This entire week we have been visiting museums, cathedrals, and Sandinistas. Our hotels were in the central part of town, and our access to wifi was strong. To paint a picture of Matagalpa, replace the locations of interest to hiking trails, the hotel rooms to cabins, and the access to wifi to being surrounded by nature. We experienced life in the fast lane the first half of the week, and now we are slowing down to unplug in the natural beauty that is Matagalpa.
We will be staying in the northern region of Nicaragua at Selva Negra, an ecolodge and coffee estate surrounded by forests. It was established in 1975 by owners of surprisingly German descent, and its European influence can be seen throughout the entire resort. Germans came to Nicaragua in the 19th century and many established prosperous farms in the north. Today Selva Negra coffee is known around the world.
Today we were spoiled by Lenin, whom you have all come to know as our tour guide from previous posts, let us sleep in until about 10 before we started a long day of adventure. He planned a day of hiking for us and we shortly began a journey that nobody had imagined would be possible. If I could describe our hike in the woods in one word, it would be "¡abajo!" For the less avid Spanish speakers this little phrase means "down!" And down, down we went. But first, I should give you insight on why that phrase had an impact on our day. On the trails, Lenin took us through an advanced path because he has a lot of faith in our physical fitness abilities. We went up, or "arriba" the path through the thick of the woods. At first it was exhausting, and even the shade of the trees couldn't keep us from sweating immensely. When we reached the end of the trail after about 20 minutes or so, we took a celebratory drink of water and headed towards an even more elaborate path to get back without having to take the exact same trail. Having said that, we had to improve some of the trail because there wasn't always a clear path to walk on, and that's where ultimate fun begins. Our first barricade was where some trees had fallen on the path and the only way to continue was to go over them. These trees were dead and wet from the humidity so they crumbled pretty easily. We all hopped on and tried to get to the other side with a sense of urgency so we wouldn't be covered in mulch and moss and tested our true sense of balance. After that, we weaved through some coffee plants and onto a trail that guided us deeper into the forest.
All was easy for an entire 5 minutes until we halted at a ledge. Abajo, was the end of the trail. It was steeper than I had ever imagined, but were all in this together determined to conquer the trail. We decided that side stepping would be our best approach to deescalating the mountain, until our balanced failed us and we slipped. One by one, we fell on our butts abajo y abajo. We stood up and fell some more but all was well because we all laughed so hard all while covering ourselves in the dirt and brush. Meanwhile Lenin, the expert explorer was already waiting for us at the bottom giving to give us tips on how to not fall, while we failed miserably at implementing those tips.
We made it to a road where we began trekking towards our hotel. We hiked for a total of three hours and had in impressive total of 19,000 steps (thanks to Lindsay's fitbit). We walked for about 20 more minutes all discussing the craziness of what we just did and we were intercepted by an ice cream man. We stopped to have a quick frozen treat paid for by the wonderful Lenin, and headed off again on the road. We got picked up in the Green Pathways mobile by the also awesome Elvis, who we were more than glad to see come pick us up and take us to eat at a traditional restaurant that served corn tortillas, eggs, beans and rice. It was delicious in every way possible, and then we got to come back to La Selva Negra to shower and catch up on some reading and relaxation.
Our journey with Lenin and Elvis have come to an end and it's fair to say that we will miss these two guys immensely so we celebrated our last night together with dessert and lots of laughs. Tomorrow we head to Chinandega for the next half of our trip!
Ciao, Vanessa Bauch