In January 2013, we paid a visit to Nicaragua as part of cultural and photographic tour sponsored by Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners in the Americas Program.  What follows is a listing (with links) of my blog posts of our experience. After each link is a brief excerpt of each post.

Adventure in Nicaragua

old and new suv_0312I just returned from a Cultural & Photography Tour of Nicaragua sponsored by Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners in the Americas program.  The tour was wonderful but I had not planned on any Nicaragua posts. However that all changed once the New York Times named Nicaragua as one of the top places to go in 2013.

Getting to Know Nicaragua

Our tour started in Managua and stayed within the southwest part of the country. Prior to departure I read the Explorer’s Guide: Granada, San Juan del Sur & Southwest Nicaragua: A Great Destination.

So you have decided to be adventurous and strike out on your own.  Well consider this:

Managua, Nicaragua

delivery vehicles_0051Many of us have the image of Nicaragua from the 70’s and 80’s in our minds. The Nicaragua during the time of Somaza and the Contras is different than today. The country is the safest in Central America, the people are hard working, friendly/helpful and seem to be putting the unrest of the past behind them.  Partially due to earthquakes and previous civil unrest, the country is very poor and under developed.

Nicaraguan Christmas Tree

This is definitely not your mother’s Christmas Tree!  This tree decorates an eating establishment and I highly doubt it represents the typical holiday decoration in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua: Nindiri Volunteer Fire Department

IMG_0279 copyA unique project called “Firefighters United” has brought together Wisconsin and Nicaraguan firefighters. Since 2000, 21 fire trucks  and 14 ambulances with a value of more than $1,000,000 have been shipped to Nicaragua via the Denton Program which allows humanitarian aid vehicles to be shipped on Air Force cargo planes. WOW.

Nicaragua: Volcan Masaya, the Mouth of Hell

gates of hell_0182Nicaragua has many active volcanos, none more accessible then Volcan Masaya.  A recent eruption threw large boulders into the air with one of them landing on the hood of a car.  The vehicle was drivable but park officials refused to allow it to leave until the boulder was extracted (take nothing, leave only footsteps). Park officials typically distribute hardhats to visitors

Nicaragua: Learning Centers

learning center_0066Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners has been establishing learning centers in Nicaragua for more than 30 years. Nicaragua, like many undeveloped countries is a male dominated society where woman typically stay home. One technique to improve the standard of living is to empower women and establish them as wage earners. W/NP has been providing training to develop income generating  skills while allowing women to remain in their homes and care for their families. With incomes being so low in general, even a few dollars a day can make a big difference to the standard of living.

Nicaragua’s First Lending Library

IMG_1197 copyJust a few short years ago Nicaragua had only libraries that served to archive collections of books. You could read books at the library but only under the watchful eye of a guard. Being carefully watched by a guard would alter my reading selections and would likely prevent me from reading at all!

Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners Lending Libraries

IMG_0607 copyNicaragua is listed among the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Education efforts have improved over the years, but there are still approximately 300,000 children outside the educational system. When you travel in Nicaragua you always see children selling trinkets, tending animals and doing a variety of odd jobs.

Nicaragua: I Left My Heart in Ometepe


Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua.

Its name derives from the words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains.

Nicaragua Pottery, Keeping the Tradition Alive

IMG_1293 copy (1)

San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua is a small village nestled in the hills between the volcanos Masaya and Mombacho, and has been known for centuries for its beautiful pottery.


Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

Apoyo Lagoon_Panorama3In Nicaragua, the term “laguna” is reserved for volcanic crater lakes. There are a number of  volcanoes with lagunas along the Pacific rim of the country, none more accessible than Laguna de Apoyo.  The lake fills the crater of the Apoyo Volcano (seems pretty obvious doesn’t it). This is one of Nicaragua’s amazing natural wonders and will become more popular as tourism grows.

Velez Páiz Hospital in Managua and a few comments about health care in Nicaragua


Our visit to Velez Páiz Hospital in Managua was on the first full day of our visit to Nicaragua.

However, this  will be my last blog post dealing with Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners programs (there will be a few more posts about Nicaragua itself).

It has taken some time for me to put our visit into some semblance of a perspective.

Nicaragua: Mercado Municipal de Granada

IMG_0328 copyThis is a market for locals and for adventurous travelers seeking an authentic Granada experience.

You will find most anything (other than a large collection of souvenir trinkets) and will likely walk away with at least an unsettled stomach.

Nicaragua: Mombacho Volcano

IMG_3083The word mombacho conjures up images of a distant, dark mystical place in my mind. Well, once you are in Granada, Mombacho Volcano is not distant, only 10 km outside of town, but it does have a sense of mystical sense of wonder about it.


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