We woke up at around 4:30am on the 6th, packing our things to venture out into the the Estelí madrugada. “Madrugada,” is a wonderful Spanish word that accurately describes the early time of morning when you ask yourself “why on earth am I awake?” as the circles under your eyes lead strangers to wonder why you’re dressing up as a raccoon. Needless to say, I had raccoon circles under my eyes as we pulled up to the station and took a bus that in a previous life had carried school children, to Miraflor. The mist was still hanging in the air when we got off and hiked up a winding dirt road and through a field to arrive at Posada La Soñada where a delicious homemade, organic breakfast awaited us. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the beautiful farm and hiking the various surrounding trails, led by the Estelí origami magician, Aldo.
A previous volunteer had constructed a tree house near the coffee plantation, which we explored first. The house was complete with a bed, porch, and incredible view of the farm and surrounding cloud forest. A few of us entertained the idea of sleeping there for the night as we continued our hike into the cloud forest. Aldo was an excellent guide, telling us about sacuanjoche, or frangipani, the national flower, as well as showing us an enormous matapalo, or strangler fig tree. He led us to a particular matapalo that had killed an enormous tree, leaving a large empty space in the middle. We stepped through the vines and stood in the middle of the tree as he told us about the aggressive nature of the matapalo, as the seedlings grow from the branches of the host tree downwards into the soil, eventually strangling the host. The hike was beautiful, albeit muddy, and after arriving back at the farm, we headed out again to see the waterfall that Aldo had mentioned.
The hike to the waterfall was longer and but definitely worth the time. A few of us went swimming and exploring around the river while others relaxed and enjoyed the view. I’ll admit that the water was pretty cold, but it felt amazing, especially after the hour long hike and muddy trails. The cloud forest was also amazing. Nicaragua is in its rainy season right now, so while it is more muddy and wet, the rain is necessary to support the plant and animal life. It was also really cool to watch the mist roll in in the morning and evening. We learned that during the Sandanista war, the Contras would often plan attacks in the morning or evening, as the mist offered ideal cover for the attacks.
The time we spent at Posada La Soñada was rejuvenating and insightful. It was wonderful to be surrounded by such beautiful naturaleza, yet the beauty was somewhat marred by the region’s history. Estelí and Miraflor in particular, were two places where the war had hit the hardest. Lillian told us about her time spent in Miraflor in the 80′s, telling accounts of the brutality of the U.S. funded war, especially in places like La Soñada. While the country is still healing from its bloody history, that evening the farm seemed sleepy and peaceful as night fell and our conversations were accompanied by the chirping of cicadas.