Nicaragua for Travellers/Volunteers


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Central America Caribbean » Nicaragua
December 10th 2004
Published: December 10th 2004EDIT THIS ENTRY

Travelling to or Volunteering in Nicaragua
Submitted by calanguagetours on 10 December, 2004 - 14:39.
This article was submitted by Glenn Seavers on his Yahoogroup Nicaragua_Photos today and I have updated some of the text concerning travelling around Nicaragua as Guidebooks become outdated sometimes as soon as the edition is in print. I have also updated an article on Women Ex Pats who live and work in El Salvador and Guatemala and would like to hear from some Women who are either residing in Nicaragua and working/volunteering on their own or in pairs or married to a native Nicaraguan and living/working here, should be residing in the country at least a year, speak Spanish and be a functioning member of society.

NICARAGUA
HUMANITARIAN TRAVELS

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NICARAGUA
HUMANITARIAN TRAVELS

Text Format


The photographs indicated may be viewed and freely downloaded from the YahooGroup:


To visit your group on the web, go to:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nicaragua_Photos/


You require a free Yahoo e mail ID and password to join.








Introduction

Much of this report was copied from

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/central_america/nicaragua/

and modified in some parts to fit the photographs and update some information. If you intend to take a group or take a solo-vacation you should first seek more information to secure a safe and fun trip. In short, avoid the con men and do some homework. For more detailed information on independent travel, reservations, language study, laws regarding business and residency or volunteer opportunties contact Don Lee donaldlee@thepolyglots.com

Nicaragua is best known not for its landscape and cultural treasures, but for the Contra war, in which the people rose up, only to be pushed back down by an US-backed government. Since then, widespread privatization and deregulation have left much of the country in a state of shock.
The good news is that throughout this period human rights have largely been respected and the country's battles are now confined to the political arena. Nicaragua is a fascinating destination for those travelers who have an awareness of history and enjoy getting to know the grass roots.

Warning
Since the end of the civil war, armed criminal groups have operated out of the remote sectors of the northern and central regions including the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), particularly Bonanza and Siuna and especially along the Honduran border. Travelers should exercise caution, taking care to travel on major highways during daylight hours only. If driving your own vehicle or renting one in Nicaragua never leave the vehicle unattended with valuables inside on any public street and only stay in lodging places that offer secure parking areas.

Full country name: Republic of Nicaragua
Area: 129,494 sq km
Population: 5.2 million
People: 69% mestizo, 17% European descent, 9% African descent, 5% indigenous peoples
Language: English, Spanish
Religion: Roman Catholic (85%), Protestant (16%)
Government: Republic
Head of State: President Enrique Bolaños

GDP: US$1.11 billion
GDP per capita: US$2,200
Inflation: 3.7%
Major Industries: Coffee, seafood, sugar, meat, bananas, food processing, chemicals, metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear
Major Trading Partners: Canada, Japan, Germany, Venezuela, USA, the rest of Central America.

Facts for the Traveler

Visas: Citizens of the UK, USA, the Scandinavian countries, Costa Rica, Panama, Isreal, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and European Union countries do not need visas and are issued a tourist card (7.00 US) valid for 90 days on arrival. Citzens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras pay only 10 cordoba to enter/exit the country and autos bearing plates from those nations may be circulate free of charges for 30 days. Autos bearing US, Canadian, Costa Rican, Panamanian or Mexican plates about $20US for 30 day permit to circulate. Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and European countries that do not have reciprocal agreements with Nicaragua will require either a visa or a tourist card allowing a 30-day stay (7.00US). When exiting Nicaragua by land is a 2.00US Exit Tax plus 1.00 local tax enter/exit at Costan Rican border crossing Peñas Blancas, departing by Air 25.00US Airport Departure Tax. Internal Flights Managua to Atlantic Coast and return no departure taxes. Nature Air offers flights 3 times weekly from Granada to Liberia and San Jose Costa Rica and return. *Good news for those unable or unwilling to fly through the USA on transit: The new International airport in Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa rica, only 1.5 hours from the Nicaragua border has now daily flights direct to and from Canada.
From Panama and Costa Rica northbound and Tapachula, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras southbound to Nicaragua operates daily the first class TICA Bus Services, with unlimited stopovers in each country allowed. www.ticabus.com
From San Jose or Liberia Costa Rica is the economical "Centroamerica" Bus a/c with video with terminal in Managua and stops in Rivas, Granada or Masaya enroute if requested. A bargain at $10US one way.
From Guatemala or El Salvador take either the TransNica or King Quality First Class Coaches same price as TICA BUS $25 one way but superior service.
For more complete info. on travel, transportation and security updates in the region E mail Don Lee(see below)

