Yesterday we said goodbye to Chacraseca. It was exciting to head out on our day of sightseeing and cultural experiences, but also a little sad. The Casa de Paz was a good home for us this week, and the people of Chacraseca are wonderful. We’re grateful to say that some have become our friends.
From Chacraseca, we travelled south past Managua to Vulcán Masaya (the Masaya Volcano). The visitor center was informative, but nothing could prepare us for the drive to the top where we could look into the volcano’s crater. Visitors are only allowed at the top for 5 minutes because the gas that escapes the volcano will make you sick if you stay longer. Even with only 5 minutes to look around, we were blown away. When the wind hit the smoky gasses just right, we could even see the glow of lava at the bottom of the crater!
From Vulcán Masaya, we drove to the town of Masaya. This is an area filled with all sorts of artists and craftspeople, and is particularly known for indigenous culture and gorgeous pottery. We went to visit the Lopez Family, who have been making pottery in the traditional way for generations. Just Hope partnered with the family to help them build their own kiln — prior to that, they had to rent space in others’ kilns, and made very little profit to help their family. Now, they are expanding and doing well.
At the Lopez home, we ate a delicious lunch. Then we watched a demonstration of how their pottery is made, and got to try our hand at working the wheel and etching designs into glazed pieces. When the demonstration ended, we went to their shop and browsed their gorgeous work. Each family member designs pieces differently, so the selection was as wide as it was beautiful.
From the Lopez shop, we went up to the top of the hill where we could view the huge lagoon that separates Masaya from Granada. It was windy and cool, and we enjoyed beverages and ice cream from our perch before heading back down towards Managua. At the end of the day, we settled into the Best Western across the road from the airport, ate a lovely poolside dinner, and enjoyed air conditioning for the first time in a week. Bedtime came early because we had to start waking up around 3 am to be ready for the airport.
Today we’ve made it to San Salvador, El Salvador, which means 1/3 of our trip home is complete. The flight to Houston doesn’t leave until 1:20, so we’re here for a while. Plenty of time is available to eat breakfast/lunch, walk a bit before a longer flight, and reflect on the experience we’ve had.
Before we left, one of our hopes was that we would be changed by our experience in Nicaragua. If that was our goal, then we haven’t been disappointed. It’s hard to be among these people without being changed by their stories, their situations, their hopes, and their radical hospitality. In the weeks and months to come, we’ll work to bring these experiences into our wider church and our daily lives. We hope you’ll join us in worship on Sunday, February 19th when we share stories, photos, and tastes from our trip!
Nicaragua is in our hearts, and to our new friends we say “hasta luego”!