.

Photo Samples, North / Central America

Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panamá

 

The south-eastern part of Central America is certainly less historically interesting than Guatemala, Honduras and Yucatan, however, if you are looking for nature and colonial architecture, it's hard to beat the rain forests of Costa Rica, the classic cities of Leon and Granada - and anything in Panama.

Of these, Costa Rica has "suffered" badly from over-tourism for a decade or two, while Nicaragua to the west and Panama to the east are much more unspoilt. In particular Panama is a gem but for some funny reason, te tourist trail seems to run in between Guate and Costa Rica - avoiding El Salvador and Panama alltogether. On my latest visit to the region, these two countries proved to be the pearl.

As always, all photos are © Claus Qvist Jessen, and none of them are to be used without my permission.

Happy man in a local wheelchair; Honduran border, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The largest cathedral in all of Central America, the one in León, Nicaragua, seen from the Parque Central. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The church and convent of San Fransisco; León, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Inside the convent of San Fransisco; León, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Selling hot-dogs in front of the Martyrs Monument; León, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A nice place to study: The market of León, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Happy faces at the market of León, Nicaragua. Maiz are being fried and potatoes weighed. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Street-side money changer; León, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Christmas is coming! Deers on display at the streets of León, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The magnificent cathedral of Granada, Nicaragua. Originally built in the 16th century, it has been rebuilt several times later on - last time in 1915. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Another colonial church of Granada, Nicaragua, the Iglesia de San Fransisco. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Colonial building close to the Parque Central; Granada, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

In Granada, Nicaragua, horse carts still do as taxis - not only for tourists. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Happy traditional dancer girls at the Parque Central of Granada, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Making a hammock is always done by hand. Granada, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Scenes from the bus station; Grenada, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Carts at Lago Nicaragua; Grenada, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Tilapia and cichlids being sold at the fish market; Grenada, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Sunset on the magnificent Lago Nicaragua; Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local boat plying the Lago Nicaragua; Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

No dogs, guns or knives allowed on the boat! Lago Nicaragua; Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The fantastic and still active Volcan Concepcion of the very rural Isla de Omitepe (Omitepe Island) of Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The smaller and less known Volcan Madeira; Isla de Omitepe (Omitepe Island) of Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Growing tobacco close to San José de Sur; Isla de Omitepe (Omitepe Island) of Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local hut in a small hamlet close to San José de Sur; Isla de Omitepe (Omitepe Island), Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The weekly pig-towing of San José de Sur; Isla de Omitepe (Omitepe Island), Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Friendly faces; San José de Sur; Isla de Omitepe (Omitepe Island), Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Wooden toy trucks from the tiny village of Alta Gracia, second town on Isla Omitepe in the middle of Lago Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A "real" truck - and, believe it or not, it was actually operational! Alta Gracia; Lago Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The local sport: Pool; Alta Gracia, Lago Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Shy girl eating chips; Alta Gracia, Lago Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Delicious cooking; Alta Gracia, Lago Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The local broom girl; Alta Gracia, Lago Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local worker from Alta Gracia, second town on Isla Omitepe in the middle of Lago Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Girl at school, Alta Gracia, Omitepe, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Rio San Juan at El Castillo, Nicaragua. Further downstream, the San Juan becomes the border with Costa Rica. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Sunset at the Rio San Juan at El Castillo, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Waiting for the signal. Local riders on horses and mules before the race, during the annual fiesta in El Castillo, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The beach of Playa Las Penitas, Nicaragua. In the summer (June to October), thousands of turtles lay their eggs here - always at nighttime. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Pacific views at Playa Las Penitas, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Road works at the semi-deserted hamlet of Las Penitas, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The difference in between high and low tide is a couple of meters. These boats only get water at high tide. Playa Las Penitas, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The main reason to go to Playa Las Penitas, Nicaragua, is the mangrove hinterland. Chances of spotting birds and reptile is quite good. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Locals fishing in the mangrove swamps behind Playa Las Penitas, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local fishing boat; Playa Las Penitas, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Lucky boy with a good catch: A 10 pound Spanish mackerel; Playa Las Penitas, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The bay of Bluefields, one of the most colourful (and unfortunately most criminal) towns in Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local market in Bluefields, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

yoyo-mama.jpg (43973 bytes)

Doing the yo-yo in a church window; Bluefields, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Kids at the Indian island of Rama Key, just 10-15 kms south of Bluefields. Hardly any tourists have ever heard about the place, which is inhabited by 100 % pure-blooded Indians. A rare sight these days. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fishing from a small bridge in one of the true wonders of the world: Isla de Maiz, a tiny island four hours of sailing from Bluefields, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The local market of Isla de Maiz; Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local fisherman, Robbie, showing a beautiful "shad", caught by the Danish tourist - me. Isla de Maiz, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Local houses; Isla de Maiz, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Very local barbecue; Isla de Maiz, Nicaragua. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Funny blue lizard of Isla San Andres. The island belongs to Colombia, but it's only a few kilometers from Isla de Maiz of Nicaragua. The main export in between the two is cocaine, which may explain the blue lizards! © Claus Qvist Jessen

costa-rica-jesus.jpg (40818 bytes)

Catholicism is very strong in Latin America, and being there during Semana Santa (Easter) virtually ensures an extrordinary adventure. This Jesus look-alike boy is from a Good Friday Easter parade in San José, Costa Rica. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The quiet backwaters of Tortuguero, Costa Rican Carribbean. Great for watching birds and fishing. © Claus Qvist Jessen

tortuguero2.jpg (69293 bytes)