Health risks: hepatitis, dengue fever, malaria, cholera, rabies, typhoid
Time Zone: GMT/UTC -6
Dialling Code: 505
Electricity: 120V ,60Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

When to Go
Nicaragua has two distinct seasons, the timing of which varies from coast to coast. The most pleasant time to visit the Pacific or central regions is early in the dry season (December and January), when temperatures are cooler and the foliage is still lush. With the possible exception of the last month of the dry season (usually mid-April to mid-May) when the land is parched and the air full of dust, there really is no bad time to visit.
Nicaraguans spend Semana Santa (Holy Week) at the beach; all available rooms will be sold out weeks or even months in advance. Check your calendar regarding Easter Week if planning to travel March-April to Nicaragua or any other Latin American country. There are usually rooms available in Managua Semana Santa as the majority of capitalinos flee the hot and polluted city for the week.

Events
Each town and city in Nicaragua has annual celebrations for its patron saint. These celebrations (fiestas patronales) include distinctive masked processions and mock battles involving folkloric figures satirizing the Spanish conquistadors. The most famous of these saints' days are held in honor of San Sebastian (20 January) and Santiago (25 July). Managua's main patronal fete is known as Toro Guaco.


Money & Costs
Currency: Córdoba (C) Approx. 16.45 cordoba to 1.00US December 2004

Relative Costs:
Meals
Budget: US$1.50-4 Mid-range: US$4-8 High: US$8-12 Deluxe: US$12+

Lodging
Budget: US$3-10 Mid-range: US$10-15 High: US$15-25 Deluxe: US$25+
Comfortable travel in Nicaragua costs in the range of US$30 to US$50 a day. A moderate budget will fall in the US$20 to US$30 a day range if you hire a car occasionally. Budget travelers can get by on between US$15 and US$25 a day if they confine themselves to public transport. The Caribbean Coast is a bit more expensive than elsewhere in the country.

With the rapid expansion of the banking system, traveler's checks have become easier to cash, but outside the capital only a handful of banks provide this service. Casas de cambio (currency exchange offices) such as Pinolero and Multicambios provide the service, but it's not easy to find a bank that will do so. Bring some cash USD for emergency, also bring an International Credit or Debit Card, best with VISA logo, as Mastercard (Cirrus) outlets are hard to find outside Managua proper. On the road, ATMs may be found at Texaco(full service) and Shell(On The Run) 24 hour gasoline stations such asin Chinandega, Léon, Esteli, Matagalpa Masaya, Granada, Rivas, etc. safer than Bank ATMs located out on the street, never accept "assistance" from strangers, when using the Bank ATM in Granada's Main Square, bring a friend, and be advise street children, who work for adults may approach you offering assistance and budget lodgings after you withdraw cash, politely decline. Never tell strangers where you are staying or give your room number of your hotel, if you must carry large amounts of cash then stay only in lodging places that offer security lock boxes and take taxis or guided tours place to place. Remember the cash you are carrying may be at least 2 years wages, for example, if someone left $50,000 on the table in the US and left, I would be tempted!!! Always try to tip children and young people who are working, such as shoeshine boys, waiters and other service people, native Nicaraguans rarely if at all tip(see below). Avoid the glue sniffing street kids. Don't feel "sorry" for them, they have made their own choices.

