Buenas Noches from Estelí! This is Anya, today’s el Lider del Dia. I’m very excited to share today’s adventures with all you at home.
An integral part of visiting and understanding any city or county is understanding their culture. Today was spent entirely on exploring facets of Nicaraguan culture as well as culture specific to Estelí. Known for its murals, Estelí is full of many different types of art- ranging from sculpture, to music, dance, and traditional crafts. Nicaraguans have a lot of pride in their country and culture, and I really enjoyed seeing and experiencing a small part of that today.
After a filling breakfast of omelet and toast with passion fruit mango juice, we took a field trip to El Jalacate, a sculpture farm created and cultivated by Alberto Gutierrez. We traveled around 7 miles north of the city, up into the mountain terrain in a natural reserve. El Jalacate is located about one kilometer’s hike down the mountain, and as a group, we hiked together until we reached the farm. Gutierrez began carving into the rock formations around his home when he was twelve, and as a seventy six year old, has gained international fame for his depictions of Nicaragua’s history, as well as anything else that inspires him. After meeting Don Alberto, we hiked back up the mountain to come back to the hostel for lunch.
After lunch (and mandatory naps), we walked to Casa de Cultura, a gathering place for artists, musicians, and craftspeople, as well as anyone else who would like to learn about Nicaraguan culture. There, we met Juan Carlos Moreno, an artist who popularized the use of Tusa, or dyed corn husks, in his art. Tusa is traditionally used in El Salvador and Guatemala, but Juan Carlos popularized its use, and it is now sold in all souvenir shops along with the more traditional art forms. However, not only did we learn about Tusa, we also had the chance to make our own creations and have a hands-on experience with a unique art form.
Next, we stayed in la Casa de Cultura for a crash course on traditional dances. Our instructor Hugo taught us two dances from every region of Nicaragua: North, Pacific, and Atlantic. We were very lucky to have a cooler day, since we danced for almost one and a half hours! After learning the traditional dances, we also taught Hugo a few moves of our own. Although we did face a language barrier between all three artists today, being able to learn about Nicaragua and share a small part of our culture in return was an experience that I hadn’t realized would have so much meaning.
In keeping with our theme of culture, for dinner, we ate a traditional meal of enchiladas (fried tortillas stuffed with chicken and rice) and Cacao con Leche (milk with cocoa powder and cinnamon). After dinner, we prepared for tomorrow’s activities and passed the LDD role to tomorrow’s leaders, Rishi and Tejas. Check back tomorrow for a recap of our first reality challenge: Living like a Local!
Besos y Abrazos,