The highway runs along the east side of town. The actual town is pleasant in a non-crowded way. That is, many people get to their destinations on foot and so the town is not totally cluttered with cars. The map is located at here. The large, full resolution maps (5mb ZIP files) are available at the INETER website, click to download PART 1 & PART 2 of the Esteli city map.
An excellent history of Estelí can be found on manfut.org and as it is already in Spanish, you don't have to translate it. :-) Thanks Carl. In addition, a video produced in 1985 shows Estelí at that time. Amazing how little it has changed.
NicaLiving member Billy Bob just wrote a walking tour of Estelí. Check it out here .
The NicaLiving Esteli photo gallery.
- Police: 118
- Red Cross: 119
- Fire Dept: 713 2413
I would classify Estelí as a mixed transport town. There are lots of buses, bicycles are almost as popular as cars, oxcarts and horses, while less popular are there; you can walk to most things, taxies are all over and home delivery is available.
Most Taxis are Kia Prides. There are little cars that, unlike Hyundais, seem pretty sturdy. Shared cabs are the rule rather than the exception and fares are per person. A hand wave will get a cab to stop. Expect to pay C$8 for a trip most anywhere within town, C$10 for a trip from one end to the outskirts on the other end. After dark, prices are pretty much up for grabs but expect C$10 for normal trips, C$15 or more if the cab has to go far away or to "a bad area".
Another alternative is the Urbano. This is a local bus that stops, well, everywhere. That is, just about anywhere you want. For example, the El Rosario-Hospital Urbano runs from my end of town (at the north end) thru town to the hospital which is on the Pan Americana, south of town. Fares are cheap (C$2.5 sounds typical plus whatever the pick pockets can get. So, watch your money. Just get on and sit down (if there is space). Someone will come around and get your money--the driver just drives. (Note that this rule is apparently true for all but one Urbano. On that one, you pay as you leave. Strange.)
If you have a lot of stuff you need delivered, look for a person with a hand cart. There are square boxes with two car tires on them. They hang out near the central park (SW corner), the public market and around hardware stores. Prices seem more negotiable but C$30 is probably about as much as you will ever have to pay.
For bigger loads--from a small pickup to a 5 ton truck, look around the Shell station a few blocks east of the park on the Pan Am. Prices (and number of helpers) seem negotiable but cheap.
Outside of the central core which had lots of street signs attached to buildings on the street corners, the rest of the town is identified by barrio names. I hope to get a map to put up here that should help you out.
That said, the actual barrio you are in is subject to interpretation. For example:
- My Electric bill is hand-delivered to a description in Barrio Carlos Nuquez
- My water bill is hand delivered to a description in Barrio Omar Torrijos
- The garbage people claim I am in Barrio 16 Julio
- My cable bills claims Barrio Arlen Siu
- Some people have suggested I am in Barrio El Rosario
- My friend Stephen, who lives a block away, has more suggestions
The good news is that it seems with any of these descriptions, my house can be found. I am sure "Where does the Gringo with the big furry white dog named Carlos live?" would also work in much of Estelí. Note that sometime in January, 2005, I am moving about five blocks south of Mercado Alfredo Lazo in the south end. It will probably take a few weeks before everyone in town knows that Carlos and I live in a different place.
I will add pages about "places" in Estelí as time goes on. As food is a common question, I will attempt to add restaurants to give you a general idea of what to expect.
While talking about addresses, let me point out that on or about 1 July 2007, the post office moved. It is now located in the "old hospital". (I know this because I went to pick up my mail in my box yesterday and was surprised they were closed at 11:50. Today I was told by Gixia that her mom said they moved. No notice on the old building--just the door closed.)
DestinationsWhile somewhat redundant, here are some destinations that any cab driver will understand. If you are not going to these specific places, prepend a number of cuadras (blocks) and a direction.
- la renta
- los bancos
- la escuela normal (which is sometimes called "el normal"
- el parque
- el parque infantil
- Texaco viejo (Petronic El Carmen in the middle of town)
- transito (transit police)
- cotran norte (bus station for buses going north and some to Managua)
- cotran sur (bus station for southbound buses--both contrans are on the Pan Am about 500 meters apart)
- Cotran viejo (where the bus station used to be--just south of Mercado Alfredo Lazo)
- Las Segovias
- Del Hogar
- El hospital
- La Casita
- Mercado Alfredo Lazo (south-end public market)
- La pelota (the ball on the Pan Am where the road to Jinotega splits off)
- La iglecia
Buses to Other AreasIf you are traveling outside of the city proper, there are two bus stations along the east side of the Pan Am, less than 500 meters apart. They are named Cotran Norte and Cotran Sur. You can probably guess which one is further north. Why are there two? Politics.
