From the Rio San Juan, we headed north to the coffee growing region of Matagalpa for a week of Spanish classes at La Colibri Escuela Español. While there, Guillaume and Coline caught up with us and we spent a lovely day walking up in the hills behind Matagalapa to El Cerro Apante, with great views from the top of the city below.
After a week of lessons, we headed out into the Communidad La Reyna to learn about coffee. It was coffee harvest time so this included about an hour spent picking the grapes and I have to admit that we would not survive if this was our day job. While busy picking we noticed a sloth busy sleeping in the tree above us! Never seen a sloth before!
Once picked, the coffee grapes were crushed to release the beans inside. We learnt about the fermentation and drying process, before roasting and grinding some coffee the old fashioned way. After a lovely lunch with a local family, we headed back into Matagapala to watch the views from another vantage point at our overnight camping spot, El Mirador.
A detour via Managua, to extend our visas by another 30 days, gave us the opportunity to visit the Lomo de Tiscapa, another viewpoint where Somoza's palace used to be, over looking the city. THe place is now dominated by a giant staue of Sandino, visible from most places in the city but the highlight was seeing the tank that Mussolini gave to Somoza - from one dictator to another!. All the more surprising that it has survived in tact after all these years.
As we headed back north to Honduras, from where we will ship the van to Colombia and with one day left on our Nicaraguan visa, we managed to squeeze in a trip down the Canyon de Somoto. Our guide, Henri, not only looked after us, but ensured we spoke Spanish all day, correcting us where required. He should have charged extra for the lesson! A great day on the Rio Coco and we got too see two natural bee hive, another first.