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La Libertad and Santo Domingo

La Libertad

Bordering the Amerrisque mountain chain, La Libertad is located 174 km from Managua and 34 kilometers from Juigalpa. Spaniards and Mestizos originally came to La Libertad during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to raise cattle and convert the natives, but quickly changed their game plan when they discovered the natives had gold. The birthplace of President Daniel Ortega and Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo, La Liberatad is worth a peek to get a sense of the gold rush era. There are also Patron Saint celebrations May 9-12 in honor of La Virgen de la Luz. Unfortunately, as of yet there are no hotels in town.

Santo Domingo

Originally a miner’s camp called El Mineral de Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo was first settled in the nineteenth century by indigenous miners from Las Segovias in the north. There is still an active mine here, which, second to cattle raising, is the largest source of employment in town. This mine, one kilometer outside of Santo Domingo, uses machinery from the early twentieth century, and when they’re in use, can be heard all over town. Ask at the mayor’s office about arranging a tour of the mine.

While at the mayor’s, look into tours of La Pena Blanca, a traversable peak in the Santo Domingo Valley. This two hour trek leads to a view of Lake Nicaragua, and on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean. The one hotel in Santo Domingo is Bar Hotelito San Jose, which offers basic rooms and an onsite restaurant. Rooms without bath go for 4 USD per person per night (505-2-855-6217). The Patron Saint celebrations here take place on the third of May, and include bullfights and parties.

Buses leave for Juigalpa every hour, and the ride is two and a half hours long.

05 May 2009

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