Most people avoid driving the Pan-American Highway at night, especially in the mountainous region of northern Nicaragua where the Estelí valley becomes mired by a very particular kind of darkness, dense and disorienting. The road here is unreasonably narrow and guardrails are nonexistent. Street lights are scarce and so is electricity for that matter. One wrong turn, one moment of distraction could mean a tumble down a steep cliff into the valley floor far below.
But here we are, and what was originally supposed to be a trip to the A.J. Fernandez cigar factory in a busy, well-lit town has been rerouted. Our SUV is now headed on this winding and unpredictable highway to the tobacco fields in the dark of night.  (more…)