Two Years in Jinotega
Woke up this morning to find that someone had crashed into a telephone pole up Calle Yucapuca. I'm not sure exactly how one manages that as most of the crashes seem to be someone going too fast to make the turn off my street. The car was long gone, but the pole was sagging over the street and lines were down. I noticed when I came back from the bakery that various cars full of kids were traveling fast, around 5:30.
Sollentuna Hem Jinotega is the place where I have breakfast frequently and know the owner, but was up and about too late to go there for breakfast.
I've been thinking about getting people to come here, but Jinotega tends to induce instant culture shock -- it's a jumble of nice houses next to rather shabby houses and concrete block streets and uneven sidewalks, occasional passing cows, and almost everyone's dogs (mine is one of the few not allowed on the street unleashed, and mine is more likely to make it to 12 years old than the ones whose owners put them out in the morning).
What to do here? Walk up to The Cross, see inside the cathedral (which I haven't done yet), go to the cemetery when the healer is having sessions (the cemetery is interesting for the tombs), and go to the public markets. The big popular bar at night is La Taverna, across the river from the cemetery. Been there when it wasn't crowded and when it was.
Suzanne Wopperer has a backpacker's lodge that has beautiful views after a rather steep but short climb up (I take hiking sticks when I go). Selva Negra is about half way between Matagalpa and Jinotega then Matagalpa makes a nice day trip from Jinotega, less than 50 cordobas by bus, some walking, no carriages. Here's not so dense with attractions as south of Managua.
Sebaco, while hot, has pedicabs and a rather impressive market, the old downtown and some petroglyphs (and not many tourists). In the other direction, San Raphael del Norte has a Sandino museum and pine forests (I haven't been there yet).
Couple of other possible day trips -- to Esteli on what I've been assured is a completely paved road now (wasn't when I did it over two years ago) and which has a couple of small museums, including one to the Heroes and Martyrs of the Revolution, complete with the surviving mothers of the Heros and Martyrs sitting in rocking chairs watching the tourists. The bus ride to Esteli passes through some beautiful country, including the edge of Miraflor Reserve with a waterfall visible from the bus. The other things to do in Esteli are go to either of the handicraft shops and eat lunch at Cafe Luna run by a cooperative that works with campesinos in Miraflor, plus look at the cathedral (saw it, haven't been in). Cafe Luna always has expats eating there, people new to Nicaragua, people who've been here long enough to find that they have little in common with their caretaker and who want to talk English about things that interest them for a while..
Also, it's always possible to go to Matagalpa and let Matagalpa Tours take people somewhere. Prices range depending on where and how many people: $20 per person to $45 per person for most of the day trips. Buses between Jinotega and Matagalpa run every half hour and the scenery going over the mountain is quite beautiful. Minimum of two people -- someday, I'll talk someone into going to El Chile with me.
I basically like Jinotega, but as a place to live, not as a tourist attraction. It's also a place with some expats, but more of the expats are Nicaraguan-facing, interested more in their Nicaraguan friends, than they are in other expats, or they're off in their private worlds. The things that I find interesting day to day are stores like Articulos USA, with all the various used and discontinued models of USA things, the kids at the computer store (finally, they got in 16 MG thumbdrives at a reasonable price), the views and the birds in my backyard, the cheeky banana-eating blue gray tanagers, the tiny and tinier hummingbirds, and the various tyrant flycatchers living out their lives in public, one swallowing a dragonfly.
The place changes -- four places in a couple blocks radius of my house now have new facades or complete re-constructions this year; the road out from the side of my house to the road Pali is on was paved with blocks last year; couple of places had work done last year.
A certain amount of my social life is on line: Facebook, the Big Eight Management Board for the big eight Usenet groups, Google+, a camera forum, these forums. Emigration these days isn't what emigration used to be due to internet connectivity. I see that with my Ecuadorian friend who lives in California, with an American ex-pat in London, with what I think is a Nicaraguan in France (certainly Hispanic in France), with an American in Japan. Jinotega is part of the Global Village, as one of the Nicaraguans here said. One of my Google + friends is a Jinotega web designer. We've never met in person.