A Walk Through the Black Jungle

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My pictures don’t do justice to the Selva Negra Coffee Estate. I felt as if I was transported into the Bavarian countryside. Everything about this visit was magical. Plus, I slept snuggled under two heavy blankets…in Nicaragua! What a treat!

Real Cowboys Drink Guaron

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I know nothing about cowboys except for watching the reruns of Bonanza and the movie City Slickers. My perception of cowboys was tainted with visions of sitting around smoky campfires sharing dirty jokes, ten gallon hats shading sweaty bodies from the scorching sun, gun fights at the OK Corral, rollin’ the Bull (rolling Bull Durham cigarettes), and saving damsels in distress.

So, when we arrived in Matagalpa, where their annual Hipica (horse parade) was prancing through the puddled streets, I expected to rekindle the memories of the old reruns.To my surprise, real Nicaraguan cowboys cannot compare to the horseback sissies on TV.

La Hipica is a machismo event of handsome, rugged caballeros proudly parading their best steeds through the meandering streets of the city. It reminds me of a mancation on steroids. Riding tall in the saddle, the vaqueros (cowboys) display their riding expertise by how little beer or Guaron (homemade moonshine) sloshed out of their plastic cups, while their horses dance a high-step trot to the beat of deafening trumpets.

Bosomy women draped in colorful ribbons, lace, and leather follow the handsome vaqueros, while mini-vaqueros ( little boys) demonstrate their damn good riding skills on ponies…or on saddled cows. Squished between the macho and the seductive are roving bands on truck beds. The trumpets blare and the gigantic speakers transmit thumping vibrations, like a small earthquake, that shiver through our bodies.

La Hipica is a parade of pride, a raucous display of everything that represents a real cowboy. It is a bombardment of the senses, not to mention that it was pouring rain during the parade, which added to the excitement. Nicaraguan cowboys are now at the top of my A list. They have a rugged mystique about them, which I’m sure I will fantasize about for weeks to come. This loca gringa ain’t no city slicker no moe!

Somoto Canyon

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Somoto Canyon was only discovered in 2004 by a group of Czech Republic and Nicaraguan scientists. Ron told me that when he was in Geography class in 4th grade, he cried because he thought everything had already been discovered. To appease Ron’s sorrow, we are headed to Northern Nicaragua tomorrow to discover for ourselves this unique and unusual area.

After this magnificent discovery, Nicaragua declared Somoto Canyon a National Monument and it has great tourist potential. In February, Cory and his friends meandered down the Coco River on inner tubes, through narrow gorges with cliffs extending upwards 120-150 meters. They jumped into deep, refreshing pools and scaled the cliffs searching for bromeliads, orchids, and iguanas that inhabit the crevices.

Although we can’t float the Rio Coco in the wet season due to flash floods (It’s dangerous at this time of the year), we are going to explore Matagalpa, Jinotega, and Esteli. These are the lands of expansive coffee plantations, black pottery production, mountainous terrain, pine forests, and former Contra territory.

I’m reading “The Death of Ben Linder”, and I hope to visit his grave in Matagalpa. I’ll return in a week with new stories, lots of photos, and a greater appreciation for the unique country in which we live. Meanwhile, enjoy Cory’s float trip through Somoto Canyon.

See you in a week!