permaculture alternative spring break | Lost Valley Educational Center & Community

permaculture alternative spring break | Lost Valley Educational Center & Community.

Permaculture Alternative Spring Break in Nicaragua

Pick one (or more) of three separate one-week sessions at our sister site:

March 2-9, 2013 (Week 1)

March 9-16, 2013 (Week 2)

March 16-23, 2013 (Week 3)

Lost Valley and our partner community Hijos del Maiz in northern Nicaragua are pleased to announce our joint courses this March.  There will be three one-week programs focused on permaculture in theory and action, in this special communal setting.  Escape the cold/rain/snow to experience a week (or more!) of life in the warm and dry 200-person former co-operative community of El Lagartillo, and with its proactive association (Hijos del Maiz) leading the village in ecological, social, and economic improvements. Stay with an experienced homestay family, study permaculture 4 hours per day, work on an implementation project 2 hours per day, and receive 2 hours per day of individual Spanish lessons from an experienced language instructor. Permaculture instruction will focus on both physical systems (water, food production, etc.) and social systems (managing conflict, etc.), and will tie into the hands-on project(s).  During our Program Director’s visit there in March 2012, the community was constructing its first dry-season vegetable garden, and has plans for many other projects (seethis articleabout that visit).  The permaculture instructors will be be partly from Lost Valley and partly from the community, which has a number of members who have completed Permaculture Design Certificate courses and wants to move more in this direction.  There will also be emphasis put on the unique history of this Sandinista community from the early 1980′s through tragic and challenging times to the stepwise flourishing of recent years.  It is a special group of people, and you will get to know them during your time there.

Students will fly into the international airport in Managua (airfare not included in tuition), andbe taken care of from there, spending a night nearby and being driven to El Lagartillo the next day.  Students will haveall meals and accommodation provided by their host family, then transported back to the airport at the end of their week.  There will be a select number of community members in the course as well, to build up local knowledge and experience, and translators will be provided as needed.  There will be optional outings to nearby places of note, plus time to relax if you desire (because, after all, you’re on vacation!).

This experience will be far more than an international service trip that one might partake in through a different organization, as ours is also a course in permaculture and includes two hours per day of semi-private Spanish lessons by instructors who do this for a living.  These three focus areas will be connected so as to create an integrated thematic experience (if the student chooses; language sessions are extremely flexible as to focus).  There is also an element of powerful local history and social justice, which can flow into discussions of social permaculture.  The combination of permaculture instruction, related service project, language learning, and community living – all in the warm, dry tropics – is a unique offering.

I am excited to learn about these tour dates that have been organized by a place up in Oregon (looks like it is not too far from Eugene) for folks to come down to Nicaragua and live/work on a permaculture farm, living with local families, etc. Overall, it sounds like a great program.

This is a venture with the local Nicaraguan group, Hijos del Maiz. Very much encourage you to check it out! I want to learn more about Hijos del Maiz and will post more as I learn more.

Our Highlights of Nicaragua Tour

Our Highlights of Nicaragua Tour.

Next tour: January 20 – 25, 2013


The highlights of Nicaragua tour is a great way to get to know the major cities and coast of Nicaragua. This six day tour will immediately follow the Central American Advantage Investment Symposium in Managua which runs from January 15th to 17th. 

This tour begins in Managua and goes to León, Montecristo Beach, Granada and San Juan del Sur.

It’s the ideal tour for entrepreneurs, investors, retirees and others who want a brief overview of the highlights of Nicaragua in a short period of time at a reasonable price. Fully escorted tour in air conditioned transportation.

Price: $875 based on double occupancy. Single supplement: $125 
Included: Breakfasts, Dinners, some Entertainment, all tours
Transportation in a private, air conditioned bus

Not included:
Alcoholic beverages
Room service
Nicaraguan tourist card
Tickets to the Central American Advantage Syposium
Airfare (we can make your flight arrangements if required)

For those seeking to relocate and/or retire to Nicaragua, the question always comes up, “how do I get to know where I want to live and invest?”

Sometimes traveling by yourself is not making the best use of your precious time and you might not be able to make the contacts with the experts and get to know your options the way you would in an organized group tour.

Tanya from Nica Tour Group is now offering a shorter, more tightly focused six-day tour which hits the major hotspots. Best yet, the Central American Advantage Investment Symposium in Managua runs just before this tour, so you can get all the expert information at the symposium and then get your feet on the ground and your eyes on the prize by enjoying Tanya’s tour.

Excellent! Nice selection of places to be visited and all offered at a very nice price point. Congratulations Tanya! I do notice that there are a few days in-between the events. That would be a good time to come and stay with us at Farmstay El Portón Verde!

Norm Schriever: Nicaragua’s Maderas Village As A Sanctuary For Travelers

Norm Schriever: Nicaragua’s Maderas Village As A Sanctuary For Travelers.

I glanced around the jungle lodge I had been sipping coffee in with my friend Dickie, noting the citizens of this obscure local: there was a social media expert from France typing away at her Macbook, wild-haired Australian surfers discussing the morning’s waves, an American who used to be on a popular reality show and backpackers from all over the world, reading books and drinking tea.

