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Testimony of Celestino for the conservation of marine turtles in Nicaragua

Mission of 51 days done in June 2017

My participation

On the project, the work is free: you will choose with the other members of the project the work to be done and the distribution of tasks according to your affinities, your fatigue and your interests. Generally, the tasks are as follows in July / August: patrols at night, DIY in the morning or in the afternoon OR day of guard at the nursery or on the island; and relaxation the rest of the day (stroll, fishing, swimming (dangerous attention!), dodo hammock, reading, chatting). For the bathing, the locals will explain how to do as well as the manager of the casa (there are always 1 or 2 people who manage the casa and who are there for several months in general, who speak English and Spanish). Warning language! In my opinion, it is essential to have Spanish bases, because you will speak almost Spanish, whether it is with the locals or with the Nicaraguan volunteers (there are 3 and 4 at all times, they are usually students in veterinary, biology, ornithology having between 20 and 25 years) or with the ladies who cook as well as with the person responsible for the work of the casa. The project protects several places, the nursery (where all the eggs come from the beaches of the estuary) and the island of Tigra (small island on which the nests are left in the natural state). These two places are monitored 24h / 24 either by you or by local paid by the project and the planning is done as explained above! Patrols: 2 teams per night patrol on an 6h time slot, either from 18h to midnight or from midnight to 6h. Do not panic, on 6h of beach hour, 3h are generally patrolled because the turtles come out to lay at high tide and when the night is very black (moons game) and full of factors that make that it is not so long that it in the air! Patrols are on the island and beaches of the estuary. PS: to see turtles AND babies turtles, the months of July and August are the best: you can attend the lakes AND the births. Births begin more from mid-July. DIY: As an example I will give you a couple of things we did: construction of a wooden bridge / cutting of a path + construction of signs indicating to the visitors what are some trees / painting of the casa / construction of a wall in the casa / plug the holes of the roof of the casa to avoid infiltrations during the thunderstorms. PS: The project is to be avoided for anyone who is sensitive to thunderstorms. I do not say this to discourage people wishing to come but it is a reality (in July there must have been 1 every 3 days and in August 2 every 3 days). There are two types of thunderstorms, thunderstorms, stronger (of the same type as European thunderstorms) and thunderstorms they call "las tormentas electricas" with a continuous sound rumbling and thunderclaps all seconds -> horrible! You do not risk very much (the lightning strikes very rarely the casas) but it is scary and it is a fact!

My expectations

You will be very well received by the international volunteers, the Nicaraguan volunteers (it is a real chance that they will be there, to immerse yourself in the culture of the young people of the country), the kitchen and the DIY manager of the casa and the manager (s) of the casa.
The pace of life in the casa is often linked to the managers of the casa. During my stay I attended a change of manager and I greatly preferred the second pair! It's impossible to tell you more because they change constantly, but rest assured, there are always managers present!
The days are very quiet, some can be long and boring (day of surveillance has two in the nursery or on the island) and others completely crazy (several turtles in the day, work in the house, a storm,. ..)!

My advice

It is, to my liking, easy to reach the project by bus. Here is my advice: Tell David (the one who takes care of the volunteers on the project) that you will arrive by bus indicating the date of your arrival to the project as well as if you will arrive by the bus of Venecia or that of Padre Ramos / Jiquilillo in specifying that you will wait at the bar / pulperia Zulema if you take that of Padre Ramos / Jiquilillo (see explanations below). Take a night of hotel in Managua for the evening of your arrival by plane (it allows to rest after a long journey and before a day of bus but also to be more flexible if your luggage is delayed, arrived !). I went to Maracuya Hostel (12 dollars a night on Ebooking), they can send a private taxi pick you up at the airport for 20 dollars on the day and 25 dollars at night if you ask them by email before -> it's expensive compared to prices in the rest of the country but you have no choice if you want to travel in safety and I advise against public taxis in the capital. It is located at 10 minutes walk from the bus station for the next day.
The next morning it is best to leave before 9h from the hotel to be quiet with the buses, you have to get to the UCA bus station.
Download the application (it will be very useful for you to travel in Nicaragua), it is an app that functions like a gps but without the need of internet, you simply have to download the map of Nicaragua in France or before leaving the connection of the hotel! You can place markers on the map so you can easily find them without losing you. Hotels and bus stations are marked on the map as well as all roads / tracks if you want to check that your bus is going in the right direction and that you are not mistaken.
To travel with a big / bag / suitcase take what they call "chickens bus", these are the old American yellow buses. Inside you can put your bag over your head, visible from your seat. Because if you take "micro-buses" you will be very very tight because they are the equivalent of a Renault Trafic in which they put 25 people traveling with very little luggage. Micro-buses usually take a little less time than chickens-buses as they pose and take very few people on the side of the road. But frankly the difference in time between a "chicken bus" and a "micro-bus" is not obvious!
On all the buses, it is written the route that they carry out wholesale above their windshields example "Managua - Leon". You do not pay when getting on the bus but at the end of the trip. Fares are fixed and indicated at the front of the bus above the driver.
Count 2h to make Managua-Leon in chicken-bus and you will pay about 2 dollars / 55 cordobas.
In Leon, no change of bus station, take a bus directly to Chinandega, count 1h30 and 1 dollar / 35 cordobas.
In Chinandega you have to change the bus station. From Leon you will arrive to "El Bisne Bus Station" and you have to get to "El Mercadito Bus Station". Two options: taxi or tricycle. Personally I recommend tricycles, it's really fun. Count 1 dollar / 30 cordobas for the tricycle and 1.5 dollars / 50 cordobas for the taxi. No panic for tricycles, they do not go fast, it's not scary, the driver is nice in general and they are waiting for you at the feet of the buses.
For the last bus, you have the choice:
Either you take the bus that will take you from "El Mercadito Bus Station" to Chinandega to Padre Ramos. The bus to take is easy to recognize it is written roughly at the top of the windshield "Chinandega - Jiquilillo" and to get off it's easy too, just wait for the bus terminus and you'll be at Padre Ramos! From Padre Ramos you will have to wait to cross the estuary with the project boat that runs between Padre Ramos (south side of the estuary) and Venecia (north side) in the evening around 17h30 / 18h. The best for you is to wait at the bar / pulperia Zulema, the people of the project will come to meet you! Attention you must have warned David where you expect! The last bus leaves around 16h30 from Chinandega. Count 1 dollars / 27 cordobas and 2h trip: 1 tar hour and 1 track time.

