Recommendations for Travelers
Please consult a travel clinic or your own doctor to inform yourself about your current immunizations and appropriate shots and vaccinations that you may need. You should begin this process as early as possible before your trip.
Travel clinics in the Research Triangle, North Carolina are:
- Concentra Medical Center. Phone: 919-941-1911
- Duke Medical Center. Phone: 919-681-5420
Immunizations you might want to consider are:
- Hepatitis A vaccinations
- DT booster
- Oral typhoid
- To prevent malaria take a 500 mg dose of chloroquin (brand name in USA – aralen) every week starting one week before your departure, during your stay in Nicaragua, and for 4 weeks after returning. Chloroquin is a fairly benign malarial medication compared to others.
Sister Communities of San Ramón, Nicaragua (SCSRN) contributes donations each year for biannual fumigation of structures and yards in the urban area of the municipality. The Health Department conducts quarterly applications of anti-mosquito granules to each home as well. Finca Esperanza Verde Ecolodge is at 4,000 ft elevation where few mosquitos are found and all the lodging facilities are screened. In the town of San Ramón the guesthouse families provide mosquito nets.
To treat diarrhea, have on hand Cipro, a wide spectrum antibiotic, in 500 mg doses. (Cipro is available at the pharmacy in San Ramón @ 35¢ per dose.) To resort to using Cipro to treat your diarrhea, your condition should be bad. One to three doses of Cipro will usually relieve your condition. If the diarrhea is mild, take Pepto-Bismol or try to wait it out without resorting to taking any medication.
You should always consume lots of purified water, not eat uncooked vegetables or unpeeled fruit, wash your hands frequently especially before eating, and brush your teeth with purified water. If you go swimming and when showering, don’t get water in your mouth.
Information from the Center for Disease Control on Central America and Mexico may be found at www.cdc.gov/travel/regionCentralAmerica.aspx.
What to pack and baggage
Baggage: Due to large amounts of surplus luggage Nicaraguans take back home with them, it is not uncommon for the airlines to leave bags in Miami. If your bag does not arrive with you, it will not be possible to get it until 4 or 5 days later. To avoid this problem, we strongly recommend that you ONLY TAKE A CARRY-ON BAG for the trip.
What to pack:
- Passport which expires NO SOONER THAN 6 MONTHS AFTER the end of your trip. The name on your passport and on your airline ticket MUST BE IDENTICAL!
- Personal items (see TSA web site): shampoo, soap, insect repellent, sunscreen
- Medicines: (see TSA web site any medication that you might need (pack your medications with your carry on luggage). For your comfort, be prepared to treat yourself for bug bites (benedryl, neosporin, cortison cream, bandaids), common cold , and constipation (consider a bag of prunes).
- Footwear: supportive walking shoes or boots (paths are muddy when it rains), flip flops or sandals.
- Clothing: pair of jeans, pair of light weight long pants (and long underwear to wear under them in the evening), long sleeved shirt with a collar, jacket or sweater for cool evenings, rain gear, shorts, t-shirts, swimming suit
- Accessories: flashlight, batteries, ear plugs (to block out the noise of early morning bus departures and roosters), canteen, sun hat, journal, pens, camera, extra camera batteries, binoculars, money belt (the type worn next to the body), photocopy of your passport to carry with you at all times.
- Money: $300 approx. for a weeklong ecotour. Expenses: $10 arrival tax, $20-$40 tip for staff at Finca Esperanza Verde, spending money for art work and crafts. BRING CASH ONLY. Traveler’s checks are not useful and there are no ATMs in San Ramón.
What to leave behind: expensive watches, jewelry, flashy clothes
- Get in shape. The elevation of 2,500 to 4,000 feet makes hiking more strenuous than you will be used to if you live at a lower elevation.
- Learn some Spanish. Bring a phrase book or other device for easing communication.
- Read guide books and history books about Nicaragua as well as novels written by Nicaraguans.
