We booked the Casa Madrona house a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. To start with, when we checked in they gave us keys to a different house; we walked in with the bell man and people’s stuff was everywhere. So, we put our stuff outside and waited 15 minutes for them to sort us out – not a big deal but a hassle. My sister in law was sort of freaked out but I was like “easy, simple mistake.”
The house itself was WONDERFUL but….it had two bedrooms and only one (main floor) bathroom. For a family, I’m sorry to say this just doesn’t work. I’d never book it again. The AC worked awesome, it was clean. One problem in the house is the so called “wifi” just plain worked like 10 minutes of our 3 night stay. I called the front desk a half dozen times and they finally got irate with me so I stopped trying. They claimed “the entire city is out” – however, we went downtown and used the internet at the Barrio a restaurant downtown so they were just lying to us. It’s a feature if you were on business you would need – don’t stay here.
We did meet Gabriel the General Manager at the pool on Sunday. He was a nice enough guy – we brought up to him the night before they had a trance/techno party at the lower bar that went past 2 am. No one slept – it was totally unacceptable and he was like “did you not receive my letter apologizing” and I was like “no dude.” But we paid $300 for the night, so did you comp the night since my 14 month year old baby was up all night? Of course not, and no, the letter never did come. It was ABSURD to run a dance party club at a restaurant this late at night – ridiculous. I could see until maybe midnight, but not 2 a.m. and later.
The other issue was the so called “breakfast.” It was horrible. Runny eggs, “ fruit” which was watermelon and mango, and dry toast. Thanks. How about charging us $20/more a night and actually doing a good breakfast like Pelican Eyes had back in 2007 when I stayed there before? It was total crap food. The other issue was if you stay at a house on the upper level, that upstairs restaurant closes (on a Saturday I tried to get a late day snack) at 4 p.m. as I was watching our baby and they were like “we are closed, go down to the other restaurant.” Yeah right. About a 20 minute walk down steep stairs, then back up again with a baby? I don’t think so. When a cook in Nicaragua makes $4 to $7 per day, why in the WORLD would this restaurant close on a weekend this early? Total nonsense. Another completely unacceptable practice by the wait staff is on our first night, we decided to just eat at the downstairs poolside restaurant for dinner. The food was terrible but here – if you are “white” or a gringo, when you sit down they automatically are nice enough to bring you $2 bottles of water even if you didn’t order them. It’s not just blatant racism, it’s fraudulent in my mind.
We did make the mistake of getting cheeseburgers at the pool on Sunday. Wow is all I can say. Nasty do not order them. And…they were about $10/each. If you want to charge US prices, give me US quality food & service. I have to add that overall the employees all seemed discouraged and unhappy.
On a positive note – the houses and the ground including the pools there ARE spectacular. For the price, the service needs to improve DRAMATICALLY. This place sold like 10 or 11 months ago to an investment group from Orange County, California. They better hope these new owners never come or heads will roll. The service was horrendous.
Unfortunately, I will never stay here again. Book a private home on like vrbo or homeaway and save yourself $150 a night. Place is NO 5 star maybe a 3 star. A nice room with a view will not over overcharging, bad food, no wifi, ridiculous RAVE parties, and bs service in every way. I’ve been in the travel business for 17 years and was truly disappointed in Pelican Eyes. When I checked out I even took the time to leave Gabriel the GM a personal note asking him or an assistant to contact me about the service issues we experienced and no one bothered. I guess I won’t bother to spend money with them, either.
Inertia Tours Chad OUT
I always try to book the “best available” regardless of price. I had previously stayed at the Casa Iguana but they were booked. I went to Trip Advisor to look for “the next best” which the Little Corn Beach Bungalows was the number one rated hotel/place to book.
I booked a cabana here (2 of them) one for me and my wife, one for the baby. This place is HANDS DOWN the nicest resort on little corn island. The owners hands on run the place. The cabins are new and clean. The food is the best I’ve had in Nicaragua. The beach and grounds are flawlessly clean. Scott & Kristy the owners are incredible people.
Be aware for you yankee gringos not all into the “eco” tourism thing (which usually means no electricity for parts of the day). Well, here at Little Corn Beach Bungalows, you do not have electricity from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. generally speaking. Be ready.
We booked the “drinks and activities” which is a D and A package. I cannot recommend it. The drinks were just beer included, the activities are sea kayaks we never used, and snorkeling gear you ould rent down the beach for $5 bucks. It DID include breakfast and dinner (both excellent). Price was $48 per person per day additional
If they would just bite the bullet and make it a SI package – semi all inclusive– it’d be much better. They could leave out the kayak and snorkel gear. Add Rum based drinks to the package. Include lunch. Include bottled water and ice. (they charge for Ice, annoying who wants a warm drink?). Instead of $48 charge $75 per person per day. I would have gladly pay just to not have to worry about it. It would also make the property easier to run operationally.
Next, the cabinas or cabanas did not have adequate ventilation. While they did have fans, remember no electricity at 5 a.m. and you swelter in there. I dare say the cabanas at casa iguana were cooler. Such a simple fix – just cut more holes in them and add mosquito screens. It was too hot in the cabins to really enjoy it at night. I’m hearty..but at night if I just have a fan the whole night I’m happy. At 5 a.m. we promptly woke up.
The other thing the place lacks is a small store. Nothing fancy just sunblock, OFF bug spray (DO NOT forget bug spray I totally got eaten alive there). Etc. Further…resort needs to burn dried coconut shells under the restaurant & bar deck at night to ward off mosquitoes. They were the worst I’ve seen in my life.
I STILL give this place a 4.9 out of 5 stars! I just had to mention so many easy things that could be corrected (and they would make more money).
So we went to Little Corn Island over last weekend. Julie (my wife) her mom Linda came to Leon for a night, then in the morning we drove the 1 hour into Managua to get on La Costena Airline. This is the little regional carrier that services certain places in Nicaragua like Big Corn Island, Bluefields, Puerto Cabezas, and a few other small cities in the country.
