Jinotega is in Nicaragua.
Jinotega is the city center of Nicaragua's northern region by the same name which produces 80% of the nation's coffee. Not often visited by foreigners, it has a population of about 20,000 living inside a vast bowl formed by the surrounding mountains – perhaps the width of 200X100 soccer fields. It is known as "La Ciudad de las Brumas" or "City of the Mists" for the magnificent whisks of clouds continuously feathering through the top of the bowl.
The Jinotega region was perhaps the most war-torn region in the Nation's Century. Its remote location provided a haven for rebellious forces throughout the last two previous centuries. It's safe now, in fact you can visit the countryside without a problem if you wish, just find a guide. This will bring you to a corner of the world English speakers seldom see.
When to visit
Certainly the most adventurous time to visit is during the coffee season - December through February. You'll see trucks barelling in and out of the city on the north side, men hauling coffee in on their backs in a frantic scurry. Compared to cities such as Managua and Chinandega, which can be exceedingly hot all year round, Jinotega's climate is relatively pleasant due to its higher elevation.
From Managua there are direct buses several times a day. If taking a taxi, ask for bus terminal Mayoreo or simply for the terminal from where the Jinotega buses leave. At the Mayoreo terminal there is a counter where you can purchase your tickets to Jinotega. Bus fare is C$70, or about $4. The expressos are nice because they make fewer stops and you don't have to change busses in Matagalpa.
Taxis are prevelent and cost C$6 ($0.35) per person anywhere in town. Fares are around C$10 at night.
From within Jinotega you can see Peña de La Cruz, a hill with a cross at the top. The location provides splendid views of the Jinotega valley and surrounding mountains. At the base of Peña de La Cruz within Jinotega there is a cemetery. Cross through the cemetery, stopping to ask where the "sendero" or trail to the cross is located. The journey to the top is steep at times, taking about 30-60 minutes. At the top there is a cool, refreshing breeze.
Of course you can hike to the famous cross, or there are trails in the hills opposite the cross. Many locals go swimming in lake Apanas or its sorounding creeks, but the water isn't the cleanest. You can join the locals and play a game of soccer or baseball. There are several sites around town if you just want to walk around. Also check out some of the restaurants listed here, whoever wrote that section did a good job.
In general Jinotega has a small town feel with not a lot of things to do. The people are friendly but more reserved than you will find in the bigger cities of Nicaragua.
If you need something, first check the Everything for $1 (More or Less) store north of the cathederal a couple blocks. They have tools, shampoo, candles, mugs, etc. If they don't have it, try the more expensive stores like Tienda Rossy, south of the cathederal, or, Almacen Gloria, at the north-west corner of the Union Park. There are a million other little stores too. Just walk around and ask until you find what you need. Pali is going to be your closest thing to a supermarket here. The markets here are excellent, really worth an afternoon wanderings, especially the 'food court' authentic yet surprisingly flavoursome local cuisine for 30cords and up. Also on the far side of the markets close to Pauli, a few great cowboy bars with lots of great local personalities and with visiting street sellers the shops come to you.
For quick lunches, try the tacos at Cafeteria Trebol, on the north side of the central park, with orange-carrot refresco and fruit salad afterwards. Across the street from Soda el Tico is Buffet el Buen Sazon, which is typical but very good. They have a nice salad selection. The pico de gallo and tortilla chips are a treat! There's also Comedor Chavarra near Soppexcca, a block west and a couple south. Same food as you get cheaper in the market, but you can eat it without smoke inhalation.
For a cheap afternoon snack, Pizza Movil Express in the central park is better than Chaba's Pizza and at C$10 a slice, much cheaper too. They're open roughly 3PM-9PM.
For a good burger and beer in town (La Pererra has excellent ones), Country Burger, a few blocks north of Esso Central, gives you one with lots of veggies and decent (non-limp) fries.
The pharmacy south of the cathederal has Cadbury chocolate. For the same price you can pick some up at Castillo de Cacao in Matagalpa. The Eskimo parlor is nice when you want an ice cream cone. There's a newer, cheaper, and friendlier one just south of Punto Moda.
Roca Rancho has C$12 Victorias and live music on Thursday nights starting at 8PM.
Soppecxxa is a good coffee shop that is popular with the few extranjeros in town. Its two blocks ?west? from Supermarket Pali. Check out the bar map they have at La Biosfera Cloud forest retreatTwiggy295 15:30, 13 August 2009 (EDT), 4kms out of town, it lists all the great bars in Jinotega a very entertaining day out.
Hotels run from $4 to $100 a night and are easy to come by.
Of all of the places in Nicaragua to do volunteer work, Jinotega is perhaps the most worthy. Due to its problematic history Jinotega has suffered through a serious decline in infrastructure. Jinotega is a place largly forgotten by the outside world.