Nicaragua: It Just Feels Like Home

Living in Nicaragua is different than the USA

Street in Granada, Nicaragua Author Adalberto.H.Vega

Street in Granada, Nicaragua Author Adalberto.H.Vega

By Suzanne Maxey — My son advised me that Granada, Nicaragua was nothing like the United States. And I thought that I completely understood – that is, until I had lived here for a few months.

It’s a lot like living in the good old days

If you are old enough, think back to the USA in the 50’s and early 60’s.  Then slow the pace down.  Horse drawn carts compete for space on the streets with all the taxis. A small herd of cows and the bull pass by my casa every morning and evening on their way to graze. Ladies older than I am walk the barrio with huge baskets of fruit, vegetables, bread, you name it, balanced on their heads, selling their wares, the bread still hot from the oven. Men walk by all day selling anything you can think of from their carts. Ceiling fans, sewing machines, pots and pans, window glass, you name it.

Living with minor inconveniences

At least once a week either the water or the power or both go out. Usually it is back on by 5 p.m., but now and then it is a 24 hour marathon of no water or no electricity. Not so much fun when it is 95 degrees outside and there is no breeze. Hardly anyone in Nicaragua has air conditioning but a fan usually keeps us cool enough…until the power goes out. Then we spend a fair amount of time standing under the shower.
Hardly anyone here has hot water, either.  But honestly, we don’t need it. The showers are lukewarm to slightly cool, and they sure do feel good.  If you insist on hot water for the dishes, just fill up a bowl with tap water and put it in the microwave. Works fine.

No deprivation required

Most anything you can get in the U.S., you can get here. Can’t say regarding Canadian foods or goods. The grocery stores here carry the more expensive U.S. brands of food as well as Latin American brands. The LA brands of food are just as good, and a lot cheaper. Once in a while I splurge and buy a can of Spam or jar of Jif, but stick with local brands for the most part. In the mercado, any and everything can be found. Be careful in the mercado though; pickpockets love the gringos.

A comfortable life

It’s a slower pace but it is a comfortable pace. I don’t miss the congested interstates or the crowded, overpriced convenience store on every corner. Here, there are pulperias on every block, small convenience stores being operated out of someone’s living room. You can get eggs, chips, milk, soft drinks and homemade frescos, even detergent just a few doors down from your casa. In the evening, ladies set up tables outside their homes with home cooked meals, ready to buy for your supper. Delicious!
Granada, Nicaragua feels like a soft, well worn old shirt and pair of jeans. If I want to go to the mall or a movie then Managua is close by, but the slow, easygoing pace of Granada fits me like a glove. It can be frustrating when the power goes out and then the water cuts off for a few hours, but in the evening when everyone comes outside to walk and visit and gossip, Nicaragua feels like home.
Suzanne Maxey lives not too far from her son (and grandkids) in Granada. Her son, Casey, wrote the NCX Guide to Residency in Nicaragua, a must-have for anyone considering moving down to this beautiful country. 

Farmstay Reviews – Airbnb

Julia

Julia

Had a great time staying with Mike at his Farmstay – we were picked up at the airport after a late flight by Mike which made our landing in Nicaragua so easy ! We then awoke the next morning to a beautiful view of banana and mango trees, and birds chirping in the background. We had a delicious breakfast both days, then headed off in a tuk-tuk to explore Granada, the nearby Masaya volcano and chocoyero reserve. Was a wonderful holiday !

Source: Profile – Airbnb

This is the review from the couple who came in on the Spirit Air flight and had a great getaway weekend for a very inexpensive price. We are always grateful for kind reviews and strive to bring a lot of value for your hard-earned travel dollar, so when we have folks come down for only a two night stay, and they report back that they had a lovely but short visit, we feel like we are performing a good service for our visitors.

In their short visit they had some excellent adventure travel (hiking and birdwatching), saw some colonial architecture, and got a good taste of Nicaragua for such a short visit.

Julia took advantage of our “soft landing service” and they did their own self-guided tours to Chocoyero/El Brujo nature preserve, Masaya Volcano, and Granada. They hit the ground running and got the most out of every moment!

