One of my best friends in Nicaragua is Ruben. He is a fellow Volunteer, and lives in the town of Achuapa. It is in the northern reaches of the Department of León. He closes his service on October 27, and I am going to miss him. When he asked around to see who would help him paint a last minute mural at one of his schools, I wholeheartedly volunteered.

Eric and Ruben

Eric and Ruben

On Friday Ruben was in León with some of his counterparts and a pickup truck, so I got a ride with them back to Achuapa. For the last hour and a half of the trip it was already dark out. The road was narrow and wooded. There was lightning off the distance, but we couldn’t hear the thunder. It reminded me of driving around Pennsylvania in the summer on the evenings of my days off from working at camp. Catherine and Curcio should have been in the back seat, and I should I have been pestering them about not making it so obvious they were sipping on blueberry vodka.


The mural painting went very well. The mural was of the solar system. When I saw Ruben’s design did not have Pluto I told him I would not help unless he returned Pluto (Plutón in Spanish) to its proper place among the pantheon of planets. Ruben relented.

Painting took all day, and we did not finish. But it was shaping up really nicely. I like to call the mural Ruben’s separation anxiety mural. It’s a little crazy to take on a project like this late in service. But he pulled it off and it looks great. Here are a few pictures of the process:



Most of the year Achuapa is a town to be visited by someone who wants to “get off the beaten track,” but still wants electricity and a town accessible by regular bus service and paved roads. Surrounding Achuapa there is great hiking, as well as the possibility for agro-tourism. There is some interesting agribusiness taking place in Achuapa, including coffee, hibiscus wine, and sesame products, like oil and tahini. I’ve even heard that they are trying to produce wine grapes in the area.

How to Get There:

León to Achuapa (3.5 hours):

6:15 AM
7:15 AM
8:15 AM
12:00 PM (not on Sundays)
7:00 PM
3:30 PM

Achuapa to León:

4:00 AM (not on Sundays)
5:00 AM
8:15 AM
12:00 PM
1:00 PM
2:45 PM

All buses to and from Achuapa pass through El Sauce, which offers its own host of rural tourism options, and probably more lodging options as well.

Achuapa to Estelí (2 hours to Cotran Sur bus terminal):

6:00 AM
1:00 PM

Estelí to Achuapa:

7:00 AM
1:00 PM (not on Sundays)

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