All over Nicaragua, many moderately priced hotels and restaurants accept credit cards, and in some parts of the country, even most of the cheapest places accept them. Note that Nicaraguan córdobas cannot readily be changed in any other country.
Most Nicaraguans do not leave tips in inexpensive restaurants. In good restaurants you could leave up to 10% of the bill. Some restaurants include a service charge with the bill, and this is usually clearly shown. Don't confuse a tip with the nationwide 15% value added tax that is shown on each bill. Be certain to bargain in large outdoor markets. The best markets for indingenous Arts and Crafts are in and around Masaya, a commercial center located only 25 Km.(15 miles)south from Managua and 12km.(8 miles) west from Granada

Attractions

Managua
The capital of Nicaragua is spread across the southern shore of Lago de Managua and is crowded with more than a quarter of Nicaragua's population. It's been racked by natural disasters, including two earthquakes this century, and since the 1972 earthquake the city has had no center. Those returning to Managua after a few years will notice marked changes. An improving economy has produced a construction boom. It will be obvious, however, that the recovering economy has not benefited everyone, as poverty is still widespread.
Several of Managua's attractions stand around the Plaza de la República, including the lakeside municipal cathedral, which has been reconditioned with help from foreign donors and is now open to the public. Near the cathedral is the impressively restored Palacio Nacional, which has two giant paintings of Augusto Sandino and Carlos Fonseca at the entrance. The Huellas de Acahualinca museum houses the ancient footprints of people and animals running toward the lake from a volcanic eruption. The Museo de la Revolución has interesting historical exhibits with an emphasis on the revolutionary struggle of this century. For more information on Managua, business and getting around(taxis in Managua and throughout Nicaragua are plentiful and inexpensive from 5 cordobas a ride per person in Masaya and Granada etc. to 10-25 cordobas per person in Managua where distances are often long.

Laguna De Apoyo

There are also several lagunas, or volcanic crater lakes, which are popular swimming spots. Barrio Martha Quezada is a residential district with many simple, cheap guesthouses and places to eat. This is where backpackers tend to congregate. On weekends there's dancing and partying around Plaza 19 de Julio.

Around Managua
The large volcano at the center of Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya, which still steams and belches, is surrounded by smaller volcanoes and thermal springs. Legends say that the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the area used to throw young women into the boiling lava to appease Chaciutique, the goddess of fire. The Spanish believed it was the entrance to hell, inhabited by devils. Entrance to the park is only 23km (14mi) southeast of Managua.
The Laguna de Xiloá, a stunning crater lake 20km (12mi) northwest of the city, is a favourite swimming spot. At El Trapiche, 17km (11mi)southeast of the city, water from natural springs has been channeled into large outdoor pools surrounded by gardens and restaurants.

Granada
Granada, nicknamed 'La Gran Sultana'(The Great Sultan) in reference to its Moorish namesake in Spain, is Nicaragua's oldest Spanish city. Founded in 1524 by conquistadors, it rumps up against the imposing Volcán Mombacho on the the northwest shore of Lake Nicaragua. With its access to the Caribbean Sea via the lake and the Río San Juan, Granada has always been a main trade centre. Today the town is relatively quiet and a major literary centre, and retains its colonial character. It's a wonderful walking city, with most major attractions, including the cathedral and Parque Colón (Parque Central), within a few blocks of the plaza. When you're ready to cool off, the lake is only a 15-minute walk away. The Assumption of Mary (third week of August) is the town's biggest party day. To ride the bus to Granada, Masaya or Jinotepe take a taxi or city buses 102, 105 to "LA UCA" Catholic University near the upscale "Zona Rosa" and Metrocentro Mall. The "expressos" run 5AM-9PM are minibuses and cost 10 cordoba per person. The "expressos" take you right into both Masaya and Granada, returning evey 10-15 minutes to Managua. For other cities and towns just ask any taxi driver to take you to "Terminal a Léon, Rivas, Esteli, Matagalpa, etc." Remember taxi fares double per person after 8PM. Never walk alone in deserted or unfamilar areas at night in Managua, always take a taxi.


León
León is traditionally the most liberal of Nicaragua's cities and remains the radical and intellectual centre of the country.
Monuments to the revolution, including bold Sandinista murals, are dotted all over town, and many buildings are riddled with bullet holes. Though scarred by earthquakes and war, the city is resplendent with many fine colonial churches and official buildings. Its streets are lined with old Spanish-style houses that have white adobe walls, red-tiled roofs, thick wooden doors and cool garden patios. Its cathedral is the largest in Central America and features huge paintings of the Stations of the Cross by Antonio Sarria as well as the tomb of poet. Léon is by far the best place in Nicaragua to study Spanish, and several schools offering courses with home stay and volunteer opportunties operate. Léon is located 88 km. (53 miles) northwest of Managua on the Pacific Coastal plain, hot climate. Excellent Beaches nearby to cool off. Most Spanish Schools and many excellent local guides offer weekend excursions all over the area.



