Get Back to the Land

We had arranged to have Jurg pick us up in Jinotega. Jurg owns and actively runs the wonderful hotel, Aguas de Arenal high up in the mountains between Jinotega and Matagalpa.

As we left the bustling little city we looked back and watched it disappear as we drove up the first major mountain south of town. He stopped at an incredible viewpoint where we could see the valley far below and hundreds of kilometers to the west.

He also stopped at a roadside stand to buy some vegetables for dinner. He could have bought some flowers too…

Self described hippie

Jurg is quite a character. Totally gregarious by nature, he’s a great conversationalist and wanted to know all about our journey. We too were keen to find out how he came to settle in the hills of northern Nicaragua. As it turns out, he always wanted to settle in a place where he could develop his own sustainable farm. Since then this hotel/farm has become a destination for many people wanting a quiet retreat in a very beautiful setting.

As we rolled through the hills and dales we saw families walking down towards the main highway to catch the bus. Jurg waved at them all and they responded with big smiles. Eventually we rumbled down a hill into a small valley… home to Jurg’s beautiful finca. (farm) In the middle of the Reserva Natural Cerro El Arenal “Aguas del Arenal” is a 7 hectare paradise.

(aguasdelarenal@gmail.com)

As we stopped in front of the lodge our first view was a maze of shades of green with a few splashes of bright colour thrown in. Even the tropical birds were welcoming us. They called out “Caww, gawwaa, caww!” and flashed their yellow, red and shiny black bodies as they fluttered in the trees high above.

Everywhere we could see signs of Jurg’s hard work. Over the years he’s planted multiple species of tropical plants, coffee bushes, cedar trees, flowering bushes, and ornamentals like we buy at the nursery or the grocery store.

Farther up the hillsides huge green and flowering deciduous trees sprung from the hillsides. At the crest were rows of large pines swaying in the brisk wind…

The farm had a peaceful aura and was VERY quiet. The only real sound was the rushing of the stream exiting from the jungle nearby. After homesteading ourselves many years ago, we could sense the amount of work to get to this point.

We were made very welcome by Jurg’s lovely wife Anabelle. Together with their son Theo, and workers from the area, they have created a beautiful place to live and share with the outside world.

The food these guys prepare is wonderful. We loved the ‘vegetales’ the most – a nice diversion from typical fare. And in the mornings… we had delicious cups of coffee – from organically grown plants right on Jurg’s finca.

Roasting the Beans

One evening, we were treated to a special event. The kitchen was almost out of roasted coffee beans so Jurg, set up his system for us to see. He started with a small hardwood fire in his fireplace. He suspended a rack and place a large, shallow ceramic dish above. About 5 or 6 pounds of coffee beans were placed inside and the roasting started.

Jurg grows approximately 300 kilos of coffee per year and this is how he roasts every bit of it. Incredible! He sat right next to the fire constantly stirring the delicious morsels. We watched them go from silvery green to shiny dark brown. Mmmm….

After 45 minutes or so, Jurg announced they were done! Outside he had a fine screen suspended where he placed the hot beans to separate the fine fibres from the beans. Fabulous. And yes, we had this very coffee for breakfast the next day. Wow.

We kept busy for the two days we were on the finca by walking and… just sitting, enjoying the aura. Jurg has many trails above and around the finca – some in the jungle and others that weave through his coffee plantation. We covered them all and loved being close to the natural beauty.

On one of our walks, we saw a dam on the stream and discovered it supplies water for his “planta hidroelectrica”. All the power requirements for the main lodge, its four rented rooms and the five cabanas is produced through Jurg’s system. Funky but it works like a charm.

They also get all their water (and it’s pressure) from the stream. Fabulous!

We Felt Like Family

We’ve really enjoyed our time here. Thanks Jurg, Anabelle and Theo! (he’s at school…)

Word to the Wise

One thing to note: if you’ve thinking about visiting here, please bring warm clothing – it’s chilly. If you arrive from Matagalpa, you would be able to easily buy second hand stuff at the many used clothing stores there if you didn’t want to carry it for your whole trip.

Here’s some photos of our morning chores helping spread out the coffee beans…

New Friends

Anyway, we’ve met and made some new friends from Germany – Svend and Stephanie, and Jurg and Heather. (smile Chris…! Open your eyes Heather!)

All lovely people who are here to experience and enjoy the natural beauty of Nicaragua. Jurg and Heather are being Good Neighbours and giving us a ride to Matagalpa.

Off to Matagalpa

UPDATE: The ride to town was great. We were dropped off on outskirts of the downtown and promptly made a new friend. A young boy named Johnathon was on the crosswalk with us and the next thing he was practicing his English with us! Wonderful!

La Buena Onda Hostel is as welcoming as the first stay. Happy to be here!

Thanks for reading, we’ll update more down the ‘road’!

5 thoughts on “Get Back to the Land

  1. Nikkihark March 11, 2018 / 3:19 am

    You are right, what a stunning countryside…and incredible experience! I swear, I was salivating over the coffee bits/picture! Also, I just love his funky creative system😉
    Safe travels you two!

    Like

    • quesnelbikers March 11, 2018 / 3:26 am

      Thanks for the comment! We’ve made it to Corn Island today. It was quite emotional as memories came flooding back. And… now we’ve been to the west coast, Ometepe, the northern mountains, it’s incredible to think we’re in the same country, sitting here on this tropical island paradise. Will be working on the next story tomorrow for sure. Take care C & H

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nikkihark March 12, 2018 / 3:16 pm

        I’d be curious to find out how they deal with all the garbage in this country…Heather’s Facebook post is quite disturbing👀

        Like

  2. quesnelbikers March 12, 2018 / 3:31 pm

    After travelling to different regions, it’s apparent that different communities approach the problem in different ways. For example, on Ometepe the community collects recyclables and ships them to the mainland for processing in Managua.

    https://m.centralamericadata.com/en/article/home/New_Recycling_Plant_in_Nicaragua

    Here on Corn Island they are aware of the problem (there was a time when they weren’t) and ‘re-use ‘ is promoted but clearly not adopted by everyone.

    Then… On the way into Managua from Matagalpa the sides of the highway were appalling… mainly plastic bottles and thin plastic shopping bags floating in the wind.

    Some places are spotlessly clean and others are not. Here on Corn Island it’s looking pretty good. I know Little Corn has recycling projects in place so we’ll see next week…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nikkihark March 12, 2018 / 6:42 pm

      Great article! I love to hear about the recycling projects❤️ Glad to hear ‘awareness’ is spreading…first step to change! Even in our area…in Canada, the ditches are full of plastic of all kinds and people know better! I’m more aware because I ride and get the close-up😬 Elimination may be the only solution!! We personally know people who make enough money to put gas in their truck and drive to the recycle centre/garbage dump who’d rather be lazy and dump their trash down a gravel road! My blood just boils 😡

      Like

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