Tourism Must Diversify | La Prensa

Tourism must diversify

 By: Yohany Lopez

INTUR presents a proposal to the government

This morning, the president of the Nicaraguan Chamber of Medium and Small Enterprises Tourism (Cantur), Leonardo Torres, will present a strategic proposal that contributes to the diversification of tourist circuits and helps increase the average daily expenditure of foreign visitors.

The initiative aims to be harvest sustainably productive farms in the country and thus push community tourism and agro-tourism.

“This is to exploit all available resources in the country, which are not only the beach but also the mountains, volcanoes, lagoons, colonial history and styles of some of the cities,” said Torres.

Currently the Nicaraguan Tourism Board (Intur) together with employers promote the routes of Coffee, Water, Colonial and Volcanoes, Haciendas and the South Pacific. But according to Cantur, this new initiative is expected to further exploit the attractions.

At the close of 2014t Intur reported 8,693 companies in the country that provide different tourist services, of which 59.9 percent were for local food and beverages, 17.8 percent to lodging and 22.3 percent to other tourist activities such as: night clubs, discos, travel agencies, businesses, land and water transportation, among others.

They aspire to US $ 75 DAILY

One of the expectations that is not lost on Cantur is that the average foreign tourist spending will rise to between 70 and 75 dollars a day and it considered two aspects: “First diversify the options and (second) provide overall complete tourist packages. Do this without neglecting the Central American visitors. Then, look a little closer at the foreigners who come from North America and Europe, who are the biggest spenders during their stay in the country.”

Intur published data by the Central Bank of Nicaragua and updated until the fourth quarter of 2014 which placed the average daily spending at $ 43.40 for foreigners, and to reach the seventies, a further growth of fifty percent would be required.

Torres is aiming the proposal primarily at the executive president of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (Intur), Mayra Salinas, and presidential adviser for economic affairs, Bayardo Arce. The presentation will be heldduring the implementation of the National Tourism Forum 2015 for MSMEs, which is to be held  today at the Holiday Inn.

MANAGUA LEADS

The department of Managua has the largest number of tourist establishments and contributes 30.7 per cent of total economic activity according to the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism. Secondly the Autonomous Regions of the North Caribbean and South Caribbean have a stake of 9.1 percent and Leon with 6.8 percent of the total.

Source: Turismo debe diversificarse | La Prensa

This is the latest scheme by CANTUR, which is basically the chamber of commerce for the tourism industry here in Nicaragua, to propose to INTUR, which is the Nicaraguan  Tourism Board. As one reads the story, it appears to be aimed at bringing in more eco-tourism and agro-tourism in Nicaragua, which of course from our perspective at the Farmstay, this is all good as that’s what we are!

This happened today  17 July, 2015, so the results are not exactly in yet, but I would be surprised if INTUR really supports something like this because they appear to myself and many other small lodging operations that they don’t particularly do much for the little guy who actually has or had some capital, developed or is developing a small hotel or b and b at present.

Of course that would be great if they could get it together a little bit more to somehow get farms in pretty locations of Nicaragua to start learning about customer service, maintenance and cleaning of facilities, marketing, sales, planning, etc. but I can say that it appears to me to be a huge challenge.

If CANTUR/INTUR can put together or partner with an existing simple reservation system with a website featuring a searchable database of properties, a way to rate the properties, view calendars, make reservations, and pay for your stay electronically, then we’d be talking. Lacking that, this proposal will go into the dustbin along with several other equally needed initiatives that never got off the ground.

 

Beat this deal: Spirit Air IAH-MGA, all-inclusive $257 per person!

Cheaper than going anywhere in the States!

Sure there's not much legroom but it's only a short flight!

Sure there’s not much legroom but it’s only a short flight!

Beat this deal: Spirit Air IAH-MGA, all-inclusive $257 per person!

We’ve had a mini-rush of visitors lately taking advantage of the new Spirit Air flight out of Houston to Managua. They are telling me that they couldn’t have done anything cheaper anywhere in the USA and in looking at the figures, I agree!

