Estelí

I found a great little cafe on the adjacent corner from the hostel and spent some time checking emails and enjoying a tasty breakfast and fabulous coffee. Nicaragua produces some of the world’s best coffee and here it is cheap and plentiful. My supply of dodgy Guatemalan anti-inflammatory drugs was running low and I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out in some remote spot, so found a sizeable pharmacy to see if I could stock up. They didn’t have any Bayer (first preference), nor dodgy Guatemalan (unknown quantity preference as Lord knows what else might be around!) but did have some slightly less dodgy looking Costa Rican ones which came in a pack of 30 so would last me until the end of my trip.

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I wanted to visit Somoto Canyon which can only be organised as a guided tour, so went to a local NGO by the name of Treehuggers to arrange. As my knee was still nowhere up to scratch for such things, I wanted good, reliable information about the terrain, etc. so as to be able to determine whether I thought I would be able to do the trip. A woman sitting nearby overheard my questions and offered to help to ensure I was getting exactly the information I was after.

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It turned out that Susie was a US expat now living in Mexico and was visiting Nicaragua with her Costa Rican friend, Ana. They were organising a cycling tour to a tobacco finca, then a tour of a local cigar factory. As that was one of the things I was looking at doing myself, I decided to join them the following day and postpone my canyon trip to the day after. As is typical of Central America, such things are not expediently organised and it was some time before all the arrangements were finalised. Susie and Ana decided to get a coffee while I finished organising my canyon tour and I joined up with them afterwards.

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I went back with Susie and Ana to check out their beautiful hotel and amazing rooftop terrace with its incredible views over Estelí . A group of student nurses from the US were also staying there and helping out with regional clinics in the area. It seems Nicaragua attracts a lot of foreign support in terms of professional volunteering. I bid Susie and Ana buenas noches and took a wander down the streets of town for a comedor which took my fancy. I eventually found a fritanga which ticked all the boxes; cheap, typical and full of locals. I chose from the limited menu and sat down at a table. This is Nicaraguan eating at its best. Simple good food prepared on a large rustic wood fired oven facing the street. Just the thing to finish off my first day in beautiful Estelí.

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