Saturday, January 26
Today was our visit to Nicaragua. They are trying to build up the tourism industry, and there was quite a welcoming committee on the dock—musicians, dancers and children to greet us. We headed for our tour and saw that there was a big 40 passenger bus, and a smaller second bus. We went for the smaller bus and had a much more comfortable ride. Our guide, Julio, was very informative and personable. It is clear Nicaragua is not as well off as Costa Rica, but they are trying. We did encounter a few kids begging (holding up their index finger and saying ‘one’ for one dollar).
On the way to our first sight in El Viejo, we saw part of the row of volcanoes that go through Nicaragua as part of the Pacific ring of fire. Nine of them are still active. No snow on them here! In El Viejo we saw a basilica housing a silver Madonna that is a national treasure. It was meant to go to Peru, but twice got prevented from sailing due to storms, so they decided it wanted to stay there, and they built a beautiful church to house it. The churches here have beautifully detailed wooden ceilings.
We went on to the city of Chinendega where we went to another church and got to watch another dance group, this time a man and four women who did a great job. The full circle skirts look like fun to twirl! Here we also walked through a local market looking at interesting local fruits and produce, and stopped at a small souvenir shop. We saw one McDonalds, and the gas is about $4.00 a gallon. Some of the clothing for sale in the market looked like it might have been used. Before going back to the ship, we stopped at a small museum with several archeological finds on display. They were interesting, and the air conditioning was wonderful!