We made it into Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, late in the evening. Our flight with the kids had been one of the worst yet. They’re usually pretty good on flights, but this one was a mess. In addition to general crankiness, Olivia had a really rough time with the air pressure in her ears. She’s been on nearly 20 flights and it’s never bothered her before. Not sure what changed, but I feel for those parents whose children have that problem when flying! It’s not fun.
Anyways, we survived the flight and were happily on firm ground in another country, so that’s good. After getting a restless nights sleep, we were awakened by the sun streaming through the crack in the curtains – at 5:45am! Ahh, fun. But at least we got a nice early start to the day! Our hotel had a fantastic breakfast, with plenty of non-grain options to fit our real foods lifestyle. The food was Nicaraguan – stuffed tomatoes, bacon, pan fried plantains and fried cheese, along with rice and beans and plain yogurt. It was great to get a fueling breakfast before our long day.
After breakfast we met our driver, who would be taking us around the country for the next three days. Taking taxis in Nicaragua is not advised, so we were playing it safe. For the price, it was totally worth it – plus we didn’t have to worry about where to park or leaving valuables in our vehicle, because the driver took care of that.
First on our list was touring an organic coffee farm on the side of the Mambacho Volcano.
There are 19 active volcanoes in Nicaragua. When we got to the farm, we could see the ash rising from a volcano on the other side of the valley. A pretty regular occurrence.
During the tour we learned all about coffee production and how this farm uses organic farming to produce some of the best coffee in Central America.
He explained to us that they grow two different varieties, that way should one type develop a disease or infestation, they still have half the plants. Pretty smart.
Olivia and Cliff found some great little bugs along the trail. This millipede fascinated Olivia.
She asked the guide if she could pick it up and he assured us it was safe. She played with it for a full 5 minutes, trying to unroll it from it’s tight circle. Eventually the poor bug gave up on her leaving him alone and unwrapped itself. Olivia quickly jumped back and dropped it as he crawled away.
We saw these minuscule mushrooms everywhere along the makeshift wooden steps on the trail.
The coffee season is January-March, so the equipment wasn’t being used, but it was cool to learn how the berries are processed, once picked.
Once the berries go through this sorting machine, they get hand-sorted once more to ensure only those of the best quality make it into the drying process.
This long bench is where the women sit to hand-sort them.
I found it interesting the reasons he gave for hiring only women for this job. He mentioned that women don’t have many job opportunities in Nicaragua, which after driving through Managua, I would believe. So this gives them a good reliable job. He also said because their fingers are small they can sort much quicker and better than a man, who would probably have larger fingers.
From the machinery rooms we could see the flats where they dry the beans after they are sorted. They pay careful attention to them, making sure they don’t get wet. If they do, it greatly lessens the quality.
On the trail our guide picked us a few not-quite-ripe tropical fruit. The ripe parts were pretty good, but the green parts were very hard and powdery in texture without much flavor. I wish I could remember what they were called, but alas, I can’t.
We also saw ginger plants – root and flowers!
This was a cistern, used to keep water.
With the plants growing on top it looked just a few feet deep, but in reality it was over 10 meters deep! When we looked closely, we noticed a lot of tiny frogs on the plant leaves.
Our guide even found us a leaf with frog eggs, nearly developed into tadpoles and just about ready to hit the water.
Olivia found some pretty little yellow flowers, too.
The kids were really hungry by the end of the tour, so we wrapped it up fairly quickly. Before going, though, we got to see a snake that had just been caught on the farm.
They assured us it was not poisonous, though I was sure I remembered learning that triangle heads were always venomous! I probably need to brush up on my snake 101 course… This one was harmless.
It was a great morning! I was already loving Nicaragua – much more than I expected.
After the coffee tour we headed for the city of Granada…next on the blog.