See Something Different and Visit the Stone Carving Hermit of Nicaragua

By Nomadic Matt | Published April 3rd, 2014

esteli, nicaraguaNicaragua is a place that attracts visitors with its surf, beaches, hiking, volcanos, and delicious food. You’ll never be short of something to do. But if you’re looking for something different and personable, travel north to Esteli and search out Alberto Guiterrez, the town’s stone-carving hermit.

He’s not easy to get to but he’s worth the trek.

I got lucky. A friend of mine connected me with a local named Rodney McDonald, who runs a great program teaching communities about fire safety and EMS. (Tragically, it’s not very common in Central America.) Rodney would show me around the area, including taking me to see Alberto.

“Not many people get out to see him. Most don’t even know about him. If you want to break up your hiking, typical sightseeing, and drinking, we’ll go in the morning.” Rodney said to me.

I was intrigued.

How could I say no to that?

Alberto is something of a local character and has been carving figures and images into the rocks around his house for nearly thirty years. While he’s no hidden secret (I wish I could say I was the first to visit with this amazing man), since he is hard to get to not many people actually endeavor to visit him. (Do a quick Google search and you’ll find very little information on Alberto.)

And so, the following morning, Rodney, one of his employees (you can hear her translating in the video), and I climbed into his pickup tuck and headed out of town. We drove to its edge, into rural Nicaragua, where houses became trees and small street stalls. “This is definitely out of the way,” I thought to myself.

We suddenly turned onto a dirt road. There was nothing around but rolling green hills and farms. No signs pointing our way. The road seemed as random as the adventure. We passed horses and a few houses up this bumpy, windy dirt road until eventually, we stopped. On our left was a footpath through a stranger’s farm.

“We’ll head down there to Alberto’s house,” Rodney said to me.

We trekked down the hill, taking time to marvel at the beautiful scenery, before continuing down a small cow path through the woods, eventually coming upon what seemed to be the only house for miles.

A woman came out, greeted us, and led us behind the house, where a sun-kissed, scruffy man with an ear to ear smile came out to greet us. It was Alberto — and immediately he began to tell us stories of the local woods, plant life, and his carvings, all of which are summed up in this week’s video:

The day we spent visiting Alberto, hearing his story, seeing his carvings, and wandering around this random area in Nicaragua was one of the most unexpected and enjoyable days I had during my visit. If you find yourself in Nicaragua and want to see the most jovial and interesting man in the country, head up to Esteli and visit Alberto.

Tell him I say hello.

Directions: Getting there is a bit complicated. To visit Alberto Gutierrez, take a bus or taxi to the Tisey Estanzuela Natural Reserve. Ask to be dropped off at the the entrance to El Calejate or Eco Posada. If you are dropped off at Eco Posada (where you can get lunch/buy drinks, etc), keep walking up the road and eventually, you’ll come to a big clearing on your left with a well worn road going slightly down the hill. There will be a sign that says “El Calejate.” Go down this path, admire the stunning view, and then veer left down the footpath down the hill. Keep walking and you will see a sign that says “Beienvenidos a Galeria Esculturas en Piedras.” Cross the wooden gate and start calling out. Alberto will come out to greet you.

comments 12 Comments

This seems like such a wonderful and unexpected mini adventure. Alberto seems like fascinating person! Thank you for sharing. Loving the videos!

Damn! I can’t believe I missed visiting him. Not easy to get to places and people are the most rewarding experiences. Thanks for the video.

NomadicMatt

There’s always next time.

Kate L.

That was fantastic! One of my near-future goals is to get south of the US border; this is definitely on the list!

Liz

I go to Nicaragua very two years, I love it there.
B
I’ve been on mission trips there three time and taught English with my son (19 at the time) it was fanatic!
I would love a home there because I’ve made many friends there.
Surfing “hotels” up north have hostel type rooming and fantastic food. Just out of the way and not with he American crowd down at San Juan del Sur

Wow! I will be landing in Managua April 12th and will depart out of San Jose Costa Rica the 20th. I wonder if we will be able to visit Alberto!

The world is so much a better place for characters such as this guy. This is one of at least a thousand reasons that travel makes you rich!

Donso

Going to Nicaragua May 5th, wonder if I can visit this gentleman and have a chat with him. How much rain we will see on May? Anybody?

That’s what travel is all about – meeting interesting characters like this one!

Jen

What a clever fascinating man. It really is off the beaten path and definitely seems like its worth the little bit of extra effect to visit.

I saw the entire video and that man is amazing, 30 years into carving!! Yours was indeed a great adventure. Keep it up.

Meeting local people in this manner is a big thing about travel that I just love. Incredible that you got to meet him Matt!

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