Nicaragua Study Tour: Managua to Matagalpa
James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.
Bridgewater State College
January 2006
Updated January 16, 2008

In January 2006, I led a long-anticipated study tour of Nicaragua, the centerpiece of my new course, Geography of Coffee. I repeated the tour in January 2007, and learned a lot of new things about coffee and the country! We were also joined by a professional journalist, so please have a look at the 2007 page.

It was my first visit to Central America, and for many of the students, it was the first visit to a developing country. I began these web pages prior to departure, and am now completing them as quickly as I can. I will be adding links to the web postings of students as soon as I have the addresses.

While you are waiting around for these pages, you can see all of my photos in Flickr, where they are arranged in chronological order, beginning with our arrival in Managua and ending with our relaxationn at Finca Esperanza Verde. I've added comments to some photos, but most are not annotated yet.
The shadow of national hero
Sandino watches over Managua.

Coffee Study Tour Highlights

  • Learn where coffee comes from and meet the people who grow it
  • Learn what geographic factors influence the location and flavor of coffee
  • Learn how to prepare a perfect cup of coffee
  • Learn the difference between shade-grown and sun-grown coffee
  • Learn about the colonial background of the world coffee economy
  • Prepare and enjoy traditional Nicaraguan foods
  • Visit post-earthquake, post-revolution Managua
  • Hike to waterfalls
  • Visit an active volcano
  • See tropical plants and animals
  • Compare fair-trade and mainstream coffee farms
  • Meet workers from several kinds of farms
  • Participate in a “cupping,” where exporters assign grades to coffee and growers learn how to improve the next crop
  • Listen to Sinatra’s “Coffee Song,” and then hear a ska version!
  • Best of all, harvest shade-grown coffee in on of Central America’s most important growing regions!
January 3
Overnight Managua
Traveling from Boston to Managua, via Miami International Airport, the "Capital of Latin America"
January 4
Tour of Managua, including the Museo Nacional, revolutionary monuments, and early human footprints
January 5
Travel to the villages of the plateau Meseta de los Pueblos, the city of Masaya, and the Masaya volcanoes
January 6
Travel to the city of Matagalpa, the heart of Nicaragua's coffee country, meeting with the national farmers and ranchers union, and visiting the Coffee Museum
January 7
La Corona
Introductory talk by CECOCAFEN, the Organization of Northern Coffee Cooperatives, followed by travel to the coffee-growing community of La Corona, a farm tour, and introduction to host families
January 8
La Corona
Coffee harvest, traditional cooking lessons, forest hike, a visit to hacienda workers in Barrio Nuevo, and farewell dinner with a performance by local youth
January 9
Visit to nearby community, women's cooperative coffee farm, and natural medicine, before returning to Matagalpa
January 10
Visit large-scale farm and meet with its owner, and then an ecological farm and a presentation on the campesino-a-campesino program, followed by a group meeting
January 11
Finca Esperanza Verde
Meet with farm workers union and then visit a coffee processing plant for tour and cupping , before departing for Finca Esperanza Verde (Green Hope Farm), a retreat with coffee, waterfalls, rainforest walks, and a butterfly house
January 12
Finca Esperanza Verde
A day to explore Finca Esperanza Verde, enjoy local foods and juices, and meet as a group to reflect on what we have learned
January 13
Wake up in the mountains of Matagalpa, go to sleep in Greater Boston! (brrrrr)

Map: Central Intelligence Agency
See BBC's Nicaragua Profile
for an overview.

If this page interests you, you may wish to visit my other international travel pages or the international section of my home page.