DATE: 4:51:00 PM
I’m baaaaaack! And I had a fabulous time in Nicaragua. It was a trip of a lifetime, but it has already taken on a feeling of unreality now that I’m back in the US of A.
For years I had heard and seen a bit of the wonderful fiber arts of Central and South America, so with visions of Manos del Uruguay, Mexican serapes, and Peruvian woven fabrics I anxiously anticipated locating some Nicaraguan textiles. I was sadly disappointed. Apparently, Nicaragua is not known for their fiber arts, at least not in Leon and Managua.
However, thread crochet is very popular (although not one of my personal favorites) and I spied many a doily and baby bootie. I even came upon a vendor in the mercado (market) crocheting away on a doily while waiting for customers to enter her booth. I stopped and tried to communicate my pleasure at seeing her working on a handcrafted item and I pantomimed that I too knitted and crocheted. She was gracious enough to show me her pattern book, all in Spanish of course.
At one point I did find a store that specialized in sewing notions, buttons, lace, trim and cotton thread. My mom was able to communicate that I was interested in lanos (wool). After digging around in a cupboard, they brought out some acrylic (ack, take it away!) then came up with some wool/acrylic combos (Lanas Domesticas), made in Central America. So I bought 15 skeins for 75 Cordobas (about $5.00).
Nicaragua is a very poor country and most of the items sold at the markets are cheap Asian merchandise. Leon in particular is not very geared to tourism, which is good, because I really was able to be immersed in the culture, but bad because I had a hard time finding (quality) souvenirs.
Just to find a T-shirt with “Property of Nicaragua” or some such, was quite a hunt. I shopped many clothing stores and saw Sacramento Kings and LA Lakers basketball jerseys on sale (what the…?) but no touristy tees. But I finally located a street vendor in the Parque Central (central park) who had a sampling of Nicaraguan t-shirts and I was able to score a couple for my kids.
Further wanderings around the Parque Central, found me at a vendor who made their own jewelry and carried other Nicaraguan souvenirs. Here are two pair of earrings and a bracelet made from sterling silver and polished stones.
And here is a beautiful woven bag. I have no idea if it was crafted in Nicaragua, but I liked the colors and style and I bought it in Nicaragua.
And of course the maracas, the better to make music with!
A Nicaraguan friend of one of the people I stayed with is an artist and I bought one of his paintings. This painting makes me very happy when I look at it.
At the hotel souvenir shop and later at the airport I was able to make a few more last minute purchases.
A ceramic pot.
A woven purse made out of plant fiber. Again, I don't know if this was crafted in Nicaragua, but I loved the style, construction, and uniqueness.
I took my Shapely T down with me and was able to spend a little time in the evenings ripping back to the short row section and then knitting for 1 1/2 inches before beginning the waist decreases. I'm currently at the "knitting 14 rows even" before doing the waist increases.