Selva Negra: The Forest (and Abode) in the Clouds

As a break from the heat of Managua and the work at the clinic, the group headed out Friday on a four hour drive up to Selva Negra, a sustainable coffee plantation that doubled as a hotel. Shortly after arriving, we were taken on a tour throughout the establishment which accentuated the sustainable workings of the coffee facility and the lives that the permanent workers lead with provided benefits. Afterwards, we were finally able to relax in the cabins for the night, spending time to enjoy the surrounding vistas and each other’s company. The fresh food at the hotel dining facility was sourced from the surrounding Selva Negra area, with the bacon and pork-related products possibly coming from the 450 pound pig seen on the tour and amazing coffee from the plantation. The next morning, a few brave souls hiked/rock and root climbed up the cloud forest where snakes, quetzals, howler monkeys, red-eyed tree frogs and toucans roamed, with one group of students watching a snake slither down through their legs as they held on to branches on a vertical section of the trail. This hiking, even with trails marked as “fácil”(“easy”), took up much of the day before a class at 4:00 pm, but some groups managed to squeeze in time riding horses around the establishment or relaxing surrounded by fabulous views.
On Sunday morning, we packed up and traveled outside of Matagalpa to see Vicente Padilla, a man who fought for years to own the land he now farms. With his family, he has created a ecologically sustainable and organic farm that mainly produces coffee, but also provides for all his family’s needs. We were awed by his commitment to caring for his land and his determination to improve sustainability in agriculture. After a fantastic lunch in his home, we returned to Ciudad Sandino in time for dinner.
First thing Monday morning we went into Managua to hear a leader of the Feminist movement in Nicaragua speak. Maria Teresa Blandon spoke to us about how true change cannot be achieved by laws enforced by the state, but by open dialogue at the root of the problem. In short, she believes that change must be from the bottom up, not from the top down. Later after lunch, we continued our work on the new building at the Nueva Vida Clinic.

— Chris and Madeleine


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