Scattered within 15km of Masaya are the “Pueblos Blancos” or White Towns: Nindiri, Niquinohomo, Masatepe, Catarina, Diria and Diriomo. The name comes from the traditional whitewash used on the villages’ houses – called carburo, it is made from water, lime and salt – as well as a past tradition of practising white magic in the area. The white buildings are pretty, but there’s not much more to see: although each town has its own specific artisan traditions and fiestas, and local identity is fiercely asserted, they seem remarkably similar, sleepy towns with a few people hanging out around nearly identical central squares. CATARINA is the prettiest, the main draw being El Mirador, a lookout at the top of the village that stares right down into the blue waters of the collapsed crater lake of Laguna de Apoyo, with Volcán Masaya looming behind it. Restaurants, cafés and artesanía stalls have sprung up around the viewpoint.

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