On Wednesday the students learned about different music genres heard in Nicaragua, including popular folkloric music from national composers. The presenter who played recordings of the different music types also brought a dance partner to demonstrate the fast-stepping, highly rhythmic dance styles for different types of music. Then it was the students’ turn to practice the dance styles. With much help and tutoring from the instructor over the course of more than an hour, the students got to the place where they …… still needed many more lessons. But they got an ‘A’ for effort and enthusiasm.
Thursday we took a field trip, starting with lunch at the edge of a large volcanic lake. The Mirador de Catarina overlooks the Laguna de Apoyo, a three-mile diameter lake in the hole left by a volcano that blew its top off in a violent explosion more than a million years ago.
After lunch we crossed the highway to visit the small town of San Juan del Oriente, known as the cradle of Nicaraguan pottery. Virtually every family in town participates in some way in the production or selling of pottery. The students divided into three groups based on personal interest to learn about either the artistic inspirations of those who make the pottery, the small business dimension of selling and marketing the pottery, or the local history of how this town came to be famous for its pottery. After the three groups separated and each spent an hour visiting different small shops and homes to talk with local residents (who are very proud to demonstrate how they do their craft), the students came together for each group to give a five-minute summary of their findings to the other groups.
With the academic portion finished, we returned to the souvenir shops at Catarina for a half-hour of shopping. From Catarina we could see the Volcan Mombacho looming in the distance. Friday we will go to the top of this extinct volcano to visit a tropical cloud forest, now protected by a national park. After Catarina we made the 45-minute trip back to Jinotepe. On the way we passed a religious procession from a local town celebrating the festival of its patron saint, a common tradition in every town and city in Nicaragua.