Let’s look into the dollars and cents of this deal for a short, first-time visitor to Nicaragua. Let’s assume two people, with two nights lodging and two full days of activities. (The Spirit Air flights arrive at about 1 am and depart about 2 am, so no sleep means you have all day to do stuff in Nicaragua!

It is easy enough to take local buses to get around to the hiking areas, so that helps keep your costs down. Also, eating local is cheap and tasty.

The round-trip flights run as low as $169. You can stay at the farmstay for a measly $38 per night. Breakfast included! Local buses for two days adventures, $4. Fees for national parks and reserves, $8. Local lunches and dinners $18 (for two days). Airport pickup and drop off, $40.

What would be the total per person for this extravaganza? $257 !!!! Folks, this is airfare, transportation, food, entry into national parks with active volcanoes, hiking private reserves where you see waterfalls and birds, eating local, getting to know a foreign, yet safe country, etc. Wow, how can you beat that I ask you!

5 Depressing Side Effects No One Tells You About Moving Abroad

Is it worth the risks?

5 Depressing Side Effects No One Tells You About Moving Abroad

Manon de Heus
During the past 10 years, I’ve lived in five different countries.

It’s been an amazing journey that has taught me more about life, love and fear than any education or self-help book ever could.

To build a new existence far away from everything you know and believe in is the most powerful feeling in the world.

People who have moved abroad will nod their heads in agreement.

They will tell you that traveling has broadened their horizons, made them more open-minded and has shown them what truly matters in life.

What they won’t tell you is it’s also the loneliest, most alienating and most guilt-ridden thing they have ever done.

In expat land, fairytales don’t exist. Here are five things that are bound to happen if you decide to leave your home behind:

Source: 5 Depressing Side Effects No One Tells You About Moving Abroad

Totally worth clicking through to read more. While the author may be stating the case a bit strongly and certainly not all expats experience these feelings or more likely, admit to having them, they are there to a greater or lesser extent depending on your life circumstances. For those not sufficiently motivated or lacking time (come back when you do have time if you are for real about relocating abroad), here are the top five depressing side effects no one tells you about moving abroad:

1. Your loved ones will be devastated.
2. You’ll feel guilty all the time.
3. You’ll feel really, really lonely.
4. You won’t fit in anymore.
5. You’ll lose dear friends.

I can definitely relate to each one of these points. Relocating isn’t for wimps in general and I’d say especially so to move to Nicaragua! You have to really love it here and form your own life that is totally distinct from your old life, and that’s not easy. At all.

Of course, one can take a different approach to this issue. Let’s assume that to a greater or lesser extent current expats have one or more of these feelings. But let’s get something clear here, haters gonna hate as far as folks back home giving you guilt trips for not being there for them.

Guess what friends and family back home, we’re not here to live according to your standards of what is right and proper. Just because you think going to Hawaii every year and attending the same darn luau is the coolest thing ever doesn’t make it so for everybody!

There’s a reason there are 30 or so flavors at your local ice cream store, we all don’t like the same thing! Sure chocolate, vanilla or strawberry are all tasty but just because you like it best doesn’t mean everyone else has to love it! (Note to self: mmmm ice cream…)

Without getting too much in the trenches here dear reader(s), I can say that it is worthwhile to think about some of these issues BEFORE you decide to be an expat and see if you think they might affect you. Especially the stuff about the friends and family back home. Just realize that some of these folks are very JEALOUS that you got out of the system back home and have a chance to make a new life for yourself in another country so take their sometimes passive-aggressive mannerisms with a compassionate understanding that part of them would love to be able to do what you are doing, but their life circumstances and lack of an adventurous spirit might be a couple of reasons why that AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!

Luxury-wellness pioneer headed for Nicaragua: Travel Weekly

Luxury-wellness pioneer headed for Nicaragua

By Jeri Clausing /

Source: Luxury-wellness pioneer headed for Nicaragua: Travel Weekly

Another data point for those of you with “five-star” tastes in luxury accommodations! A new partnership has been formed that starts with what we have known as Aqua Wellness Resort, gives it a new name and with new capital, presumably they will work on this announced plan to have a bit of a luxury spa and resort circuit here in Nicaragua.

