This past January 2017 I traveled to Nicaragua with Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. to visit a coffee farm called Finca San Jose de las Nubes located in the cloud-capped mountains outside the city of Matagalpa in the Jinotega region. All the planning, reading, and photos I took in couldn’t prepare me for the shift in cultural norms I would experience in what is one of the most impoverished countries in Central America. I encountered women and children working long hours amid crushing poverty, and I knew I wanted to help make a difference and tell their story as best as I could.
Driving from the airport in Managua to the northern town of Matagalpa felt like a homecoming. I spent a whole day in Managua with my travel companions Shannon and Leah. Shannon is close friends with the Blanchard’s and lived in Nicaragua ten years ago working at the Casa Bernabe orphanage in Managua, and we spent our first day visiting her old colleagues and friends, but it wasn’t until we were cruising down the Pan-American Highway heading north into the lush green mountains that I truly felt like I was going where I belonged. Every turn in the road felt familiar. Even the smells of diesel fuel and wood fires burning combined with the earthiness from the sprawling pastures of grazing cattle felt like something I knew.