What exactly was this place? A secret we were all in on to be sure.


Wow, the major media is really doing a (good) number on Nicaragua right now between the New York Times Travel articles (at least three recent stories including one by our guest Freda Moon).

This article is from the Huffington Post. It describes the cool vibe to be found at Maderas Beach, which is the main surfing beach of  San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Bed and Breakfasts in Managua, Nicaragua

Bed and Breakfasts in Managua, Nicaragua

Yes, I know we here at Bed and Breakfast Farmstay El Portón Verde operate a bed and breakfast, but I am not aware of any particular rule that says one cannot write an article on one’s blog to give a layout of the known b&bs here in town and let prospective visitors to Managua, Nicaragua decide where they might want to stay. So there!

And now a message from your sponsor hehe…Okay, that’s enough of talking about other properties (teasing, just read below!).
The bottom line here is that you have some good bed and breakfast options in the city of Managua. We hope you decide to stay with us at Farmstay El Porton Verde.

No one is as quiet as we are, no one has the view we have. No one has such a large and lovely swimming pool.

We think we give you the best in customized, North American quality customer service, with local Nicaraguan know-how.

So now that we have gotten that bit of business out of the way, let’s see what we can find out about the other bed and breakfasts.

There are not that many, at least not in the actual capital city of Managua. I’ll expand that search to the Masaya area as well just to get a couple more in there.

Now obviously this is not necessarily a comprehensive list, as there may well be some options for the traveler that are not found on the Internet, and there may be some new ones that haven’t become very well known yet. Sort of like Farmstay El Portón Verde!

If you read this and want to add a bed and breakfast to the list, please make your comments below.

Okay, so I am searching on google,,,,,, and shows ten properties. We are not listed on this website. Interesting is that I have only heard of perhaps three of the ten places.

here are the listings:

Hotel San Luis
Colonia Centroamerica B-163, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
Excellent (15 reviews)

Hotel El Raizon
Km 20 1/4 carretera a Masaya, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
Excellent (12 reviews)
Find best prices

Angel Azul Hotel Boutique
Villa Fontana 17, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
Outstanding (11 reviews)
Find best prices

Hostal La Abuela
Casa No. 32, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
Very Good (5 reviews)

Hostal Real Los Robles
Del Restaurante La Marseillaise 1 c al lago, 1 c arriba 25 lago Casa 46, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
from $70
Excellent (4 reviews)
Find best prices

Hostal Real Bolonia
Avenida Bolonia No 1001, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
from $65
Very Good (2 reviews)
Find best prices

Viva Nicaragua Guest House
Caraterra Masaya (Km 14), Managua (Show on map) | B&B
Outstanding (8 reviews)

Los Mapachines Terraza Hotel
Hosp. Militar 1c. al Lago 1/2c. abajo, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
Outstanding (6 reviews)

Marlene’s Bed and Breakfast
Una Calle al Oeste, Managua (Show on map) | B&B
Outstanding (2 reviews)

Hotel Colonial
Media cuadra al Sur del reloj, junto al Parque Central, Managua (Show on map) | B&B

The three that have the best ratings here are Angel Azul. Los Mapachines Terraza, and Marlene’s. Let’s take a looks at these three first.

Angel Azul is in Villa Fontana, which is a nice area of Managua. It is in a Nicaraguan home that has nice gardens and a pool. It is also near Carretera a Masaya and the upscale mall, Galerias Santo Domingo. The photos look nice. The property is modern looking. I’d say the pool looks a bit small, as is typical of Nicaraguan swimming pools. A room for two on a sample date of 14 January shows a price of $87 for two persons.

Los Machapines Terraza is another highly rated property and worth a look. This is another Nicaraguan home with a lovely host. Only three rooms and a small pool. The location is near the Plaza Inter shopping mall, which is very much city center location-wise. Not a good area to go about walking, especially at night. Their suite, with double occupancy, goes for $82 per night. Looks to me like there are price discounts available.

Marlene’s has been around for a few years now, at least. Also is very highly rated. The hosts, especially Marlene, are well-recommended by guests. The property is off of Carretera Sur, in the hills on the southwest side of Managua. At least on, they have a three night minimum, a night for two is $50.00. The review on airbnb is not real good. They say it is too far away, to negotiate price before any rides are given, and that they had water problems. Uh oh.

Go ahead and check out the rest of the listings. Let me continue here by looking at some other b&bs.

Managua Hills Bed and Breakfast always comes up first when searching for bed and breakfast Managua, so you’ll see them a lot. They are located in Las Colinas, which is off of the road to Masaya on your way out of town. For comparison’s sake, we are even further out from the center of town. The photos look like the place is more of a hotel-looking sort of property instead of a house. Their prices are very fair, looks like about $50 for two. Has a swimming pool.

Another top of the list search result is Managua Backpackers Inn. This is more of a hostel type property located in Los Robles neighborhood, in a city center location. The only private accomodations they have is for a single person, so couples need to be in a shared hostel room which go for about $14 per person per night. No swimming pool.

