View from School of Louisa's Dreams, overlooking the town of Nagarote

Nagarote is located on the western coast of Nicaragua, only 42 miles away from the capital city of Managua. The town rests only a few miles away from Lake Managua, Nicaragua’s second largest lake, and lying on the opposite shore of the lake is Momotombo Volcano, the third tallest, active volcano in Nicaragua. The town itself is relatively large, containing about 20,000 people, while the surrounding area is made up of farms, ranches, and small rural villages. The climate in this area is characteristically hot and dry.

The town of Nagarote is a sprawling collection of neighborhoods. The downtown area consists of flat streets lined with brightly colored houses. The center of Nagarote hosts the catholic cathedral, now bright pink after a recent repainting, as well as the town’s shady, central park. The daytime sees a flurry of activity, as farmers and ranchers arrive to deliver their goods. However, life is usually taken at a slow pace as a result of the ever- present, oppressive heat. The nights experience a slight drop in temperature, when the residents sit on their porches, socializing and enjoying the breeze. The people of Nagarote, referred to as nagaroteños, pride themselves on their friendliness, hospitality, and generosity.

Nagarote's cathedral and central park

Nagarote is famous for three unique things in particular. It is claimed to be the home of the quesillo, a favorite Nicaraguan snack food consisting of pickled onions and sour cream wrapped in mozzarella-like cheese and a tortilla. People travel from miles away simply to eat the quesillos nagaroteños. Nagarote’s second claim to fame is a giant, ancient tree. The town’s genizaro is claimed to be the oldest of its species in Nicaragua. Towering near the center of town, this almost 1,000 year old tree receives great admiration by all of its visitors. Nagarote’s third pride is their municipal trash collection system. While many towns in Nicaragua lack the infrastructure to collect solid waste, Nagarote’s municipal government instituted a trash collection system very early one. This decision led to repeated, national recognition as the cleanest city in Nicaragua. Nagarote is now referred to as the “Blue Municipality”, paying homage to their progressive, environmental awareness.

The people of Nagarote benefit from their close proximity to two, large cities, Managua and Leon. As a result, many students and workers commute daily to attend school or work in professional careers. However, the vast majority of the town’s residents are unemployed or underemployed. Extreme inequality plagues Nagarote as it does the rest of the country. It is the lucky few who are afforded a top education and a college degree, while the majority of families cannot afford to pay college tuition or even the costs associated with sending them to public schools. Outside the town, rural farmers and ranchers struggle to produce enough crops and dairy products each season to keep their families afloat. Times have become even harder lately due to climate change, causing drier summers, and more intense storms in the winter. Children in these areas attempt to continue their education, at times walking for more than an hour to attend school, but many times the challenges prove too great. Very few rural children manage to finish high school, and even fewer continue on to college.

Nagarote’s dramatic setting, closeness to the capital city, and superbly hospitable residents make for a wonderful place to visit. All of us who have had the honor to spend time there highly recommend not only visiting Nagarote, but also stopping by to experience the wonderful community that exists within School of Louis’s Dreams. Ask any resident in town, and they will point you in the right direction.

Please click on the video below to watch James Johnson give a brief description of the town of Nagarote.