We say goodbye to the warmth of sand and water this morning. We have one final destination on our whirlwind tour of Nicaragua: the mountains near Matagalpa. We aren't really beach people, much preferring higher altitudes, so I've been looking forward to this. Matagalpa is where most of the best Nicaraguan coffee comes from and we are headed to a coffee farm. The drive becomes my favorite of the trip. We cut off from the coastal highways and drive on an amazingly well paved road across the lowlands, passing by volcanoes on the way. I was actually awed by how good Nica's roads were. Better than most in Montana, that's for sure!
On one stretch of the road, Ian pulls over and looks at me. It's time for me to drive. But I don't really drive manual transmissions well and learning to do so in a Central American country seems kinda crazy. So ... I drive! And it's quite easy. I start to realize that hardly anyone else in this country drives well either, so we're all on the same page. I get us to Matagalpa and up to the coffee farm without wrecking the rental car.
We arrive to Selva Negra Ecolodge and Coffee Estate just in time for lunch. We have our own Austrian-inspired cabin in the woods and I'm immediately impressed - the property is charming and quaint - owned by an old German family that came to Nica generations ago and still run the operations here. They survived through the revolution (close ties to all the right people) and now run one of the most ecologically and culturally conscious farms in the country.
We hike around the grounds of the farm, which includes miles of trails through secondary cloudforest. We hear howler monkeys in the distance and follow the sounds of their calls down a side trail. Soon, we are right under them and mimicking their cries. At first, they seem interested in communicating with us, but after a few minutes, they figure us out and tire of our mockery. Feeling silly, we continue to hike until night falls.