Nicaragua-Day 3

The third day of our trip to Nicaragua began very, very early. We got up well before sunset because we were taking a day tour up into the northern mountains of the country to visit a coffee plantation called Selva Negra.

I love to sleep but when I am on a train or a bus or a van in a foreign country I don’t like to sleep because I want to take in as much as possible. That morning as our van driver/ tour guide drove us from our hotel in Managua to Selva Negra I tried to stay awake. I succeeded for a while but a short time after got completely out of the city I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and I slept for a little over half of the drive up to Selva Negra.

I woke up right as we were turning off the highway and into Selva Negra. One of the first things I saw when I woke up was a tank that was a relic of the civil war between the Sandinistas and the Contras in the 1980s.

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This was interesting from both a historical perspective and a personal perspective since it was that war that forced my husband and his family to flee when he was a little boy and come to the United States.

When we arrived in Selva Negra we had some time before our tour of the coffee plantation actually began. In addition to being a coffee plantation Selva Negra is also a place where people can rent cabins and go hiking. Since it is kind of a vacation resort in addition to being a coffee plantation we were able to have breakfast before our tour of the actual coffee plantation began. The outdoor seating area of the restaurant had a gorgeous view of a cute little pond.

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My husband and I both wanted to eat breakfast outside and take in the view. The only problem is that I hadn’t dressed warm enough. Although it got quite warm later in the day it was still fairly early in the morning when we got to Selva Negra and since we were in the mountains it was still pretty cold. Thankfully our van driver/tour guide lent me one of the jackets he was wearing so I wouldn’t be completely freezing as we ate our breakfast. I enjoyed the breakfast buffet and my husband order an actual dish off the menu.

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Our breakfast was timed really well because right after were done it was time for our actual tour of the coffee plantation to begin. It was at this point we joined up with some other tourists that were actually staying in the cabins of Selva Negra. They were all European and came from England, Holland and Germany. It was interesting to get their perspective on Nicaragua and compare it to mine and compare all of ours again my husband’s experience of actually being Nicaraguan.

The tour of Selva Negra was fascinating. After leaving the restaurant we all got into a couple of different vehicles and rode down to where the workers were actually picking the coffee.

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Although I drink coffee every day I had never really understood everything that goes into getting me my daily cup in the morning, but I did want to understand which is the entire reason I wanted to visit a coffee plantation.

When we saw the workers picking coffee and carrying their baskets and sacks of coffee cherries it really made me appreciate how fortunate I am in my daily life in the United States.

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These workers clearly work really, really hard six days a week for money that Americans would laugh at.

Each of us on the tour got a chance to pick a couple coffee cherries of our own.

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This was a really interesting experience because it was a bit challenging to pick the cherry in just the right way.

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It was also really cool to taste the actual fruit of the coffee cherry.

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Since the coffee we all drink every day comes from the beans it was really exciting to taste a different part of the plant.

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After we left the field were the workers were picking coffee we headed a different part of the coffee plantation. It was at this part where we saw where the coffee cherries are placed after they are taken from the field. They are put in a giant vast of water where they ferment so the skin/fruit part of the coffee cherry can then be easily stripped off the bean.

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The skin/fruit part is turned into fertilizer for the next years planting and the coffee bean is then taken to dry. It was fascinating to see the greenhouse where the coffee bean is raked and turned off so it can dry evenly.

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Our tour guide from Selva Negra itself, Manuel, was very informative and friendly (not to mention cute).

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Our official tour of the coffee plantation ended with a coffee tasting.

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We tried the same kind of coffee from three different parts of the world. One was from the plantation there at Selva Negra.

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One was from India.

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And one was from Sumatra.

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I normally just dump a bunch of creamer in my coffee but the coffee tasting involved us just taking a spoon full of the coffee and slowly moving it around in our mouths. I felt like for the first time I actually appreciated the taste of coffee and not just the smell and the caffeine content. Of the three coffees we tried during the coffee tasting the one from Selva Negra was actually my favorite, which was nice to be able to say to Manuel honestly.

After our coffee tasting our van driver/tour guide from Managua took us from a little hike around the part of Selva Negra that is away from where the coffee plants are. It was really, really beautiful. There was beautiful chapel where people can get married.

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We also heard but didn’t see some monkeys up in the trees.

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Our hike eventually took us back to the other side of the pond from where the restaurant is.

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Before heading back to Managua we ate lunch. My husband had Churrasco with rice, vegetables, and chimichurri.

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Meanwhile I had a German dish of sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes.

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It may seem odd that I had German food in Nicaragua but there was a reason for it. Selva Negra was actually founded by Germans who came to Nicaragua to start a coffee plantation. There is some clear German influence in the architecture off the cabins. I figured since there was a bit of Germany at Selva Negra I should enjoy that bit of its history. There would be plenty of opportunities to eat more Nicaraguan food later in the trip.

When we were done eating lunch we had a little bit of time to kill so we checked out the little museum about the history of Selva Negra.

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It was fascinating to see the history of the Germans arriving in Nicaragua and see the intersection of the two countries and cultures over the course of the history of the coffee plantation.

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Before getting back in the van to return to Managua I purchased several pounds of coffee both for myself and as Christmas presents for family members.

Since we took the same route back to Managua as we took to Selva Negra I was able to see the things I had slept through in the morning. We drove by but did not stop in the city of Matagalpa.

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Things were going well until we hit a massive traffic jam between Matagalpa and Managua because of a car accident. Since the high way was just one lane in each direction at that point it meant that even the smallest accident would back things up for miles, which it did.

We arrived back in Managua well after dark. We ate dinner back at the restaurant in our hotel before relaxing in our room before bed time. I have always wanted to visit a coffee plantation so I’m so happy I finally got to experience it. It had been a long but great day.

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Here is a description:

Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.

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