Either you take the bus that will take you from 'El Mercadito Bus Station' to Chinandega to Venecia.The bus to take is easy to recognize it is written roughly at the top of the windshield "Chinandega - Venecia" and down it's easy too, just wait for the bus terminal and you'll be in Venecia - here you do not need a boat, you just have to continue the track until the end (always straight). If you ask "Casa Carey" (carey = Spanish turtle) to anyone, everyone knows the project! Attention, only one bus a day, it leaves from Chinandega around 13h, count 2 dollars / 60 cordobas and 4h of journey: 2h of tar and 2h of track.

Conclusion: The return trip costs about 80-90 $ (including the hotel and airport-hotel taxis), against 400 € (not divisible depending on the number of volunteers in the car) with David. It is up to you to make your choice !
Mosquitoes are particularly present (more than in the rest of the country) because the project is located within a mangrove forest. I advise you to take a spray of 75 ml maximum power per week for particularly affected people and two sprays every three weeks for others.
Plan to change your dollars in Cordoba before arriving at the project because afterwards it is the galley and people do not accept them anymore. Ditto for the buses, it is easier to pay in cordobas. At the project, you can withdraw pennies that in Chinandega and it takes a small day to make the return trip just for pennies ... If you want to withdraw cordobas or dollars directly to Managua, hotel until metrocentro (10 minute).
Take good tongues (even 2 pairs) because everything is done in tongues and you will constantly wet feet.
If you want to visit the country, I really advise you to plan one or more weeks before or after your visit to the project because the project lets you go but it is difficult to have more than 3 free days in a row. But it is difficult to change region in 3 days in Nicaragua knowing that generally a round trip will eat you two days. Traveling alone is very good and without any risk (even on buses). If you do not have a partner at the beginning of your trip and you do not plan to travel alone, you will always find other departing travelers to accompany you from the project or even overnight in a hotel anywhere!
Since the project, you can easily go to visit the Cosiguina volcano. Expect 3 days: 1 day of transport / visit of the village with its baths; 1 day for the climb / descent of the volcano on foot (700m of unevenness in the jungle); 1 day to come back by bus. First, you have to take the bus from Venecia to Chinandega at 4h in the morning (there is only one bus a day). You have to ask to get off at "Enpalme de Cosiguina" (after about 2h of track), it's easy to know if you're there because you have to go down when the asphalt road starts. You can also check your position with the app. Then you have to wait for 1-1h30 the next bus called "Chinandega-Potosi". The descent of the second bus is done at the terminal in Potosi. For the nights, there is only one hotel to my knowledge: the hotel "Brisas del golfo" at 10 $ at night and that offers morning meals / lunch / evening extra (be careful not to internet at the hotel ). The breakfast is at 80 Cordobas and the food between 150 and 250 Cordobas (it's rather expensive but the food is really delicious!). If you want, near the sea, going down lower than the baths on the left, women are eating for 80 cordobas for lunch and dinner. The hotel also offers guides for the climb of the volcano (no more expensive than elsewhere) for 25 dollars to 2 and 30 dollars to three. The second day, the climb to the volcano: it lasts 3h and the descent 2h. Third day, to return, you have to take the bus Potosi-Chinandega to the terminal at 12h15 to be on time at the Enplame of Cosiguina because there is only one bus a day for Venecia which passes around 15h. You will be at 17h to the project.
A night in a hotel usually costs at least 10 $ and they often accept dollars. In big cities it is better to book in order not to have a bad surprise, in the blemished corners there is no need.
The project has an internet connection from 100 Go for 1 month. Access is reserved for volunteers to communicate with their families and Nicaraguan volunteers for their studies. If you want to watch movies, you have to provide them before on USB stick or hard disk. The project has PCs for managers, who can lend them from time to time. It is possible to travel with a PC or a tablet without great risk and the casa has places / lockers that can be locked.
If for any reason you are led to visit Managua (lost luggage by plane, envy, ...), it is important to understand how city buses work. These are marked with numbers and it is not indicated on the buses the journey made. To know which bus to take, it is therefore obligatory to ask for help at the people who are at your bus stop. The buses are full of locals and the payment process is a little bit special. In big stops there is a person in charge of payments. There are two ways of payment depending on the age of the bus: card or direct payment. The locals have a card that they put in front of a box in the "recent" bus or you do not have a card. If you are at a big stop go directly to the person in charge of payments and pay. This one will let you ride in the next bus and he will also get on the bus to badger his own map for you if it is a recent bus. If you are at a small stop and there is no one, you will have to pay the driver. A trip for a local costs 5 cordobas and for tourists 10 cordobas, it's like that ...

What I retain

I met some great people, I discovered a country, its culture, its population, its climate, its language. It's just an incredible adventure that I recommend to everyone!

My assets

The project and the journeys bring you confidence and autonomy, culture and personal and collective enrichment. I am one of those who think that travel makes men.


You can contact me at the following address if you have questions: This e-mail address is protected against spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The mission Turtles, Nicaragua

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