Tag Archives: coffee

Journey Through Latin America (Part 9)

This is the lagoon at the Selva Negra Coffee Plantation and ecotourist attraction.  The Selva Negra is located high in the mountains north of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  To arrive here was interesting.  I left Leon at 6:30 AM, when the shuttle was full, and we were only about half an hour outside of Leon when we were confronted with a traffic blockage caused by protesters.  Apparently the community had made an agreement with an electric company who failed to hold up to their bargain.  We backed the microbus up to a shady area and waited some 3 hours until the strike-breaking police force, mostly women, came and freed the highway for traffic.  As we passed through the rock-laden roadway we could still smell tear gas.  In the two months I’ve been travelling in Central America this is the first incident remotely dangerous I’ve experienced, and I actually enjoyed myself the whole time chatting with two lovely pre-med students anxious to get home to Matagalpa for the weekend.

Matagalpa is a pretty town in the cool mountains, coffee country, although it is plenty warm when the sun is shining.  I saw nothing especially interesting to photograph, so the following photos are mostly of the Selva Negra.  The owner named the plantation after the Black Forest of his native Germany, and the architecture is suitably European, like the Chapel above.

Many of the plants are familiar, as they have been exported to the North and beyond for use as house and patio plants.  The wild versions tend to grow much larger than I have ever seen, however.  These elephant ears for example:

 

In the jungle, walking the observation trails, I heard birds more often than glimpsing them.  I saw a large rodent that looked like a little capybara, and smelled, heard, and then saw a small troop of spider monkeys, though they were too far away in the trees to get a good photo.  I also heard howler monkeys occasionally off in the distance.  Mostly I enjoyed the peaceful solitude of this magical nature preserve.  I ate a late breakfast on the grounds and enjoyed some delicious locally grown coffee.

The next day I took a short bus ride to Masaya, which is half way from Managua to Granada, known for its arts and crafts and cultural displays.  I arrived on Sunday, so I saw some native dancing going on to the beat of a marimba band.

 

I stayed in an incredibly cheap hotel for $4 a night, but I had a difficult time finding  a good place to have dinner.  In the morning , however, I had a wonderful pastry breakfast for under $2.  On the whole, Masaya had little to keep me there, so I took the short bus ride for 5o cents to Granada.  Here are some more pics from Masaya:

 

 


Journey Through Latin America (Part 7)

 

This is Alegria, Usulutan, El Salvador which is a small town perched high up the side of a volcano.  I arrived by bus from Playa San Diego via Comalapa, Usulutan, and Santiago de Maria.  I found the hostel I was looking for right on the main square where the bus let me off, but it was a little pricey, so I crossed the plaza to Hotel Las Palmas, which gave me a private room with bath for $10 a night.

 

It is pleasantly cool in Alegria and I enjoyed walking about and taking photos of the tremendous view.  I had to include one featuring the numerous coffee plants growing everywhere.  I don´t usually drink coffee, but the restaurant at breakfast offered locally grown coffee and … nothing else.  It was quite good.

 

 

 

After a filling breakfast including gallo pinto, delicious fried plantains, and salty eggs with fresh rolls, I set off by foot to climb the volcano.  This is why I came to Alegria, you can visit the volcano with just a 45 minute walk from your hotel. It was a beautiful walk on a cobblestoned road winding through a forest full of coffee and other tropical food plants.  The gatekeeper to Laguna Alegria charged me 25 cents (una cora) and I got a shot of his animal pal.

 

 

The lake in the middle of the volcano´s crater is a beautiful bright green due to the high sulphur content.  Because of this the water is considered to have curative powers, which may be why some equestrians brought their steeds here to give them a swim.  It took me some time, but I finally found one smoking fumarole to give evidence of the volcanos active state.  I assume there are other days when the area is more impressive in that regard.

 

 


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