Humans of Nicaragua: Don Alberto’s Dream

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

When Don Alberto was in his thirties, he had a magnificent dream. He was so inspired that he consulted with a priest to see if his dream was possible. The priest gave him wise advise like Paulo Coelho in Brida, “When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”

Don Alberto was pleased with the advise, and the next day, he chose his sharpest stone-carving tools, which consisted of two sharpened pieces of rebar, a stone hammer, and a metal blade, and trekked through the valley below to find the perfect cliffs to begin his once-in-a-lifetime dream of honoring God, family, and love of nature and animals.

Along the stone paths worn by his daily treks, he planted coffee trees, bromeliads, and orchids that he treasured. Today, Don Alberto’s 40 something years of stone-carving are his tribute and gift to Tisey Estanzuela Natural Reserve outside the town of Esteli that he calls home.
Welcome to Finca El Jalacate, sculptures in rock.
Don Alberto is a spry 72-year-old, with a snow-white afro and suntanned skin with weathered lines etched into his face that kind of resemble his carvings. He attributes his healthy lifestyle to working every day of his life. He said that even when he is sick (which isn’t often), he prefers to carve rocks than stay in his bed. He enjoys visiting the 60 thousand visitors he has had throughout his adventures in rock carving, and explains with joy the many details in his carvings.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Walls of War

The weekly photo challenge is wall. Nicaragua abounds with walls of war, remembrances of their defense of personal rights, freedom, and dignity. Honoring their Nicaraguan heroes is especially clear on the walls in the cities.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” ― G.K. Chesterton

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These Boots Aren’t Made for Walkin’

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Cowboy boots….romance…mystique…adventure.  If you grew up in the 50’s, you probably wore a miniature ten gallon hat and a pair of cowboy boots, and toted a Red Rover or Daisy BB gun. Chances are good that you watched The Lone Ranger and were intimately familiar with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Your tin lunch box probably displayed Tonto,Trigger, Roy Rogers, or Hopalong Cassidy. Mine did!

Entering the cowboy boot shop in Esteli, Nicaragua brought back vivid memories: delicious smells of tooled leather, sharp, shiny spurs, bowed legs supporting pointy boots, and a sense of rugged individualism and self-reliance that could only be obtained by slipping on a pair of handmade cowboy boots.

Snake skins, alligator skins, and rustic boot molds adorned the shop. The sounds of ,tap-tap of the leather tools embossing star designs and inlays resonated throughout the shop. One boot maker can complete a pair of cowboy boots in a day. And the prices are absurdly cheap for a handmade pair of cowboy boots. They range from $50 – $200.

One thing for sure, these boots aren’t made for walkin’, they are made for showing off the talents of the laborious boot makers in Esteli. Enjoy the slideshow.

Stop Leaning Against the Wall…It’s Wet!

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We have returned from our first trip to Northern Nicaragua where we slept snuggled under two heavy blankets, visited coffee farms and cigar factories, hiked through the Black Jungle (Selva Negra), and talked with a lot of cowboys…real cowboys!

I am overflowing with stories of the wild North. Until I compose my tales, enjoy the slideshow of the city of murals in Esteli, Nicaragua. I think Banksy was writing about Esteli in his quote below.

Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw wherever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colors and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall- it’s wet.


Somoto Canyon

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Somoto Canyon was only discovered in 2004 by a group of Czech Republic and Nicaraguan scientists. Ron told me that when he was in Geography class in 4th grade, he cried because he thought everything had already been discovered. To appease Ron’s sorrow, we are headed to Northern Nicaragua tomorrow to discover for ourselves this unique and unusual area.

After this magnificent discovery, Nicaragua declared Somoto Canyon a National Monument and it has great tourist potential. In February, Cory and his friends meandered down the Coco River on inner tubes, through narrow gorges with cliffs extending upwards 120-150 meters. They jumped into deep, refreshing pools and scaled the cliffs searching for bromeliads, orchids, and iguanas that inhabit the crevices.

Although we can’t float the Rio Coco in the wet season due to flash floods (It’s dangerous at this time of the year), we are going to explore Matagalpa, Jinotega, and Esteli. These are the lands of expansive coffee plantations, black pottery production, mountainous terrain, pine forests, and former Contra territory.

I’m reading “The Death of Ben Linder”, and I hope to visit his grave in Matagalpa. I’ll return in a week with new stories, lots of photos, and a greater appreciation for the unique country in which we live. Meanwhile, enjoy Cory’s float trip through Somoto Canyon.

See you in a week!