It all started with an email from my sister-in-law, Betty, asking me if I wanted to go to Nicaragua. With a flip ‘sure, when and how much’, she replied with pricing and the news that I would need to be on a red-eye flight THAT NIGHT in order to meet the eco tour group in Managua. Are you kidding me? I’m ‘Ms. Gotta Have a Plan’ and yet I’m considering this? The more I talked to Betty and then to my daughters, it WAS going to happen.
Since the tour was a hands-on experience at Finca Esperanza Verde (FEV) for 4 days and another 3 days in San Ramon with a local family, the attire was very casual so a current passport, T-shirts, jeans, hiking boots, socks, rain gear, and bare personal essentials in a borrowed carry-on from my new son-in-law and I was ready to roll. A quick call to my trusty PA and the Doxycycline was called into the pharmacy. I was on a flight that evening at 11:55 p.m., arriving in Miami at 5:30 a.m. with a connecting flight at 10:29 a.m. and final arrival in Managua at 11:55 a.m. WHEW! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
The flights were uneventful, the layover long but the views flying into Nicaragua were stunning! My seat mate thought me crazy for taking pictures from the plane, but wouldn’t you take a picture of this, Lake Managua with volcanoes Momotombo and Momotombito.
Keep in mind, the only people I would know on this tour were my sister-in-law Betty, and her husband George. Their flight arrived 2 hours after mine. I was to look for a sign at the door for the Finca Esperanza Verde, which I did not see. Am I CRAZY? I’m in a strange country, trying to meet strangers to go a destination I know little about. Somehow, there was no fear (mind you, there was also NO sleep) but rather a sense of great adventure.
After wandering around the exit for about 30 minutes, walking up to strangers asking if they were part of a group going to FEV, I learned there were a lot of groups coming to volunteer, to vacation and to get the heck away from me! Finally, I saw a group of women that were congregating at a bus stop and kindly asked if they were with a group going to FEV. I was so relieved when I found my group and delighted by their immediate acceptance of this one, bedraggled traveler.
It was time for lunch so we followed our fearless FEV guides, Gustavo and Everisto, inside to the food court. Now this was not your normal airport food court. We were set to try the local cuisine. I so wish I could tell you what I ate that day, but that brain cell floated away before the last bite was swallowed. It was wonderful…trust me on that.
After the final ecotour travelers arrived we were on our way toward San Ramon in our mini bus, approximately 99 miles (160 Km) from the Managua airport. As I recall, the bus trip took about 4 hours and was a wonderful introduction to the landscape, the people, the culture.
About halfway through the bus trip, we stopped for a quick break and were delighted to see a local food stand. I snapped a few photos of the wonderful, local produce:
When we were within about a half mile from FEV, the sun was setting and we were to transfer from the mini bus to a smaller vehicle. It was a beautiful night and many of us decided to stretch our legs and walk to the lodge. The sky was beautiful and the tropical forest serene!
We arrived at FEV in time for dinner in the open-air in dining area. It was dark when we arrived, but the wood stove was burning, the beer was cold, and the food was scrumptious. We were greeted by the gracious staff and our hosts (and FEV co-founders), Lonna and Richard Hardraker. I wish I could tell you what I ate that evening, but I cannot. The best I can do is share a picture of Toña, my first Nicaraguan beer. Quite tasty and refreshing!
With a full tummy and an almost non-functional brain, I hiked the short distance to Tucan Lodge to rest my weary Colorado head down for a peaceful slumber in the tropical forest at Finca Esperanza Verde, not knowing what adventures were awaiting me in the morning.
For more information on Finca Esperanza Verde, check out their website
NOTE: I will be posting about my Nicaraguan adventures on Tuesdays for the next several weeks. Join me as I relive this crazy, wonderful trip. Did you say there was a flight to Nicaragua leaving tonight????