Today, we went in a Provence-like forest ! It was in the Tisey reserve, where the woods are dry, the ground is covered in pine-needles and the rocks outcrop (there were also volcanoes but who cares ? 😉 )
To get there, we had to get up a 5:30, we were thrilled. We caught a cab for 4km down to the bus station, and we left on time, eating bananas and cookies, because at 6 AM, every bus is leaving, but no breakfast whatsoever is available.
We started with the visit of the Finca El Jalacata, where Alberto Gutierrez, his 3 brothers and his sister live. They are old, this is their family home, and Alberto is a sculptor. He’s been attacking the cliff for 40 years only with a chisel and a hammer (always the same ones) and he’s marking his obsessions in the rock : big animals, apostles, nicas historical figures and a few others. The result is impressing and he loves talking about it, even if he’s sometimes hard to follow, with his preferred topics always coming back (the recently sown cypresses and the beautiful forest, among the carved elephants and jaguars).
Since we arrived early, we were offered some coffee and a biscuit in the family kitchen where kittens were playing below the wood fire stove. Don Alberto’s sister, who was catering us, talked about the weather and at some point asked us to pay for the coffee, and took us to the mini-shop of “local” craftwork. We were a bit disappointed. When we signed the visitors log, though, we understood : around 30 tourists come every day down the rocky paths and through the forest to walk the paths of the carved cliff, since several years, for a grand total of around 80 000 people… And the only bus is at 6:30 ! Most people probably come with a 4-wheeler because we were the only tourists in the bus… It’s good that the views were nice !
We continued to the La Garnacha hamlet, famous for its cheese factory. There are also other crafts and nice walks with far far away views (well, cheese is cool, but one of us doesn’t like it and the other is from a famous cheese-making region, so we are not easily impressed !). So we visited and stopped for a bite to eat. Since some asked, here is a picture of a basic and cheap meal that we probably eat 10 times a week !
A plate with rice, beans and chicken. Some salad, tortilla (which here is more a patty than an omelet). Two seasonal fruit juice, here orange. It doesn’t look too big, but it’s hearty, so often, we share it ! (and today, there was a bit of cheese !)
The village is starting to open up to tourism, by offering visits of the cheese factory and bettering the walking trails, which are indeed in a very good state, with benches and bridges, but are still very small ! They try to install a community tourism, which consists of inviting the tourists into the day-to-day life of inhabitants and financially contribute as much as possible to the participating inhabitants.
We went on the two main trails (for a total of around one hour, nap under the acacia trees included), and went by the Cerro Apaguajil viewpoint, where you can see, we heard, all the way to El Salvador. We are not learned enough in the local geography to confirm, but we can believe it, and it was pretty anyway !
Once back, we headed to the very rocky road where we were supposed to find the bus, but we were so early that we decided to hitchhike. We were taken (for free) by a private driver (like Uber) going back to Esteli. We had not been in a comfortable car for so long (by that I mean decent shock-absorbers, radio and seat-belts) that we were almost happy that he was driving like a madman !
Once back to our room, we realized that we were going back to France in 16 days, and it was quite a shock. We still cooked some pasta in the hostel’s kitchen and went to bed, not without a last landscape because we love them !
See you tomorrow, X