The planes they use for the Managua to Bluefields to Big Corn run is a 44 seater twin turbo prop type. It’s fine. Not noisy, goes fast. The gate for this is next to the international airport (to the right) if you were facing the Augusto Sandino International Airport in Managua. You check your bags, then you have to pay $5 USD per person at this little window for a national “tax.” Once inside the gate there is a small cafe, and one door. Not very air conditioned space nor comfortable but it works.
La Costena Airlines works alot like Southwest in the US in that there is not assigned seating NOR is there any order to boarding so try to get up by the front of the line so you get a more choice seat. Also, expect a luke warm coke, water or orange fanta and that’s about it.
The flight takes off from Managua and stops briefly in Bluefields, a city of about 200,000 people that are mostly engaged in the fishing trade on the Caribbean seaboard as islands are scattered all over. Bluefields is located on the mainland. The flight from Managua to Bluefields is about 1 hour.
The airplane touches down for about 30 minutes and people get off/on. Then you’re back off to Big Corn Island for about a 20 to 30 minute flight. I’d overall give Costena a VERY GOOD score! Roundtrip this ticket is only $160 USD but apparenly the fee is set by the Socialist government here. I want to be very clear that Daniel Ortega and the FLSN are not the demons the US has made them out to be. One HELL of alot better than the Somosa regime when everyone was living in terror, US citizen or not. Not once, not for a second have I felt unsafe in Nicaragua like I constantly did in Mexico.
You would think with a lack of competition they would jack the price, or have lousy service, but it’s not the case at all. When I went to Big Corn in 2006 the price was $174 …and guess what? They had a competitor called Atlantic Airlines that is now defunct. So…the price went down and the service improved? Huh? Even though I have a MBA I was taught no competition was a bad thing 100% of the time. Not so in Nicaragua.
By the way, when your bags come off the plane they simply bring them in and dump them in the middle of terminal floor. Be ready for that.
Once you land on Big Corn, it’s back to trains, planes & automobiles to get to Little Corn. There are (thankfully) no flights to Little Corn Island. You have to take a 15 cordoba or $.75 cent taxi ride from the airport in one of the world’s shittiest cars. None have plates by the way.
From this point…bear with me. I have ALOT of information to tell you if you want to go to Little Corn Island.
Once at the “dock” you pay $3 cords or about a dime USD for your “entry fee” which is just some dude standing there by the fence where the cabs drop you off. For you yankee gringos – the NICE part about the Atlantic side of Nica is that everyone speaks English, mixed with spanish & some creole or Caribbean lingo so you can get by on just English.
Once inside the “dock” you then walk down to the Pier (on to it). The Panga leaves about 30 minutes after you arrive so I recommend bringing your bags or luggage to the panga (a panga is a 35 foot boat with flat slat seats that is the ONLY way to get from Big Corn to little corn island. You will need a trash bag to put your stuff in so it doesn’t get wet. If you forget it, there is a store across from the entrance that doesn’t look like much but they sell trash bags for $.75 cents each. ANYWAY after you drop your bags go to the little restaurant there for a bite to eat or a drink. It’s actually SUPER good. Don’t screw around though..order RIGHT away and when the food comes immediately ask for your check. It (the Panga) takes 25 minutes, it can be wet and it can be rough and slightly un nerving but not scary. If you have a young child or infant BRING YOUR OWN LIFE VEST. I brought my 14 month son with but had a life jacket. It’s a big time piece of mind.
I recommend when you’re done at the restaurant go stand by where the Panga is to be loaded. When they begin loading, it’s a MAD DASH to get on (again no assigned seating and honestly, my belief in human nature is a bit rattled every time I go through this experience as people are fucking assholes trying to push on ahead of you. Don’t be afraid to move hard and fast. You want to try to get on as far back as possible to the captain as it’s the smoothest and driest ride. The locals know this and couldn’t give two shits about “backpackers” nor gringos with babies. This white dude literally made eye contact with me and then pushed by me with my son Miller in my arms. If I didn’t have the baby I would have knocked him out cold. Remember …if it WAS SUPER EASY to get to little corn it’s be overrun with tourists and not be half as cool. This is an adventure that’s worth it!!
Once on, put your life jacket on. Don’t be a dumb ass. The ride isn’t bad but like I said, you will be damp when you get off from ocean spray. Once you arrive, if you have pre-booked your hotel on Little Corn they will have sent a rasta dude with a wheel barrel to pick your butt up and your luggage. Yes, you should tip when you arrive but not excessive so you ruin shit like idiots from California did in Cabo San Lucas. $1 to $2 USD or $20 to $30 cords is fine.
Make sure you book a room on the beachside. Personally, I recommend these Little Corn Hotels Only:
The best: Little Corn Beach Bungalows (hands down best property, food, service, and cabinas – gringo owners from CO) also 100% KID FRIENDLY they helped us SO MUCH with our Son Miller I will link a STELLAR trip advisor report on them as well! Scott & Kristy ROCK!! (the owners)
Next up: Casa Iguana (over priced but also Gringo owned by a trust fund baby from Chicago) Best view on Island. Cabinas 2nd nicest on little corn, service sorta suckie, food is still excellent.
If you are a “romantic couple” (no kids) and want a really UNIQUE stay book Ensuenos. The cabinas look like something out of Lord of the Rings hobbit style.
Little Corn Island does not have nor allow motorized vehicles. You walk everywhere. You also should know that electricity is not on from 5 a.m. to about 11 a.m. from the generators the government provides on the Island. NO property has Air Conditioning – so make sure you have CONFIRMED you get a fan when you arrive. Honestly, with the trade wind breezes you don’t need AC. I’m sensitive to heat and am telling you this.
Soon, Little Corn Island will be discovered and get all fucked up like every other Island in the Caribbean like Roatan off the coast of Honduras. Total tourist trap now. Total shame. Little Corn isn’t like this yet.
