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Sustainability in Nicaragua

Posted by Fin on 18 February 2010

Saying a sad goodbye to our cycling companions Emy and Nicholas in Leon, Nicaragua we went off in search for Andrew and Jane Longley of Nuevas Esperanzas, a non for profit organisation working to help rural communities in remote parts of Nicaragua to become more self sufficient and sustainable.


In the past during the dry season villagers would have to walk for 4 hours ever day down a dirt track to access clean water. With the help of Nuevas Esperanzas, a rough road has been built along with several large rainwater catchment systems, that collects rain from tin roofs into huge tanks which last the majority of the year. Now the community no longer have to walk 4 hours ever day for clean fresh water. In addition, Andrew and his team are helping the community construct a new building which doubles up as a school and large roof area for more rainwater catchment. The additional water is allowing the villagers to farm crops in an area that was hampered by lack of water in the past. Andrew tells me, 'there is no one quick fix to environmental problems and the impacts of climate change - to be become more sustainable we have to take a holistic approach where we tackle all the problems together, whether it be social issues, geographical issues or/and environmental issues, because they are all interlinked.'


Seeing the community working side by side Andrew and his team restored my faith in Non-Profit groups - if administered correctly, western help can have substantial life changing impacts on communities.


The next day Andrew kindly arranged a visit to Polaris Geothermal Plant in Nicaragua. The whole area is extremely active and the Vice President of Polaris Jim Randle tells me they have the potential to produce 200% of the country's energy demands and even sell electricity back to the USA. Right now they only produce 7-8% from the heat from the ground but Polaris are expanding their operation next year. It was inspiring to see clean energy being produced by a developing country - excuse my ignorance, but I really didn't expect developing countries in Central America to be so progressive. I have learnt many lessons on this epic adventure including much about my lack of awareness.


On the way back from San Jacinto we stopped off at some boiling mudpools with Nicaragua's superb volcanoes in the distance - check out the little video below - I don't think Augustus Gloop would have survived a fall into this bubbling mocachino!


Nicaragua's efforts don't stop Geothermal Power. On the way south to the Costa Rica border, we were swamped with an almighty cross wind blowing off the vast water mass of Lake Nicaragua. There, 20 enormous wind turbines have been erected and are producing 2 Mega Watts each currently enough for 320,000 homes in Nicaragua.


We stopped off in Managua on the way south from Leon to Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and were kindly hosted by Martin and Lilly at short notice - they made a superb curry for us and sent us off in the morning with a massive plate of pancakes - they were also tour bikers in the past and really appreciated we were totally over beans and rice for dinner and oats for breakfast!


Back on the road we had a wonderful surprise as 50 cyclists past us on the other side of the road. They were from the British Charity Macmillan Cancer, who were on a sponsored bike ride from Costa Rica. By complete coincidence, I have been raising money for Macmillan for the last 2 years if interested in sponsoring me go to I knew there was a chance we might see them so had informed the group leader Ellie, that we were heading south during the same period. It was great to say Hi and meet other cyclists, even if just for 20 minutes. With the evening closing in we pushed on to the Costa Rican border to try and clear immigration before night fall.




3 comments. Tags: , . Location: Jaco, Costa Rica, Costa Rica



  • you are an inspiration - I wuld like to tie a hundred yellow ribbons on the panama bridge to greet you- how we wish we could be there!

    Posted by ralph and tricia on 24/02/2010 5:34am (8 years ago)

  • Nice pics and story. It must be really great to have all these adventures and lessons on your way. Also meeting so much friendly people brings a lot of joy. Keep on absorbing and love to hear new stories soon.

    Posted by Milan on 19/02/2010 6:39pm (8 years ago)

  • You both are motoring (human powered ofcourse) along! Can't wait to see more pictures... sending tailwinds from a beautiful island...

    Posted by Emi and Nicholas on 19/02/2010 6:28pm (8 years ago)

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