Community Dispatches

Poets, feasts and sugary sweets: Festivals to kick off 2015

january festivals

January is one of the most exciting months for festivals in Nicaragua (do I say that every month?) and the following three are only a small selection of the 22+ that are going on. In the third week of January they celebrate a poet,
La Fiesta Dariana it’s called but we knew that you know it. There are readings, writings, folklore dancing,
Orchestras, concerts and horses prancing. Competitions will happen and none too few,
Of kids murals, desserts and poetry readings too. Outside of Matagalpa is a small town
Called Ciudad Dario, where this will go down. Continue Reading →

‘Goodbye, Matey’ – saying farewell to good friend and expat original


“Hello, matey” was Paul Witty’s usual greeting, coupled by his big, warm smile. His sudden death at only 48 years of age, by what was probably a heart attack, has come as a sad shock to all those who knew him from his time living in Granada. He arrived in Nicaragua 13 years ago with his partner, Mijo Schyllert, and bought and renovated a house in front of Convento San Francisco. He opened a cyber café (The Binary Base) in the front sala, but this was a short-lived distraction from his true calling, which was enjoying life on his terms and developing property to his unique vision. His house in Granada is probably the only one in town to boast a fireman’s pole, which he put in as a quick exit from the viewing deck. Continue Reading →

Remembering Felicita Zeledón: the woman who told the world about the tragedy at Posoltega

Felicita Zeledon (center) gets honored by the National Assembly.

The untimely death of Felicita Zeledón, a member of the National Assembly, recalls the tragedy that hit the rural area of Posoltega on the morning of Oct. 30, 1998. Zeledón, then mayor of the small town on the León-Chinandega highway, became the central figure in dealing with the biggest humanitarian crisis to hit Nicaragua since the 1972 earthquake. After weeks of heavy rain brought by Hurricane Mitch, the saturated flanks of the nearby Casita Volcano collapsed. The treeless mountainside offered no resistance to the flow of mud and water and the resultant mudslide destroyed hundreds of small settlements, killing some 2,000 people. Continue Reading →

Making recycled hand-made paper at Laguna de Apoyo’s Peace Project


Spartacous Cacao is a 36-year-old visual artist from California who moved to Central America in 2009 seeking inspiration for his work in a new environment. His paintings have been photographed by Getty Images and he has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Latin America focused primarily on expressionist figurative painting and printmaking the artist is also familiar sculpture and land art works. When I first came to Nicaragua from El Salvador, little did I realize then that I would start up an art studio and make hand-made paper in the Laguna de Apoyo. The journey began in November 2013, while I was living and working in Alegria, a village on a Volcano in El Salvador. A proposal I had sent in to do a print-making workshop in Casa de los Tres Mundos (C3M), Granada had been accepted. Continue Reading →

See what festivals Santa brings this year

moscu in tasbapauni

Wow, December already. It has been a year of fascinating festivals and events in Nicaragua. If you haven’t been lucky enough to see any parades yet don’t worry, December is one of the best months to be here! On the 6th in the dusty town of El Viejo right outside of Chinandega, pilgrims come from miles around to cleanse themselves of their sins -inside and out- by bathing in and drinking up the holy water used to wash the Virgin’s silver relics. It’s the Lavada de Plata, and it is world famous in Chinandega. Continue Reading →

Nicaragua lawyer Mario Alfonso Palma-Ibarra dies at 79

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Dr. Mario Alfonso Palma-Ibarra passed away at home on Nov. 23, 2014. He was 79. Palma-Ibarra was born in Leon, Nicaragua May 16, 1935 to Dr. Ildefonso Palma-Martinez and Ines Ibarra de Palma. He was educated at the Colegio Pedagogico, La Salle in Managua, Nicaragua. Continue Reading →

Freed member of the ‘Cuban Five’ visits Masaya


Fernando González, the second of the Cuban Five to be released from prison, has been in Masaya as part of the campaign on behalf of the other three, who have been incarcerated since 1998. On Saturday afternoon a small room packed with about 300 people saw him receive the freedom of the city from the mayor, Orlando Noguera. For a man who’s spent 17 years in various US penitentiaries (he left the last one in February), he’s remarkably composed and gentle, obviously sincere in campaigning for the release of his colleagues. That the Five should have been imprisoned at all is the product of a bizarre sequence of events in which justice was turned on its head. While the anti-Castro politics of many Miami Cubans are well known, there is less knowledge of the terrorist acts they’ve carried out, the worst of which was the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 78 people. Continue Reading →

Coffee and bricks

#sean nica dispatch2

Freddy stepped out into the morning mountain air, his body cutting through the dampness. He paused for a moment, took a breath, and smiled. When the moment passed he got to work. He moved dirt, lovingly tending his coffee crop. Most of the world lay quiet. It was early still, but Freddy worked.  Fueled by his  product, his pride, and his desire for success, he was wiping sweat from his brow before most eyes had opened. Freddy worked. Circumstances were not fair. Continue Reading →