Leon Cathedral






Rubén Darío. The Galería de Héroes y Mártires has a display that includes photos of those who died fighting for the FSLN during the 1978-79 revolution.

The Caribbean Coast (Nicaragua)
Unlike the rest of Nicaragua, the Caribbean coast was never colonized: it remained a British protectorate until the late 1800s. The only part of the rainforest-covered coast usually visited by travelers is Bluefields, but some visitors also head out to the Corn Islands (Islas del Maíz). The journey from Managua to Bluefields involves a five-hour boat trip down the Río Escondido. Bluefields' mix of ethnic groups - including Miskitos, Ramas and Sumos, blacks and mestizos from the rest of Nicaragua - makes it an interesting place, and the people here definitely like to have a good time; there are several reggae clubs and plenty of dancing on the weekends.


Off the Beaten Track

Archipiélago de Solentiname
The Archipiélago de Solentiname, in the southern part of Lago de Nicaragua, is the site of a communal society established for artists by the poet Ernesto Cardenal. The islands are known for their distinctive school of colorful primitivist painting. They are a great place for hiking, fishing and taking it easy. Boats to the Solentiname islands depart from San Carlos, on the southeastern corner of the lake.

Hill Top View on Corn Island

Corn Islands
The Corn Islands (Islas de Maíz), off the coast east of Bluefields, are made up of two small islands. Like other islands near the Caribbean coast, the Corn Islands were once a haven for buccaneers. Nowadays, the islands (especially the larger one) are popular holiday spots, with clear turquoise water, white sandy beaches, excellent fishing, coral reefs for diving and an unhurried pace of life.

Las Isletas
Las Isletas is a group of 356 small islands just offshore from Granada in Lago de Nicaragua. The locals make a living out of fishing and growing tropical fruits such as mangoes and coconuts, and there is a remarkable variety of bird life. The island of San Pablo has a small fortress built by the Spaniards to protect against British pirates in the 18th century. Isla Zapatera is protected as a national park and is one of Nicaragua's most important archaeological areas. Giant stone statues erected in pre-Columbian times have been moved elsewhere, but you can visit other ancient tombs and structures. There are more tombs and some interesting rock carvings on Isla El Muerto (Island of the Dead).



Activities
The Selva Negra (Black Forest) near Matagalpa, the mountains in the north and the islands in Lago de Nicaragua offer great hiking. Among the many spectacular volcanoes of interest for climbers are Volcán Masaya and the two volcanoes on Isla de Ometepe, Madera and Concepción. Lago de Nicaragua offers fantastic opportunities for fishing, and surfing is popular at Poneloya beach, near León, and at Playa Popoyo, near Rivas.

History
The earliest traces of human habitation in Nicaragua are the 10,000-year-old footprints of the Acahualinca - prints preserved under layers of volcanic ash of people and animals running toward Lago de Managua. Around the 10th century AD, indigenous people from Mexico migrated to Nicaragua's Pacific lowlands, and Aztec culture was adopted by many indigenous groups when Aztecs moved south during the 15th century to establish a trading colony.
The first contact with Europeans came in 1502, when Columbus sailed down the Caribbean coast. In 1522, a Spanish exploratory mission reached the southern shores of Lago de Nicaragua. A few years later the Spanish colonised the region and founded the cities of Granada and León, subduing local tribes. The inhabitants of the heavily populated area around Managua put up a fierce resistance to the Spanish invaders, and their city was destroyed.
Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821, along with the rest of Central America. It was part of Mexico for a brief time, then part of the Central American Federation, and finally achieved complete independence in 1838. Soon after, Britain and the USA both became extremely interested in Nicaragua and the strategically important Río San Juan navigable passage from Lago de Nicaragua to the Caribbean. In 1848, the British seized the port at the mouth of the Río San Juan on the Caribbean coast and renamed it Greytown. This became a major transit point for hordes of hopefuls looking for the quickest route to Californian gold.
In 1855, the liberals of León invited William Walker, a military adventurer intent on taking over Latin American territory, to help seize power from the conservatives based in Granada. Walker and his band of mercenaries took Granada easily and he proclaimed himself president of Nicaragua. He was soon booted out of the country (one of his first moves was to institutionalise slavery) but showed almost absurd tenacity as he repeatedly tried to invade; his efforts set a precedent for continued US interference in Nicaragua's affairs.
In 1934, General Somoza, head of the US-trained National Guard, engineered the assassination of liberal opposition rebel Augusto C Sandino and, after fraudulent elections, became president in 1937. Somoza ruled Nicaragua as a dictator for the next 20 years, amassing huge personal wealth and landholdings the size of El Salvador. Although General Somoza was shot dead in 1956, his sons upheld the reign of the Somoza dynasty until 1979. Widespread opposition to the regime had been present for a long time, but it was the devasting earthquake of 1972, and more specifically the way that international aid poured into the pockets of the Somozas while thousands of people suffered and died, that caused opposition to spread among all classes of Nicaraguans. Two groups were set up to counter the regime: the FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberacíon Nacional, also known as the Sandinistas) and the UDEL, led by Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, publisher of La Prensa, the newspaper critical of the dictatorship.