My comments on the page linked-to above is basically that at least they are having their guests see a few different spots in Nicaragua. They’ll have a bit more of a chance to partake in the cultural aspects of Nicaragua. This aspect of Nicaraguan travel is, for me at least, a big difference-maker in the experience of the visitors from other countries in the region, and that’s a good thing!

Six senses logo

Six senses logo

Lionheart Capital logo

Lionheart Capital logo

Nicaragua Family Travel – TripAdvisor

The AlaskaKings family enjoying a nice day in Masaya, Nicaragua

The AlaskaKings family enjoying a nice day in Masaya, Nicaragua

Family travel is wonderful in Nicaragua for several reasons.

First of all, it works as a great location for most people traveling from North America. Even from Europe, most families will take only two flights to get to Managua. The timezone change is minimal for North American’s, so you don’t get jetlag and can start right away enjoying your vacation. Flight times from the U.S.  is reasonable, with non-stops taking 3:50 minutes from Atlanta, 3:20 minutes from Houston, and 2:40 minutes from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.

Second factor that makes Nicaragua a great place for a family vacation is cost. Families will spend less here than in other similar locations like Mexico, Costa Rica, or Panama. Also, airfares are low. Recent additional flights from the U.S. have increased competition. Where else can you feed your family of four lunch including a fresh natural juice for a little over ten U.S. dollars?

The third item on the list is the unique destinations that your family can discover together. Smoking volcanoes, boarding down the side of a volcano, learning to surf, and amazing unique islands like Ometepe and the Corn Islands are not found elsewhere, certainly not all int he same country!

Fourth consideration is safety and security. Nicaragua is well-known in the region for a policing and security policy that focuses on prevention of violent crimes and they are doing well, especially compared to its neighbors.  Since Nicaragua is so much safer, your family can more readily get out and about making all those memories happen in relative security.

The last thing to consider about choosing Nicaragua for your next family vacation is that it is a very “real” vacation.  Since it is safer, you aren’t limited to the all-inclusive resorts, so you’ll have more chance to interact with locals. Your children will see how other people live, and that the kids are perfectly happy playing simple games like football (soccer) or even a game of marbles. Xbox and Nintendo not required!

Read my kickass article directly on the TripAdvisor.com website

There are lots of great things about Nicaragua Family Travel and at least a few of them I listed on this article posted on TripAdvisor. We’ve had so many families come and it is a real treat to see the families enjoying their adventures, bonding together, have new experiences, and in general just having the times of their lives!

Some folks come here for the adventure travel, others for ecotourism and culture, some learn how to surf, or simply take a few hikes and tours. We like to show family what things to do in Managua, but of course the most important is that you begin and end your vacation with a big Welcome to El Portón Verde!

Woman Solo Traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July – TripAdvisor

 

Washington DC…
posts: 15
reviews: 1
Woman Solo Traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July

Hi everyone,

I’m 30 yo woman solo traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July. I need tips on what to do and safety. I have traveled by myself in Europe for seven months, I like hiking and doing things outdoors. I wanted to visit Granada, Leon, Isla de Omepete, & San Juan del Sur. Anything else? The safety aspect is what has me worried, please provide suggestions on taking taxis and buses as I will not be renting a car. As well as, places to stay overnight. Thanks very much beforehand to anyone that contributes.

Lori

Managua, Nicaragua
posts: 595
reviews: 14
3. Re: Woman Solo Traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July

Greetings Lori:

We host visitors traveling solo quite often and there’s more women than men doing it that way…so just follow the standard advice that you’ve received here and you should be okay.

Once you start on your journey it’s quite possible you’ll meet up with some other travelers and end up going around with them to the next spot on your itinerary anyway, so keep that in mind.

Your proposed itinerary is just fine, folks here bash SJdS but it is a lovely bay and you can avoid the party scene if that’s not your thing. Also, it is easy to get from there to Ometepe or vis-versa so you might as well. Nothing bad about Leon, you should be able to squeeze it in, but understand it is on the other side of Managua, where you’ll presumably be flying into, so getting from say Ometepe to Leon is a pretty long day of travel. Best to plan to go directly to Leon if that’s on your gotta do list, then work your way south from there.

