When are the courses?
We hold an annual Permaculture Design Course each year in February, and sometimes we hold other courses throughout the year. To see when our courses and other events will be held, check out the calendar
Where exactly is Ometepe island?
Isla de Ometepe is in the southern part of Lake Nicaragua, in the south eastern corner of the country of Nicaragua. It is an island of twin volcanoes and a myriad of natural and cultural diversity. Check it out on Google Earth; it looks amazing!
How do I get there from the airport?
The trip from the Managua airport to the Bona Fide farm takes between 5-7 hours. You can either make the trip in one long afternoon, or stay at a hotel/hostel along the way in Managua, San Jorge, or Moyogalpa. See our Directions to Finca Bona Fide (.pdf)
Do I need a Visa to stay in the country?
Visitors from most countries can stay in Nicaragua for 30 or 90 days without a visa. As long as you have a passport valid for the next six months, proof of sufficient funds and a ticket home or to another country (though this is rarely checked), you will not have any problems. If you need to extend your visa, it is simply a matter of crossing over into Costa Rica for a couple of days, though it may be possible to do it in one day if you talk to the right border officials.
Citizens of Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Armenia, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, India, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Vietnam and Yemen must have a visa to enter Nicaragua.
Read more at the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry website: www.cancilleria.gob.ni.
Where does the tuition money go for the course?
The cost of the course covers many different needs and projects of the organization. Some of the cost paid by you, the student, goes to sponsoring people from around Central America to enable them to attend the course. It would be very difficult for people from Central America to be able to join such a course as this without this sponsorship, and having this diversity of students learning and sharing together is something that is very important to us.
The cost also covers the living expenses of you, the student. Though we could house everyone comfortably in tents on the farm, we feel that it is important to stimulate the local economy and reinvest into the community by offering lodging at a local hostel. Meals will be taken at a variety of locally owned options that offer up a unique variety of local and international foods.
We also need help to cover the cost of the lunches that we serve, to pay the salaries of the support staff that are essential to keep the farm running, and of course, the salaries and the travel costs of the instructors of the course. Many of the instructor’s salaries are reinvested to the farm itself, as many of us live here for part or most of the year!
Are there any opportunities for work trade?
We DO offer work trades, but they are usually reserved for Central Americans who come from different organizations within Central America. We have had members from organizations in Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Trinidad attend the course in the past. Often, a work trade participant’s organization pays for his/her living costs, and we cover the rest as work-trade. The presence of such students brings valuable input to the learning environment, and enhances everyone’s experience.
What should I bring?
Usually less is better. Who wants to be carrying around a big pack in the middle of the heat? And really, you don’t need much, there ain’t no beauty contests out’n these here parts in rural Nicarawwgwwaa. Here are some suggestions of things you might need:
- Hat (lots of sun)
- Towel or sarong
- Bathing suit (we have a great swimming hole, and hey, there is this gigantic lake nearby…)
- Bug spray (please bring enviro-friendly kind, NO DEET if you please. Lavender oil and tea tree oil are very effective too)
- Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap (biodegradable please, a big bottle of Dr. Bronners is great)
- Comfortable clothing that you can move around in! Maybe even a long sleeved shirt for sun protection, or for those random nights where it may get a little cool (though, this is relative, and you may think me crazy for suggesting such a thing as a “cool” night…). Do bring long pants as there may be times you want to protect your legs.
- Water bottle
- Light rain-gear
- Covered shoes as well as sandals/flip flops
- Headlamp/Flashlight – very, very useful!
- Blanket or sheet (those will be provided but you may want to bring one)
- Tent, sleeping pad and mosquito netting (optional)
- Hey ladies: If you are bringing female sanitary products, please ensure that they are biodegradable or “the cup”!
- Musical instruments (optional, but always nice, no?)
Where do we stay and what do we eat?
Most students will sleep and have breakfast at a locally owned and run hostel with swimming access called “Así Es Mi Tierra”, a 20-minute walk from the Bona Fide farm. Some students instead stay and have breakfast at the Bona Fide farm itself (limited space; first come, first served).
There are vegetarian options available, but it would help us if you specified this ahead of time. Lunch is eaten down at Finca Bona Fide, and is always delicious! All of our meals are vegetarian (though they sometimes have some sort of local meat OPTION), and rarely include any dairy.
Is Nicaragua safe?
According to the 2009 Moon Handbook, Nicaragua is considered one of the safest countries in all of Latin America. Big cities have more people, and therefore more opportunity for criminal activity. Though Managua would be considered more dangerous than other areas of Nicaragua, it is statistically speaking safer than San Jose, Costa Rica (contrary to what many people may think.) It should be noted that the island of Ometepe is home to a small, friendly community of people.
In short, crime happens everywhere and there are a few simple, common sense things to be aware of to avoid any problems: don’t flash money or valuable items around, and avoid walking alone at night.
For the women: I usually will travel wearing long pants or a long skirt and avoid super-low cut blouses. This will be helpful when trying to avoid unwanted attention.
Is there are doctor or nurse nearby?
There is a registered nurse in town, a basic health clinic in Balgüe a 20-min walk from the farm, and a doctor at the hospital in Altagracia a 20-min drive away. Please let us know when you are registering for the course if you have any medical conditions that we need to be aware of.