| Geography of
Matagalpa Study Tour -- 2012
James Hayes-Bohanan , Ph.D.
Bridgewater State College Geography
UPDATED January 5, 2012
I have expanded this site's information about coffee shops, coffee roasters, coffee tours, health effects, and coffee preparation, and have moved that information to other pages. You can continue the exploration at my main coffee page.
This page is about my January 4--16, 2012 study tour in León, Jinotega, Matagalpa, and Granada. See my Coffee-Nicaragua page for stories, insights, and photographs from the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011 study tours.
Cafezinho in Florianópolis
The Coffeeland Landmine Victims' Trust connects the coffee industry to landmine victims throughout the coffee-growing areas of the world. Unfortunately, this includes the Contra War area of Nicaragua. This year the journey takes us back to Ben Linder's grave in Matagalpa, but also to the Ben Linder café in León, which was established with the help of Deans Beans. Operating now primarily as a roaster, it honors the martyred North American engineer while helping farmers and victims of land mines.
The cafe was the inspiration for the proposed Ben Linder Cafe for BSU. The University Trustees have declined the proposal, but members of the community continue to advocate for the Cafe and its ideals.
"To know the unexplored of northern Nicaragua"
Every BSU Nicaragua tour since 2009 has used the excellent services of Matagalpa Tours. From office staff to field guides and local experts, this company provides reliable, expert guidance in every kind of setting.
Most places on this year's tour were also part of the 2011 study tour, with a few additions.
January 4-5: Arrival and Travel to León
Projects of the Polus Center, including PLUSAA, Walking Unidos, and the Ben Linder Café; coffee geology and mild adventure at the Cerro Negro volcano
January 6: León to Matagalpa
San Jacinto geysers, city tour in of Matagalpa; visit to Ben Linder grave site; fair-trade lecture at CECOCAFEN farmer-owned cooperative
January 7: El Chile and Selva Negra
El Chile community and weaving cooperative; Selva Negra coffee estate and retreat; BSU classroom time
January 8: Selva Negra surroundings
Hiking in cloud-forest reserve; Byron Corrales award-winning organic coffee farm; San Luis semi-conventional (Cafe Practice) farm
NOTE: During the January 9-13 period, the group is very unlikely to have phone or Internet service
January 9-10: Peñas Blancas
Visit to coffee-growing community and forest reserve and the Ben Linder hydroelectric projects at El Cuá
January 11 to 13: La Corona Community
Home stays with coffee-growing families; community-wide cultural activities; coffee harvest and wet-mill processing
January 13 to 14: Matagalpa
Association of Coffee Workers at San Francisco Farm -- veterans of the famous 1999 coffee march; award-winning barista presentation; SOLCAFE coffee dry mill; Castillo Cacao (yes, a chocolate castle)
January 14 to 15: Masaya and Granada
Masaya volcano and market; island tour in Lake Nicaragua; relaxation; final BSU class time
January 16: Granada to Boston
Morning free time in Granada; afternoon in transit through Miami; late evening arrival at Logan
Photo from 2009, downtown Matagalpa: Part of the curriculum of this study tour is understanding the complex relationships among land, power, coffee, and politics. The three figures in the foreground represent the men and women of the Sandinista Revolution of the 1970s (and its defense in the 1980s). The shadow in the background represents Sandino, a revolutionary figure from a much earlier time.
Photo from 2010, Jinotega: Byron Corrales is the Poet of Coffee, whose care of the soil has won him the world-wide Cup of Excellence. With his wonderful children, he carries a tradition of caring for coffee to a third generation. His explanation of organic farming is the highlight of our tour.
Byron's daughter Sara recently sent this video, in which one of Byron's importers introduces customers to this most amazing farmer.
More photos will be added as time allows, and updates of what we learn from our adventures will be posted on the Environmental Geography blog.