Different light, same adventure; Tortuguero, Costa Rican Carribbean. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local guy Jim doing his cooking in his very primitive shelter. The menu was colourful cichlids caught the same morning. © Claus Qvist Jessen

After laying her eggs, this female Atlantic Green Turtle returns to her right element - the Carribbean Ocean. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Carribbean coast of Costa Rica is largely without cars and other hard traffic. Instead, the towns are made of stilt-houses with rain-proof cement pavement in between; Barra del Colorado, Costa Rica. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Carribbean bars are full of cheap beer and rum, and an excellent way of getting to know the locals is to start drinking. Being a non-drinker won't do you much good! Barra del Colorado, Costa Rica. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local happiness at Barra del Colorado, Costa Rica. The gentleman at the right is my old friend Alejandro Guiterrez in whose house I have been staying three times from 1990 to 1995. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Danish angler Johnny Jensen i a hammock in the house of Don Alejandro Guiterrez of Barra del Colorado, Costa Rica. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The main reason to go to Barra del Colorado in Costa Rica: The fishing, here represented by a self-caught 80 pound tarpon. Click on the "Tropical Fishing" to see more Costa Rican fishing shots. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The main street of the beautiful highland town of Boquete, western Panama. Due to the pleasant climate, Boquete has become a favourite refuge of rich American retired people. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Rio Caldera of Boquete, Panama. Further upstream, there is a chance of catching a trout. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Traditional dancer of the western highlands of Panama; here in Boquete. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Small bus passenger, obviously a bit afraid of the cold; Boquete, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The local beggar of Boquete, Panama, holding his newest possesion: my blue t-shirt. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Ngöbe-Buglé women and her son from the highlands north of Boquete, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Ngöbe-Buglé girls of the highlands north of Boquete, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Ngöbe-Buglé dresses for sale; Boquete highlands, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Sunset acros the Golfo de Chiriqui; western Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fishing boats; Chiriqui, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Rock islands of the Golfo de Chiriqui, Panama. Several larger islands have been bought by European and American millionaires and huge mansions have been built. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A fine, 10 pound red snapper ("pargo") from Golfo de Chiriqui, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Jumping howler monkey; Chiriqui, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Road-side toilet; Chiriqui Province, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Azuero Peninsula is famous for their colourful fiestas, in particular during the carnival in February or Corpus Christi in June. For the occasion, elaborate masks are made; Villa Los Santos, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Bell tower; Villa Los Santos, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Happy chef; Villa Los Santos, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Lottery vendor; Las Tablas, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Musical cafe owner of Las Tablas, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A chair is being made; Las Tablas, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The village of Santo Domingo is famous for its makers of "polleras", the traditional wedding outfit of women. This gentlewoman is aged more than 70 and has made hundreds of polleras during more than 50 years of working. All is made by hand, and the price of one may exceed 2-3,000 USD. Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Pollera detail; Santo Domingo, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Making of the belt for the pollera - hand work by a 90 year-old woman! Santo Domingo, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Panama hats on display; Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A Panama hat is being born. One hat requires between two and four weeks of work and don't go cheap. Prices start at 20 USD; Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Charming girl; Ocú, Azuero Peninsula, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The major attraction of Panama is the Panama Canal, here at Miraflores. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Miraflores Locks, looking towards south; Panama Canal, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Looking North; Panama Canal, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Panama overtaing at the Gatún Locks, the northernmost locks of the Panama Canal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local cooking; Escobal, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Cheers!! As anywhere, the empty bottles remain on the table to who can drink the most. Escobal, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Another happy drinker of Escobal, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Most of the Panama Canal consists of the Lago Gatún, here close to the village of Escobal, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

For decades, the city of Colon has been ranked among the saddest and most dangerous places on earth. The slum is dense and the poverty is obvious. Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

More slum; Colon, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

But a happy face - here in the bus leaving Colon, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The entrance of the 16th Century Fuerte Santiago of Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Looking out towards the Carribbean from Fuerte Santiago of Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Old gun of the Fuerte Santiago of Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fuerte San Fernando from above; Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

As incredible as it may sound, this immensely fat woman made it inside the entrance of the Fuerte San Jeronimo, however, she gave up the stairs! Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Aduana Real of Portobelo, Panama. Here, the Spaniards collected all the riches stolen from South America and later shipped to Spain. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The catholic church of Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Bayside houses of Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Ramshackle houses are plentiful in Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local restaurant, Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A bird-cage is being born. His t-shirt says "I'm selling my wife". Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

So young and in jail! Small boy behind a steel fence; Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Originally, the Kuna Indians live in the autonomous region of Kuna-Yala in NE Panama. However, like the Otavalo of Ecuador, they have discovered the virtues of making souvenirs for the tourists, here in Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Young Kuna woman of Portobelo, Panama. Right: Her leg decoration (elaborate pearls). © Claus Qvist Jessen

Charming girls; Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

And another one; Portobelo, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The view from the top of the luxury Rainforest Resort, Gamboa, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Cheeky cappuchiner monkey climbing the boat; Gamboa, Panama. © Claus Qvist Jessen

 

button12.jpg (5359 bytes)

button12.jpg (5359 bytes)