The water here is INCREDIBLE – clear like the Bahamas to about 90 feet or like Cancun if you’ve been there. I went snorkeling with Elsa’s (this little restaurant down the beach) with Peter and Restin for $15 USD ($20 if you don’t have gear) they take you out on their boat for 2.5 hours or until you say “enough.” While it’s not “cozumel” or like belize (the idiot Nica government hasn’t figured out yet to protect the reefs by closing sections like Belize does, nor actually having and enforcing fishing laws so the waters are kinda low on fish 😦 I did see…
Sea Rays, Bluefish, Yellow Snapper, Barracuda, and guess what…my FIRST EVER real live Sea Turtle!!! Wow are they fast! The coral reef is still pretty vibrant…if they listen and start closing sections of it wow will this place rock. The reef is about 100 yards off shore . I recommend the reef where Restin & Peter take you down south of Ensueno’s by Otto Beach. Just ask at your hotel for Restin from Elsa’s and they will direct you to him. He’s nice as hell, a young native wanting to make a living. I usually don’t hardcore endorse someone like these guys but a $15 snorkel trip? give me a break!
Elsa is Restin’s mom and has EXCELLENT fried chicken and fried fish at her beachfront restaurant.
Bring mosquito repellent! Use liberally! Also, be prepared for US prices on hotel, food, drinks. Still, a beach bungalow not 20 yards to the waters edge was $84/night at Little Corn Beach Bungalows. Not outrageous, not ultra cheap either. INSANE service is near perfect by the owners. As they are Gringos, they get what whiteys like me want. Great food & drink, I’ll pay and all..but I want good service and they have it.
Also, DO MAKE THE WALK back into the village to go to the 360 view. My suggestion is tip a local $5 bucks to take you there. it’s an old light house at the highest point on the island you can see the entire island by climbing it. SICK!!!
Also…go to the Tranquillo Cafe in the village, owned by a dude from Virginia US. BEST BLT I’ve ever had and I ALWAYS order either a BLT or a chicken fried chicken if it’s on the menu in the US…hint hint…he uses coconut bread for the toast! Stupid good!
Questions? Hit me up. 800 821 2176 or http://www.nicaeco.com I can set you up on this trip with my nicaragua tour company Green Pathways here in Leon and give you personal advice on Little Corn Island Free.
Also..SKIP Big Corn besides using the airport. It’s like a dirty jamaica. No bueno.
Cerro Negro Volcano & the Laguna Asososca swim July 14 as well as Salinas Grande beach July 15
So today we had an early start at 7:30 we left with Eron our driver, Marginne my assistant down here, and Julie & I. Miller had to stay back with Carla our nanny here at Casa Leonesa.
We drove the short 45 minutes to Cerro Negro volcano, a HUGE black lava volcano that smolders as you drive up to the entrance. It’s all the black lava rock. It has an edge of being dangerous as it last erupted in 2007. When you arrive you have to pay $5 USD to get in. They have bathroom facilities and have some new “animal or wild things” are that are securely “gated up” this year it was iguanas and of all things gamish hens. Last time it was snakes.
Cerro Negro is famous for volcano boarding, which is where you sit on a board that resembles a snow toboggan. You climb about 1 hour up this bloody volcano, then you put on what amounts to a one piece “jumpsuit” or “coveralls,” some beer googles (I mean googles, oops) and some gloves. It will scare the living shit out of you as it is steep as all hell…plus…like 5 years ago this moron tried to break the land – speed record on a mountain bike and got going like 100 mph and then his bike flew apart and he almost broke every bone in his body. Yeah. Well on this board you get going about 50 MPH but there is good news. The lava is so light, it’s “almost” soft. You get to the bottom in about 45 seconds. The ride feels surprisingly long actually! My Julie did it in 2009 almost 2 months pregnant so it’s very do-able even for the biggest pussies.
Anyway, we will have pictures, video, and a blog about volcano boarding with Bigfoot Hostel, my man Phillip Southan is the ORIGINAL guy that had volcano boarding. Now there is like 100 knock offs.
By the way, I have to bitch a tad here. What is it about eco-tourism or green travel that attracts non profits and people that do not use deodorant nor shower? There is nothing “Green” about stinking or having BO. I’m so sick of this aspect of a business I’m in I could puke. There’s a bunch of bullshit tour operators here now in Nicaragua (Costa Rica REALLY takes the fuckin’ cake on these but now we are getting invaded) with these douches that have this “oh we leave no footprint” except you drove a mutherfuckin truck to get to your eco lodge and all “eco” usually means is they turn off the power at 12 midnight to 7 a.m. so you can’t read a book or you get to sweat your ass off as there is no AC.
That’s not “eco friendly” it’s ignorant. Where are the solar panels? The wind power? At least here in Nicaragua they have geo thermal power plants which is WAY ahead of good ol’ Uncle Sam’s coal plants and Japan’s nuclear disasters. What I’m saying here is let’s stop lying to people in “green” travel as tour operators and actually BE GREEN. I’m determined with NicaEco to do just that. Next year I want to import our first hybrid sport utility here to Nicaragua. I didn’t see one effin hybrid in Costa Rica when I was there. The costa rican travel model is one big lie on eco tourism and it pisses me off.
There’s now a new scam here. “Go do XYZ tour and ‘a portion of the profits go to help kids in Nicaragua.’ Yeah, what portion? 10%? Half? Who knows? It’s not regulated down here. Stay away from assholes that pretend they don’t want to make money. They scare me. They can hide behind their “non profit” if they hurt or kill you.
http://www.NicaEco.com – our Nicaragua study abroad division, as well as our parent http://www.inertiatours.com for alternative spring break trips to Nicaragua are S corporations in the US. That means you can sue our ass if we screw up. Yeah. If you are an American the reason you go with an American firm are:
1.) They mess up you sue them, even if they screw up in Nicaragua.
