Selva Negra, Tissey and Montibelli in Nicaragua

rock paintings at Esteli

When we returned to Nicaragua in January, Kristen and I went to Selva Negra, a cool little retreat up in the more mountainous area of Nicaragua, where the weather is much cooler and rainier. Can’t wait to go back there when it starts getting totally hot here. When you live in really hot countries, you have identify the cool zones!

The new president, Daniel Ortega, was inaugurated. Strange political leanings are unfolding, as he allies himself more with Chavez and Castro than the US. Great. Hopefully things won’t get too crazy around here. School started, the kids seem to be doing pretty well, fairly focused- and we’re in it for the long haul between now and Spring Break. Chris just left for Angola and is getting settled in there. Hopefully we can meet again during my spring break- but for now, gotta get through the next nine weeks of work.

We haven’t had any three-day weekends, but we have tried to get out of town several times to explore the countryside around Managua. A few weeks ago we went up near the town of Esteli, to a natural reserve called Tissey. A bunch of us from work camped in cabins and hiked all around, finding some beautiful miradors (lookouts) and interesting finds such as a soapstone quarry, a small cheese factory, and a somewhat bizarre old man who has been carving statues and designs on the side of a mountain for the last 30 years.

A couple of weeks later, another group of us went to the Montibelli Nature Preserve, just a few miles outside of Managua. We went on a hike and looked at different kinds of trees, butterflies, birds, and even some monkeys. Then we had a fabulous dinner there, and pitched tents. Later that night, as it was a full moon, we went on a moonight hike to the top of a hill, and could see a beautiful panorama: a full moon, the city of Managua to one side, Lake Managua, and to the other side, Volcano Masaya, with its clouds of steam floating off towards the Pacific Ocean, clouds that you can actually see from space! It was an incredible view, one that unfortunately is only captured in my mind, as it was too dark for pictures to turn out well.

And finally, Kathleen had a friend, Linde, visit, and we took her to San Juan del Sur for some beach action last weekend. We hopped on a bus Saturday morning and spent the afternoon walking around the town and the beach with our little dogs (there are three of them now, Consuela, Lucia, and Bella). That night there was a huge party on the beach, with a live band, a dj and “flor de cana” dancers, and plenty of beers, for 10 cordobas each (roughly 60 cents US).

We stayed at the beach party, dancing and drinking, until the band stopped playing- 1? 2? I don’t even know. Then we went to a beach bar down the beach and sang karaoke there. More good times. More cheap beers. Finally we made our way back to our room, where all four of us girls and all three dogs were staying together. At least we had a/c.

I took Bella for a walk the next morning and we had a big breakfast at one of the restaurants on the beach. We spent the day around town, and then Alecia and I headed back to Managua while Kathleen and Linde stayed to enjoy the rest of Sunday and take Monday off. Alecia and I, and the two pups, endured the bus ride from hell back to town- standing room only the whole way, with more people squeezing on with each stop. It took forever and we were in pretty foul moods by the time we were done. But we did finally make it home.

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