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Thread: El Viejo

  1. #1

    Default El Viejo

    March 13th, I decided to finally take a trip to El Viejo. I’d been holding off on visiting this city, as a girl named Valentina (that I met on San Valentine’s Day incidentally) had mentioned that she was born there but had never visited it and would like to.

    I’d offered to pay her way if she’d accompany me, but she turned me down saying, “No major pago mi propio viaje y tu pages lo tuyo.” I respect her desire to pay her own way…but after nearly a month she never got together what she needed.

    To get to El Viejo from Leon, I had to take a bus to Chinandega first, then walk across town from the main bus terminal to a place called “mercadito” where
    the buses to El Viejo (and other places to the north) depart. It’s a good walk between the two.

    The bus to El Viejo turned right off the highway right as we reached the city limits and took me through one side of town to the far side. I got off in the far northeast corner of town at the end of the line.

    As this was my first visit, I didn’t have any idea where anything was, so I just picked a direction and started walking. The street cut a straight line through housing for so many blocks that I lost count. Off to the left I could see that the city only extended for another block or two before the streets became dirt.
    Off to the right, the street cut downward toward what I assumed was a river or a ravine, but continued for a good ways. Eventually the street I was on hit a dead end at a ravine. I’d come so far in a line, that I followed a dirt trail between some modest houses and then scrambled down the ravine, crossed a muddy leaf covered bottom, and then up the other side.

    The houses over there were even poorer, and I could tell that I was at the edge of the city, so after I followed the ravine to the right for a bit, I crossed back over before continuing to follow it. I ended up with spider webs stuck to my hat, backpack, and shirt, and I earned so odd looks from the women washing clothes in the aforementioned houses.

    The city didn’t get much larger in this new direction, so I figured I’d already shot past it and was now walking along another edge.

    I did come across a single church with a strange fruit tree. I’d brought my camera, but due to the nature of the neighborhoods I’d been navigating, I hadn’t taken it out of my backpack. Sometimes caution is the better part of valor. However, I risked it to take a picture of the fruit. Does anyone know what this is?

    An old man passing by told me that it’s good for the kidneys, but he couldn’t tell me what it was called. The best I got from him is that the tree is called “Nona.”

    I tucked my camera away and continued along this new edge of El Viejo. The neighborhood got even worse and I continued, and the streets all became dirt.
    I followed the largest dirt trail past a large broken down looking factory off to the left. Between the factory and the dirt road, there were hundreds of literal cardboard shacks and a small line of stores right along the road.

    I stopped at one of these shops and asked the woman what they made in the factory. She told me that it was a “desmontadora” (something to do with cotton), but that it had been closed since the mid-70s. She went on to tell me that even though they weren’t the owners, that some new people had moved into the factory to recycle plastic bottles. It looked like the shacks were also setup on the property of the old factory.

    I haven’t seen poverty like this since I went down into the chureca in Managua about 15 years back to try to teach the kids there to read and write. I asked my neighbor (back in Leon) about it later, and he told me that there were many people left without work when they stopped growing cotton and oranges around Chinandega.

    My experiences in Nicaragua have taught me a new definition of poverty. I’m fine living in a simple single room house, washing myself with a bucket, eating mostly rice and beans, and walking most everywhere I go. I don’t consider this poverty anymore, as I still have my basic necessities: food and shelter.

    What these people on the outskirts of El Viejo are living (as well as those in the chureca in Managua) is real poverty. It frustrates me to see so many people living without hope in what can only laughably be called shelter. Based on what I saw here, whatever Daniel is trying to do for his people, he needs to get it in gear.

    The dirt road passed another factory called “Sahlman Seafood” right before it hit the highway. I guess they handle the shrimp from the shrimp farms there. My neighbor told me that the shrimp farms brought some work, but not nearly enough as it doesn’t take too many people to handle the shrimp.

    I turned right again at the highway and followed it back toward the middle of El Viejo. Along the way, I found a monument with stairs around the outside next to a park. I climbed it and once again risked pulling my camera out for a few shots.

    One of them is of the back of a large statue dedicated to Maria. The statue has “450 Years” on the front of it. I discovered on this trip that El Viejo considers itself to be the center of Mary worship in Nicaragua. I guess that the Spanish brought the first small statue of Maria from the nearby port and up to El Viejo first before taking it on to Leon and Granada and the rest of the country.

    Since the “450 years” is carved in stone, I doubt it’s up to date. Still, this means that El Viejo was most likely founded in the mid-1500s. As I took the shot, I wondered why a city that defines itself by Mary worship would be called “El Viejo.” Shouldn’t it be “La Virgin” or at least “La Vieja?”

    I walked up the highway until I reached the large Catholic church (right on the main road) called the “Bascilica.” It was closed, so I found a shady spot in the park in front to rest and do so writing. I also took two more pictures from the park.

    Around 12:30pm, the bells in the Bascilica starting ringing, and they kept ringing for a good long time. I like the sound of these large church bells, so I wasn’t complaining. It did make me wonder if this was a normal thing around noon in El Viejo (like the air-raid siren in Leon).

    It wasn’t until I got back to Chinandega that I discovered the bells were in celebration of the new Pope Francisco. They were heralding the election of the new viejo in El Viejo.

    I stopped by a gas station near the terminal in Chinandega to use the toilet, and found out there. I paused at a small table and watched the reporters rave about the first Latino Pope for several minutes before I moved on. This is a big deal down here.

    It was a long trip back, and I’d spent a long time walking around the outskirts of El Viejo. Still, I wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I would have been without my sunscreen. I checked myself on the bus back to Leon—no burns, no discomfort. Yeah, sunscreen is a good thing.