2.) They know about American customer service and expectations.
I love Nicaragua but the locals they still are 10 to 15 years away from getting what us yanks want in terms of service or handling our expectations.
I’m also finding a hell of a lot of more or less college kids or college professors that came to Nicaragua that now want to bring people here. They have no insurance. They have “years of experience” – yeah, in coming to Nicaragua themselves to party. That’s a far fucking cry from bringing in people as a tour operator. Don’t take such a stupid chance.
Ok, off my soap box of stinky people promoting eco tourism giving 1% of profits to “kids in Nicaragua” and pretending to care about the earth but hauling people’s asses around central America in old ass trucks. I saw one (I won’t mention any so called non profit’s name here) using old, old gas cargo trucks to move people that get 5 miles to a gallon with no emissions on the truck. I took a picture of their old ass truck so if they take issue with me they can eat butt. That’s a bunch of crap.
BACK TO OUR DAY.
So we drove to the base of Cerro Negro and took some pictures. Looked like the moon.
Then, Eron our driver took us more or less on some cow path road for about an hour and a half to the top of where the Laguna Asososca is (lagoon which is a lake in the mouth of this crater of a small volcano) We were about to die from the bumpiness of it but finally got there. WELL worth it!
Several videos up of not just us swimming but of the climb down to the lake and climb back up at www.youtube.com/nicaeco
The climb back up is a bitch if you are out of shape. No, I’m not. Eron our driver though he puked about 3 times on the way back up sitting down several times. Julie my wife kept saying when he got back in the landcruiser (she and marginne trudged way ahead so they didn’t know as I waited for him I was worried just a tad) anyway Julie kept saying “did you eat Eron?” Did you eat your sandwich? “Eron, did you eat?” I’m like yeah, he ate it. He’s not answering her and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and say look the dude not only ate it he puked it up and I know this as I saw the puke! So I just kept trying to change the subject and the poor guy got out and ralphed again. And then again. Yep, he ate his sandwich alright, but I bet he doesn’t have turkey, mustard, lettuce and tomate on his sandwich anytime soon though hahahaha J
Luckily it was only 45 minutes back to Leon. Once back we went to Jardin Secreto again our favorite pizza joint here and had pizza with roma tomatoes, jalapenos, and pepperoni on it. As I always recommend in Nicaragua when ordering, we got it “se puede cocinar buen?” Which sorta means can you cook that shit really good? I even make a joke and say “cerca de negro per no negro” with my mediocre Spanish so they know we REALLY want it cooked well done. This serves two purposes. 1.) It keeps you from getting sick from undercooked food and 2.) they tend to undercook everything you shouldn’t from bacon to cheese. Word of advice. I DO NOT get sick down here and I swear it’s from asking for it like this.
Once back we saw The Transporter with Jason Stratham on this Venezuelan MOVIE channel we get with CLARO satellite at casa leonesa. The TV programming is ULTRA random hahahaha!
In the morning, I had to get up as Miller was fussing at like 6:30 am and walk from our bedroom along the courtyard to the kitchen to get him a bottle as one he has it he usually settles down for another hour or so. My laptop is set up on this table by the pool and something told me to check it. When I did, there was an email from my mother in law Linda – she had missed her flight. If you haven’t ready my 2nd post on this Nicaragua trip, you should on this blog. It describes the Nazis at Continental. Seems Marxism is spreading in the airline industry as she as she was booked on Delta and guess what? If you are now even 1 minute late for an international flight they cancel your ticket. Sure, you can take the next flight for $400.
What the F. Suggestions airlines used to make have “overnight” became costly rules that passengers are 100% not aware of. They used to suggest being to the airport 2 hours prior for international flights. Now, be there 2 hours prior or get cancelled. What? This is fraud. Eventually foreign airlines will also overtake US airlines as they don’t pull this shit. Such a shame. And shame on these people at Delta & Continental as the thing is, eventually you screw over your own friends and family with such policies.
If airlines would STOP focusing on “operational efficiencies” and bullshit fees and START focusing on service things would change for them in terms of profits. None of this crap happens at Southwest. Guess what? Makin’ bacon as in makin’ money over at Southwest. Treat people like you’d treat your own Mother and your business will GROW IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS. Now with that said, I’m not going to be pushing tequila shots on my mom like I do on spring break hahahha – love you mom!!!
Jeez, the rants. First people with BO next airlines. Sorry!
So when we got up I was in a flurry of work to a.) get our hotel stay on Little Corn Island changed to Sunday instead of Saturday as my mother in laws flight had gotten moved to Friday b.) get our airline tickets on La Costena airlines (the national airline here that moves people from Managua to Big Corn Island – a BAD ASS airline by the way! You get to EMAIL this ONE GUY to get a ticket! Wow right???
Anyway, got all done – FREE. Try that the US once.
My wife was upset but I was like look toots, let’s go to Salinas Grande today and see the Bigfoot Surf School which is a day camp to learn to surf.
We left at 12:30 p.m. in pouring rain, drove the 1 hour there with Eron (easy drive, very interesting from Leon) and THIS IS THE BITCHIN’ BEACH I knew Nicaragua had….WOW is all I can say!!!
The Bigfoot Surf Camp is run by the Bigfoot Hostel, but this little old Nicaraguan dude owns the house on the beach they run the camp, or area they do lessons from, out of.
When you arrive, you get fresh watermelon and pineapple. Next, its to the long boards (semi long) for about 15 minutes of out of water instruction. Then they bring you in one at a time if you have never surfed so you feel really comfortable. The beach and the waves were SICK. Water temperature I’d say 82 or 83 degrees maybe 85, rolling sets sorta not perfect as it was high tide at 2 p.m. I went swimming and Robbie the instructor went out so I could get some video. I’m going down surfing soon it was just getting late in day and I wanted to get my video and photos done and head back. Man, I’ve ONLY seen one beach down by San Juan del Sur I could say was that perfect to learn to surf on as it was a sand break. Funny thing is, no bay either. Open ocean coming in really smooth and not too aggressive. The current was sorta strong but just by shore not out about 40 yards and beyond. Some DECENT shoulder height waves just not long breaks. Rides very short. It’s in the AM I guess you get HUGE lines rolling in. We shall see, blog & video coming soon.
