Nicaragua - Juigalpa

Located east of Lake Cocibolca hundreds of thousands of hectares of desertlike scrubby pastureland make up the department known as Chontales. In this region cows easily out number the residents. The Chontales department produces a little over 60% of the dairy products and almost 90% of the beef consumed in Nicaragua. As a result the area is surprisingly prosperous and is home to some of Nicaragua’s wealthiest families

Juigalpa is the capital city of the Chontales Department located in central Nicaragua. This town, which is the last settlement on the road to El Rama, also serves as a gateway to the Carribbean Coast and a wonderful stopover for those coming from the Río San Juan. The majority of inhabitants here make their living off of either cattle ranching or farming.

Juigalpa is also famous for its annual fiestas patronales which take place during two weeks in August. While there are parties all over town, most of the festivities are located on the north side of town in the Plaza del Toros. Activities include parades, bull riding, rodeos, and horseback games. In addition, a queen of the festival is named.
The area in and around Juigalpa also has strong indigenous roots, the remmants of which are still being discovered today throughout the mountains east of town. Many of these artifacts are displayed in Juigalpa’s Museo Arqueológico Gregorio Aguilar Barea. Ranging in size from one meter to seven meters tall, the pieces are reminiscent of totem poles and are thought to be created by the Chontal culture about 1,000 years ago.