Today we gave ourselves a day off to be tourists and take Katie to San Juan and Caterina. San Juan de Oriente is famous for its ceramics, apparently 95% of the town is involved in the cottage industry – the other 5% is in agriculture. They are justifiably proud of their skills that have been handed down from generation to generation.
After having a look around a few of the little businesses, to get a flavour of what is available, we moved on to visit Jose and Nubia Lopez and family who we knew from past visits. They warmly welcomed us and very happily showed Katie how they made their beautiful articles, pots, dishes, vases and bowls. Nubia demonstrated how the design was drawn onto the painted clay and then gave us the opportunity to try too, Katie was a natural, I was useless.
We examined the oven, which had been used for a firing the night before…
And then went next door to meet Jose’s family who make clay pots, but not the painted ones, and once again we were treated to a demonstration, this time by Fernanda, Jose’s sister who makes, among other things Little Devils, or cauldron-like pots that you can cook on.
For lunch we drove a short distance to Caterina, a pretty town on the side of a volcano, which is known for its craft shops and nursery gardens. There are many homes selling plants for the garden so along with the brightly coloured crafts the little town is well worth a visit. After a typical Nicaraguan lunch we walked up to the rim of the crater to admire the view of Lake Apoyo, Volcan Mombacho and in the distance the town of Granada and Lake Nicaragua.
While enjoying the view we were serenaded by two guitarists who sang some well-known Nicaraguan songs for us – at a price.
Having bought a Little Devil from Fernanda we decided to try it out once we arrived home. My firelighting skills were never the best, so lighting a fire in the cauldron proved to be a challenge, especially as the wood I was using was ‘green,’ the smoke produced was overwhelming and I achieved little or no flame.
Thankfully Santo arrived for his night guard duties, and saved the day for me. He started by giving the Little Devil the kiss of life by blowing into his mouth, that proved too much for him and threatened to cause a collapse. By this time Diederich had arrived to add his two penn’orth and between them they decided more sawdust, some mango wood and a good flap from a dust pan should do the trick…amazingly it did and the Little Devil finally sprang into life and cooked us a decent vegetable casserole which we enjoyed in front of the computer watching an episode of Barchester Chronicles.