Salvador Talavara A. Leader PRN, Partido Resistencia Nicaraguense / Contra Guerrilla Forces. 2004 photo taken in Managua at PRN
Headquarter discussion over Municipal Elections in October.

When Chamorro was assassinated in 1978 the people erupted in violence and declared a general strike. The revolt spread and former moderates joined with the FSLN to overthrow the Somoza regime. The Sandinistas marched victoriously into Managua on July 19, 1979. They inherited a poverty-stricken country with high rates of homelessness and illiteracy and insufficient health care. The new government nationalised the lands of the Somozas and established farming cooperatives. They waged a massive education campaign that reduced illiteracy from 50% to 13%, and introduced an immunisation program that eliminated polio and reduced infant mortality to a third of the rate it had been before the revolution.
It wasn't long before the country encountered serious problems from its 'good neighbour' to the north. The US government, which had supported the Somozas until the end, was alarmed that the Nicaraguans were setting a dangerous example to the region. A successful popular revolution was not what the US government wanted.

Three months after Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the USA announced that it was suspending aid to Nicaragua and allocating 10,000,000.00 for the organisation of counter-revolutionary groups known as Contras. The Sandinistas responded by using much of the nation's resources to defend themselves against the US-funded insurgency. In 1984, elections were held in which Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinistas, won 63% of the vote, but the USA continued its attacks on Nicaragua. In 1985, the USA imposed a trade embargo that lasted five years and strangled Nicaragua's economy. By this time it was widely known that the USA was funding the Contras, often covertly through the CIA, and Congress passed a number of bills that called for an end to the funding. US support for the Contras continued secretly until the Iran Contra Affair revealed that the CIA had illegally sold weapons to Iran at inflated prices, and used the profits to fund the Contras.
In 1990, Nicaraguans went to the polls and elected Violeta Chamorro, leader of the opposition UNO and widow of martyred La Prensa editor Pedro Chamorro. Chamorro's failure to revive the economy, and her increasing reliance on Sandinista support, led to US threats to withhold aid, but the civil war was over at last.

Glenn Seavers, Patricia Carpio and Daniel Ortega at FSLN Political Rally (Photo)

Daniel Ortega ran for president in October 1996, apologising for Sandinista 'excesses' and calling himself a centrist, but he was defeated by the ex-mayor of Managua, anticommunist Liberal Alliance candidate, Arnoldo Alemán. President Alemán was sworn in January 10, 1997.
In November of 1998, Hurricane Mitch hit the Atlantic coast of Central America, washing out roads and destroying buildings and bridges throughout the region. In Nicaragua, heavy rains following in the wake of the storm set off a mudslide at Volcán Casita that buried several villages. Over 10,000 people died as a result of the hurricane, one of the worst this century. The tragedy prompted several nations to cancel Nicaragua's debt in late 1999.
The 2000 mayoral elections saw the Sandinistas do well, but Liberal Party candidate Enrique Bolaños won the presidential election in 2001, beating his Sandinista opponent, former president Ortega. Not giving up on Ortega yet, the Sandinistas renamed him as the party's leader in March 2002.
Bolaños took office pledging to clean up the country's corrupt government, a policy which many viewed as being at odds with his party. Bolaños took an aggressive stance and in spite of rifts he created, convinced the assembly to strip former President Alemán of his diplomatic immunity. Alemán was subsequently charged with money-laundering and embezzlement, and was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2003. When the World Bank wrote off four-fifths of the country's debt in January 2004 the president declared it was the best news for Nicaragua in a quarter-century; six months later Russia cancelled debts stretching back to the Soviet era
.


