Thursday, January 2, 2014

Study Tour -- and EarthView -- Delayed

The bad news is that the 2014 Nicaragua study tour got delayed by a full day, due to a bit of a blizzard that was expected to reach peak intensity just as we were scheduled to leave Boston. The good news is that the airline announced the delay far enough ahead of time that we were able to reschedule ahead of time, avoiding the frustration of facing such delays in the airport. (A fate familiar to 2012 tour participants!)

Thanks to quick action on the part of the BSU travel office, we were booked for flights that would get us to Matagalpa just a little over a day late. And thanks to the incredible team at Matagalpa Tours, we were able to rearrange the itinerary to keep our highest-priority events. We will miss visiting El Chile this year, but are very grateful that Matagalpa Tours and its local partners were able to reschedule the first international appearance of EarthView, BSU's traveling globe classroom! Local publicity has already been revised.

The photo used above is from BSU's own Kelly Gym, announcing both our EarthView program and other activities that we will be able to share with the community in Matagalpa.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Robert Burns (1759-1796) famously wrote:

Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursel’s as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
And foolish notion.

Which I have taken the liberty of modernizing as:
Oh, what a powerful give it would be for us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would free us from many a blunder
and foolish notion.

One of the great benefits of travel is to see other places and meet other people. Just as valuable is to meet ourselves through what we observe and through our deep listening. Sometimes what we think we are seeing and hearing is not what it first seems to be.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Itinerary 2014

NOTICE: This itinerary is provided for the convenience of tour participants and their friends and family. It is a plan that we will follow, unless reasons arise to change the timing or order of events. These could include something as simple as an office being closed so that we swap a visit there with something else in the plan. So PLEASE, if you use this to plan some sort of contact back home, make it clear that a change of a few hours or even a day is not a reason to worry. As with all travel, NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. If anything happens on the tour to the group or to an individual, we have a protocol for contacting necessary staff and family promptly. This is BSU's eighth study tour in Nicaragua, the sixth with this very capable tour operator.

With all that said, the main uses of this itinerary are to anticipate the fantastic learning experiences and to put photos and stories in context.

January 3-16, 2014
Version of Nov 5, 2013
Subject to revision

 DAY 1: Friday, 03 JAN

2:20 PM  Participants arrive at Managua International Airport Managua
 TBD PM   Lunch Meeting with SJU group and Mario Quintana who will give a brief introduction about      Nicaraguan History at the Casa de los Mejía Godoy 
TBD PM Departure to Matagalpa
5:30 PM Accommodation at hostel La Buena Onda
6:30 PM Dinner in Matagalpa Brief orientation to health and safety guidelines, schedule review and introductions by Freddy from Matagalpa tours and James Overnight stay at Hostel La Buena Onda

DAY 2: Saturday, 04 JAN

7:00 AM Breakfast at the hostel La Buena Onda
8:00 AM Visit to Castillo del Cacao: Chocolate roasted and processed in a traditional manner, and environmentally conscious business.
10:30 am Meeting at Cecocafen to talk about Fair trade, prices and cooperativism.
12:30 PM Almuerzo
2:00 PM Brief city tour/orientation in Matagalpa: central park, cathedral, coffee museum, cemetery; site of Benjamin Linder grave (practice tradition of honoring grave by cleaning, laying flowers)
 6:30 PM Dinner in Matagalpa Overnight stay at Hostel La Buena Onda

 DAY 3: Sunday, 05 JAN

7:00 AM Breakfast at the Hostel La Buena Onda
8:00 AM Departure to visit the Indigenous Community El Chile. We visit an independent weaver’s workshop run by woman who are struggling for fair trade and hike up to the Cerro El Chile hill where we have the best view of the whole area. Afterwards we will have a typical lunch with a local family.
12:30 PM Lunch in the Community el Chile
1:30 PM Transfer (1.5hrs) to the Selva Negra mountain resort
3:00 PM Accommodation at the cabins
4:00 PM Meeting with estate owners Eddy and Mausi Khul who have lived and written the history of coffee in Nicaragua.
5:00 PM Visit the wet mill to observe the coffee pulping process
6:30 PM Dinner in Selva Negra Overnight Hotel Selva Negra

DAY 4: Monday, 06 JAN

7:00 AM  Breakfast at the hotel Selva Negra in Matagalpa
8:00 AM  Tour on the farm “La Hamonia” (Selva Negra), see and learn about the diversity of activities on this organic farm and meet with workers and learn about their way of life. (the farm is certified by Rain Forest Alliance)
10:00 AM  Hiking in the Cloud forest of the Natural Reserve Cerro El Arenal 2 options: hike nearby Selva Negra and return to the bus for departure at 12pm or hike to the other side of the reserve with whole group.
 1:30 PM  Visit the organic farm of Byron Corrales in Aranjuez. Share a typical lunch with the Corrales family Learn about the importance of soils, watershed protection and how to get the best organic coffee by producing the perfect mixture of fertilisers. Byron also is active within different movements promoting alternatives for a “healthy” agriculture.
6:00 PM  Dinner in Selva Negra Relax in cabin and BSU Class time with professor Overnight stay at         Hotel Selva Negra

