[Local events] FWD: Traveler's Mind in Nicaragua this winter

David Abel david at thetextgarage.com
Wed Jul 1 12:19:43 PDT 2015


/from Martha Gies:/

     The seventeenth edition of the annual *Traveler's Mind Writing 
Workshop* will be held in León, Nicaragua, December 27, 2015 - January 
6, 2016. As always, we limit the group to ten students (and two 
companions), and $500 deposit will hold a space. These trips have been 
very productive for writers over the years. Have a look at the website 
<http://www.veracruzworkshops.com> and email or call me 
(marthagies at comcast.net; 503-287-4394) if you have any questions.

*Why Nicaragua?*

*/Beauty/*. Called the “land of lakes and volcanoes” on account of two 
majestic lakes and a north-south chain of fifty volcanoes, Nicaragua is 
considered one of the most beautiful, diverse, and fascinating places on 
the continent. Tourism – much of it ecotourism -- is now the second 
largest industry in the country, after coffee.
*/Biodiversity/*. Nicaragua is home to the two largest forest preserves 
in Central America.  Between national parks and nature preserves, fully 
eighteen percent of the country’s land mass is protected, preserving a 
range of biologically abundant ecosystems – rain forest, cloud forest, 
tropical dry forest and wetlands. Even the city of Managua is said to 
harbor deer, toucan, parrots, howler monkeys, and iguanas.
*/Poetry/*. Nicaraguans share an almost mystical love of poetry, and one 
often hears repeated that line of Coronel’s: “Every Nicaraguan is a poet 
until proven otherwise.” Their national poet, Rubén Darío (1869-1916), 
introduced modernism to the Spanish language, and his work was cherished 
by both García Lorca and Pablo Neruda. Today, their best-known poet is 
Ernesto Cardenal, 90, who serves as a freelance cultural ambassador to 
the world.
*/Politics/*. As many of us remember, no sooner had people struggled – 
and died – to rid the country of the Somoza dynasty, finally winning the 
revolution in the summer of 1979, than they got caught in a strategic 
ideological war between super powers which, under President Reagan, took 
the form of the Contra War. Now and for the last 25 years, the country 
enjoys a peace richly deserved.
*/Safety/*. After all the trouble this country has seen, it is now 
regarded as the safest country in Central America!  The cartels 
trafficking through Costa Rica are not tolerated in Nicaragua; likewise, 
the gangs from the north (e.g., la Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street) 
that are rampant in Honduras and elsewhere are kept out of Nicaragua. 
The head of the Nicaraguan federal police – a former Catholic nun and 
Sandinista – has demonstrated a zero tolerance for both of these social 
plagues.

*And why León?*
*/Culture/*. Considered the intellectual and cultural capital of the 
country, this was the childhood home of Rubén Darío, and he is buried 
here, in Central America’s largest cathedral (and a United Nations World 
Heritage site). This is also the home of the Ortiz-Gurdian Art Museum, 
housed in beautifully restored colonial mansions; the restored José de 
la Cruz Mena municipal theater; UNAN-León, the oldest university in the 
country; and a generous collection of 17th and 18th century churches.
*/History/*. Established in 1524, León was moved to its present location 
in 1610, after a volcano made the original location impractical. 
Sutiaba, the adjacent indigenous community, established hundreds of 
years earlier, continues to have a sense of cultural identity – even if 
their land was appropriated by the Spaniards nearly 500 years ago.
*/Passion/*. León is a proudly liberal city, whose prestigious 
university served as a Sandinista incubator. León’s role in the 1978-79 
revolution is on display in colorful murals throughout the city, and the 
veterans, poets and patriots have stories to tell that go straight to 
the heart.
*/Tourists/*. Finally, there are, quite simply, fewer tourists in this 
old cultivated, slightly shabby university town. But if you enjoy 
boating on a beautiful lake, riding horse-drawn carriages over 
cobblestone streets, or even volcano boarding, and if you have time to 
stay longer in Nicaragua, email or call me, 503-287-4394. I have lots of 
ideas for Nicaragua tourism that is easy to get to from León.

Portland-Managua airfare has dropped $100 in the last two months (was 
$1,024, now $926).

Warm regards,

Martha
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