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San Rafael Del Norte

Population: 5458, Altitude: 1172 meters. Twenty-four km from Jinotega and 184 km from Managua.



Founded in 1848, San Rafael del Norte became an official city in its own right in 1962. Its temperate climate, combined with its natural beauty and historical places of interest make San Rafael Del Norte a great day excursion from Jinotega. While agriculture is still the primary industry in the municipality, tourism is fast becoming a close second. Perhaps San Rafael Del Norte’s most famous figure is Father Odorico D'Andrea, whose image can be seen in churches all over the region. Born in Italy in 1916, Father Odorico began his ministry in Nicaragua in 1953. He was an integral part of the development of infrastructure in San Rafael Del Norte, and is credited with bringing electricity, drinking water and a health center to the town. On March 22nd the city commemorates the anniversary of his death in 1990. His gravesite is located at the Temple Tepeyac, which was built in honor of the Virgin of Guadeloupe. The steps leading up to this chapel are extremely scenic, and religious pilgrims can occasionally be seen whispering prayers while climbing them. Inside the chapel Father Odorico’s stone coffin can be found. To the right is a gift shop with key chains, rosaries, and other Odorico paraphernalia. No need to feel like a silly tourist buying a T-shirt --locals wear them too. One of Father Odorico’s other accomplishments was the renovation of Iglesia San Rafael Arcangel, which features a mural of the Last Temptation of Christ. Cryptically, the face of Satan looks remarkably like that of current president Daniel Ortega. Make of this what you will.



San Rafael’s other claim to fame is as the birthplace of Augusto Cesar Sandino’s wife, Blanca Arauz. You can visit her family home-turned-museum, where photographs of Sandino, combat maps, and newspaper articles, among other things, are all on display. Open Monday to Sunday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Entrance fee is $1 USD. Located off the park.



There is not enough in San Rafael to keep you occupied here for more than a day. Still, if you choose to spend the night in San Rafael Del Norte, accommodations are available at Casita San Payo (784-2377), a clean and quaint little hotel that also offers typical Nicaraguan food. A single room goes for 11 USD, a double for 15 USD, and a triple for 22.50 USD. Across the street is the less hospitable Hospedaje Aura (784-2303), which doubles as a bar. Private rooms with shared bath go for 3.50 USD per person. Located at the entrance of town, Hotel Rocio is downright cute. A little tienda in the front sells snacks. Rooms go for around 11.50 USD. Two restaurants of interest to the traveler include Los Encuestros and Sabana Grande.



Buses from Jinotega run every hour from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. The ride takes roughly an hour and fifteen minutes.


Other places nearby San Rafael Del Norte: Jalapa, Somoto, Mulukuku , Sebaco, Jinotepe, Pueblo Nuevo, Macuelizo, Condega, San Fernando and Jinocuabo.

14 Apr 2009

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