Anyway, out by there is Isla Del Venado which is cut off the shore and is not much of an island but is a protected sea turtle sanctuary. What’s sad about Nicaragua is the Sandinistas haven’t figured out the way to turn this country around isn’t by oil from Venezula or propaganda or even giving two shits about the US – but protecting this place like Costa Rica has done. THAT will, in the future, overcome all of the problems inherent in Nicaragua like roads, electricity, non-USA standards on service, etc. Plus hurricanes and volcanoes, I mean seriously this is a pandoras box for sure.
The fishery here WILL COME BACK. They have zero laws on fishing, Make them. Enforce them. Enforce reef protection out on the Corn Islands like Belize does. The water is as clear as Belize but little fish as these guys have fished it out. Same with the beaches…protect HUGE swaths of land while you can. There are VERY few people living in this country and if they passed sweeping environmental laws they could REALLY bump tourism up here. Not tomorrow, but in years to come. They desperately want to model after Costa Rica but they just aren’t getting how to do it. There are far too many greedy people at the top here, much like before when Somoza was in power. The people here talk about that a lot.
Costa Rica is OLD news. Guatemala and El Salvador are still unsafe. Honduras as well. That’s half the battle. Now, protect this untouched habitat. Build MASSIVE wind farms and solar. They aren’t tied to the middle east like the US. Venezula, sure. But Venezula sells them oil at half the market price of OPEC. Thing is, that oil is then resold at a profit to the government to other places in central America instead of being used by the people. It’s a shame. But screw the oil. Go around it.
Tomorrow, Julie goes 1.5 hours from Leon to the capital of Managua to fetch her mom Linda. I will stay behind with Julie & work on optimizing my videos on youtube and such. Again, if you want a visual on what we are doing down here, go to www.youtube.com/nicaeco for daily video updates or feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org – or email@example.com. The thing is I DO NOT HIDE behind our corporate veil. You can still book a trip with me directly instead of using one of our Agents or our websites – but you can if you don’t want to do it with me over the phone or via email.
800 821 2176 x 1
Two Missed Days – July 12 & 13th combined in Leon, Chicigalpa, & Guyana Nicaragua
Well yesterday we had a very slow day yesterday. My son Miller got a bit of a small stomach bug so we had the pediatrician stop by to check on him. Due to this, it prevented us from climbing Cerro Negro & swimming in the Laguna Asososca which means the lagoon asososca which is a freshwater lake located in the center of the crater of this volcano about an hour from Leon.
The pediatrician was recommended from Eron our driver & he is also a Medical Instructor at one of the Universities here. A house call is $25 USD. He prescribed some Zinc, some paste for his butt that was sore (LOL J ) and some anti-gas stuff which my wife said no to giving him as we are trying to keep him on a med-free life. Anyway the meds were all only $20 buck anyway. This shows you how ridiculous the health industry is in the US, right?
So yesterday I worked on my youtube video logs at www.youtube.com/nicaeco as well as some business for my towing company www.paradisetowingcompany.com. Miller of course really wasn’t sick and we could have went but ce la vie we had to find out.
I was able to meet again with the director of the Dariana Spanish school to get pricing worked out for our students. Can you believe we will only be charging students $15 USD per day for housing with a private bedroom at a local Leon family’s home with 3 meals a day? Anyone can see this is going to be a GREAT seller for US students wanting to study Spanish abroad and earn college credits.
A comment I keep hearing around Leon is “how did you get your program accredited so that your students get college credit?” Well, that’s just one of the competitive advantages we have, and why students should only use NicaEco for organizing their Spanish immersion to Nicaragua.
1.) We are a US – American based subsidiary of the multi-million dollar Inertia Tours Inc. That gives you piece of mind that we are accountable for your safety AND your experience
2.) We are also a Nicaraguan based public corporation Nica Eco Inertia Tours S.A. that is legal to do business in Nicaragua, and within 30 days we will be INTUR certified. We will be the ONLY INTUR certified study abroad company operating in Central America, which is a laundry list of criteria the government here requires for you to legally operate as a travel company
3.) Our ground handler Green Pathways is a certified member of the Rainforest Alliance, making our Spanish immersion program the only one in central America that is at arms-length a member. Soon, Green Pathways will also be using for all of its side trips and airport transfers for NicaEco students hybrid vehicles NicaEco is importing here to Leon via Bluefields to Managua to Leon from Houston, Texas.
4.) We are the only Eco-study abroad company in existence. We are members of the Sustainable Travel Association
5.) We are the ONLY travel option into Nicaragua with US American staff onsite
For dinner we went to the Manhattan which is this Sushi place across the street from the La Perla hotel & casino. A California roll was $2.50 USD and a spicy tuna roll was $4.00 USD. Ultra cheap & super fresh!
We woke up this morning at 8 a.m. to go to a couple of the foundations that are coordinating with NicaEco for volunteer opportunities we can “roll into” our Spanish immersion programs here in Nicaragua.
The first foundation was http://www.laislafoundation.org/La_Isla/Home.html or the Isla Foundation which focuses on fighting an epidemic of kidney disease in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua which is believed to be caused by the pesticides used on the sugar cane fields which is the staple job here in Nicaragua. The HUGE rum maker is Flor de Cana here.
If you come with NicaEco to study abroad here, you can volunteer with La Isla in a number of ways (very, very varied!) from going out into the community of La Isla / Chichigalpa and teaching English & computer skills to the local kids, to helping in their Leon office on a number of things from fundraising, office administration, to computer networking they need it all.
