Ometepe ovens

The following ovens and masonry cookstove were photographed on the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua in February 1997.

Exterior, domestic ovens can be found in the back yards of about one in twenty of the houses throughout Ometepe.

They consist of a vaulted brick bake chamber, layed in clay mortar. The exterior of the bake chamber, or vault, is rendered with a 1/2 inch thick coat of either clay, or cement-based mortar. Built upon a foundation, the ovens are protected from heavy rain by wooden canopies.

All the ovens had two openings in the bake chamber: the larger acting as the loading opening, and the smaller "eye" allowing a draw through the bake chamber, and the removal of ash.

The bricks used in the foundation and dome are made on the island from local clay. The loading openings are closed with steel shields, cut from the tops of scrap oil drums.

The local estimated construction cost for an exterior residential oven is 100.00 $ US.

outdoor oven

A relatively new oven with two openings to its bake chamber. This oven is unusual in that it has no canopy, relying solely on its cement based stucco finish to shield it from the elements [Altagracia]

delapidated oven

Though looking dilapidated, this oven is still in regular use. It has a second opening to the left which is covered by a crude tin shield. [Altagracia]

outdoor oven

Detail of above oven.

domestic oven

A large domestic oven [Balquay]

masonry cooking range

A masonry cooking range with a horizontal smoke path passing from the fire box [front right] to its masonry chimney behind the wall [rear]. The rectangular opening above the firebox would normally be fitted with a steel plate or grill, and the round openings to its left covered by round-bottomed cooking pots. The narrow rectangular opening and its door are used as a 'warming draw'. Seen here in disuse [Santiago]

1858 account of Omotepe by "El Filibustero" William Walker

Ceramic Workshop in Central America: The Rainforest and the Volcanoes

Marcus Flynn

Montreal, December 1999

Articles by Marcus Flynn

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