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Nicaragua lies between Costa Rica in the south and Honduras and El Salvador in the north. it is a coutnry of barely 4 million inhabitants just recovering from the gory years of the COntra-Sandinista war. It enjoy a beautiful and extremly varied climate and two oceans. "Welcome with open arms" Central America Language Tours has recently contracted the services of expert guides based in the magnificent colonial city of León located 88 Km. Northwest of the capital city of Managua, León is Nicaragua's second largest city and also the academic and cultural center of the country where Nicaragua's revered Poet Laurate Rubén Dario is entombed. Some 20 Km. south from León lies te active Volcano Cerro Negro replete with it's steaming Geysers. The entire area was nearly destroyed in 1998 after an eruption of the Volcano occured during 'Hurricane Mitch', burying thousands of square kilometers in volcanic ash. Nicaragua is no stranger to tradgedy. The country has been at peace since 1990 after the long Contra-Sandinista War while offical corruption and poverty still haunt the brave Nicaraguan people, who are the most open and friendly to visitors in Central America, if coming from Guatemala and El Salvador you will be suprised to see there is no "bargaining" in the Crafts Markets, since fair prices are set in a co-operative spirit. Safety: Outside of the capital city of Managua assaults and petty theft are rare occurences, however take precautions with your valuables, especially with cameras and jewelery. Within cities at night always take taxis to and from your destination. Managua is quite spread out with no "downtown" or city centre (destroyed by Earthquake in 1971 and never rebuilt) so taxis or hired transport, preferably with a guide is recommended. City streets are unnamed and all addresses are in Meters or Varas from a point of reference such as "150 Varas South of the Lake Shore where the Old Tree once stood" etc. Nicaragua is described as a nation of Dreamers, Poets and Politicians and the Nicaraguans are more than eager to share their feelings or to even engage in lively debate with you if you wish. Nicaragua offers to the traveler: Granada - The oldest colonial city in the Americas, nestled on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, Latin America's second largest inland Lake, boasting hundreds of exotic islands from large to small, an untouched tropical paradise only 2 hours from Managua. Beaches - Head on to San Juan del Sur in the south of the country where cliffs meet the seashore surrounded by inland national parks and forest preserves. 18% of Nicaragua's total land area is now protected by Governmental and Non-Governmental (International) organizations. Coffee Plantations - Visit the city of Matagalpa in Nicaragua's Central Highlands, a bustling commercial center that is still recovering from the long FSLN (Sandanista) - Contra conflict of 1979-1990 that ravaged the area. The founders of the FSLN Revolutionary Movement are memorialized there and Matagalpa is a great stop for both the eco and socially concious traveller. The Caribbean - Much of Nicaragua's land area lies on the Eastern or Caribbean side of the country, much of it undeveloped as opposed to the Pacific side, where more than 90% of Nicaragua's population resides. Start with a boat trip from Ramas to Bluefields on the Caribbean Coast, a ramshackle settlement founded by British and Dutch Pirates (originally called Blauwfelds) fighting the Spanish in the 17th Century and from there you may fly to the exotic Corn Islands, white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters. Rio San Juan - Do not miss a trip down the Rio San Juan through Rain Forest preserves. This River is the dividing line between Costa Rica and Nicaragua and flows from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean, Nicaraguan guides and tour operators are able to arrange excursions for you, from a day to a week. PS, leave your Soccer Ball at home and bring your Baseball Bat and Glove** Like Cuba, The Dominican Republic and Venezuela Nicaraguans are "Baseball Crazy". You will find both children and young adults everywhere in the countryside playing. **Central America Language Tours accepts donations of used Baseball equipment, as many young people are using improvised bats from sticks and homemade balls. Don't come as a "tourist" come as a "hero" and if you can play all the better! Spanish Language Schools are found mainly in León and Granada (see above) and Central America Language Tours is able to assist you in finding the best program suited to your needs. Please contact Central America Language Tours well in advance of your departure so as to make it possible for us to make all arrangements for you in order that you will have a completely hassle free journey from arrival at the airport through departure time.

Edited bycalanguagetours on 05.02.2004

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