You would volunteer 3 to 4 hours per day for 2 or 3 days a week. Talk about a resume builder that makes you a 100% better person!!!
My wife outside the foundation isla offices:
I felt from our first meeting that the La Isla Foundation strengths are:
- VERY organized here in Leon
- Nice website with strong push for donors (a good thing)
- Good opportunities for individuals coming to Leon
- Office setting & staff very professional
I think their cause is a worthy one as about 80% of the men in Chicigalpa have died from chronic kidney failure.
The second foundation was called Viviendas Leon their website: http://www.viviendasleon.org/
This foundation really centers around not just providing aid, but providing sustenance in the communities they work with about 45 minutes outside of Leon in a small puebla called Guyana.
We toured a community center they were building there and sure enough – they require the locals to help & take ownership or they will not provide aid. One of their goals is to provide different types of cooperative ideas such as sewing & artesian goods this indigenous people can make a living off of besides just working in the cane fields.
They also get the locals to do vegetable gardens to not just help feed their families, but also to sell at market in Leon, as well as HUGE reforestation projects (in May of 2011 they replanted 500+ trees!).
The strengths of Viviendas Leon are:
- Their Director Indiana lived in Texas – easy fluency in English
- Their programs center around large university groups that they can input individuals or small 2’s & 4’s of students into existing projects
- Their current volunteers were very hard working & dedicated. We met the old mayor of Leon out working on the community center in Guyana as a matter of fact.
If you have NicaEco set up your Spanish study abroad program, we will integrate a volunteer opportunity with Viviendas Leon for you with a coordinator to make the work seemless and easy with no stress for you.
Volunteering with either of these organizations in my mind even a couple of hours a week seems like not just an incredible resume builder, it seems to me like a possible life-changing experience. Talk about making you feel thankful for what we have in the USA that we take so granted. Wow.
When we got back, we lounged around as it was raining and hung out with Miller. We also got Lasagna & a burger & fries at this little place called Pizza Roma which is one of the best restaurants in Leon, having been in business almost 30 years. The two items were $11 USD. Restaurant prices here have came up some since 2006 my first time here. I would now say restaurants are about 25 to 45% cheaper than the United States.
Tomorrow, we get up at 6:30 a.m. to go see Cerro Negro and the Asososca Lagoon to go swimming in the mouth or crater of a volcano. I learned this week that it is believed that 90% of the population here in Nicaragua is within eye line of a volcano there are so many in this country.
Inertia Chad…(nica eco chad…) OUT!!!
Me, my wife & my son have been in Nicaragua almost a week which means 25% of our time here is already over L makes me quite / very sad!
Well today at 7 a.m. the real work began. I did my first tour of our Spanish Immersion school Dariana here in Leon. I was super impressed at their teaching methods.
I started off with a killer breakfast with my wife Julie & son Miller that our cook prepared of fried eggs, gallo pinto (rice & beans a Nica staple), fresh water, fresh fruit, toast, and bacon.
You see, I studied abroad in Mexico with the Tec de Monterrey that the University of Wisconsin set up for us through their “international programs” office. I had the time of my life – from it I took away a few things:
1.) You don’t have to know a lick of Spanish to study abroad
2.) The real way to learn Spanish is to live with a local family
3.) Sitting in a classroom all day isn’t what most people call fun (it’s what I did and it sucked)
At Dariana, their class schedule looks like this:
8 a.m. to 10 a.m. – one on one grammar with a professor (they must have a college degree)
10 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. – break
10:20 a.m.-12 noon – mix of one on one time and group time in conversation, stories, and game playing as well as movies
Here is a picture of Carlos one of the instructors:
Break until 3 p.m. At 3 p.m. you go back to the school for an educational outing almost always free of charge. You go to the cathedrals; you go to the market, you to the theatre, you might go to a museum of art or history. The outing is completely in Spanish and teaches you not only about Spanish, but about the history & culture of Nicaragua. Leon is the oldest city here, founded by Francisco Cordoba (who was a real A hole too and killed all the local indigenous people along with trying to rip off the Catholic church and the Spanish throne). Leon is Nicaragua’s 2nd largest city and the oldest city in Nicaragua.
Today for the outing we went to the biggest (main) cathedral which is the third largest in latin America after the ones in Mexico City, Mexico and Cusco, Peru (I’ve personally seen both).
Back to Dariana – they also hook you up with a family to stay with that includes room/board and 3 meals a day which all the student raved about as being super good. If you check out our youtube at www.youtube.com/nicaeco you can see some student testimonials as well.
With Nica Eco, we put this all together. We help you with airfare. Our study abroad program includes airport transfers. We have staff fluent in English. We monitor the quality of not just the school and instruction but also your homestay. We are an American Tour Operator so we know what students expect from the US and set proper expectations.
Here is what a typical homestay house looks like:
We also arrange all of your side trips so you can actually see the country, as well as social outings with our other students so you NEVER feel alone or lonely in Leon when studying for a summer session, semester abroad, or even a year. The real key with Nica Eco is we get your credits to transfer to your college so you earn your 3 credits. It is why we don’t hide what schools we use – as our program covers the correct curriculum so that your classes will transfer you credit. We also arrange an educational visa so that it doesn’t expire in 30 days like a tourist visa does with our government contacts.
What a typical “host family mom” looks like, this is Hilda:
Alfonso the Director of the School was a HUGE help. He also instructs the very advanced Spanish classes if you so fall into that category. There is a test on our website www.NicaEco.com which you take & the instructors make sure they put you in the right level of preparation.
According to the students, that’s the key. The students were adamant that if you come to Dariana with Nica Eco and study a full semester abroad and came in with like a level of 2 or 3 as high school Spanish classes you’d be more or less very very proficient to nearly fluent (fluent to US business standards anyway) with just a semester here in Leon. The key is the one on one instruction that catches errors and rapidly progresses you – plus you are staying with a family that speaks Spanish to assist you.
