Friday, September 12, 2008

Road Trip / Shopping in Nicaragua

I have been making a list of things I wanted for the house since I arrived, so the other week we set off in the new truck (wanted to see how it managed in 4th gear anyway)on a shopping trip to the Pueblos Blancos. This collection of villages lays in the volcanic highlands just to the south of Managua and about a 90 minute drive from San Juan. Each of the villages is known for a different artisania or handcraft. Our first stop was in San Juan del Oriente, which is one of the two locations in Nicaragua renowned for ceramic arts. (The other being up north in Jinotega province) I wanted to take a look at the 'art' ceramics; but I also wanted to buy some functional plant pots for our deck.

At one of the pottery workshops in San Juan del Oriente.

It was awful quiet in town and I think we were the only tourists I spotted during the entire hour that we wandered from one pottery workshop to the other. Bailey upset the natural dog order in town, as usual, and everywhere we were greeted by barking dogs either eager to meet him, or eager to eat him... I was never too sure which.

Some of the work is absolutely beautiful and the prices are unbelievable! A beautiful vase about 8 to 10 inches high might set you back $10, or $20 if you want a really intricate one!

Since we were ahead of schedule we took the time to go the extra hours drive to the southern outskirts of Managua as there were a couple of errands we wanted to do in the city as well. After lunch in Managua and a brief shopping foray at Comercial Central (where I happily stumbled upon an arts supply store) we headed back to the Pueblos Blancos and to the furniture town of Masatepe. Here we looked at lovely wicker sets of a couch and 2 chairs for the outlandish price of about $500 or a rattan set for about $300! Unfortunately all I needed, or have room for, was a simply folding deck chair which we use both inside and outside.

From Masatepe we headed back to Catarina to stop at one of the dozens of nurseries in this town of plants, to pick up some soil and a couple of flowering shrubs for the pots I had bought earlier.

All in all a very successful shopping trip!

Here are the pots I bought. I bought two of the one below right (they are about 2 feet in diameter) and have planted lettuce; basil and arugula. I have my fingers crossed that I'll be having fresh salad next month! All five pots set me back about $10 I think. The gardenia on the left is doing ok (although not flowering). The bouganvilla however has dropped all it's flowers and is losing it's leaves too. Anyone know anything about tropical gardening?

[While the Pueblos Blancos may have once shone white in the surrounding green jungle, as the houses and roads were all constructed from the chalky pale volcanic ash type soil of the area, today the century old buildings are painted in various colours and one has to do a little research to find out why in the world these towns are called the White Villages)

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