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San Juan De Limay

Travelers usually come to dry, isolated San Juan de Limay for just one reason: soapstone sculptures. Intricately carved and impeccably smooth, these glowing figures range from tiny nativity scenes to oversized iguanas and long-necked swans. Carving began in the early seventies, when father Eduardo Mejia accidentally discovered the marmolina with a group of local youth. He began to mine the soapstone from nearby Cerro Tipiscayan, and trained sculptors as a way to help them survive the poverty of this ravaged area.


In the late seventies, Minister of Culture Ernesto Cardenal helped set up an artists’ co-op in San Juan, which improved the sculptors’ skills and spread their reputation across the country. (In much the same fashion, Cardenal helped to develop the talent of artists living on the Solentiname Islands, now famous for their particular style.) The co-op has more or less collapsed since then, with many soapstone artisans moving to more developed areas to sell their work. Nonetheless, some soapstone artists still remain in San Juan de Limay, and visitors can peek into their workshops by wandering around town. Pieces here will be less expensive than in souvenir shops around the country.


The 40 km ride from Esteli to San Juan de Limay is two to three hours long, along a rough road. The ride costs 50 cents, and leaves from Esteli’s COTRAN Norte several times daily. Those unwilling to brave the road twice in one day can stay at the very basic Pension Guerrero, located one block north of the church. El Guerrero also offers typical Nicaraguan meals.



Other places nearby San Juan De Limay: El Chile, Chaguitillo, Ciudad Antigua, Mulukuku , Matagalpa, Rio Blanco, Mozonte , Ocotal, Jinotega and Condega.

14 Apr 2009

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