More on Dariana later, back to our day…
At 11 a.m. Julie & I handed off Miller to our nanny here and went the 45 minutes to the ruins of Viejo Leon from the modern day Leon. Founded in the 1520’s by Francisco Cordoba a Spanish explorer in search of Gold, they mass murdered the indigenous people or enslaved them.
Here is a picture of a statue of the serial killer himself Sr. Cordoba:
If they thought that there might be an uprising, they would have a bunch of the indigenous peoples literally fed to these wild dogs they had that would eat them alive. All of their houses and structures in old Leon (Viejo Leon means old leon) had these doors out the back as apparently the natives frequently DID rise up and kill the Spaniards from time to time as they were so brutal. The Spaniards justified this behavior as they believed the Indians had no souls to save. The Catholic church vehemently opposed this behavior, and the wonderful Spaniards rewarding them by withholding the required 10% tithe that any Catholic government at the time was required to pay (like a 10% tax). This didn’t go over well and Cordoba was put to death.
Here are some of the people-eating dogs that ate the Indians…here puppy puppy puppy….
I shot several interesting photos of the ruins.
The Ruins of Old Leon:
The place was abandoned after like 50 years as the remaining tribes become unmanageable and starting killing off the Spaniards for a bit of time. Another odd point that in the distance you could hear the Nicaraguan military blowing off some big ass frickin’ guns but they said it was miles away. I guess some show of strength but that’s mostly I think for the local people not foreign countries.
For lunch (here it is the biggest meal and you eat it at about 2 p.m. (pics below) we had superb grilled chicken, gallo pinto, papas (roasted potatoes) and some salad with a fresh mustard/vinaigrette salsa our cook made us.
Check out our Lunch – everyone loves Nica food!
It did start raining as is common in the tropics in the afternoon. Tonight, we went to this Chinese joint that wouldn’t take my $20 bill as a tiny tear was in it. All over Nica if you have a bill that is torn, missing a tiny piece, or has some ink on it…forget it. They won’t take it. They do take Visa everywhere anyway.
So, that’s my night. I’m off to shower and try to talk Julie out of a mojito at Big Foot as a.) it’s raining and b.) I’m dead tired and just want to lie down.
This photo shows my wife Julie at an inlet off Poneloya Beach where like 5 restaurants are.
Ok – so we have been in Nicaragua and my wife is bored – why??!!! Well, our “official” itinerary of visiting schools, doing photos & videos, etc. doesn’t start until tomorrow. So for today, we woke up to a wonderful poolside breakfast at our house in Leon with eggs, bacon, toast, papaya, mango, cantaloupe, watermelon, and rice& beans. My son Miller LOVES eggs and eats so well. The time I get with him has really been amazing.
After breakfast we were going to go to church at the cathedral but Julie was running too late getting ready so we just went shopping. She got a pair of jeans for 5 bucks. The tight kind that I think would make me sweat.
We bought fried plantains and pototaes as well some papaya salted & lime juiced on at Leon’s plaza and did some walking. I have to get a picture up of Miller in his “backpack” kid holder I wear around he sits in and loves it. The fried plantains are sold as street food in little bags for $.50 cents.
It was DREADFULLY hot as zero wind, 100% humidity and 95 degrees. Still cooler than Texas however. For lunch we ate at the Union. I’m sorry to say it’s Wal Mart’s grocery store with a little deli. By the way….it wasn’t all that cheap. The grilled chicked skewers, rice, beans, and some sort of macaroni & cheese concoction was $7 bucks with a 7up…that was a rip off but oh well, Miller was hungry.
After the day was SUPER lazy dazy – Julie did facebook for like 5 hours and I watched a couple dreadful movies and even saw Teen Mom 2 on MTV. Sweet Jesus, right?
Tomorrow we have to get up at 6:30 a.m. to go to the Dariana language school here in Leon where our students will study Spanish for the summer, a semester, or a year. I only studied abroad for the summer – if I could “re do it” I’d come here in a heartbeat and come for a year instead of just a month like I did in Mexico. I’d now be fluent.
Big problem though is…you can live like a King here on a middle class salary. It’s going to be reallllyyy hard to leave and I’m already thinking about it with moist eyes – I think a lot of it is I work so much that I don’t get this sort of unbridled time with my Son – plus then, the REAL work begins building yet another company from scratch and getting Americans down here to see this insanely cool place to study abroad with us here in Nicaragua. I’m hoping us being an American company will give them some piece of mind they will be safe and have a bad ass time.
I’ll let you know tomorrow how Dariana language school goes!
Ok so last night we went out with Phillip Southan, the Owner of BigFoot Hostel & Green Pathways Tours. We went to Manhattan, a Sushi bar/early night drink spot across from the Hotel La Perla. Then, we went to another bar and they had loud, live music – what was funny is there had to be 200 people there, and at midnight they kicked everyone out & closed. So goes it in Nicaragua. I was exhausted so we came home and slept. We had a sitter for Miller our Son.
Today I got up at about 7:30 and put Miller in his “backpack” which is this apparatus that he rides in with an aluminum frame when we go hiking. We went to this little cafe and I had the “Americano” breakfast which was two fried eggs, potatoes, and bacon with coffee for $2 USD. The place is like 2 blocks off the central plaza/square in Leon.
When done, I came back to Julie downing a cup of ramen. I then met with Marginne my employee down here for http://www.nicaeco.com and went over our month long schedule. We book the Plaza Colon in Granada for two nights, the Casa Iquana on Little Corn Island in the Caribbean for when Julie’s mom Linda gets into town (2 beachfront “cabinas” I LOVE this eco-hotel) and also Pelican Eyes a private 2 bedroom home with a pool in San Juan Del Sur…I’m getting VERY excited for our trips!
Monday I meet with our first language school here in Leon to get all the pictures, photos, and videos of not just the school, but the teachers, classrooms, and a host family as we do home stays for our spanish study abroad program here in Leon.
