We are spending three days in the mountains of Matagalpa at a coffee plantation and farm called Selva Negra. It's organic coffee is sold in Whole Foods for $16/pound US. Today we had an informative and interesting tour of the coffee plantation and learned about the process from seed to cup. Here there are 500 pickers that come each season and work for four months to pick the berries which each grow two coffee beans each pod. After picking, they wash them, ferment them, dry them, and let them rest before sending them to the US for roasting and packaging. We were able to walk thru the plantation and pick the berries and open them, and taste the beans which were sweet and slimy. This is shade grown organic coffee which is traded whole (meaning no middleman) and the cost is much greater because the crops are organic. We had our first cupping session today, tasting three different arabica beans from three different countries. It was a really great experience and my appreciation of coffee is growing. It is also nice to see the way their pickers are treated, paid well and provided for here. Their kids attend the school here and the are given free health care and housing.
The property is stunning with a cloud forest overlooking the plantation. Cloud forests are exactly that...forest of trees with clouds rolling they them. As we are high enough up we have seen the clouds roll thru a few times. We hiked for an hour and a half thru it in daylight and were in search for wildlife. We came across a few wild birds and a wild pig, but the thing we heard most was the howler monkeys. They have a very loud howl that makes it sound like you are right below them. We walked and walked but could not find them. Finally As the hike approached its end and the sun was settling we had the delight of watching a family of about 6 or more of them in the top of a sunny tree. Amazing! They knew we were there and told us so!
Last night we took a night tour and were thrilled with the experience of seeing butterflies asleep on big leaves with the flash light illuminating them, crickets and praying mantis, glass frogs and the last but not least a boa constrictor high above us in the trees. He was over a meter long and just a baby so our guide said. Cannot wait for the pictures!
The property is big enough that we feel like we have the whole place to ourselves but there are several Nica families enjoying their weekend together as well as other world travellers. The restaurant serves fresh made cheese from their farm, meat from their animals and fresh garden vegetables as well as the best coffee! And the best part is we have made friends with the geese who travel in packs and come to visit us in the restaurant, our patio, and practically everywhere we go!
We are delighted with the restful experience, the cooler temperatures and the beauty of this place.