“I’m part wood nymph. I require mountains and warm, dense patches of moss to thrive.”
Holy Week (Semana Santa) acts as Nicaragua’s Spring Break, so I have had this week off of classes. Since everybody and their mother goes to the beach for Semana Santa and I live close to a beach that was soon to be invaded, I turned and headed to the mountains.
Coffee, hiking, rosquillas, and hot showers were calling.
After fighting crazy crowds at the bus station, getting asked by a news film crew to dance on national television with a towel to promote the beach, and many hours of travel, we were on our way.
In my ears this week: She Lit A Fire – Lord Huron. Check it out!
My friends and I started off our week out in Esteli, with a day trip up to do the full Somoto Canyon experience. This is an amazing combo of hiking, swimming, and cliff jumping in one the most northern parts of Nicaragua.
Sweet, sweet outdoors, you do my soul so much good.
One of the cliffs in the canyon you can jump off! I’m doing a 25-footer in this picture, and just out of frame to the right is the 60-foot option.
We continued being tourists (so strange after living in country for almost a year) by heading to do a cigar factory tour in Esteli. It was a fun glimpse into the local industry and the guys in our group thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as you can probably tell:
The factory was an incredible mix of colors, smells and textures. Photographing was quite fun here.
Post-cigar tour, my dear friend and fellow PCV Maija and I headed out for a coffee date and art walk around Esteli. Beautiful art in the midst of crumbling buildings and cobblestone streets? Count me in.
Maija being my unintentional model and making art look even better.
I loved this painting that was on a wall down the street from our hostel:
After an outing to a hilarious karaoke club on our last night in Esteli, our PCV group and two new friends from Texas trekked it to the bus station and caught a ride to Matagalpa to disfrutar the mountains and cold air.
Our first stop in the Galps? Iced coffee, obviously!
After enjoying some good food, amazing mojitos and lots of laughs, that group left the following morning, leaving me to make new friends and figure out what to do with 3 solo days in Matagalpa!
There ended up being some great folks staying at the same hostel and we took off for a mountaintop adventure the following morning. This is the view from the top of our hike to El Apente, looking down over Matagalpa. Instead of trekking down the normal way, we wove our way through back trails and down through local farms, ending up at a secret, beautiful, hilltop convent. It was bliss.
I spent the rest of the week walking the empty city streets, soaking up the breeze and occasional rain, treating myself to some Chinese food, journaling, napping, and hanging out with fun new friends from around the world.
Here is the crew playing a very international game of Apples to Apples, or as we affectionately renamed it for our English friend, Scones to Scones.
The Final Count:
Hostels Stayed In: 2
Buses Taken: 9
Taxi Rides: 6
Kilometers Hiked: 12ish
Cliffs Jumped Off: 4
Number of Countries New Friends Are From: 7
Cups of Coffee Drunken: Lost Count After The First Day!
As I head back to site and normal life, I am reminded how grateful I am for breaks.
I needed a rest. A chance to breathe. Some fun. New experiences.
And this week was all that and more.
So thank you Maija, Aaron, Henry, David, Clare, Sanin, Denis, Becky, Alex, Keenan, and Kevin – you guys made this week so fun!