Hugelkultur Permaculture Landscaping

As part of our ongoing experiments with selected permaculture-related projects, we are putting together what is called a Hugelkultur Raised Bed.

We have a little terraced area located below our hydro-pneumatic water storage system very near to our kitchen (zone 1 anybody?). These are tree branches, some really big and thick, that came from a tamarind tree that we had to trim back quite a bit.

So the idea is that you put these trees down and simply pile dirt over the top.  But they say to do it about five feet wide and 6 or even 7 feet tall!  The higher and steeper the form the more water it stores during the rainy season. Supposedly, these are “no-water” gardens; once established, as the wood breaks down it becomes more and more of a sponge and you can grow tasty vegetables and fragrant herbs without needing to water the raised bed.

In forthcoming days we will be adding some plantain tree trunks, some mixed tree branches, dead leaves, and on top of that some green materials and semi-finished compost, then finally just some plain old dirt dug up for another project.  Then plant, water to ensure the seedlings thrive, and, well we’ll see and report back to you, our faithful reader(s)!

How to travel around within Nicaragua: An Overview

How to travel around within Nicaragua: An Overview

Hey reader(s)! Thanks as always for checking in, we hope you enjoy
our ramblings and that you find some value in what we post here.

So, the question of the day is, how does one travel around within
Nicaragua? What are your options? There are five main options that immediately come to mind:

  • Taking buses and/or expresso vans
  • Renting a car
  • Hiring a point-to-point shuttle service
  • Hiring a private car and driver
  • Joining an organized group tour

Buses and Expresso Minivans

Taking buses and expresso minivans has its pluses and minuses to be sure. Pluses are that:

  • Bus fares are very inexpensive for visitors from other countries.
  • They arrive and leave at fairly frequent intervals, (at least between the main towns they are).
  • Buses travel to nearly every small village, so you are not necessarily limited to the big towns and cities.

Expresso vans are smaller passenger vans that hold up to 20 people absolutely jammed in

Additional pluses for expresso buses are:

  • they make less stops, hence the use of the term “expresso”
  • they tend to arrive and leave at different, and sometimes more
  • convenient locations to the big bus stations usually located in busy markets

Discussing the downsides to both bus and mini-van expressos is a
little trickier as it can involve subjective feeling and individual
preferences, so YMMV as they say 😉

Minuses for buses and expresso vans include:

  • They are public, cooperatives, and individual owner/operators of buses and some buses, are literally “chicken buses” in that passengers bring onboard live chickens going to market.(I’ve also seen a live pig strapped to a bus roof.)

    Yes passengers do bring their chickens on the bus…

  • Can be quite crowded; you are not guaranteed a seat, which is why it is best to go to the bus station to have the best chance of getting a seat. Even if the bus goes by on its way out of town, all the seats may already be taken and then you will be on your feet for awhile at least until some people get off.

    Buses can be crowded, especially during peak times

  • Not as secure; obviously it is not as safe as being in your own vehicle.While the inter-city buses are not perfectly safe, they are much safer than the Managua city buses. Just follow the basic tips like don’t flash money, cameras, jewelry etc. around, keep your passport, credit cards and other personal information on your person, preferably under your outer clothing in a travel belt or pouch.

    Pickpockets and crowded buses sometimes go together, unfortunately.

Rental Cars

Renting a car has pluses in that you can:

  • Decide when and where you will travel, coming and going on your own schedule.
  • The ability to explore small villages, isolated beaches, mountain valleys, and other places that are not frequently served by bus or expresso vans.

Minuses are:

  • Cost
  • Stress of driving

The cost, even for a compact vehicle, is currently at or above $50 a day. Fuel and extra insurance coverage is of course extra. So if you are really doing some driving, let’s say from Managua to Leon, and then Leon to Granada, then to San Juan del Sur and want to take about six or seven days to do it, you are looking at an average daily fuel cost of ~$20-$50 (estimating here…literally this is YMMV). Before you know it you are looking at about $100 a day if you get full coverage insurance and drive around a bit.

