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Nicaragua National Zoo

Planning a trip to Nicaragua with children?  The National Zoo – home to over 650 different animal species – is definitely worth checking out. From tiny hummingbirds to awe-inspiring African lions they have it all!

The Nicaragua National Zoo is located at Kilometer 16 of the Managua-Masaya road.

It is closed on Mondays, but open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. The entrance fee is C$15 for adults and C$10 for children. 

Entrance fee to the butterfly and orchid garden (my favorite place at the zoo) is an additional C$15.

Learn about Nicaragua National Zoo.

5 Nicaraguan Souvenirs You Probably Won’t Want to Buy

#1

EROTIC ASHTRAY
I spotted these rare and lovely pieces at one of the shops in Catarina. When we looked at the girl in the shop with questionable expressions on our faces she described them as “erotica”. These unique ceniceros (ashtrays) sell for just $6 USD.

Nicaraguan Souvenirs You Probably Won't Want to Buy

– How do you like them bananas?

#2

CHICKEN BASKETS
I’m not really sure what use one would have for these rare and interesting baskets, but I am sure of one thing, at $60 USD they don’t come cheap!  

Nicaraguan Souvenirs You Probably Won't Want to Buy

– Yup, that’s right, these baskets are made from real chickens.

#3

“EL BANO” PAINTINGS
These masterpieces come in all sizes.  I had to stop myself from laughing out loud when the shop owner told me the price for a piece this size (16″ X 20″) was $50, but he’d be willing to sell it to me – on sale – for only $40 USD. 

Nicaraguan Souvenirs You Probably Won't Want to Buy

– This El Bano painting is one of the more modest pieces I’ve seen. Many actually show dirty toilet paper littering the ground.

#4

FLOR DE CANA FROG
Whether it be Cuba, Mexico or Nicaragua we’ve all seen multiple versions of the “stuffed” frog. To ensure In Nica Now remains a family friendly website I’ve chosen to share this G-rated photo, instead of the XXX one I have.  At $10 USD (including the Flor de Cana pocket rocket) I suppose you can’t really go wrong.

Nicaraguan Souvenirs You Probably Won't Want to Buy

#5

CUP ‘O BOOB
This exquisite hand painted coffee mug is definitely one of kind and can be yours for only $8.33 USD.  Imagine the reaction you’d get from your coworkers when you walk into the coffee station with this mug in your hand. 

Nicaraguan Souvenirs You Probably Won't Want to Buy

– This might actually be the one (and only time) a “cup of boob” would be appropriate in the office. On second thought…maybe not!

So there you have it!  A sampling of some not so beautiful treasures that can be found here in Nicaragua.  If you’d like to check out some Nicaraguan souvenirs you probably will want to buy just click here.

Shop Till You Drop: National Artisan Market – Masaya, Nicaragua

A day trip to the National Artisan Market in Masaya is an excursion I always enjoy, especially when it’s with friends and family who are visiting.

Mercado

– The building for the National Artisans Market in Masaya covers an entire city block.

With it’s attractive booths, large breezy walkways and high quality handicrafts this market is Nicaragua’s most famous. It’s located just an hour from the International airport in Managua and is known for having the highest quality handicrafts in the country.

Many vendors speak English and almost all are willing to negotiate on their prices.  

Some of the more standout pieces found at Mercado Artesanias in Masaya are as follows:

Hammocks
The hammock is Nicaragua’s signature craft found.  Hammocks range in price from $10 – $20 for the simple ones and $30 – $60 for the nicer ones.  The density of the weave and quality of materials help determine the hammocks quality.

The Old Market

– The hammocks shown in this photo take 2 – 3 days to assemble.

Gord recently purchased an extra large hammock chair made with cotton-poly fabric and cedar.  After a bit of bargaining the price was $21.

Hammocks

Baskets
Very unique and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in all the countries I’ve visited I love the baskets shown below.

These baskets are made with bundles of wrapped pine needles that are bound in long coils. They come in various shapes and sizes.  My favorite ones are those accented with bright colorful thread.  

When my Mom was visiting in May she purchased a large basket. Without any negotiation she paid $25.

A Basket with Blue

Primitive Paintings
Some Nicaraguan paintings tend to be a little too primitive for my liking, but if you take the time to look around for that perfect piece you’ll most likely find it. 

Primitive Art

– Smaller pieces start at as little as $5.

– Larger pieces average between $50 – $75.

Pottery
From vases, to urns, to bowls if you can’t find a piece of pottery you like at the market in Masaya, you probably won’t be able able to find it anywhere in the country.  

Prices for pottery start at as little as $2 and go up as high as $40 – $50, depending on the amount of detail and the size of the piece.

– To avoid disappointment when you get home you may want to transport these pieces in your carry-on.

Exotic Wood Crafts
It’s important to choose wooden pieces carefully, keeping in mind the type of climate you will be taking your piece back to.  Mahogany is best and less likely to crack in dryer areas. 

The average price for a nice medium size piece – whether it be a bowl or vase – is about $20.

– A spectacular piece may warrant a spectacular price tag.

A couple of other items worth checking out at the market include soapstone carvings and leatherwork. 

And like other artisan markets around the world there is no shortage of trinkets to be found. Keychains, wooden boxes, maracas and slingshots – they have it all!

– A typical trinket shop

A few hours spent at the market in Masaya is always a fun experience and one that I think I will never tire of. 

I look forward to the day when I have a Nicaraguan home of my own so I can decorate it with some of these beautiful works of art.

Do You Wanna Buy an Iguana?

We were recently driving along the highway,  just outside of the town of Masaya when we spotted some youngmen on the side of the road proudly displaying iguanas.  I pulled over to snap a photo and learned the following:

1.  These iguanas weren’t being sold as pets.  They were being sold for the meat.

2.  A nice plump iguana goes for approximately $4.35. Yup, that’s right 100 cordobas gets you one of these bad boys.  If you’re looking for more bang for your buck you can have both for 180 cordobas or $7.83.

Since taking these shots I’ve learned a bit more about this Nicaraguan custom through an interesting article by another WordPress blogger, Rachel Wyatt Lindsay.  

To read about this vegetarian’s experience eating iguana and the link between the Catholic Church and the threat of extinction for iguanas in Nicaragua click here.

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