FAQs about Peace Corps in Nicaragua
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Nicaragua?
- 2 What is the electric current in Nicaragua?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for Nicaraguan friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from Nicaragua?
- 11 Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- 12 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Nicaragua?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Nicaragua?
It is 110 volts—the same as in the United States. You might want to bring a two-pronged adapter for three-pronged grounded plugs. These are available in-country should you need one.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at a similar level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which will cover your expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit and debit cards are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs. It is recommended that credit cards and extra cash be stored in the safe at the Peace Corps office.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase such insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided at staging. The Peace Corps encourages you to purchase personal articles insurance, and these related expenses can be deducated from your readjustment allowance. Volunteers should not take valuable items overseas without personal article insurance. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in Nicaragua do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks or boats and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, a U.S. driver’s license will suffice.
What should I bring as gifts for Nicaraguan friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away. Additional gift items are school supplies for children. You can also take photos of you and your host family during your stay, and provide them with copies.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until just before completing pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with host agency counterparts. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. There is usually one Volunteer based in each of the regional capitals. Some sites are 8 to 12 hours from Managua by public transportation; most are within 4 hours.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from Nicaragua?
The Nicaraguan telephone agency, ENITEL, has offices in most towns of more than 5,000 people and in all cities.
International calls are very expensive, so many Volunteers call home collect or use international calling cards such AT&T, MCI, and Sprint. More and more Volunteers visit one of the many Internet cafes that offer less expensive computer-tophone services. Many training host families have telephones in their homes. If not, there is public phone access in all the training communities. It is generally free to receive calls in Nicaragua.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Cellphone coverage in the country is fairly broad. Differences in technology make many U.S. cellphones incompatible with the Nicaraguan cellular system (which utilizes a GSM network). Cellphones in Nicaragua are affordable. Should you decide that you would like a cellular phone for communication purposes, it is recommended that you purchase one locally from one of the many providers.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Most Volunteers serving in Nicaragua do not bring their personal laptops in-country. This is an individual choice. A personal computer can be difficult and expensive to maintain given the dust, heat, and humidity. Like other expensive items, a laptop can make you a target for crime, and it is recommended that you take out personal articles insurance to cover a potential loss. Volunteers have access to computers at the Peace Corps office, at local Internet cafes, and sometimes through their host agencies.
While some Volunteers find that having a laptop is helpful on a number of different levels, it is difficult to know what will be appropriate for your specific circumstances until you get here. Some Volunteers suggest waiting until you are settled into your community. In these instances, family or friends or family bring down their laptop on visits to the country.