“It’s 30 Córdobas”
That’s like… 1 dollar and some cents. A cup of coffee in the US can take you on a 2 hour trip through three climate zones up to the highest point of Miraflor, a natural reserve in the mountains of northern Nicaragua. After several days of heated hikes and beaches under spotless skies, the cold cloud forest is (ironically) heart warming.
Marvin takes me for a gringo and offers me his window seat. He’s even more enthusiastic after learning that I hail from the blessed lands of Chávez. I take his offer with gratitude until we start moving – the burning feeling in my arm reminds me of the beach and I realize that he wasn’t just being kind. Still, his joyful stories are well worth the heat. An hour later, I’m left with an empty seat to my right and an invitation to stay at his farm on my way down. I take both.
“You would’ve gotten lost, right?”
Darling (that’s her name) storms through cedar trees and neighbor’s fences until we get to her mom’s house. She’s one of Angela’s 10 kids – four of them live here and the rest are scattered all over the country. Her husband is in Managua and won’t come back until the end of the week.
I’m spending a couple nights at her house as a guest. Hosting cheles (Nica slang for foreigners) like me is one of the pillars of Miraflor’s rural economy, the other one being coffee. They charge about $20 for a full day, which includes a private room, 3 meals and insane amounts of brewed beans. You can find several co-ops in the nearby town of Estelí that can arrange this for little or no charge.
I spend the next two days hiking around the cloud forest. OMG THIS PLACE IS GORGEOUS I CAN’T DEAL WITH IT. My walks are suddenly and often interrupted by bursts of intense rain and cows that stare at me like I owe them money. Days start early here – most men work at a potato farm an hour away and have to be there by 6 30 am. Angela stays home cooking while her youngest son pretends to know the grounds to show me around and we both get lost in result. At night, water pours down non-stop and coffee follows a similar pattern.
The after dinner ritual is to sit in the porch and talk. The stress of NY seems as distant as the hills I saw earlier, but not everyone here is as relaxed as me. At night, there’s also stories of the war.
I planned to end this post on a happy note, with joyful tales of Marvin, dancing horses and the gringos that un-invited me to a coffee tasting. The hills of Miraflor stand as fierce competitors in the race to most beautiful places ever seen by me. But as a sat in a gorgeous square of Granada to write, surrounded by kids playing and pastries known as “the oven things”, the guy sitting to my right suddenly broke in tears. Today, his brother would have been one year older. He died at the house behind us fighting for the revolución.
War is a stupid thing. Dead brothers will linger forever in Julio’s square strolls. Lost kids darken Angela’s nights every day. Missing neighbors make Marvin’s coffee bitter even if he smiles about it. All for someone else’s interests, somebody else’s stupid needs.
It’s not worth it. No ideal is worth 10 years of Nicaraguans killing Nicaraguans. No creed justifies 17 dead in Paris. I don’t care what you believe in, killing others over it is not the answer.