Let’s now look at Hotel Brandt’s, located aslo in the Los Robles neighborhood. This is a handsome modern property located in the city center. A standard double room is $60.00 and their suite goes for $80.00. I do not see that they have a swimming pool.

Okay, Farmstay El Porton signing off now 🙂

Update to the availability of Flor de Caña distillery tours in Chichigalpa…

from Facebook:

they wil be open the week of Nov 19th: offer 4 daily guided tours beginning at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 2:00pm and 4:00 pm. If you want to make a reservation you can contact us by phone (505) 2342-9150 ext. 3868 / (505) 8966-8200 ext 3868. or through the following email:

Thanks to Scott Chamberlin for the updated information!

Off Nicaragua, a Quieter Caribbean –

Off Nicaragua, a Quieter Caribbean –

Freda Moon for The New York Times

The Corn Islands lie off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Here, a casita at Derek’s Place.

THE darkness was as deep and pure as squid ink. I swiped my foot across the ground, feeling for rocks, roots and voids. Around me there was rustling, scurrying and crashing — the sounds of creatures meeting branches and leaves. Startled by some unseen threat, I stopped abruptly, colliding with my travel companion, Ashley, who followed close behind. Each time we slammed into each other, hapless as slapstick Stooges, we were reduced to fits of hysterical laughter — laughter masking fear and frustration.

Maybe not a big deal really, but to us it is!  The author of this NY Times Travel article, Freda Moon, stayed with us in Managua before she went on her loooong journey via taxi, panga, ferry, and who knows what other forms of transportation to get to Corn Island in time to participate in the annual Crab Festival.

We have had guests go to the Corn Islands and they write us when they get there saying, “I’m having such a wonderful time here, I’m staying an extra week!” So we know that this is a great place to go when visiting Nicaragua. The Caribbean waters are so gorgeous and it is a great place to dive, and to get your dive certifications.

So congratulations Freda for another outstanding, enlightening travel article. You couldn’t mention that cute little B&B that hosted you before embarking on your great adventure? Well maybe next time! 🙂

Shopping in Managua: Commercial Markets Edition

Now let’s talk about the traditional shopping markets of Managua. This is real urban adventure travel, bar none!

First off, I want to acknowledge a great Spanish resource for this information, a local tour company that specializes in urban adventures! Managua CityTours is your place if you want to check out these spots in safety. See more at:

The mercados are spread around the city, and all of them have bus service including out to the departments. While we won’t cover every market area, let’s start with the biggest ones, starting from the east side of town and working our way west.

Near to the Augusto Cesar Sandino International airport (MGA) is the Mercado Mayoreo. This is the main wholesale (mayoreo) market in the country for fresh fruits and vegetables. There are also what I would call old fashion grocery stores too that have canned goods, all the basic grains, dry goods, personal care items, etc.

Miranda and I go there to buy our weekly fruit and veg, and on rarer occasions, we go there loaded with fruit from the farm that we sell or trade. It is really nice for us to do this, as we feel like we are getting things for free! Livin’ off the land baby!

Not too far from the Mayoreo is the mercado Ivan Montenegro. This has the usual mix of items and services. Everything from grocery and vegetable/fruit items to barbers and shoe repair jobs can be handled here. Seems a bit tiny in comparison to the larger markets.

Mercado Ivan Montenegro, Managua, Nicaragua

A fun and relatively safe market to go to is Mercado Huembes. Huembes is more centrally located then either Mayoreo or Ivan Montenegro and is not a bad alternative to going to the Masaya artisan’s market if you have in mind to buy some souvenirs to take home but don’t have the time or the transportation to get you out to Masaya.

Now the biggest, baddest market in all of Nicaragua and in all of Central America is the Mercado Oriental. This place is huge, something like 52 hectares in size. If you cannot find what you are looking for here, then it probably cannot be found in Nicaragua! However, one must use caution as it is not very safe; it is not a place to go on your own as a tourist without some serious backup and local guides. Lots of Nicaraguans will tell you they would never go there because it is too dangerous.

Mercado Oriental, Pista Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, Managua, Nicaragua

Getting to the street or area where the product you are looking for can be complicated, but it can be a good experience. Just take precautions; get in and get out, and don’t wander about. It is a location to get to know many of the country’s virtues in one place. Colorful and idiosyncratic, the background of reggaeton music, the heat, the piropos, the vendors offering their products, the trash, the organization in the middle of chaos, the vendor’s running commentaries, etc. this brings us an idea about the vital social-economic life that pulses in Nicaragua.

Also, eating a plate of boho there is a tasty lunch treat that is not to be missed!

Finally, the market on the west side of town, on your way out to Leon, is the Mercado Israel Lewites. This is a busy market, and has the transportation to Leon, Chinandega and beyond pretty well covered.Mercado Israel Lewites, Managua, Nicaragua

Okay, I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about the commercial markets in Managua!

American Airlines landing in Managua, Nicaragua – YouTube

American Airlines landing in Managua, Nicaragua – YouTube.

Thanks to for this video showing in HD what it looks like when you fly into MGA, the Augusto César Sandino International Airport in Managua, Nicaragua.