Tuesday we meet with La Isla Foundation to set up some volunteer opportunities for our students while here doing a semester abroad.
TODAY….we went to Las Penitas Beach and the neighboring Poneloya beach area. Poneloya is a tad NORTH of Penitas (penitas & poneloya are more or less seperated by a huge rock outcropping that you can’t walk down the beach around)
The thing about both beaches is they are a bit eerie in that most of these homes are remnants of the old ruling class families and hierarchy Nicaragua had – more or less the Dictator Samosa gave his croonies some prime beachfront property in the 1960’s-1970’s (1979 was the revolution) as this beach is the CLOSEST to Managua, about 1.5 hours away only. They built about 100 homes between these two beaches all beachfront. Then the Sandinistas came to power, threw them all out as they were communists and you couldn’t own such a thing. So of course, about 50% I’d say are in too bad of disrepair to ever be used again.
As Nica’s economy is booming with tourism, some of these places are now converted into hostels and even hotels. The most “American style” hotel is the Suyapa…which our parent company http://www.InertiaTours.com uses for 2 nights on the alternative eco-spring break trip offered. It has air conditioned rooms, a gift shop, pool, and beachfront bar & restaurant on a spectacular beach setting.
What’s odd is, even though Samosa and his family were total assholes, you can’t help but a get a bit sentimental wondering what these beaches were like in their “heyday” in the middle 70’s – I envision a lively beach environment. The good news is…this place is coming back. Not big time, but coming. There are TRUE DEALS here…a beachfront home you COULD renovate goes for about $125,000 USD…that’s BEACHFRONT…not sorta beachfront on the Pacific ocean…now that’s a bargain! You have to start a public Nica corporation in order to buy land in Nicaragua if you are not a resident.
One cool thing about Inertia/Nicaeco is that we ARE a publicly held company here in Nicaragua. Nica Eco Inertia Tours S.A. means we do business correctly with the government.
Anyway, we had a great beach lunch at Suyapa for about $10 you get grilled fish, rice, veggies and some potatoes. Too much to eat. There are not really annoying beach vendors. There were two kids selling some sea shell necklaces they made and they chatted us up from outside the split rail wood fence of the restaurant. They made my wife Julie a palm leaf grasshopper and this little toy. I gave them a 10 Cord tip ($.50 cents) but they reluctantly took it. We then rented horses to ride for 30 minutes for $5 USD each. Mine REALLY wanted to gallop & run.
If you want to book a week long spring break trip to Nicaragua Inertia Tours is the place to do it. For $1099 per person, we get you a 6 day trip, with 3 nights in Leon at Las Balcones Hotel, 2 nights at Suyapa beach at Penitas; 2 meals per person per day, a suggested night time party schedule, you go volcano boarding, and you get a surfing lesson. INSANE deal and it’s in the high 80’s here in March/April.
It was nice to see some gringos there lying out – mostly college aged girls. I see way more college aged girls here than guys which is hilarious…The guys must still be all pussies thinking there is a revolution still or guerillas out shooting at you – cuz’ the girls sure don’t seem to give a shit. Phillip picked up a Dutch girl with my wife & I but I wouldn’t call it a pick up, she plopped down at the restaurant with us like she owned the place.
When done our driver Eron brought us back to Leon. We then went swimming in our pool with our son, and I snuck out and got 2 pizzas (like 10 inch onces) at Pizza Roma just down the street. The 2 pizzas and a diet coke were 167 cord or about 8 bucks. They do charge you $.50 cents USD for each carryout box there LOL 🙂
Then we watched some TV – julie is lovin’ the pictures we took over 150 today alone, I shot about 20 videos (check out my youtube at http://www.youtube.com/nicaeco for all the videos) and I promise I’ll post more here. Our wifi is fast but not that fast!
Tomorrow we are going to church at the old Cathedral built in 1740 at 10:30 and then Julie wants to do some shopping. I hired Eron’s sister to cook us breakfast every morning for $10/day she does lunch too so we can eat here at our house poolside with Miller. I’ll get some pics up of the food tomorrow.
Until then have a Happy Saturday!
When I walked into the formal study at our home here in Leon
Today woke up at about 8:30 a.m. and went to breakfast with my Assistant Marginne. By the way I make videos of almost everywhere we go. Check out http://www.youtube.com/nicaeco to see vidoes.
We covered the upcoming schedule which includes visits for contracts, pictures & videos at a couple of language schools to study spanish abroad at that http://www.NicaEco.com got approved for college credit in the US.
Julie & I will be visiting La Isla and Juntos Contigo foundations as if you do our spanish immersion you can volunteer as part of the program for 3 days a week / 3 hours each time.
We will be seeing Ometepe, Cerro Negro, Cerro Madera, Lake Nicaragua, Granada, San Juan del Sur, Big & Little Corn Islands, Managua, Chinandega, Miraflor & more over this next month.
We are very settled in at Casa Leones and feel that this will be our college spring break headquaters in terms of a hotel property for http://www.inertiatours.com for our college spring break party trips
By the way if you want to do an alternative spring break trip to Nicaragua, or spring break in central america – skip Costa Rica & come here. I have a trip here for $1099 per person with airfare, transfer, 3 nights hotel in Leon, 2 nights at Penitas Beach, 2 meals a day, an onsite party itinerary, Volcano Boarding, and surfing lessons all wrapped into one including our great onsite english speaking staff.
We had dinner tonight at CocinaArte. Julie’s Pesto pasta was superb, my fried chicken sucked. Our baby Miller ate & ate. He’s already in bed. We have a sitter for tonight & are going out with Phillip from Bigfoot Hostel and the owner of GreenPathways tours. He’s a sick surfer and a great guy. We are going to go “clubbing” and see the nightlife. I’ll do videos & post up to my youtube as well.
Tomorrow we are going to Penitas Beach & Poneloya beaches to surf, tan, swim, and ride horseback. I’ll let you know how it goes.