After leaving Somoto we made our way to the town of Esteli in search of information about a possible homestay. We stopped in at Hostel Luna’s affiliate tour company, Treehuggers Tourism Office, which provided us with a list of families residing in Reserva Natural Miraflor.
After a quick check of the families available we chose Orlando and Devanira since we had read a couple of good reviews about them on Trip Advisor. What would we do without the internet???
We were told that their home was a 20 minute drive from Esteli. No problem. After an hour and twenty minutes on a dirt road that is mostly reserved for motorcycles and horses, we realized that we probably misunderstood what we were told, but we had finally made it to the Ruiz home.
Within 5 minutes of arrivingwe were sitting around the table drinking coffee, Ash was getting her nails painted by Celeste (one of Orlando and Devanira’s daughters), and we were sharing stories about our trip, our families, and our life in Canada. The dogs, chickens, roosters and pigs roamed free and we were dreaming of a little hobby farm already.
The following day was essentially the same, but with a lot of relaxing and reading. We constantly got asked if we were “cansada”. “Si!” we replied with enthusiasm, not quite understanding at all what they were asking. After a few hours we looked it up in our handy Spanish-English dictionary app. Apparently they were asking if we were tired. No wonder they let us hang out in the hammocks with our heads in our books all day! Richard entertained Juan (the little guy, five years old) by crafting paper airplanes and throwing them into the air.
On our third day we rose early (at least we rested and weren’t cansado any longer!) and we walked about a kilometer to “help” Orlando milk the cows. They have three cows that are milked daily so that Devanira can make cheese for the following day. Since it was our first time milking cows Orlando showed us the way. We’re by no means experts, but now we can say we’ve done it. Boom, something else to put on the resume! Orlando got us to help rotate the compost pile for the garden that produces food for their family and also Café Luz which works in part with Hostel Luna and Treehuggers Tourism Office in organizing these homestays. There are no labels, no organic, free-range, grass-fed, happy hens here… it’s just real food with proper farming practices.
Celeste and her twin sister Marie were having their 18th birthday the next day so we decided to stick around for the festivities. The best part about a birthday is always the food, so we helped (and hindered a little…) the girls make bread (pan) and cakes (pastels). Orlando preheated the outdoor oven to 350F (this is a joke) and started baking.
The birthday was filled with family in the home, plenty of guitar playing and singing, a bailar fiesta (dance party) in the kitchen with Celeste, and way too much food. The following day we reluctantly said our good-byes and hit the road in search of our next adventure.