are formed by rising magma at the edge of a subduction zone.

Although volcanic activity has been relatively minor during recorded history, Nicaragua is tectonically active.
Within the Masaya National Park, one steaming caldera (volcanic crater) is fascinating to watch. Elsewhere in the region, geothermal energy sources are actively harnessed.
Steaming Abyss
Each of us took some time to stare into the amazing abyss of the smoking caldera of Masaya. We also could not resist trying our echoes!

One cool and surprising thing about being at the top of a volcano was that this is where the vultures hang out. We saw dozens of them soaring at our eye level, and they even let us get fairly close to their roosts.
After visiting Masaya, we ate at a wonderful spot overlooking a volcanic lagoon. The musicians who came to our tables were magnificent!

The menu was quite diverse -- Pam and I opted for a sizzling fish platter that was a bit fishier than what we normally would try! It looked rather horrendous, but it was quite tasty. We opted not to eat the heads, though. Incidentally, in Nicaragua, Toña is a popular beer, and for good reason.

Below, Pam shows our daughter's photo to two children who told us they were her age. Photos from home are a great way to connect to people anywhere!

At right is a statue entitled "Farmer Woman," representing the indigenous woman of Nicaragua. Smaller replicas were for sale in the adjacent market stalls.

Pam & Kids


The spot where we enjoyed lunch was a destination not only for tourists but also for local families holding birthday parties. The view was amazing, with a volcanic lagoon below us and the colonial city of Grenada in the distance (middle-left of the photo). If I am able to return to Nicaragua for another tour (which I hope to do in January 2007), I intend to end the trip at Grenada, because of all the great things I heard about it.

One of our students -- Adrienne -- was particularly interest in learning about microfinance, a development strategy in which communities manage very small loans to community members, in order to finance small businesses. When we arrived at a pottery shop in one of the villages, Adrienne noticed that the shop next door is part of a microfinance project, and in fact is affiliated with Pro Mujer, an organization that Adrienne and Pam had learned about at a conference in Massachusetts a few months earlier. The sign reads Pro Mujer -- Supporting the Nicaraguan Small-business woman -- Together we can. At the right is the sales shop for this small business, a cooperative of six women and two men. One of the men happened to be watching the shop when we arrived. He explained that the intention of the business was to support women, but that some men needed to be involved for it to be accepted as a legitimate business. All of the members took turns operating the sales shop. They were all quite busy in their workshops at the moment, he said, because someone had purchased 300 pieces of pottery for export the day before.

While we were busy in the Pro Mujer shop, the rest of our group was learning pottery at the shop next door, a small, family-owned business that manages to produce hundreds of exquisite pieces a week for export. Several of our students learned just how challenging it is to make pottery, but they did pretty well! The expert, who is a son of the owner, is shown in the middle.
Pottery expert

Proceed to January 6

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