Today, we decided to go around a bit before leaving Masaya, because it turns out it’s quite nice !
The city is know to be a center for crafts and commerce and has an old market in a fortress, selling all kinds of stuff from around here (or not ?). Around the city, there are also many villages selling stuff, but mostly making it ! They are called the Pueblos Blancos (the white towns) because they used to be painted only with lime. Today, they are all painted with bright colors, so it doesn’t make sense anymore, but the name stuck. We left from the main terminal in Masaya to the closest and most famous of them : Catarina.
It is said that Sandino liked to hang out, talking about the world whilst sitting on the Catarina gazebo, overlooking Apoyo’s lake (he was the revolution leader in Nicaragua, Wikipedia is your friend if you want to know more on Nica revolution history;) ). We can totally get it, and even if we didn’t talk about politics much, we also sat there a while to enjoy the view…
As you can see, there is a lake in front, then a volcano, then the Nicaragua lake, and between them the city of Granada and its surrounding country. Not too bad. However, we were a bit disappointed by all the junk being sold around, it was way worse than the touristic market of Masaya, and the vendors were less nice. So we went straight to the next village, San Juan de Oriente, and we walked because it is really close. The specialty is pottery and they had really nice things. The town is much smaller and we couldn’t see the workshops, but a cooperative of potters had a really nice exhibition (we didn’t take pics, it would have been rude).
Then we took a Tuk-tuk (that which Colombians call moto-taxi) to Masetepe, where the specialty is wooden furniture. Here, the craftsmen’ cooperative is in an old train station, and there is also a nice central square with a park and a church.
What was really nice about these villages is that we can feel a bit better the atmosphere and the life of Nicas (I didn’t make up that name, it’s official). It puts us back into a way of traveling that we experienced in Colombia where we ate and took the bus like anyone living there, whereas in Panama and Costa Rica, there was always a rift or a glass wall between tourists and locals. Of course, when we go into a crafts shop, we go back to that side of the barrier, but otherwise, since we are in Masaya, we feel like we are in the real life and not in a postcard anymore (and that’s good !)
We were a bit disappointed that we only saw ceramics (of respectable sizes) and furniture (like rocking chairs), which are really nice but impossible to transport in our backpacks, so we went back to Masaya, encouraged by the smile of the photophorus (or scared…)
There, we grabbed a bite to eat and went back to the market to buy a few souvenirs, including wooden objects smaller than furniture, for our future next home (wherever it may be). There are a lot of wood-towered objects and the local wood species are quite fancy (mahogany, teak and others that we can’t name but have fine grain and won’t rot). In the end, it’s not that cheap, but we have to say that they are good !
We ended the day with tacos and beers, watched by the Chester-cat-smiling moon !