Twenty Progressio volunteers arrived at the lively Placita in Monimbó, Masaya, at 8:00a.m. on a bright Sunday morning. The morning would comprise of cleaning the site of the ancient Petroglifs, 800 year-old cave carvings, with the help of 22 other volunteers. These included members of OrgaNica, a local environment group, a member of Project Raleigh and a doctor who worked for the Red Cross in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, for over 30 years, people living in Monimbó have been throwing all sorts of waste and rubbish into the estuary which runs into the Laguna de Masaya. This has led to the contamination of the Laguna which has left it unsafe to swim in due to the danger of catching diseases. Not one volunteer was looking forward to this activity, especially after the stories we had been told by locals, who described the millions of mosquitoes, the sickening stench of waste and the pools of parasites that passed through the polluted water. 

We arrived to see a steep rocky decline, covered by rubbish which fell into the thin estuary. Although it was going to be a tough, tiring job, everyone picked up a rubbish sack, put on their face masks and headed down the path into the unknown area. The covering trees eventually gave way to the stunning, rocky paths with a small stream flowing between them. Each volunteer stopped in their tracks to admire this beautiful feature. A short one kilometre walk took us to a sanctuary of rubbish and waste which had been washed up on to the paths and big boulders. Everyone was so taken aback by the sheer amount of rubbish that the ancient Petroglifs were not even noticed until an archaeologist pointed them out. As we cleaned boulders and collected rubbish we moved further downstream, filling up 25 sacks. We reached the end of the estuary and no one expected the sight that we saw, a beautiful 50 metre waterfall that trickled into the Laguna de Masaya; the perfect reward after an hour and a half of arduous litter picking. 

Bolder before the clean-up

Bolder after the clean-up

Although OrgaNica clean the Petroglifs once every two months, I would strongly suggest that this activity of cleaning the site continues, as well as trying to change the attitude of members of the local community towards dumping rubbish. I believe that after a lot of cleaning and care towards this historic site; it could be an attraction not just for the people of Masaya, but for the whole of Nicaragua.

Written by ICS volunteer Max Donnell-Ford