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Travel Journal


This day we had to change our original plan due to an important sport event that took place at Mancarrón Island: a baseball match between Mancarrón and San Fernando, another large island within the Solentiname archipelago. Our original plan was to go to San Fernando, and visit some of the attraction of that island. San Fernando is also famous for its primitive art, but this island is mostly dedicated to paintings, whereas Mancarrón focuses more on wooden handicrafts. There is a nice museum about Solentiname, and the island also boasts some beautiful natural settings.

However, due to the baseball match that took place at Mancarrón, the majority of the San Fernando population came to this island in the morning to watch this important game. We would therefore not be able to see the artisans at work or visit the museum, and we decided to adjust our plan. We were told that there were petroglyphs at the Mancarrón Island, and along the road to these petroglyphs there was supposed to be a nice viewpoint. After hearing this, we decided to visit these places first.

Before going there, we walked towards the small community close to the wharf. Here there was another attraction which we did not yet visit: the museum. The museum’s collection was set up in one room. On display were artifacts that were recovered from the island, as well as some insects and a few other animals. Among the animals was also a Gaspar, which is a fish commonly eaten during Holy Week in Nicaragua. It was the first time I saw this fish, and I was surprised by its pre-historic appearance. The museum furthermore houses a small library with a collection of mostly Spanish books.

On our way back to the hotel we passed by the very unique church. Not only is it painted in bright colors and equipped with colored windows, but the interior is also completely in Solentiname-style. Primitive paintings decorate the walls, and it is certainly one of the most colorful churches in Nicaragua.

We then returned to the hotel to meet Jaime and visit the viewpoint and the petroglyphs. He was waiting for us, and he accompanied us together with his daughter of 9 years old. We were glad to see that she also came along on her sandals, because that was an indication that it would not be as tough and long as yesterday’s trip. This indeed was true, because after only 20 minutes we reached the viewpoint. The viewpoint itself was unfortunately not as spectacular as we hoped, because trees blocked most of the view. Because there is no substantial tourist infrastructure at these islands, maintenance work like keeping the vegetation low at viewpoints or clearing trails is something that is not yet done. On one hand this is also a nice aspect, but in this case it meant that the viewpoint was much less attractive. Anyway, we continued towards the petroglyphs. These ancient stone carvings are found throughout Nicaragua, and in the Solentiname archipelago there are also a great number of these archeological objects. It took not long from the viewpoint to find the first one. It was a large grey rock with subtle carvings. Jaime tried to accent the shapes by watering the rock. A little down the road we found a couple other petroglyphs. Sometimes the shapes of people or monkeys could be recognized in the stones. Besides these couple of stones there was not much to see here, so after a brief visit we returned to the hotel.

When we came back to the hotel, the baseball match had already started. We decided to watch the Solentinameños play this important game, and after the match we would head to San Fernando. The baseball field was only a couple meters away from our hotel, and we could perfectly observe the proceedings from a relaxing chair in the garden of the hotel.

Baseball is the most important sport in Nicaragua, and also in Solentiname a large part of the population is involved in the sport. We saw several people that we had met before play for Mancarrón, including our guide Louis. And people who do not play often enthusiastically support their team from the side.

We saw the match develop in favor of the other island, San Fernando, but the supporters of Mancarrón loudly defended their team and it might be this fierce support that brought Mancarrón to the leading position. The game took place at an open field that was called a baseball field mostly because there was a little stage where supporters could find seating. There was no fence around the field, and because the field was located right next to a trail that connected the wharf with the village, the match was sometimes interrupted by pedestrians crossing the field. At one points all of the balls were lost somewhere in the bushes surrounding the field, and the game was halted until somebody found one of the balls. It was a game very typical for the rustic, relaxed islands of Solentiname, but it was nevertheless quite entertaining to see.

During the game we also took a break because we had to wash our clothes. The El Peñon hike left us with muddy clothing, and it was quite a task to clean all this. We washed it ourselves, by hand! It was the first time for me to hand-wash my clothes, and although it was rather difficult and time-consuming, the clothes ended up more or less clean.

When the final inning of the baseball game approached we decided to head for San Fernando, leaving Mancarrón behind us when the home team had a solid lead. During the boat ride to San Fernando we could observe the many green islands of Solentiname, varying in size from very small to very large, but all of them densely forested and beautiful to see.

At San Fernando we tried to find some artisans working at their paintings, but because the game had not yet finished there was nobody at work. We tried the museum, but this was also closed. It looked very nice from the outside, though. We did find a lady who was painter and also member of the cultural center in San Fernando. At this cultural center, the artisans have set up several rooms with paintings and other art objects of the island, and there is also a huge mural in the famous primitive style. The paintings were very nice and very natural, and the lady also brought us to her sister – also a painter – who showed us something of her collection too. It’s interesting to see how this whole area is dedicated to these artistic activities.

We decided to just enjoy the superb sunset and then head back to Mancarrón. From San Fernando, we saw the sky turn orange and form a spectacular background behind the beautiful islands. It’s not hard to imagine where the painters find their inspiration to paint their picturesque landscapes.

Just before we left, news came in from Mancarrón: the team from San Fernando had miraculously beaten Mancarrón in the final inning! Not a good baseball day for Mancarrón.

It was dark for the second day in a row when we arrived at the wharf of Mancarrón, and we enjoyed another fine dinner before we packed and prepared for the trip to our next destination: Sábalos.