I had some difficulties related to traveling during Holy Week, but saw a procession for Good Friday. In Estelí, I visited a small one room museum about the Nicaraguan revolution and the Sandinistas.
I had been warned that the country slows down for Holy Week and that Thursday and Friday are particularly slow. On the advice of La Selva Negra staff, I took a taxi to Matagalpa (rather the the bus) . I planned to take the bus from Matagalpa to Estelí. However, all the buses had stopped running. I hired the driver to take us to Estilí. On the way, I saw tons and tons of coffee in bags waiting to be exported. I also saw an entire valley of rice.
In Estelí, I could only find one open restaurant. Everyone was in the Cathedral. On Friday, there was a procession . On corner of main street, there were sawdust pictorials portraying the stations of the cross . The priests led a procession of about 1,000 people. A brass band played music. At each block, the priest prayed and reflected on the particular station of the cross. After the procession passed, the sawdust picture was destroyed.
I visited a 36 meter waterfall, Salto Estanzuela. It is a popular spot full of picnicking locals. I hitched a ride with the local Minister of Health–he was appropriately checking the water for disease. I also visited the Galería de Héroes y Mártires that tells the story of the revolution and the Sandinistas. The displays are simple but moving–photos and articles of clothing of slain revolutionaries. The faces reminded me of my college classmates. They had the same shirts, hairstyles and youthful enthusiasm. The Nicaraguan revolution is generally recognized as a true Central American revolution–a popular uprising of the people against a brutal dictator. The part of the story that has me wondering is the role of the United States. America supported the dictator, Somoza. Estelí is famous because Somoza and his Guardia Nacional made their last stand here–and lost. The Sandinistas seized the city and Somoza fled the country.
I stayed at a good hotel, El Moderno. It was not especially modern, but the people were friendly and the rooms simple and clean.