Over the next week I had a chance to visit some of the most beautiful sites and cities, and to meet some of the fantastically talented Artisans that makeup Nicaragua.
One of my favorite stops was just up the road from the Panama School where I met a group of ladies who create the most amazing artwork out of recycled newspaper and magazines. They weave anything and everything out paper; earrings, necklaces, baskets (big and small), bags, purses, angels, and dozens of beautiful holiday ornaments. I loved the story about the Japanese student who brought them newspaper from Japan and the weft these beautiful Japanese printed ornaments, some were like giant pinwheels others were the most decorative gift bags I had seen.
Then it was off to the basket weaver of another kind. This gentleman makes bamboo baskets some of them are as much as 3 feet around. Everyone in Nicaragua uses them for carrying fresh made tortillas, maize, avocados, bananas, lemons, beans, coffee, laundry, and more. The man buys bamboo strips it by hand with a machete stripping it into narrow and wide strips. Some are cut to make a base. He says can make 3-5 per day. His wife brings them to Masaya market place to sell every day.
Then we toured yet another magnificent cathedral, the birthplace of Sandino a library and Lago de Apoyo where you can see forever!
Off to pottery lessons where a local potter shared with us he collects clay from another area in Nicaragua brings it to his home lays it out on the floor and literally dances on it in is bare feet getting ready for potting. He says he turns the music up load for about 4 hours and mixes the clay. Then they break of what they need to start creating their designs. Every pot, tray, mask, cup, plate, necklace, earrings, and dozens of other magnificent potted creations after each one is crafted, painted and hand carved it is fired off in the kiln that is wood heated at more than 850 degrees.
I absolutely loved visiting the stone maker. He was fascinating to watch as he held a random piece of pumas between his feet and chisel in his hands, hammering away until a face forms then arms, legs or more intricate details. Some of his craftsmanship’s are small and some are massive. He says he can create 4-6 small ones in a day and a day for a larger one. I brought home a miniature traditional coffee grinder to set beside my coffee pot…this was the thing I bought for myself since coffee and it’s process is very near and dear to my heart.
A little time out for salsa lessons and a couple of cervezas gave us all a chance to kick back and relax.
Touring the herb garden I learned that the lady who has this garden creates soaps and shampoos from everything that she grows. At La Mariposa we all use her creations as a way of supporting the local economy, eliminating big cooperate involvement and treating the Earth with kindness.
We stopped at an upscale furniture makers where everything is handcrafted here and then shipped off to places like the USA. The craftsmanship in this shop is of the finest and far out of my budget. But absolutely breathtaking to look at.
Several amazing weekends in spent Ticuantepe, Massaya and Granada were had..I learned to cook several traditional Nicaraguan dishes, stayed at a fancy hotel, met the cutest children at Lago de Nicaragua and went on an enchanting horse and carriage ride through the historical city of Granada and for just a little while I felt like Cinderella.
Nicaragua swept me off my feet and leaving albeit necessary is not a looked forward to date…I full well intend to return just as quick as I can. I left my heart somewhere between Leon and Granada.