Nicaraguan mission: getting to the construction site
September 13, 2018

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¡Bi­en­venidos a Nicaragua! The plane has just landed at Au­gusto C. Sandino In­ter­na­tional Air­port and your Latina ad­ven­ture be­gins.

At the air­port

You will need to clear the pass­port con­trol - an en­try stamp will be put into your travel doc­u­ment. You will be in­formed you are al­lowed to stay in Nicaragua for 90 days. The cus­toms of­fi­cer is un­likely to be in­ter­ested in your re­turn ticket, but, just in case, you’d rather have it printed out.

In the air­craft or at the air­port, you will be given a cus­toms de­c­la­ra­tion which should be given to the cus­toms of­fi­cer when leav­ing the air­port. Your lug­gage is likely to be checked, but don’t worry - it’s not il­le­gal to carry hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

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Un­for­tu­nately, cus­toms of­fi­cers in Nicaragua don’t like vol­un­teers, so you’ll have to come up with a story, say­ing you are plan­ning on trav­el­ling across the coun­try for three months, vis­it­ing the most pop­u­lar tourist places, such as Man­agua, Ome­tepe, Corn Is­lands, Granada and Leon.

When asked about do­na­tions, say you are ter­ri­fied of get­ting sick with malaria or any other trop­i­cal dis­ease and they are for per­sonal use. Add you are think­ing of giv­ing some drugs and toys to your friends in Nicaragua. Take all items out of pack­ages in ad­vance; don’t give of­fi­cers a rea­son to doubt your in­ten­tions.

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Un­der no cir­cum­stances leave do­na­tions at the air­port. If the of­fi­cer is re­lent­less, try brib­ing him/​​her - we will re­im­burse these ex­penses. They usu­ally ex­pect $50 per 25 ki­los, but be pre­pared to be asked for more.

If you are Health&Help’s new med­ical vol­un­teer or co­or­di­na­tor, our Span­ish tu­tors will pre­pare you for such sit­u­a­tions.

Here are some phrases which might come in handy when ne­go­ti­at­ing with the of­fi­cer.

Af­ter you are done with the cus­toms, you need to ex­change dol­lars into cor­dobas in or­der to get to Health&Help clinic in Las Salvias and buy bare es­sen­tials. Please note that the ex­change rate at the air­port is not as good as at the bank.

It is nor­mally 1$ = 30 NIO, but it’s rather volatile, so to be on the safe side - dou­ble check this in­for­ma­tion be­fore trav­el­ling.

It makes sense to buy a SIM card at the air­port. We rec­om­mend Claro which is work­ing in all four CA-4 coun­tries - Nicaragua, Guatemala, Hon­duras and Sal­vador.

Get­ting to the con­struc­tion site

As the con­struc­tion is at full speed now, we are not able to of­fer you a pick up.

There are three routes:

1. Au­gusto C. Sandino In­ter­na­tional Air­port - Chi­nan­dega

You need to get to the Mer­cado Is­rael Le­wites bus ter­mi­nal by hail­ing a taxi or or­der­ing an Uber. It takes around 60 min­utes and 250 NIO to get there. In­sist on 250 NIO as taxi dri­vers tend to over­charge white tourists. You will find a bus to Chi­nan­dega (bus fare - 90 NIO).

There is no WC in the bus; street food is of­fered, how­ever, Health&Help does not rec­om­mend to eat it due to high risk of get­ting an in­fec­tious dis­ease. The safe op­tion would be to buy snacks in sealed pack­ag­ing in ad­vance.

The last bus to El Rosario (58 NIO) de­parts at 1:00 pm. You will have to stay in Chi­nan­dega if you ar­rive there af­ter 1pm. You can spend the night at a cheap hos­tel with break­fast in­cluded for $10:

Ho­tel Doña Mer­cedes,

Av Cen­tral, Chi­nan­dega, What­sApp: +505 8528 0357, Mario Flo­res.

Hav­ing ar­rived to El Rosario, you’ll find your­self in front of a cow farm.

You have three op­tions to choose how to get to the site:

  • walk there 13 kilo­me­ters;
  • rent a horse for 90 NIO;
  • catch a mo­tor­cy­cle for 150 NIO.

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2. Guatemala - Chi­nan­dega

In case you are trav­el­ling from Guatemala City, you need to catch a di­rect bus to Man­agua. You will need to get to the bus ter­mi­nal Trans­porte Del Sol by hail­ing a taxi or or­der­ing an Uber. It takes around 20 min­utes and 35-50Q to get there.

The bus from Guatemala City to Man­agua de­parts at 2:00 am and ar­rives at 9:30 pm, charg­ing you a $70 one-way ticket and $18 en­trance visa fee at the bor­der. You’ll be of­fered soft drinks, break­fast and lunch on board. There is a WC.

The bus goes to Trans­porte Del Sol in Man­agua. You’ll need to stay the night in the cap­i­tal. Here is a cheap hos­tel you can use (prices start­ing from $10 per night):

Doc­tor Bou­tique Ho­tel Man­agua,

Villa FontanaV­illa Fontana - Club Ter­raza 2 C. Abajo, 2 C. al Sur, y 1/​​​​2 C, Man­agua, 14174,Nicaragua, phone num­ber: +505 2278 3689.

Take a taxi (80 NIO) to Mer­cado Is­rael Le­wites and find the bus to Chi­nan­dega (see above).

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3. Tran­s­portes del Sol Guatemala - Chi­nan­dega via Sal­vador (Tue, Thu, Sat)

You need to get to the Trans­porte del Sol bus ter­mi­nal from the air­port. There is a bus from Guatemala City to Chi­nan­dega on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Sat­ur­days, which de­parts at 3:30 pm and ar­rives in Sal­vador at 9:30 pm.

At 1:00 am it will be pro­ceed­ing to Chi­nan­dega, charg­ing you $75 one-way ticket and $18 en­trance visa fee at the bor­der. You’ll be of­fered soft drinks, break­fast and lunch on board. There is a WC.

You have to find a bus to El Rosario and fol­low the in­struc­tions de­scribed above when get­ting to the con­struc­tion site.

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Let’s build our new home to­gether!