This past year I had the opportunity to briefly tour two communities in Nicaragua: El Viejo and Chinandega. I found the Nicaraguan people to be extremely friendly and welcoming. They smiled and nodded as we "invaded" their space but never once tried to peddle wares or solicit from us.
In El Viejo we toured the central market, Mercado Central, a vibrant marketplace with meats, produce, and clothing.
The Basilica of Immaculate Concepcion of the Virgin Mary in El Viejo was built in the 17th century. The statue of the Virgin Mary is said to have been rescued during a storm from a sinking sailing vessel that was bound elsewhere. The church was declared a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1996.
After a short bus ride we arrived in Chinandega, the 5th largest town in Nicaragua and the name of the municipality surrounding the area that includes El Viejo. The church of Our Lady of Santa Ana was nearly destroyed in an earthquake in 1885 and has been restored to its original beauty. Unfortunately this is the only photo I took of the church.
I have one major regret and that is that I didn't take more photos of the people, churches and buildings. At times I get caught up with the "camera" in my brain and lose focus. I do, however, have the memories.
Although I enjoyed the brief time spent in these two cities I would not, as of this writing, return. I was deeply moved by the people and their pride in their community and country yet the overwhelming poverty I saw in this small sample of Nicaragua was truly distressing.