Trip Report: Nicaragua - The Road to Jinotega

The express bus to Jinotega.

I'm back on the road again, this time I'm off to Nicaragua for twelve days of visiting coffee farms, cupping new crop coffees and also visiting the cigar factory that makes the Fratello cigar. It's been about three years since my last trip to Nicaragua.

Previously, my trips to Central America focused around judging coffee competitions. During those trips, we might get a day or two to visit a farm and cup coffees, but this time it's all about the coffee and seeing what's going on in the world. First stop: Jinotega.

Located about three hours north of Managua, Jinotega produces 65% of the nations coffee. In Nicaragua, there are four major growing regions: Esteli, Matagalpa, Nuevo Segovia and Jinotega. With any luck, I will get to visit all four this trip.

After about a seven hour trip that started with a 5:30am flight out of Baltimore, I landed in Managua around 11:30am, after a brief stop in customs, I grabbed a taxi and headed to the Terminal El Mayoreo where you can catch both local routed and express buses across the nation and even to neighboring countries. The express ticket to Jinotega cost 80 Cordobas (about US$3). Not bad.

Most of you have probably seen those stereotypical Central American buses - converted school buses emblazoned with colorful paint jobs, loud music and loaded with people, grain, feed, animals and whatever else needs to get around the country. That was the kind of bus I was taking to Jinotega. Luckily, it wasn't jam-packed at all and the ride was pleasant enough, though air conditioning would have been nice.

Jinotega itself is a lovely little colonial town in the mountains where the weather is cool and quite pleasant. The people here are friendly and, as you would expect, the pace is slower. I took some time this afternoon to walk around, grab a bit to eat and just soak in the flavor of the town. Tomorrow the real work begins.

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