As far as your security, what I would add is to keep a copy of your passport or email yourself a photo of it in case it is lost or stolen. Also, try to not take the last bus from point A to point B because you’re better off not arriving when its dark. Do your travel in the mornings or mid-day. Understand that an iPhone or Galaxy 6 smartphone is worth the equivalent of three or four months of hard work on a job, so you can see why it might be tempting for a thief to steal it from you. If you can live without such things for the 12 days, all the better. You can bring a cheap used unblocked cellphone and buy a local GSM chip from either Movistar or Claro phone companies for less than $2 if being in touch with folks back home or to call around locally is something that would make you feel more secure.

Okay, hope that helps. If you need a soft landing at MGA, let me know.

Cheers, Mike @ Farmstay El Porton Verde, Managua

Beaches, Colonial Towns, Volcanoes, Cigars: Nicaragua Is Smokin’ – ForbesLife

Beaches, Colonial Towns, Volcanoes, Cigars: Nicaragua Is Smokin’

By Lea Lane Contributor

I travel the world: smart, luxe, connected — and often.

Nicaraguan vendors like to smile (Photo: Lea Lane)

Nicaraguan vendors like to smile (Photo: Lea Lane)

Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s edgy northern neighbor straddling the Caribbean and the Pacific, may not be the first place you’d consider for a fun-and-sun vacation. But if you’re ahead of the crowd and crave a bargain, this largest country in Central America, a short flight away from where you may be sitting in the icy cold, is a new travel hot spot.Nicaragua remains economically weak, a residual of the last century’s civil strife, but there’s plenty to see and do, and an emphasis on a fast-growing tourism industry focused on unspoiled scenery, fresh foods, good music, friendly locals and excellent shopping for handicrafts.Managua, Nicaragua’s busy capital city, is where you’ll probably land. It offers sprawling markets, street art and monuments, but remains rough around more than its edges. It’s a destination offering great deals, but I’d spend more time instead at nearby colonial cities, and pretty areas such as Pochomil beach, El Trapiche hot springs, and Montebelli and Chocoyero-El Brujo nature reserves.friendly people…

Source: Beaches, Colonial Towns, Volcanoes, Cigars: Nicaragua Is Smokin’ – ForbesLife

I must have missed this article when it first came out. Very good article by the author Ms. Lane. Nice photos too! Kudos for NOT saying that Nicaragua is the next Costa Rica! The places listed here are of course just the highlights and there is much more that this country has to offer, Rio San Juan, the Corn Islands, Ometepe Island, etc. If you’re thinking of coming down, El Porton Verde offers a great “soft landing service” that works great for first-time visitors. Cheers, Mike @ Farmstay El Porton Verde, Managua

 

Beach Front Eco-Casita, Ideal for Surfers

Front of the cute little house

Front of the cute little house

casatruda2

Beach right out in front of the casita. Good surf!

