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Chronicle: Trip to Puerto Momotombo community

Faustino Salcedo | Apr 23, 2012

The Momotombo volcano seen from the shores of Lake Xolotlan, Puerto Momotombo | Photographer: Faustino Salcedo

A tour in which there was a walking through the Ruins of León Viejo, Momotombo view and a tour to the lagoon “El Tigre” (the tiger).

When the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío traveled by train from León to Managua in the early twentieth century, he was amazed by the elegance and pride that rises triumphant Momotombo volcano so much that it inspired him to create the famous poem "Momotombo." At that time they had not yet discovered the ruins of “León Viejo”. And tourism in the area was much less important as it is these days, because otherwise, he surely would have created a monumental work on the subject. When the team was invited to a press tour at that part of the country, an interest of telling a story of the area was born. Join us then on this travel chronicled, that tries to follow the line of the poem of Dario.

From Managua to Leon Imabite, better known as "Leon Viejo” (Old Lion), there is approximately a time separation of 400 years and 55 miles, this was the first colonial city founded in 1524 by the Spanish conqueror Francisco Hérnandez de Córdoba, and was left in oblivion by the year 1610, its believed because the volcano buried it. This was the first destination of a semi adventurous tour to a city buried under tons of earth, whose ruins were discovered in 1967 by an expedition of the “Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua” UNAN (National Autonomous University of Nicaragua) in Leon.

The ruins are located in the Puerto Momotombo community, from the municipality of La Paz Centro, where you can taste one of the best quesillos in the country, as well as it can be done in Nagarote, but that culinary matter, will be of another subject. When you enter the community, you can see from far, the bald and naked giant volcano, as the poet said. Once in the place we found the owner of the tour operator Nicarao Tours, who organizes some tours around the area, they were the hosts of the tour organized by the Instituto Nicaragüense de Turismo INTUR (Nicaraguan Tourism Board).

Leaving aside the discussion with the entrepreneurs the walk through the ruins, which has an area of 22 hectares. The place where visitors meet is a newly built cottage, which shows a staircase leading to the old floor of a house that was destroyed by a hurricane, centuries ago. This is followed by the presentation of what was the central square; where there is a plaque stating that the ruins were named Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.

At the end of the walk, we were taken to a lookout where the volcano Momotombo is seen in its full splendor. The view forced several of the attendees began to recite the poem previously mentioned. As described in each line (at the end we leave a link to the poem, as usual), except for the "pearl and emerald water" of the Lake of Managua neighbor, now turned gray and sad by modern pollution, but not diminishes the beauty of the colossal mountain.

At the end of the road, the tired feet needed to rest, while the empty stomachs and fools were screaming to be filled. After that hour, in which the brain processes only the taste of food, it was the time for the Imabite Museum, located in front of the Ruins of León Viejo (Old Lion) which displayed handicrafts of wood and stone built by the Chorotega Indians who inhabited the area.

The sun was giving way to darkness, which was only offset by the moon, this timely reflector. At that time we moved to the city of León, the modern University City as some people call it, or the city of the two poets as others prefer to say. In the city downtown there is a very active nightlife. Some people go to Poneloya Beach, located 15 minutes away from León, others stay in the bars and clubs in the city. Our group rested in a room of the San Juan de León Hotel, to charge energies that would be used in the morning.

The next day we returned to the Puerto Momotombo community at 8:00 am. In the place there was a Nicaraguan breakfast waiting for us, at a restaurant owned by a Cuban, and with a Salvadoran waitress, called “El Cubano”. Once with a full stomach, we boarded a yellow truck, which performed movements such as the ones done by a watercraft, due to the irregularity of the road.

The destination was the viewpoint of the nature reserve "Laguna El Tigre". Before reaching that place, the attendees spoke only of the hike to the lagoon and the reaction that could cause the movement of the truck. Once at the site we headed to the lookout before descending to the lake.

From the viewpoint the restful lake and the outline of the big picture is shown. If you look to the right, you see the flat landscape of the road; when you look left, you look at the colossal Momotombo; and if you look back, you have the privilege of watching the Volcano El Hoyo. The viewpoint is a somewhat neglected wood construction and is located 5 minutes from the point where the transportation stays, which for us was the yellow truck.

Getting to the lagoon was a must for those with adventurous spirit. But of course, that's not just enough; you also need physical conditions ideal to go up and down. Once on the shore of the lagoon, it feels as if the water invites those present to join its wet bowels to end the proper heat of summer. Now, there was only thinking on the rise, which usually takes 10 minutes to get to where the truck is parked. But this journey lasted nearly 20 minutes due to the rest stops for travelers.

The last visited site was the shore of the lake of Managua, or Xolotlán Lake, where you can see closely the Momotombo Volcano, which stays motionless watching its people, its lake, and surely, like us, also expects that one day the lake is clean. Momotombo, the mountain habited by the fire of God, as Rubén Darío called it, was the model of many photographs of the journalists on the tour, while at the lakeside a family was eating a fish from the same lake. The presents left the lake in peace, to witness the end of the tour encouraged by the folk dance group Imabite.

Here the link to the poem Poema Momotombo de Rubén Darío.