DAY 5: Tuesday, 07 JAN

 6:30 AM Breakfast at the hotel Selva Negra in Matagalpa
 7:30 AM Depart Selva Negra towards El Cua. This is a beautiful drive of 3 hours passing by the city of Jinotega, Apanas lake, many big coffee farms and beautiful landscapes.
10:00 AM Visit an ATDER - Ben Linder hydro electric power project in El Cua
12:30 PM Lunch in el Cua or near the hydropower project
1:15 PM Departure to Peñas Blancas
2:00 PM Arrival to the Cooperative Guardianes del Bosque and accommodation
3:00 PM Hike up to the impressive waterfall La Pavona
6:00 PM Dinner in the community and meeting with Dr. Alan Bolt and other representatives of the CEN ecological research station Overnight stay at the eco-lodge Guardianes del Bosque

DAY 6: Wednesday, 08 JAN

7:00 AM Breakfast in Peñas Blancas
8:00 AM Further elaboration of ecological research at CEN
10:00 AM Departure to La Corona
12:00 PM Arrival to the community. Welcome meeting and introduction to the community by local families. Distribution of the participants in the farmers' houses.
6:00 PM Dinner at the homestay Overnight stay at the community La Corona

DAY 7: Thursday, 09 JAN

7:30 AM Breakfast with Homestay hosts
8:30 AM Visit to the cooperative of organic coffee (know about the Coffee process, Ecotourism project and their cooperative: “Cafe organico”) ; Pick coffee and take part in processing                                 
12:30 PM Lunch in the community
1:30 PM Make typical food “Nacatamales”
3:00 PM Visit the waterfall La Corona
6:00 PM Community dinner in La Corona Overnight stay at the community La Corona

DAY 8: Friday, 10 JAN

7.00 AM Breakfast at the home stay
8.30 AM Free time with families
12:00 PM Lunch in the community
1:00 PM Service project in community
5:00 PM North American-style community dinner provided by BSU participants
6:00 PM Participate in a cultural activity (children games, el encostalado, juego de chimbombas, popular Nicaragüense music and typical dances) Overnight stay at La Corona Community

DAY 9: Saturday, 11 JAN

7:00 AM Breakfast with the family at the community and time to say goodbye to the families
8:00AM Departure trip to Matagalpa
9:00 AM Meet with a representative of ATC at San José Community
10:30 AM Visit and tour at Solcafe Beneficio seco (dry mill) with cupping session
1:00 PM Lunch in Sébaco
2:00 PM Departure trip to León Colonial City
4:30 PM Accommodation at hostal El Sueño de Meme in Leon
6:00 PM Dinner at Cocinarte Leon Overnight stay at Hostel El Sueño de Meme in León

DAY 10: Sunday, 12 JAN

7:00 AM Breakfast at the hostel El Sueño de Meme
8:00 AM Visit Walking Unidos clinic
9:00 AM Visit the La Isla Foundation Community (First we will have an introduction at the offices in León and then we will visit the community in Chichigalpa to have a meeting with the leaders and to share some time with the locals)

12:00 PM Lunch in La Isla Community
1:00 PM Visit and hike up to the active Cerro Negro Volcano
7:00 PM Dinner at Sacuanjoche restaurant in León Overnight
                 stay at Hostel El Sueño de Meme in León

DAY 11: Monday, 13 JAN

7:00 AM Breakfast at the hostel El Sueño de Meme
8:00 AM Departure to Masaya and Granada
10:30 AM Visit the active Volcano at National park Volcan Masaya
1:00 PM Lunch in Masaya
2:00 PM Visit the Masaya Market Visit the Catarina viewpoint and time to relax
5:00 PM Accommodation at the Hotel Con Corazon in Granada
7:00 PM Dinner in Granada Overnight stay at the Hotel Con Corazon

DAY 12: Tuesday, 14 JAN

 8:00 AM Breakfast at the Hotel Con Corazon
10:30 AM City tour in Granada
12:30 PM Lunch in the Nicaragua's Big Lake
3:00 PM Boat tour to the Isletas de Granada
4:30 PM Departure to Managua
5:30 PM Accommodation at the hotel Mozonte
7:00 PM Dinner in La Ola Verde in Managua Overnight stay at Hotel Mozonte in Managua

 DAY 13: Wednesday, 15 JAN

 8:00 AM Breakfast with UNAM (National Autonomous University) personnel
TBA Visit to UNAM Medical School, including lunch
6:00 PM Dinner with BSU and UNAM students

DAY 14: Thursday, 16 JAN

8:00 AM Breakfast at the hotel
9:00 AM Lecture at Casa Ben Linder
10:00 AM City Tour through Managua Departure to international Airport Managua for 1:30 flight

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Flickring Through the Years

Each year the study tour visits many of the same places as the previous year. The experience is always new in many ways, though, and I end up posting hundreds of photographs to my Flickr account. The above collage is just a snapshot from the middle of the 2013 photoset; viewers -- and especially study tour alumni -- might wish to see the 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, and 2006 sets as well! We had no tour in 2008 (I was busy with Brazil programs that year); the 2014 set will begin with photos from orientation!

The truly curious -- or insomniac -- are welcome to browse all of my photosets, which span from Cuba 2003 to my back yard in 2013 (that one is called "goatscaping"). .


This blog is for sharing stories and photographs from participants in the Geography of Coffee study tours that have been offered by Bridgewater State University since 2006. The blog is new for the January 2014 cohort, but earlier participants are welcome to participate -- just contact me to be added as a contributor.

This is a public blog intended to allow viewers from all over the world to learn as we learn, in the communities we visit in Nicaragua. Publicly shareable photos, videos, and especially stories and reflections are welcome. It is also possible to post links to items posted on other platforms, whether public or private.
From the 2011 tour: Coffee and clothing drying; the spectacular
cliffs of Peñas Blancas looming