Eco-Casita Truda is a place to escape civilization and feel one with nature. It is 40 minutes to an hour from Leon depending on how you travel but it feels like a world away. You constantly hear the mesmerizing sound of the surf. In the evening, you add to that, the sounds of the crickets and the spectacular view of the stars and all cares are wiped away.
This lovely large beach front property with trees that are natural to the area is in a secluded section of Salinas Grandes beach which has a handful of private residents, mostly owned by expats. Both lots on either side of the property are currently vacant which gives Eco-Casita Truda an even more secluded feel while still being close to caring neighbors. The closes neighbor is an American couple who live on the beach full time.
The sand is volcanic so is a slightly darker color. The beach and entrance to the ocean is smooth sand. The warm waters in this area stay shallow for a good distance in the ocean and there are no known riptides. Residents swim and surf there without incident. Pelicans and other nautical birds accompany the high tide as they dive in to capture their dinner. Fishermen frequent these waters and it is possible to go out with them or purchase fish from them down the beach. The local surf camp came to visit Eco-Casita Truda and shared that this is an excellent area of the beach for surfing. The neighbors are friendly and helpful and keep an eye on the property when the tenants are not around.
Fully solar and fully screened for mosquitos
Naturally air-conditioned with open air flowing through in the upper areas of the ceiling, large windows and double doors that open to the front porch and view of the ocean
Very large living/dining/kitchen space is open air with barred windows and shades that roll down but no glass windows to separate from the outdoors, Living area has sofa that can convert into a trundle bed supplying two very comfortable twin beds. There is one more comfortable floor mattress that sleeps one.
Large light-filled bedroom with an enormous window with an amazing view of the ocean. The bedroom windows are screened and have wooden shutters. This room can be completely locked and shuttered separate from the house so that tenants can keep their valuables even more secure in this room. The room is furnished with a queen size bed, wardrobe, desk, office chair and a solar fan with radio.
Light-filled bathroom features high open air windows with bars and screens that allow for air flow and a sense of being outside. The shower is enormous. There is a utility sink for washing clothes with scrub board build into it. There is also space for storing surfboards in the bathroom. Additionally, there is an outdoor shower on the property.
A TV is available for tenants use. A signal booster is available for use so that cell phones will receive reception in the house. It also assists in strengthening the internet signal.
Internet hotspot comes with the house for which tenants may purchase time. (Instructions are given on the use of the equipment.)
Kitchen is equipped with a 24 hour solar combination fridge and freezer as well as a gas oven/stove and all needed kitchen supplies. There are no other kitchen appliances available for use that require electricity such as a microwave or blender.
Potable Water is supplied by a water tank that has to be refilled monthly. The cost is minimal and the responsibility of the tenant.
A local city bus runs from the village of Salinas Grandes 4 or 5 times a day and is about a 1.5 mile walk down the beach to catch it. The most recent tenant chose to purchase a motorcycle for his transportation purposes. About a mile from the house is a local drinking/eating spot that sells limited supplies including fresh fish, pork, ice, sodas and a few other items. For a nominal fee, they will do your grocery shopping in town on Mondays. If you choose to hire someone to wash clothes, clean, cook, clean the yards, run errands, there are local folks who charge reasonable fees that would benefit from the work and can be recommended.
Eco-Casita Truda will be available at the latest September 1st, possibly sooner. I am looking to rent it for four months, September to end of December or early or mid January but will consider a period as short as one month. For a one month rental, the cost is $700, two month rental, $675 monthly and $650 for a three month rental. The holiday month of December is priced at $750. There is a deposit of $250 that is required at the signing of the lease. The first month’s rent is due prior to receiving the keys to the property. The deposit will be returned within one month of departure minus any funds needed to cover damages incurred. details. The approximate measurements of the eco-casita are the following: Interior: 765.8 sq ft, 71.1 m2; Exterior: 855.0 sq ft, 79.4 m2; Interior Measurement Detail: Great Room: 24.0 ft x 18.5 = 444.0 sq ft; Bedroom: 16.5 ft x 11.5 = 189.8 sq ft ; Bathroom/Laundry: 16.5 ft x 8.0 = 132.0 sq ft; Total Interior: 765.8 sq ft; Patio: 24.0 x 9.5 = 228.0 sq ft; Total Interior with Patio: 993 sq ft. I am open to renting to a group of surfers and providing additional bedding and tent.

Source: Beach Front Eco-Casita, Ideal for Surfers

This is a really cute little beach front casita located on a good surfing beach not all that far from Leon. The current and soon-to-be former tenant, Paul, was looking for a place to live by the beach while he was staying at the Farmstay and he saw an ad on Craigslist Nicaragua for this place.

Long story short, he got a hold of the owner, whose name is Truda, and as they were discussing what was on offer over the phone, they discovered that Truda was going to be our guest in just a few days time. When she came for her stay, they met, became friends and did the deal to rent the place! So I feel like we sort of midwifed this initial deal and it certainly worked out good for both parties. Another cool Farmstay story ehh?

Well, you can be the next happy tenant! I suppose staying with us at the Farmstay is not mandatory, but it couldn’t hurt. :)