Since we arrived in Nicaragua we’ve been mesmerized by their culture, but today we focused on not just enjoying the culture but learning what role art plays in preserving it. We began the day by waking up at 6:30am to make it to breakfast on time. Nicaraguans are known for their relaxed attitude toward times and schedules (its known as Nica Time), but we couldn’t indulge in that part of the culture because we had a fully packed itinerary to help us answer our question of the day! After breakfast we had an academic seminar where we discussed how culture is defined and understood. We also explored what roles we played in the definition and preservation of our own cultures’. This was great preparation for our morning hike to Don Alberto to meet Alberto Gutiérrez – also known in Nicaragua as the “the carving man.” The hike was very difficult but we worked as a team to ensure that we all made it. All the toil of the hike was well worth it. When we got to the top, Alberto showed us all the beautiful carvings he made on the mountain side using the simplest of tools. He explained that he dedicated his life to this work to ensure that Nicaraguan culture was recorded and shared by someone who loves the country. After being inspired by Alberto, we hiked back down the mountain to have lunch and to create art of our own. We traveled back to la casa de Cultura, but instead of painting, this time we created postcards made of colored corn husks. This is a popular art form in Nicaragua and it repurposes a resource that would otherwise be thrown away into beautiful works of art. Afterwards, we returned to our hostel for dance lessons in traditional Nicaraguan dances. We learned dances from all over the country and even wore the traditional clothing. We thanked the dance instructor with a gift but we also showed her a few modern American dances! Overall, while today was very tiring it was also very rewarding. Nicaraguan culture is beautiful and we are glad that they are happy to share it with us.
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