Stress of driving is another factor and it is real. Actually before discussing that, you should know that Nicaragua is one of the better countries to drive in because it is still fairly rare for individuals to own their own vehicles. So once you are out of Managua, the traffic is not a big factor. What will get you are the traffic hazards; imagine a typical first-person driving video game but where taxis cut in front of you on a two-lane road and then come to an abrupt stop as soon as they slip in ahead of your vehicle. Buses stop and disgorge people in the middle of the road, oxen- and horse-driven carts plod along, school lets out and hundreds of kids are walking on the side of the road and inevitably they leak out onto the road, people playing chicken on the side of the road who decide they just must run out right in front of you to cross instead of waiting for you to pass, lousy drivers that might be drunk, beliggerent, or just piss-poor. Don’t forgot just a few of the rest; lots of times there are no street signs, stoplights are out, potholes are horrible, construction closes a lane but there is no one directing which direction passes when, in cities one-way streets with non-existent or non-obvious signage, etc etc.

Hiring a point-to-point private or group shuttle service

There are several shuttle services operating at any particular time. What i mean is that they seem to come and go. So check the latest on some of the various forum groups out there, Tripadvisor, Gotonicaragua, Lonely Planet, etc.


These services are relatively expensive for most travelers. Best for non-adventurous visitors whose Spanish skills are lacking.

Hiring a Car and a Driver

The more I think about this option the better it seems to me. You get all the advantages of a private car without the driving stress! These services cost about the same or perhaps slightly more than renting a car and driving yourself. An additional plus is that the driver may also speak English or another language besides Spanish, and act as your tour guide during your visit. A great guide will also know of and suggest interesting little places and experiences that will make your trip even more memorable.

Joining an Organized Group Tour

This is also a good option for some people who want to be catered to, do not want the responsibility of deciding “what’s next,” and in general, those who are first time visitors that want to experience a good part of Nicaragua in a stress-free manner. The obvious downside is that you are part of a group and that means that if the group is leaving town at 8 am from the hotel lobby, you need to be on-board with that whole program. This can be a good thing though, don’t get me wrong. I wanted to take a trip to Ometepe and a local Managua tour company had the transport, two days tour, one night lodging, with all the little fees included for $60 and I was totally up for doing it. I would like to see quite a bit of Ometepe, and it really is not worthwhile driving, putting the truck on the ferry, and driving around over there, plus I don’t know the island but want to try different adventures during our travels there. What better way than to take an organized group tour! Get to know the island and not worry about the hassles.


Link to Nicaraguan Bus Schedules

Additional related posts:
Bus Schedules for Nicaragua

Four Essential Nicaraguan Driving Tips 


Farewell to Esso | El Nuevo Diario

Well there used to be Texaco, Esso, and up until a year or two ago, Mobil gas stations here in Nicaragua, but now there are only Uno, Puma, and Petronic.  Uno I believe is Brazilian, Puma is Swiss, and Petronic is Nica/Venezuelan?  Anyway, you won’t see any familiar gas station signs here anymore if you are from North America.

original article here-->

Farewell to Esso

* CEO confirms and indicates that buyers are Puma Energy International, based in Geneva, Switzerland
* A total of 290 stations, eight campuses including the refinery, and operation will be completed around 2011
* Ensure job stability and better care in refining, storage and fuel distribution

By Oliver Gomez | National

Farewell to the Esso

The Eastern Seaboard Standard Oil brand, better known as Esso for its acronym in English, will disappear from Nicaragua and Central America before the end of 2011, as its parent Exxon Mobil, based in Texas, United States, sold all its assets to the Swiss Puma Energy International, which now assume the importation, storage, distribution and dispensing of fuels and lubricants.

Joaquim De Magalhaes, general manager of Esso Standard Oil in Nicaragua and confirmed to El Nuevo Diario, after the Business Support Center, ExxonMobil in Guatemala, officially disclosed in a statement, which details the assets that had offered to Puma Energy , and the company “agreed to the acquisition.”

The total amount of the deal said ignore it, because it is a transaction at the highest levels of the company, “which was taken and signed the decision that now we meet in Nicaragua and throughout the region,” refined.
290 gas stations and eight campuses

In the account of assets sold, ExxonMobil stands out in the statement that summarizes all operations in the region, ie, which includes the company Esso Standard Oil SA Limited (Essosa).

Essosa is the company that manages the import of oil by Esso Central America Marine Supply Company Limited (Emsco), also operations in El Salvador through Santa Elena Services SA and in Nicaragua by Esso Standard Oil SA also manages the franchise installed at petrol stations shops by signing Automarket Ltd.

Detail that in total are about 290 gas stations and eight campuses operating refining, distribution and storage of hydrocarbons, as well as industrial fuels business, marine and aviation.

“Included in the scope of this operation Managua Refinery (Manref), currently 100 percent owned by ExxonMobil, the 65% interest in Essosa RASA Refinery, El Salvador, and chemical facilities associated asphalt refineries, “they add.

