Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adventures in Nicaragua

We've been gone for 10 days! Our last vacation was close to a year ago, so we were ready for the time away - it was a lot of work to get ready for the trip, but very well worth it! We arrived home just after midnight last night after our babymoon excursion to Nicaragua. Tim, baby and I all had a great time... we're spending today trying to recuperate from vacation (funny how that happens) and slowly get back into the swing of things... but oh, how wonderful it would be to relax in a hammock with a good book or a daydream for days on end! We are very thankful for the time to be away, and I'm sure eventually we'll be glad to be back to our regular routines. Probably the highlight of our trip was staying at Finca Esperanza Verde which is a coffee plantation in the northern highlands of Nicaragua. It's an ecolodge that grows organic coffee and has an organic farm, where they grow all the food they serve at the lodge. We did quite a bit of hiking and relaxing, which was great, but most of all we enjoyed learning about the in-depth process in growing and producing coffee. We have a much better understanding of what goes into every step along the way to our delicious java brew, and now have absolutely no reason to gripe about the cost of a cup of coffee. The baby even had its first sip of real coffee here in Nicaragua - how could I resist, when we were staying on a coffee plantation?!? It was delicious - truly the nectar of the gods - and the baby seemed to be pretty excited about the experience too - which was rather energizing (so to speak) for the growing one inside of me. We also spent Valentine's Day at an organic chocolate factory, El Castillo del Cacao, also in the northern highlands of the country. They have just recently converted the house portion of their facility to a bed & breakfast, and Tim & I were the very first guests to stay there! We were surrounded by chocolate, which seemed divine for Valentine's Day! Here, we learned the step-by-step process of making chocolate... the chocolate they make at El Castillo is much more like an artisan form of chocolate, as they do most steps by hand, and they only use cacao and sugar... plus for some of their varieties add a few other ingredients like cacao nibs, coffee bean pieces or nuts. Delicious! And we brought some home to share :). There are so many stories to tell from our time away... but there are also things to be done around here, now that we're back home and back to reality... Here are a few highlights!
From the top of the Cathedral in Leon... a view of one of the 16 other churches in this very historical city...
A common site in Nicaragua - these guys can carry anything and everything! Sure saves on gas prices!
Laguna de Apoyo, a lake formed by a crater that erupted from a volcano about 200 years ago - supposedly has the cleanest water in Nicaragua! We stayed at a resort here, and shockingly were the only guests in the entire place! It was a nice, tranquil stay between two stops at busier cities.
Timmy outside one of many churches in Granada, another historic town. There was a poetry festival going on while we were there - not surprising since Granada is considered the literary/cultural center of Nicaragua, not to mention the birthplace of Ruben Dario, Nicaragua's claim-t0-fame poet.
Warm beautiful colors of Granada, with the Cathedral in the background.

Kirsten along the edge of the Masaya Volcano... we had a great whiff of sulfur at this spot!

The beautiful beach on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. We stayed in a nature lodge here called Punta Teonoste, and had a long strip of gorgeous beach to stroll and turn into lobsters ourselves! The perfect sunset at the beach... and a wonderful end to our trip, before heading back to Managua to catch our flight back to cold, wintry weather here in the States!
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