What is our “soft landing” service for your arrival in Managua?
When I first came to Nicaragua, back in 2003, I remember how it was all so different and sort of scary to get out of the controlled customs area of the airport and walk into this sea of people, all of whom seemed to either be waiting for someone else, or looking to whisk you off to parts unknown. In addition, there were some street urchins, some semi-sketchy looking yet “official” appearing people.
Unicorns not included in our soft landing service, sorry!
Bottom line is that there is a moment there when you walk through the sliding glass doors heading towards the rental cars where you would really like to see a friendly face, someone who speaks your language, and can answer any questions about your vacation or visit to Nicaragua while you get on your way to what is hopefully a good nights sleep.
Since I didn’t have that option as a first-time visitor, I had to learn the ropes the hard way, by trial and some not-inconsiderable error. As I began to come down to Nicaragua on a more regular basis, the airport slowly became not so difficult, I remembered to have
the money ready when passing through the immigration and passport check, where to find the baggage carts, to have my baggage claim tickets ready along with my customs form, and how to get my ground transportation done in a safe but inexpensive manner.
Once I moved here to live, and eventually to open Farmstay El Porton Verde as a bed and breakfast located on the southern outskirts of the capital city of Managua, I wanted to be able to provide the sort of service that I would have liked to have experienced that
first time I arrived in the capital of Nicaragua.
So, when the farmstay opened, I decided to offer that level of service; the goal is to satisfy your needs, to insure a “soft landing for both first-time visitors and travelers that have been here before. The service includes tips on how to negotiate the arrival, immigrations and customs. I personally will be at the airport to pick you up with an easily seen sign in a location that is simple to find. I will greet you, help you with your luggage, and get you to my vehicle for the 25 minute drive to the farmstay. If your plane is early or late, I will track its arrival to get there at the appropriate time. If you need help planning the rest of your vacation, or are looking for hotel or hostel recommendations in Granada, San Juan del Sur, Ometepe, Big or Little Corn Island, etc. I can help you there too, up to and including calling to make reservations for you. Also, I can arrange your transport to your next destination if you like. Whether it is via private shuttle, a rental car, or public buses, the soft landing service has you covered.
Once you are with me, we will start driving to the farmstay. If you need to change money, buy a cell phone or GSM chip, stop for a bite to eat, get some snacks and adult refreshments, do some grocery shopping, etc. we can do that for you on the way to the
farmstay. Best of all, you can start to relax right away. Believe me, it is very nice to know that you have a good idea on what is expected from you as you pass through the airport processes, and that on the other side of the sliding glass doors, you have someone
waiting for you who speaks English and can help you figure out how to get around, where some of the best places to stay are located, and give you some cultural pointers as well.
Let’s contrast the soft landing service with a typical overnight in Managua. Most visitors will stay either just across from the airport at the Mercedes Best Western or just down the highway at the Camino Real. Getting through the airport? Well, you are on your
own there. Pickup at the airport? Yes, a guy with limited English skills will be there to take you to the hotel. Will he be able or willing to help you to exchange money, buy a cell phone or chip? Nope. Will he stop to let you load up on food or drinks? Nope. Will he be helpful in planning the rest of your trip? Probably not. What he will do is take you to the $100 a night hotel, where you will check in with the uninterested hotel staff, you can eat at the overpriced restaurant and pay more for any drinks too. Some actually charge you for the use of the Internet! In short, your hotel experience will be pretty much the same as checking into any major hotel in the USA, Canada or Europe. You hand over your passport and credit card, you sign a chit, and you get your key. If you have luck, a
bellboy will help with your bags. Beyond that, you are completely and utterly on your own.
If you are a surfer, I have some very special tips for you. Not exactly “secret spots” but certainly locations that are not so crowded so you can definitely get a good wave to yourself in Nicaragua. Sure, if you go to Playa Maderas near San Juan del Sur, it
will be fairly crowded on a good day, but that is only one beach and there are hundreds of nice beaches with good waves in Nicaragua. I can direct you to beginner’s spots, intermediate, and some “experts only” spots that challenge the pros.
I hope this post helps you to understand with a bit more detail what the Farmstay El Porton Verde “soft landing” service consists of, and that it helps you decide that is something you would like to experience when you come to visit Nicaragua.