After nine weeks here, I had to try traveling by myself. All of my weekend trips have been with friends that I've made from La Esperanza, and as fun as they've been, I felt ready to go somewhere on my own. I chose Miraflor, because it's rural, a good change from the city of Granada, and because I could stay with a family, a good change from the volunteer house.
Miraflor is a cooperatively run nature reserve, really just a bunch of families and farms trying to market itself to tourists through an organization called UCA, which stands for something about cooperative agriculture. I've seen a lot of things passed through bus windows. I've seen the usual exchanges of a couple of coins for candy and frescos (sugary sweet juice drinks that you sip out of a plastic bag), a plastic back full of five hundred cord bills, bushels of bananas, and the like, but this time I actually saw a baby shoved through the window at one stop. At this point, I was barely surprised.
After one of the most packed and bumpy busrides, yet, (that's really saying something) up into the mountains on the usual chicken buses (the old school buses), I was dropped off on a dirt road in a thunderstorm with only one sign with an arrow pointing to la comunidad de las perlas, part of the community of united families of Miraflor. The sun was setting. One woman did get off at the same stop, and walked me up the hill. I was slipping and sliding, and she managed to make it just fine in 3 inch heels while her two little boys rode a horse at her side.
I finally made it to the house where I was staying, which belongs to a woman named Maribel. I was greeted by two other visitors who were having dinner. Gallo pinto (rice and beans fried up together), avocado, and cheese. I knew it would be gallo pinto night. The two are here doing volunteer work in a small town further north, and one of them is taking my same flight back to the States on Wednesday. So now I have a friend to kill time with in the Atlanta airport. It's easy to make friends on your own, and you always meet the same people over and over again traveling the same routes in Nicaragua.
We all shared a guide the next day who led us through an orchid farm that doesn't bloom until december, a coffee plantaton and laboratorio (which we couldn't enter), and to watch a baseball game. She was very into the baseball game, and kept trying to get us to stay there under the pretense of 'observing campesino beisbol.'Really she just wanted to hang out with her friends. It started to rain again, so we skipped a dip in a waterfall, and I rode horseback back up to maribel's house for the night. I played cards with her kids, watched a boxing game on TV, and fell asleep absolutely exhausted around eight.