Well this morning we had to catch a bus from Esteli to Miraflor at 11:45 so we figured we could sleep in a bit so we did. I was still feeling pretty sick from the massive amount of sausage that I had for supper last night and needless to say it wasn´t a very fun evening for my stomach. Thankfully that cleared up before we had to go and I chose to not eat anything for breakfast to make sure it stayed that way for the bus ride to Miraflor.
So after chilling at the hostel, Hospedaje Luna, for a while we grabbed a taxi to Cotran Norte, the bus terminal. Once there is where I went astray. In hindsight the picture of the bus that the Treehuggers tour arranger from Luna drew me was of the sign I was supposed to see on the bus: Esteli-Miraflor-Yali. That was the bus we were supposed to take for approximately 1:45 to our stop at Miraflor for our homestay. I took that to mean any bus that had Yali as a final destination on it would go by Miraflor and we´d get off. I should know better by now, that is not so.
I got us on the wrong bus, which happened to leave 30 minutes early than what I was supposed to catch according to tour guy. That also should have been a clue. Tip for doing bus travel, stop, think about it then get on the bus. (easier said than done of course when they´re stopping by the side of highway sometimes as you´re running to it). This bus did in fact go to Yali as the sign on it said, but by way of Conedega, which if you check the spelling is not Miralfor:) We figured all of this out from broken spanish with the bus helper about 45 minutes into trip. At that time we just decided to keep going as we could catch a bus from Yali to Miraflor. Of course we didn´t get to Yali for 3 hours. Once in Yali we waited 15 minutes or so for the Miraflor to Esteli bus that would complete the gian circle that we undertook. The one plus to the bus trip was that there were some amazing views ocne we were on the dirt roads of the countryside. From Yali to Miraflor you follow a cliff side essentially with rolling green hills full of farms and trees as far as the eye can see. Quite a nice sight inbetween thoughts of a bus rolling down the valley. Thankfully it didn´t and we eventually made it to our stop, La Rampla, for Miraflor.
We disembarked and then started the 2 km walk up a road we´ve never been on for the finca (farm) we were staying at. We had a simple map so we at least knew we were on the right track. The hike was a good 20 minutes to half and hour and near the end we could see and feel the rain clouds coming in. When it´s going to rain here you now. Clouds, wind, darker clouds, more wind, light sprinkles of water. After that you have about 5 -15 minutes before the downpour. We made it to the house as it started to sprinkle.
We met and said hello to our family for the weekend at Las Palmeras: Doñ Luis, Doñna Marta and their two daughters Luisa and Carla, 17 and 12. Their were two more people staying with them this weekend that were supposed to arrive after us, but since we were late they mistaked them for us and put them in the one bed couple room, they´re not a couple. It was pretty funny, and eventually it all got sorted out.
I then went into the kitchen and helped Marta chop up some vegetables for dinner. Their house is essentially a big cement rectangle with some small windows and a corrugated tin sheet roof. Very little lighting inside which only comes on once it is dark outside. The kitchen is very functional if a little rustice by our standards. Marta cooks over a wood buring ´stove´that is really a concrete oven that you feed 5 foot logs into one end that continually burn underneath some openings for pots. Works great though and the smoke goes nicely out of the chimney pipe so the inside of the kitchen is mostly just warm and not very smokey. Warm is good at night or during the rain but I do not envy that women during a warm day, which is most.
Helping Marta was a lot of fun, exciting, interesting and good (that was for you mom). She taught me some words in spanish, which I´ve already forgotten and I got to see the rain come dumping down through a little itty bitty kitchen window about 6 inches square. The chopping board was really a whole table/board running across the kitchen nwxt to the stoven. Not overally sanitary I´d say but what the heck they don´t look like they´re dieing so it works. The whole cooking experience was kind of like camping with a better working space and a roof. I noticed later that at the back of the kitchen behind a little cardboard type of wall is Marta and Luis´s bed. Not really bedroom, just bed. It was kinda sad and a little shocking because the rooms that us guests stay in are much nicer comparatively and we don´t stay there all the time.
So after helping with supper I found everybody outside on the porch and we chatted until it was time to go inside for supper. There is one table in the main room of the house and we all sat down there to eat. Floors are all cement as well but kind of have the look and feel of dirt floors to give you a better picture until I have up actualy pictures. Looking at this house compared to what I´ve read about the other farms this family actually seems to be doing quite well. There wasn´t supposed to be electricity, but they have some solar panels that provide enough for their lights and the little stereo they turn on occasionaly. There is no running water but they have a system of rain barrel like tanks hooked up on higher ground and gravity does the work when you turn on the tap. They even have a telephone that works although it seemed like they had to type in a 125 digit code to make it call someone, sounded more like a video game than a phone dialing. I digress. Supper was great, ate some vegetable I´d never heard of and finally put some food back into the tank after nothing all day for fear of getting sick. Marta cooks very good home meals and we were only getting started on the great food.
After dinner we sat and chatted with Luis a bit about the coming morning. The two other guests we were doing this homestay with were Amy from Manitoba, and Lawrence the Brit, who lives in Madrid. He was extremely helpful as he spoke spanish and I think this whole homestay experience would have been completely different without having him translate information we would have otherwise not known.
Pah-ja- ro (pah ha row). The word for bird. It took us all a long time to learn it that evening in preperation for our bird watching tour early the next morning. Early, is getting easier and easier. (Really easy staying here as they have chickens and a rooster or two, turns out roosters are the same anywhere in the world). To finish off the evening Lindsay and I tucked in our mosquito netting, I killed a small cockroach so I could sleep sounder knowing what I could see was now dead, and we climbed into our little bed in our little square concrete room. The big black ants kept coming in and out of the window ledge but seemed to only hang out there. It was a little creepy at the start but turned out being just fine and I actually slepty quite well as it was a cool enough temperature to use a blanket for once, well at least sleep was good until the rooster.
Definitely already enjoying the homestay experience at this point. It is pretty cool.
More coming shortly.