Went to Matagalpa today

Anyone who thinks the sidewalks there are significantly better than the sidewalks in Jinotega is wrong. Pleasant to take the bus there -- not too long a bus ride that it's tedious, over some beautiful countryside.

I found the linen I was looking for -- probably sold by Palestinians but I didn't have to go to Managua's Eastern Market for it. I don't know if I'll sew the two pair of pants myself from the two lengths I bought, or get a local tailor to do. Another store had more notions. These stores were on the Market Street as was the local liberia that actually sold books (I bought some children's books in Spanish).

We took a break for lunch at the Monkey restaurant.

Also found block Parmesan cheese (imported from America, not Italy), lentils, and brown rice (three different brands). Bought half a pound of the cheese, a bag of lentils, and a small bag of brown rice.

Went in two tourist places -- Matagalpa Tours and the local Coffee Museum which has some local historical stuff, too. Matagalpa Tours has the local chocolate as well as other craft items and photographs of various places in the area. The Matagalpa Castilla de Cacao factory appears to have sold their old equipment to a factory in Jinotega which now makes the grittier artisanal chocolate bars. The new machinery produces smoother chocolate (bought the 75% and the 100%), but seems to be a bit light on the cocoa butter, but definitely better than the earlier samples.

Bus trip was also under 50 cordobas -- gave the guy a fifty and got change back.

Helliconias were in flower and visible when we went back to Jinotega. Part of the road go over 5,000 feet. Saw a couple of strangler figs and many epiphytes of various kinds, some bromeliads in bloom.

Afterward: the Super Puro Lino failed the burn test, the water absorption test, and felt rather non-linen like when I was washing the length to pre-shrink it. Next time, take a cigarette lighter and do the burn test before buying, and maybe I will have to go to Managua and the Palestinians in the Eastern Market to get read linen (or order from the US). And the US imitation Parmesan doesn't really justify that price, either. I'll see what the local tailor would charge me to run up two pair of pants, but will keep looking for the real thing.

I'm beginning to think the trick to eating well here is figuring out how to exotically use local ingredients, the things Nicaraguans grow and make. Hard cheeses are a product of places with 50 F caves, and those cheeses will outcompete and taste better than the ones aged in cold storage. This is a soft cheese country (however, if someone imported dairy water buffalo, I'd want to be the first, the very first one to try that mozarella).