    El Viejo is setup right over the main highway, so if you visit, just stay on the main road until you hit the park and the Bascilica. From there, the town sprawls in all directions, but it only has 3 or 4 blocks of anything resembling a business center.

    The rest of the city is more like the Nicaraguan equivalent of a suburb—nothing but housing. It’s close enough to Chinandega that most people who live there probably commute each day for work. I get the feeling that in the more central parts of the city that it’s a peaceful and quiet place.
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    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2
    Junkyard Dog randude's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    Another good read amigo.

    As you may or may not know, I study your stories in the comfort of my townhouse in Seattle. I have the luxury of a fast computer and comfortable setting. I often bring up Google Earth or Maps, Spanish translators and often just go to a google search of the area you are writing about. There is a lot of information about El Viejo, like the following:
    http://www.moon.com/destinations/nic...ndega/el-viejo

    Only a few kilometers west of Chinandega, El Viejo is a cheerful town of some 50,000 Viejanos. Less service-oriented than its big neighbor, El Viejo can still launch you on your next adventure.
    El Viejo is much older than Chinandega. Originally an indigenous community called Tezoatega, for the fierce cacique who once ruled it, the town was renamed for the old Spaniard who arrived in 1562 carrying a sacred image of the Virgin Mary.
    According to legend, when the Spaniard tried to sail back to Spain, the Virgin created a hurricane so that she would be returned to her new home in Nicaragua. The old man complied, and the image soon became the most important Virgin Mary in the country. Her fame has lasted through the centuries, and in 1996 the Pope himself recognized her when he came to declare El Viejo’s church a Basilica Minor. The church is impressive and worth your time to visit.
    Buses arrive half a block north of the basilica, across the street from the market where you’ll find the cheapest eats. Buses called interlocales back to Chinandega leave from the basilica, one block west of the park, and run until about 11 p.m.


    I am using a new translator that uses three translators to translate a phrase called Spanishdict.com/translate
    http://www.spanishdict.com/translation


    It is interesting how one's perspective changes in regard to things like poverty.

    Thanks again.
    Survivor

  3. #3

    Default Re: El Viejo

    That'd be a Noni Fruit. Supposed to be good for everything if you can tolerate the stench.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morinda_citrifolia

    Wonder why they stopped growing cotton and oranges there?

  4. #4
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    That'd be a Noni Fruit. Supposed to be good for everything if you can tolerate the stench.

    That is the VERY reason I have not even tried it... I have heard nogood praise about getting it past ya lips first to reap the benifets...
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  5. #5
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    Quote Originally Posted by kwah2249 View Post
    That'd be a Noni Fruit. Supposed to be good for everything if you can tolerate the stench.
    There's a store in Chinandega that only sold Noni products. Claimed it'd beat diabetes (& damned near every other ailment that may plague man). So we bought a bottle of the juice for my father-in-law. He died this last summer. Don't know if he ever tried any of that Noni miracle elixer.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

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    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    Quote Originally Posted by Daddy-YO View Post
    There's a store in Chinandega that only sold Noni products. Claimed it'd beat diabetes (& damned near every other ailment that may plague man). So we bought a bottle of the juice for my father-in-law. He died this last summer. Don't know if he ever tried any of that Noni miracle elixer.
    Most of the people selling that Snake Oil profess it is "Distilled" that uasually gets peoples attention to even take it....
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  7. #7
    Junkyard Dog randude's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    I followed the link and the stuff sounds horrible. It is nicknamed Cheese fruit or Vomit fruit.

    It is eaten in times of famine.


    Quote Originally Posted by kwah2249 View Post
    That'd be a Noni Fruit. Supposed to be good for everything if you can tolerate the stench.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morinda_citrifolia

    Wonder why they stopped growing cotton and oranges there?
    Survivor

  8. #8

    Default Re: El Viejo

    It actually doesn't have much taste when its young. Its almost like a water chestnut with a bunch of seeds. The riper it gets the worse it smells. By the time it falls off the tree you can smell it several feet away. People wait for it to fall, put it in a glass jug, wait a while longer, then press all the liquid out. This is supposed to be when its the most potent. Ive never tried the juice this way and don't know what you could mix it with to hide the stench long enough.

  9. #9
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    Quote Originally Posted by kwah2249 View Post
    The riper it gets the worse it smells. By the time it falls off the tree you can smell it several feet away. People wait for it to fall, put it in a glass jug, wait a while longer, then press all the liquid out.

    Chavez???
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  10. #10

    Default Re: El Viejo

    . . . That vintage would rank up there with Wild Irish Rose!

  11. #11
    Our Everlasting Love ! doming00's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    I used to reside in Chinandega from 2005 through mid 2011 and I remember the town of El Viejo very well. The town claims to make the best "Rosqillos" in the country. They are baked cracker type goodie that are somewhat salty. The basilica is a must see in El Viejo were they have the annual "Lavado de Plata" (washing of silver) The main table were the Priest has his communion is made of pure silver. Every year people from around the country congretate at the basilica to wash the silver inside the church. If I remember well it was 3 1/2 cordobas to take the interlocal from the Mercadito of Chinandega to the town of El Viejo.

  12. #12
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: El Viejo

    "Lavado de Plata" (washing of silver)

    Man am I glad you put that explaination of that one... My mind went in the gutter for a split second there... ....
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  13. #13

    Default Re: El Viejo

    I love that you were where you were when Pope Francis was chosen, and found out the way you did. I like the pictures you took. It does seem peaceful.

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