After relaxing for a few weeks on the lake, we decided to move north into the mountains. We met a woman named Nan while we were at the beach near San Juan del Sur who told us all about "her village" Limay. She moved there from America in the 70s and never really left again. She told us that we're welcome to stay in her house there and gave us a letter of introduction to basically everyone in town.
An early morning bus ride got us to the mountain town of Esteli, and from there it was three dusty hours of the worst roads you can imagine to San Juan de Limay. With Nan's introduction we had friends everywhere and were soon comfortable in Casa Baltimore and arranged for Dona Nidia, an elderly lady down the street, to cook lunch and dinner for us. A walk around town took the better part of 30 minutes, and then there wasn't much to do but relax in our hammocks with a book to read.
Eating at Nidia's house was a great experience for us, because we really got to know authentic home style Nicaraguan cooking. Every meal is accompanied by either rice and beans or Gallo Pinto (rice and beans mixed together), a salad, and usually some form of plantain or banana. Platano is green (unripe) plantain, which is just like a potato and is fried like hash browns or fried like potato chips. Maduro is ripe plantain which is sweeter and more banana flavored, and is sliced and fried as a soft, sweet, side dish. Very green bananas are fried whole, and end up soft and sweet much like the Maduro.
We also met a tour group from Potters for Peace, a non-profit organization with a water filtration program all over the world to help remote communities with safe drinking water. They also run a tour for pottery enthusiasts to visit Nicaragua and work with potters in various villages around the country. We tagged along with them and visited a few small villages in the area where they helped build kilns and teach techniques.
With them, we also met Oscar, a stone sculptor. Limay is famous for it's marmolina sculptures, and Oscar is one of the best. We were able to try our hand at stone carving and learn more about La Gorda, a Nicaraguan icon in the form of a very round woman carved from stone.
On out last day in Limay we ate lunch with Oscar and his family, and they offered to feed us for another week in exchange for our help with photographs and making a brochure. At their house we woke up at dawn and walked outside of town to milk the cows, then had fresh milk and roscillas (cornmeal crackers) for breakfast.
We were still there on our anniversary, and I carved a pair of marmolina earrings for Kenna. She said that when we were married, this is about where she expected to be three years later.
Next we're on our way to a new beach house where we'll be working for the next week or so.