Managua airport arrival, departure and customs
- You will be given a customs declaration on the plane to fill out. If you have less than $500 worth of stuff to bring into the country, you do not have to itemize your belongings. Even though noone will need to list the contents of the suitcase/s he or she is bringing into the country (assuming the value is under $500), he or she needs to know what the contents of the suitcase are. (For instance, if you are carrying suitcases full of material aid which you didn’t pack yourself, open the suitcase ahead of time and check out the contents.)
- Your entry visa, which you pay as you enter the airport and show your passport, costs $10. Pay with a $10 bill. (When you leave you will present the little piece of paper so make sure to keep it safe)
- At the airport, gather your bags. Make sure all your bags arrived. If not, tell your airline carrier which ones are missing. The airline will need to see the bag tag you got when you checked in prior to departure. Local address to put on the baggage tag: Your name, Finca Esperanza Verde, San Ramón, Matagalpa, tele # 2772-5003
- Each person takes his or her bags to the check out area. Punch the green button to indicate that you have nothing to declare. Walk out carrying your bags.
- The customs official might ask to look in your bags. Tell him or her that the contents are used or for personal use. (“Esta usada”) or (“Para mi uso personal”). Allow your bags to be inspected.
- There will be baggage handlers anxious to help you. THEY EXPECT TO BE PAID. One dollar for two bags will be plenty. US coins are not of any use to them. If you want to carry your own bags, tell them “No, gracias.”
- Exit the airport and look for the Finca Esperanza Verde ecotour greeter who will be carrying a sign.
Contact information for travelers
You will be in a rural area with no access to telephones or electricity other than solar power for the first 4 days of our typical week-long ecotour. When in the town of San Ramón, you will have access to a public telephone which is difficult to use unless you speak Spanish and cybercafés.
Emergency contact information for our office is or . The telephone number at the office in the town of San Ramón is 011-505-2-772-5003. The cellular phone at Finca Esperanza Verde (please speak Spanish) is 011-505-8-419-0054.
For week-long ecotours: upon your arrival, an email will be sent to the emergency email address listed on your trip reservation form announcing your safe arrival.
Recommendations for all travelers
Local Customs and Courtesy towards rural people:
- Grown men do not wear shorts; grown women always wear dresses, skirts or long pants or jeans without tears or patches
- People are not in a hurry and always have time for pleasantries
Please ask permission before taking photographs of people. Be prepared to wait while people change their clothes and fix their hair. Get double photos when you return and we will attempt to give copies to the people you took pictures of.
It is customary at tourist resorts for guests to tip the staff. The staff appreciates this sign of your having had a good time. There is a tip box near the kitchen. Tips are shared equally with the Finca staff. Suggested tip is $20-40 for a 4 night stay at FEV.
Guest House families:
While you might want to give the family you stay with in the town a very small token of friendship, we request that you DO NOT leave a tip. Sister Communities of San Ramón, Nicaragua policy of making donations only to groups and institutions and not to individuals is to avoid unequal distribution of resources and jealousy. We also suggest that you do not send your family presents or offer them special help as this will cause jealousy towards those who have direct contact with tourists. If you would like to make a donation to help families in San Ramón, Sister Communities of San Ramón has many projects we support annually that need funding such as the Activity Program for Seniors, Nutrition Program for Expectant Mothers, and school supplies for children to name a few. Email us at email@example.com or call us at 919 489-1656 to tell us what kind of support you would like to give.
There are good ways to help people in need. Giving money to beggars is not one of them. It encourages negative behavior and can have the affect of parents sending their children out the door to beg when they see a tourist pass by. Sister Communities of San Ramón, Nicaragua promotes community development projects that benefit the whole community and we encourage you to give to such a project if you wish instead of to individuals.
Travelers should investigate and consider purchasing travel insurance for their trip. MTS Travel recommends Travel Guard. Please visit www.travelguard.com or call 800-826-4919 for more information about insurance for yourself or packages for your group.