"I fell in love with Esteli !!" Estelí by elmachetero

Estelí Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 22 photos

First Impressions Can Be Misleading......

In August 2010, I had originally planned to take my girlfriend down to western Panama to show her places I thought would be good to move to, based on a previous trip I made there in 2007. However, a few well-timed conversations and news articles changed my focus to Nicaragua; I had wanted to go there in 2007, but was hesitant since the Sandinistas had just been re-elected 3 months earlier.

My girlfriends' expression was priceless when I gave her the news. To her credit, after the shock wore off, she did some internet research and agreed to it. Since I am weaning her off of living in a "disposable culture" anyways, this was just more of the same.

After a full day of bus travel from San Jose, Costa Rica, we arrived in Esteli after dark, in the rain. It was close to 9 PM, and my main concern was finding lodgings for the night. After asking some locals in the Zocalo, we managed to find a place. The hostal Miraflor was barely adequate - in a pinch - and we left the next morning in search of Hospedaje Luna, which was written up by the Lonely Planet Guide to Nicaragua as their preference in Esteli.

Getting under the skin

Our stay in Hospedaje Luna was wonderful; the staff there are warm, friendly, and supportive, and the operation is more like a home than a hotel. The property is clean, secure, and geared to travelers; local information is readily available on the bulletin boards and in the on-site tourist office, and there is an excellent cafe across the street that can arrange tours to the local sights. The staff can assist with most situations and requests for information; while you will find most of the staff speak little English, they do understand quite a bit. It is a great place to immerse yourself in Spanish.

Since we were more interested in finding out about the people and the local lifestyle than exploring places on this trip, our focus was getting under the skin of Esteli. Interviews with locals were very positive, and we were received warmly wherever we went. There is no apparent animosity towards foreigners (Americans) as far as we could tell; Esteli was a hotly contested battle-zone during the years of unrest (revolution, contra war), so it was on our minds. I got the impression that they were people just trying to get on with their lives.

Whilst in Esteli, we visited the local sights, such as the Galeria Heroes y Martires De Esteli (a tribute to those who fought and lost their lives in the revolution), the local naturopathic healing centers, a cigar factory (tobacco is a key source of local employment and foreign income), the open air markets, and artisan centers.

In the end....

Esteli is a working town. It is a work in progress, with road improvements constantly underway.

The weather was perfect, although it did rain quite a bit. Temperatures were in the 70's and low 80's, and there was no need for air conditioning.

The majority of the tourist-oriented activities would best be described as geared to responsible environmentalism. From Esteli, you can go on tours through coffee growing fincas, agriculture production farms, home-stays with farming families in Miraflor, and exploring local culture. Since the majority of the American travelers were students, Peace Corps volunteers, or NGO coordinators and volunteers, this makes sense.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great place to explore environmentally responsible living in practice
  • Cons:suffers from power outages
  • In a nutshell:I'm looking for a caretaker job in Esteli!
  • Last visit to Estelí: Aug 2010
  • Intro Updated Sep 15, 2010
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