I always try to find the most possible information whenever I plan to visit a new location. Where should I stay? What should I do? What shouldn’t I do? Unfortunately, very often I am either unable to find enough information, or the information I do find keeps me on the beaten “back packer trail”. Occasionally, I enjoy traveling on the common path, but the more I travel the more I find myself drawn to the off-the-beaten path adventures and locations.
In Nicaragua I was able to travel very much off the beaten path. I thought it may help someone to post where I went and what I did. A so called guide.
I had the most amazing Spanish school experience in Esteli with Sacuanjoche Spanish School. I have taken Spanish courses in 5 different countries (outside of the US) and Norma was by far my favorite. She is engaging, hilarious, and pushes you to be your best. I learned about the country, the history, while also learning about conditional and the subjuntivo. Every where I walked with her, people would greet her by name or the informal “Profe!” shout. Norma is very active in her community, and I truly believe my money went to a good place and person. Through her school I was able to have a complete Nicaragua/ Spanish immersion. I paid $370 (2016) for 2 weeks of 4 hour one-on-one Spanish classes, two excursions, and room and board. Compared to my past experiences, this was an amazing deal.
I can’t say enough about the amazing Norma and the Sacuanjoche Spanish School. By far, this would be my first suggestion for anyone interested in studying Spanish, or visiting Nicaragua. Most of the following experiences were a direct result of Norma and her knowledge of her country.
Las Mujeres Ambientalistas
With Norma I had the opprotunity to visit two amazing female lead co-ops. The first co-op ,Las Mujeres Ambientalistas, is ran by single mothers. Las Mujeres Ambientalistas makes recycled paper products: cards, notebooks, posters, book marks ect, and is the only place in Nicaragua using all natural dyes and process. A woman showed me around the small, but beautiful location and demonstrated to me the paper making process. She offered to teach a lesson in paper making if I ever return with some of my students. This non-profit has trouble finding consistent funding and relies heavily on selling their paper products to remain open. If you are interested in learning more or buying some products I grabbed the information. I figured I could at very minimum try to connect some of the people and resources I have with the amazing women and products there.
Las Mujeres Ambientalistas
Del Barrio Boris Vega, Esteli- Nicaragua
Contacto: Agustina Arúaz
tel: 8627-8956, 8425-4175
I’ve posted more pictures here.
Manos Magicas was another CO-OP I had the privilege of visiting. This CO-OP, just like the previous, is a women owned and ran business. The woman showing me around lived just above the building in a small village. Manos Magicas makes items with pine needles. I was blown away at what they created with items I’d never given a thought further than “these are great from throwing at my sister” Earings, hot pads, boxes, baskets, hats, all beautifully sewn together with colorful yarn. Just like Las Mujeres Ambientalistas, Manos Magicas has a hard time generating income and funding. Unfortunately, they live far from most tourist cities, the places where the money is, and the combination of the drought and downturn in tourism as a whole, has not help the women generate income.
If you’re interested in visiting or purchasing something their numbers are 55023123 or 89420733
I’ve posted more pictures here.
While in Esteli I stayed with an amazing family who allowed me to catch a glimpse of life in Nicaragua. I played with their kids, ate the amazing food Dona Victoria cooked, and even got a cooking lesson in before I left. Not only was the family amazing, it was incredibly cheap. My room and board was included in my Spanish lessons, but had I wanted to stay outside of my time taking classes, Dona Victoria charges only $10 a day for room and 3 meals. If you’re looking for a place to party and go out, this is not your fit, but if you’re searching for somewhere authentic and family orientated, I would urge you to check her out. She has enough room to fit 10 comfortably with over 4 different rooms to choose from.
She doesn’t have an email but her number is 2734122. Spanish essentially required to arrange reservation
More pictures coming soon here.
I stayed on Isla Ometepe for two nights and had a good time at Hospetaje Ortiz. You can find their posting on airbnb.com. There was very much a hostel vibe, but without the swarms of tourists; it also happens to the cheapest room on the island, and is ran by locals. Hospetaje Ortiz is not fancy but the owner Mario and his son Archiles are very welcoming and have many tips for exploring the island. Through the hospetaje I rented a bicycle one day and they arranged a guide to hike one of volcanoes the next day. Hospetaje Ortiz is located in Altagracia.
More pictures and a recount of my harrowing volcano climb coming soon here.
Soon there will be a post about my adventure getting to Corn Islands, I definitely choice the off-the-beaten-trail for that one, but for the moment I just wanted to mention, The cool spot, the place I stayed at while on Little Corn. Not exactly off the trail, but it was located on the backside of the island, away from the main path. The host was incredibly nice and for $12 I found a decent bed with a bug net and electricity during the night. Interestingly, on Little Corn you can’t barter for cheaper rooms like many of the places I’ve been to in the past. You try to barter they say no, and then you’re forced to keep walking.
If you have any more questions please feel free to ask away. Hope you enjoyed, happy traveling!