28/01/2015 The 15th of January has been a very special day for me. I met 75 year old Alberto Gutierrez, also known as the Stone Man, in his beautiful home deep in the Tisey Estanzuela Natural Reserve. He has been carving stones there for almost half of his life and will proudly present his work, should you make the effort of paying him a visit. It is not the easiest place to find and certainly off the beaten path, but if you ever get near Estelí on your Nicaragua trip, I would highly recommend to make this experience on your own. If not, just check out my report, pictures and the video here 🙂
About three months ago, I started to research Nicaragua and stumbled upon Nomadic Matt’s post about Alberto. What I have read was so fascinating that I had no other choice than putting it on my list. Now I can proudly say that I am yet another person privileged enough to meet this character. To be more precise, I am number 61 in his most recent visitor book. Only about 1000 people have met him ever since he received his first guest in 2006. Fellow bloggers have documented their time with Alberto, providing great information on how to reach him (such as yet another Matt right here) and thereby making it easier for all of us to get there. In my case, it was really easy thanks to my Couchsurfing host Jhon. This is my story of meeting Alberto…
I arrived in Estelí in the pouring rain and while I had no intentions of doing any sightseeing here, I couldn’t wait to get out to Tisey, hunting down the Stone Man Alberto Gutierrez. Getting deeper into the Tisey Estanzuela Natural Reserve, my Couchsurfing Host and I got both more excited the closer we got. One of his friends knew Alberto, so we had a good idea how to get there. You first drive into La Garnacha and follow a dirt road until you see a sign saying “Bienvenidos. Finca: El J Lacate, Dist 1Km”. You then cross the gate and keep on walking down the hill for about twenty minutes until you reach his home with a sign saying “Bienvenidos A Galeria Esculturas en Piedras”. Just go in and call out for him!
Alberto is growing all kinds of fruits on his property and will probably give you some of it too, we got some lemons. If you are lucky you might also get a pineapple 🙂 For the next hour, he showed us around all his stone carvings. It starts off with bits and pieces until you eventually get to the top of a hill with a nice viewpoint, featuring the highlights such as an huge Elephant! He started his work 38 years ago on October 17th, 1977 and since then is carving different landscapes, animals and historical moments into all kinds of stones. I was surprised by seeing the World Trade Center as one of his sculptures!
All of his work has been done with the same tools: two metal chisels and a hammer. He also has a fixed schedule, only working between 6AM – 9AM, enabling him to greet visitors coming during the day. He was also featured in a documentary, which resulted in his bigger popularity, but visiting him still feels like a very unique and special thing to do! I have read that he would be too proud to accept money from his guests, this apparently has changed now since he gladly accepted ours 🙂 I also gave him some sunglasses from Ray Ban, which he really seemed to like and they suited him much better than me 🙂