As a general rule, if you are going to head to a destination north of Esteli, go to Cotran Norte. The exception is Managua where there are buses from each terminal. When bus shopping, for bigger destinations you have your choice of express or "ordinary" service. There is a certain amount of charm calling non-express ordinary but, if you just want to get to the other end the charm will quickly wear off. As for prices, a trip to Managua is about C$30 ordinary, C$50 express.
There are two public markets. One is a block north on the NW corner of the central park. This market is in a building. The other market which amounts to a few blocks of stalls--some permanent, others not--is located at the south end of town. If you head down the main southbound street (the one with the banks and one block west of the central park) you will eventually come to the market. As well as fresh produce there are lots of little storefronts that sell beans of all sorts and rice.
An alternative for fresh produce is to just stay at home and wait. Trucks, carts and people with produce in plastic bags cover the town regularly. Prices vary from good to bad but you have a choice of whether to buy.
For real groceries, there are three supermarkets (for a certain value of super) plus an uncountable number of pulperias. The supermarkets are:
- Las Segovias -- six or so blocks south of the banks. This is the largest and oldest of the supermarkets.
- Del Hogar -- just north of the public market on the main northbound street. I have never found the sign. It is on the west side of the street on the north side of an intersection. This is the most creative of the supermarkets. TSP (texturized soy protein) and Negro Modelo have been seen there.
- Palí -- on the main northbound street a few blocks south of the central park. Palí is the low-end store of a Costa Rica grocery chain that Walmart is buying. This is a small store but it likely has the best prices for what it has and you can sometimes find things there that are common in Costa Rica but hard to find locally.
There are five banks in Estelí: BAC, Bancentro, Banpro, Banco ProCredit and BDF. All except Bancentro are on the one corner with traffic lights on the main southbound street. This puts them one block west and one block south of the central park. All five have ATMs but only the BAC one coughs up dollars. Bancentro is located a block north of Palí and, as a bonus, its ATM will talk to you in English, Spanish or French.
Estelí is the home of the only traffic light on the Pan Americana between Managua and Honduras. In addition, there are three other traffic lights in Estelí:
- NW corner of the Parque Central
- The bank corner a block south and a block west of the Parque Central
- At the Old Texaco (Petronic El Carmen) on the main northbound road thru town.
There are six gas stations in Estelí. I suppose gas is somewhat misleading as they all have diesel, of course. And Petronic El Carmen also has kerosene.
- Petronic on Pan Americana at the south end of town.
- Petronic on the main northbound road thru town at the traffic light. This used to be a Texaco and lots of directions are relative to the Texaco. For example, the cable company is 3.5 blocks east of the Texaco meaning this gas station.
- Old Shell on the Pan Americana at the south end of town (but north of the PetroNic)
- Shell on the Pan Americana east of the Parque Central a few blocks.
- Esso a few blocks north of the Shell
- StarMart on the Pan Americana at the north end of town. While this is a Texaco, it is known as the StarMart. A reference relative to the "Texaco" is actually relative to the Petronic in town. Confused yet?
There are auto parts stores all over town--about half on the Pan Americana. Repuestos San Cristobol on the Pan Americana looks small but seems to have an amazing assortment of part. Briones, in town a few blocks south of the Parque Central, is auto parts and a hardware store. I have found metric bolts here, for example. Unlike in the U.S. where everyone has the same thing, auto parts stores and hardware stores tend to have different inventories. So, if the first store doesn't have it, keep looking.
If you need a tire repaired, just look around. There are tire repair places everywhere. I would guess ten on the Pan Americana in Estelí. I took a tire to a little shack with two people and an air compressor just south of the StarMart. I was running errands and came back about an hour later. It was fixed. I asked how much and he said C$20. Being amazed (that's about $1.20) I asked how come it was so expensive. He explained that there were four holes he had to patch. He was serious and I was more amazed.