Culture
Earthquakes and war have obliterated much tangible evidence of Nicaragua's cultural heritage, especially its colonial architecture - although León retains many fine old buildings. Poetry is one of Nicaragua's most beloved arts, and no other Central American country can match its literary output. Rubén Darío (1867-1916) is known as the 'Prince of Spanish-American literature,' and recent work by Nicaraguan poets, fiction writers and essayists can be found in most bookshops. Bluefields, the largely English-speaking town on the Caribbean coast, is a center for reggae music. The Archipiélago de Solentiname in Lago de Nicaragua is famous as a haven for artists, poets and craftspeople. Sandinista street art in the form of modernist murals is especially prominent in the university town of León.

Spanish is the language of Nicaragua, but English and a number of indigenous languages are spoken on the Caribbean coast. The main religion is Catholicism, although there are a number of Protestant sects such as the Pentecostals and the Baptists. The Moravian church, introduced by British missionaries, is important on the Caribbean coast.

A typical meal in Nicaragua consists of eggs or meat, beans and rice, salad (cabbage and tomatoes), tortillas and fruit in season. Most common of all Nicaraguan foods is gallo pinto, a blend of rice and beans, with cooking water from the beans added to color the rice. Other traditional dishes include bajo, a mix of beef, green and ripe plantains and yucca (cassava), and vigorón, yucca served with fried pork skins and coleslaw. Street vendors sell interesting drinks such as tiste, made from cacao and corn, and posol con leche, a corn-and-milk drink. Nicaragua boasts the best beer and rum in Central America.


Environment
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It's bordered to the north by Honduras, to the south by Costa Rica, to the east by the Caribbean Sea and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. The country has three distinct geographic regions: the Pacific lowlands, the north-central mountains and the Caribbean lowlands, also called the Mosquito Coast or Mosquitía. The fertile Pacific lowlands are interrupted by about 40 volcanoes, and dominated by Lago de Nicaragua, which is the largest lake in Central America. The Mosquito Coast is a sparsely populated rainforest area and the outlet for many of the large rivers originating in the central mountains. To date, 17% of the country has been given national-park status.
Lago de Nicaragua supports unusual fish, including the world's only freshwater sharks, as well as a huge variety of bird life. The cloud- and rainforests in the northwest contain abundant wildlife including ocelots, warthogs, pumas, jaguars, sloths and spider monkeys. Avian life in the forests is particularly rich: the cinnamon hummingbird, ruddy woodpecker, stripe-breasted wren, elegant trogon, shining hawk and even the quetzal, the holy bird of the Maya, can all be seen. The jungles on the Caribbean coast contain trees that grow up to almost 200ft (60m) high and are home to boas, anacondas, jaguars, deer and howler monkeys.
Nicaragua was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in November 1998, when more than a year's worth of rain fell in in just seven days. A series of violent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the fall of 1999 didn't help the situation much.



Getting There & Away
Flights to and from Managua are available from a number of Latin American, European and North American airlines. Nicaragua's major internal carrier is La Costeña, while Atlantic Airlines is the second biggest with fewer flights, more comfortable planes and slightly more expensive fares. The departure tax is 25.00US.
There are three overland border crossings into Honduras, at Las Manos, El Espino and Guasule, and one into Costa Rica, at Sapoá. There is also a river border crossing between Nicaragua and Costa Rica at Los Chiles, reachable by boat from San Carlos. Fishing and cargo boats from Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas, both on the Caribbean Coast, are always coming and going; you may be able to hitch a ride to another Central American port or island.

Getting Around
There are three domestic airlines offering flights, mainly between Managua, Bluefields, Puerto Cabezas and the Corn Islands. Local bus services are regular and frequent, although they can get very crowded. Nicaraguan buses are much loved by pickpockets, so take precautions and keep an eye on your baggage at all times. Boats are the only way to get to some places in Nicaragua, notably on the Caribbean coast and on Lago de Nicaragua. Trips down the Río San Juan to El Castillo and San Juán del Norte are usually expensive. If travelling in a group in which no one speaks Spanish, best to contract a local bi-lingual guide-driver for a day or two, avoid the tour companies based in Managua Luxury Hotels, expensive and reports of no bi-lingual guide services at times, just nice a/c minibuses, avoid the "Tour services" at the blacklisted Mercedes Best Western Hotel across from the airport in Managua. If you speak Spanish (even a bit)try hiring a taxi a half or full day, an economical and safe way to see the sights on your own.



