Enjoying My Time on a Farm in Nicaragua

I’m currently living on a farm called Finca Bonafide on the island of Ometepe called in Nicaragua and I’ve got a pretty sweet deal going. I’ve got a great setup and am loving it and this is really the first place in my travels where everything has fallen into place. I could certainly see myself staying here for awhile.

Here’s why:

  • Food – I had fears that the mostly beans and rice diet of Nicaragua would be too much to bear after 4.5 months of it in Haiti but it turns out that the food here is amazing. Because the farm grows a lot of its own food, it means that meals are diverse and we can even make our own peanut butter, pesto and chocolate which is great.
  • Work – I like having something to do each day beyond a bit of internet work and a bit of reading. The day here means getting up at 7am to do an hour of work, having breakfast, and continuing with work until noon when lunch is served. The work is really diverse but mostly physical which gets the heart pumping and it’s a great way to start each day.
  • Education – I have wanted to learn about sustainable living/permaculture/farmy type stuff for awhile and this place is very conducive to learning. The people who run the place and the staff are all very patient and totally willing to answer questions about the work which means I can really get whatever out of this experience that I want to.
  • People – I was worried that the farm would be full of hippy do-gooder types but, as it turns out, everyone here is really down to earth, laid back and fun. It’s an interesting dynamic because you have interns and long term volunteers who stay several months mixed in with people or groups on shorter stints of a week or two which keeps things exciting.
  • Location – The farm is located on Ometepe which feels remote but is only a half day’s worth of travel from Granada which is a major tourist hub and a place where I can escape to if I need a break or need to buy things.
  • Scenery – Ometepe has to be seen to be believed. It’s an island formed of two volcanoes, one dormant and one active, and attached by a small piece of land between the two. It’s located on the bottom part of the smaller volcano and has a great view of the larger one and Lake Nicaragua. The sunsets are unreal and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in my travels.
  • Cost – I am a volunteer but because the farm is a non-profit they have us cover our living costs. This means $10 per day for short term volunteers (under a month) and $200 per month for long termers. So for me it means food and accommodation for $200 per month plus $6 for internet. Bargain.
  • Flexibility – They are used to having volunteers come and go and I don’t really need to have my plans set in stone. Obviously it’s better for everyone if I keep them informed of my plans, but if something came up and I had to leave giving short notice, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
  • Language – I want to learn Spanish and this is a great place to do it. Most of the employees are locals and they’re used to hearing terrible Spanish as volunteers attempt to communicate. So far the people I’ve spoken to have been very willing to help me learn new things and also correct me when I attempt to cobble together some random phrase. Plus one of the interns here is fluent and is giving Spanish courses to a group of Canadian students and I’ve been sitting in on them which has helped.
  • Community – The farm is very involved in the community and run a lot of programs from women’s groups to seed exchanges to library hours to child nutrition programs. They actually founded the community centre and fund it as well which means there are a lot of opportunities for me to help out and get involved in a lot of interesting ways.
  • Good cause – The farm is a non-profit and have lots of great programs on the go (see above). I enjoy doing this sort of work but it’s even better knowing I am supporting something that has long term goals that will benefit the community as a while.
  • Time to myself – After finishing work at noon each weekday I can pretty much do what I want. I also have weekends off which means I get a lot of time to myself to read, paint, work on web stuff, swim, bike, hike, cook, chat or whatever. I love my ‘me’ time so this suits me.
  • Nature – The island is peaceful and full of nature and it’s just a great feling to be amongst it and away from the hustle bustle of a city. I like cities and tend to spend most of my time in them but I love nature too and I appreciate the time spent in places like this.
  • Opportunity to take on responsibility – The farm is a bit strapped for longer term volunteers at the moment with only two interns (staying around 6 months each) and two long term vounteers leaving on Saturday. This means that if I want to, I am able to take on a bit more responsibility to help take the burden off of the interns.

So I think I’ve got a pretty good setup and at the moment I plan on sticking around for a couple of months at least. After only a week I feel really comfortable here not only with the work and day to day activites but I also feel like I’ve clicked with the people here pretty quickly. So far I’m really loving it but rainy season will be upon us in a couple weeks so I might have changed my tune by then. But as of right now, for all of the reasons above, I think I will be here for the long haul and I’m looking forward to the next few months soaking up some farm life.

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