If you’re thinking of trying Nicaragua, Pierre Gedeon is your man. Our tour turned out even better than we anticipated due to the professionalism and attentiveness of Gedeon and his staff. We were initially interested in planning a whirlwind tour through Estelli (“cigar land”), visiting some cigar factories to eyeball the raw tobacco leaves, take in the aroma of fresh cigars, and watch expert rollers working their magic from start to finish – maybe even sampling one or two for ourselves. Nica-Adventures not only delivered but broadened that dream into a scenic, historical, and cultural smorgasbord beyond what we anticipated. Our driver and expert guide, whose knowledge was jaw-droppingly impressive, opened our eyes to all that Nicaragua is, and they became our good friends as well as our advisors. We laughed so much it was hard to remember we were clients. And when we were ready to return to the States, they solved our problem of how to pack our delicate souvenirs by whisking us to a hardware store (which we never would have found on our own) where we procured everything we needed to do the job – and THEN returned with us to our hotel and helped pack the case. Our tour was perfect. We didn’t have to lift a finger--unless we told them we wanted to. They were prompt, considerate of what WE wanted, flexible, and handed us surprise after surprise based no doubt on Pierre’s guidance. We corresponded with Gedeon for some months before our trip, so he had a good idea of our level of education and our interests. Nica-Adventures has an office in Costa Rica, and we were delighted that Pierre took the time to return to Nicaragua to meet us for a brewski just after sunset once we reached Granada. I am convinced one reason our trip was such a marvelous success is that we let Gedeon advise and guide us, after providing some general idea of what we’d like to do, and made a commitment to just go with it. The food was fantastic – we were treated to several great places to eat frequented by the locals.
If you’re considering Nicaragua, here’s my advice. Read as much as possible about the history and the culture before you go. I recommend Customs and Culture of Nicaragua by White and Caulderon (Greenwood Press, 2008) – anything BUT dull and very readable. (Prior to our trip, I discovered most Americans, including myself, know almost nothing about Nicaragua except the Sandanista-Contra conflict of 30 years ago, so the image they have in their head is way inaccurate.) Be sensitive to the economic hardship of this beautiful country and give back to it before you leave by engaging in a little philanthropic tourism (we adopted a not-for-profit Nicaraguan traditional folk dance troupe consisting of young people at risk and were amazed by their performance). If you love cigars, one of the highlights of our tour was a small factory in Estelli – Tabacalera Santiago de Nicaragua S.A – where we were treated like kings – no! – I’d say BETTER than kings! And, if you’re considering a travel agency, Nica-Adventures provided a great experience for us and I recommend them without hesitation
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