Puma, now the strongest in CA
“The acquisition of ExxonMobil companies marks a significant milestone in growing our business in Central America,” said Pierre Eladari, the president of Puma Energy, and who announced the final signing of the contract of sale.

“It positions us as one of the fuel supply companies leaders in the region. We believe that this, coupled with our acquisition of the terminal and network Capeco stations in Puerto Rico, creates one of the strongest and most dynamic participants in this market, “said Eladari said in a statement of Puma Energy.

The official noted that Puma with this contract now venture into three new markets, including Nicaragua, which he called “a great and exciting opportunity.”

“Our desire is to create and sustain a reliable fuel supply, low cost and highest quality from source to final consumer. Nothing fancy, nothing fancy: our pledge is to offer the best in fuel, “he said.

De Magalhaes explained that this is a regional purchase everything using the Esso brand, and includes six countries in total: Nicaragua, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. “They give each and every one of the operations in Central America,” said the executive.

Over 50 years of operations
The executive summed up the company Esso “virtually disappears from the market” after more than 50 years of operations, but felt that “some lubricants are likely to continue circulating, but no longer imported by us but by the agents, dealers or companies interested in our products. ”

A series of meetings beginning next week to make formal surrender of all assets to the new owners from next month, he said, and expect to complete this process over the next four months.

He indicated that by October next expect to complete the entire delivery, but the brand still exposed in several gas stations in our country, as it is part of such processes. “Continue normal operations, the market continues to operate on a regular basis,” de Magalhaes.

Job security
“They (Puma Energy) start working with us starting next month, and about four or six months they are fully assuming” he said, to ensure that one of the agreements is the job security of employees and ensuring of regular operations.

De Magalhaes said all employees have their jobs guaranteed, and are “few” officers who retire from the company, because they belong to the international return and occupy the highest positions. “In my case, for example, I retreat to assume other roles as part of ExxonMobil,” he said.

Puma Energy International BV was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, but operates in 23 countries and has regional offices in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East for the marketing, refining and international distribution of fuels.

Grito Rock 2012 in Managua –

Brazilian rock festival to be held @ the Allianza Francaise

Grito Rock 2012 in Managua –

Two days of national bands and Dj’s concert, during the event of the Latin American artistic movement in Nicaragua.

The first date will be the electronic night; the second will be rock, pop, ska and hip hop bands. In this way will be distributed the event Grito Rock Nicaragua 2012, which will be held this Thursday March 29 and Friday March 30 at the French Alliance in Managua. The event will be open to the public, with free entry. In total, 20 national bands and DJ’s, including some new ones, will make sounds with their musical proposals on the scenario.

This is the second year of the event in Nicaragua. Born in Brazil in 2002, Grito Rock is an annual independent collective festival that has achieved big success, reaching more and more cities and participant countries. The purpose of the project is “to encourage and professionalize the music independent scene” – quote by the organizers description – through production, collaboration and cultural diffusion. Every city handles its events program and dates. This year, the festival will be held in 200 Latin American cities, and for the first time it came to Spain.

Guys jumping off cliffs in Central America (Cliffdiving)

Looks just a little bit sketchy, but seems like these guys had lots of fun in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras jumping off cliffs into unknown water depths which likely have lots of hazards like rocks in them. Definitely comes under the category of Adventure Travel!

Cliffords of Central America from Caleb R. Braley on Vimeo.


(DISCLAIMER: This is not my business, El Porton Verde is NOT seeking investors at this time. I am just posting this as a service to our readers in case anyone wants to see what type of business opportunities exist in Managua.)

Well, you never know what business opportunities you may find in our RSS feeds! (See LATEST RSS FEEDS on the right side of your screen). This looks to be an interesting business opportunity for someone with a passion for dance. According to this advertisement on, they are looking for a partner with a a spirit of improvement to manage an established and recognized business to make it grow more and more.

Business Managua SE BUSCA A UN SOCIO !.

If that does not pique your interest, I am certain this video will!

Managua a beautiful place to live (YouTube)

This is a video in Spanish from CNN en Espanol which tells us that Managua is a nice place to live, cost of living is low, it is secure, a good place for expatriates to live, has a growing economy, etc.

It is interesting to me that the larger world (at least the Spanish speaking communities) are recognizing that Nicaraguan and specifically Managua is a good place to live.  I definitely agree, but don’t let everyone know about it hahaha!!