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Nicaragua

Environmentalists, Greeting Cards, Women

EstelĂ­ is a fair size city in the central mountains of Nicaragua right on the well maintained Pan-American Highway. The climate is perfect year 'round. During the day it averages 83 degrees and when the sun goes behind the mountain in the west it cools to the upper 70's. In the dry season the humidity is low and very comfortable. To me, it is a far better place to visit and to live than the hot coastal regions of Central America.

When you arrive in Estelí get a taxi right away to the best attraction in town. Just say “del tánque de agua Mercado Alfredo Lazo cuartro cuadras al oeste” (it’s 4 blocks west of the of the big blue water tank at outdoor farm market in the south end of town).

You’ll see the sign at the main gate, " El Proyecto de Las Mujeres Ambientalistas". It nestled in its own park-like setting. Two beautiful buildings covered with murals tell the history of the project in colorful wall paintings picturing the step-by-step process of recycling paper by hand and making greeting cards. You might see paper sheets already drying in the sun on large whiteboards. The pleasant women environmentalists, Las Mujeres Ambientalistas, will show you how they make primitive paper using a process that’s hundreds of years old. And, they will let you get your hands wet while making some of your very own paper. Be sure to have good batteries in your camera and lots of room on your memory chip, you’ll be glad you did. This place was made for a camera.

Tour their natural medicine garden, tropical plants garden and the vegetable garden. Some folks like to spend the whole afternoon in this tranquil area away from all the noise and confusion of the city. I have taken photos of the Guardabarrancos - the Nicaraguan National Bird that land in the trees from time to time. If you have binoculars bring them along. I used to go there in the afternoons after attending four hours in class at Spanish School Horizonte in the mornings, to unscramble my brain and to practice my new language with those sweet women while they worked. I was hooked the first time I went to this parcel of peace. They are so friendly and will talk with you as long as you like. Next, spend some quality time in their store to find those one-of-a-kind gift treasures, you love the low prices. Be sure to sign their guest book and get a few hugs before you travel on.

Further Information

Travel tips: You don't have to take a taxi you can just walk to the project it's not far and see first hand how the people in the neighborhood live. The best route to walk is to walk through the farm market heading south past the big blue water tank on your right. Turn right at the 1st street about 50 feet past the tank. Now, walk down the hill to the end of the street, 4 blocks and you see the sign. If the gate is closed walk to your left about a hundred feet and holler over a wooden fence, "Buenas". And Doña Tina will come to meet you and let you in and give you a tour. The best times to go are 9:15 AM to 11:00 AM and 2:15 PM to 4:15 PM. They are closed on Sunday, but if you are only going to be there that day feel free to call on Tina, she will be glad to show you around.
Must see/do at this place: You must see how they make paper. If they are making a batch ask you can feel the paper slurry. They will let you try your hand at making a sheet.
You should avoid here: It is best to walk back to the market area the same way that you came in. Avoid taking any streets that go to the north until you get to the top of the hill. In the past there have been a drunk or two hanging out on the corners tin that neighborhood. Yet, I have been there for almost three years and have not heard of any tourist being bothered. It is just a simple precaution.
Other helpful information: There is a new village of homesteaders to the west of the Las Mujeres Ambientalistas project across the creek and up the hill that has appeared in the last two years. They have no electricity in a large part of this area. This would be a great place to see how the extremely poor live.



Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: Restoration Of A Colonial Jewel, Volcano Boarding the Cerro Negro, Gallo Pinto, Markets of Masaya, San Sebastián Festival, Hotel E And V, Isla de Ometepe, Selva Negra, Hotel E And V and Searching for Sharks.








By Kenny Ellwanger

I am a volunteering at the Proyecto de Las Mujeres Ambientalistas in EstelĂ­, Nicaragua. I retired from Eastman Kodak Co....

28 May 2011


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