Humanitarian Aid


There are several areas in Humanitarian Aid one can work in, Orphanages, Clinics and Communities. Ongoing projects are plenty in Nicaragua and provide opportunity for service. Simply providing a free meal in a poor area or painting one of the schools in an area. At every level there are opportunities already established. It is not necessary to start or build new schools or churches in Nicaragua. There are hundreds already built that could use upkeep or support.

In an afternoon, just over six hundred fifty people were fed by financial contributions from Bogart Georgia Church, Heritage Fellowship. This same funding provided meals for another two days with people arriving from nearby villages. Typical Native dishes were prepared over open fire then served to a very excited crowd outside. Streets were filled and roof tops used for better positioning.







Children Washing before Lunch (Photo)




Some Ice on a
Hot Day
(Photo)

The people are friendly and open in Nicaragua every thing done for them quickly turns into a festival.


Happy Faces(Photo)





Hamming it up
for the Lens(Photo)



Children are the same all over the world and a camera brings forth goofing around.(Photo)




Thinker or Bored?(Photo)







Grin after a Jump
in the River(Photo)

For the short-term commitment other opportunities are building repair and providing everyday financial needs. A School in Managua needed painting, funding was provided for paint and labor. The equipment was brought through the airport set up on site with fifty gallons of paint shot to the building over two days.


Padre Xavior Amador The Children of
Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo the Managua School
Glenn Seavers




Church and School after Painting(Photo)


Another trip offered a simpler solution to a problem. A friend’s family needed funding for his grave marker in Masaya. Another family needed work done on their house to keep weather out and a little boy without the use of his legs was getting to large for his mother to carry. He received the only Radio Flyer in the area making him the most popular kid of the block. Simple short term goals that are completed in under a week.



Further Reading
Fire from the Mountain: The Making of a Sandinista by Omar Cabezas is a classic account of the Sandinista guerrilla experience. Nicaragua: Revolution in the Family by Shirley Christian is a historical narrative of the 1979 revolution by the leading US journalist on the ground at the time. The Jaguar Smiles: A Nicaraguan Journey by Salman Rushdie is a short travelogue assessing the Nicaraguan revolution. The book is limited by the briefness of Rushdie's visit. Death, Dreams and Dancing in Nicaragua by Australian journalist Penny O'Donnell is an entertaining account of the establishing of public radio stations Sandinista-style during the revolution. So Far From God by Patrick Marnham is an unflinching and lucid appraisal of Central America, its Spanish legacy, its current problems and its troubled relationship with the USA. PJ O'Rourke takes a rather more light-hearted approach in Holidays in Hell. Poets of Nicaragua, edited by Stephen White, is a useful bilingual anthology.



Padre Julio Porras of San Juan De Baptista in Masaya (Photo)



References and contacts are freely delivered on request Come down and make new friends to develop your Mission Goals.
Please send your Contributions to: Glenn E. Seavers III
450 Hull Road
Athens, Georgia 30601
706-549-9322 / 706-202-9018
glenn_seavers@yahoo.com




Thank You for your Support




Some text regarding travel updated by Donald T. Lee, a native of USA residnt 19 years in Central America, Who has spent time with Glenn Seavers in Nicaragua and have references of my own in Nicaragua and will attest if you donate $5 or $500 to the Volunteer Mission it shall all, every penny, go to the needy. Glenn and the volunteers pay their own airfares to Nicaragua plus lodging and expenses. Sadly there are people and organizations you may come in contact with, not only in Nicaragua, but worldwide, that ask you to donate equipment, money or your time that are not above board. For more detailed information on Nicaragua or anything "Central American"
I am able to contact by "SMS" anyone with a cell phone in Nicaragua for you in Spanish. If you speak and read Spanish http://www.xolo.com.ni/ offers an SMS page serving all 3 cellular carriers to send text messages free via Internet.

E mail Donald at donaldlee@thepolyglots.com
http://www.thepolyglots.com


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