Back to El Tránsito

IMG_4383Over the weekend I went back to El Tránsito for another training session with the ladies of ETCA. They haven’t got the pizza restaurant up and running yet, but they do seem to be making some headway with sales, mostly over the internet or with “for a cause” businesses in the United States. I’m not that upset about the pizza. Actually I’m not upset at all. It is low season right now for tourism, so they wouldn’t be selling much pizza anyway.

The theme was a familiar one: Costs & Prices. To make things simple and easy, the thinking is that they are only going to offer personal size pies. I wanted the ladies to start to get a feeling for the investment they need to make to offer a quality pie, and what they should charge as a result. So I brought along my handmade erasable unit cost poster, and we went through a number of examples, letting the ladies get a handle for calculating unit cost.

No business client of mine is going to get away with not being able to calculate unit costs

No business client of mine is going to get away with not being able to calculate unit costs

During the session the ETCA administrator said, “Oo, this is going to help me with accounting!” That, my friends, is the sweet sound of success in my book. Step one is getting them to agree with me that something is important. Step two is implementation.

I also took the opportunity of being in El Tránsito to stay the night and soak in the local vibes. ETCA has some very nicely equipped bedrooms (AirBnB anyone?), and they graciously put me in one. And boy, let me tell you, come sundown, that place is dead! After the charla I ran down to the beach for a quick swim. Afterwards, I read. That was it. That was all that there was to do. And it was wonderful.

I found myself reading Jaguar Smile, by Salmon Rushdie. It is a small non-fiction book on Nicaragua in the late 80’s. It was Rushdie’s first non-fiction book, in fact. The premise is basically that there had been an assertion in the United States that there was a silent majority in Nicaragua opposing the revolution and the direction that the Sandinistas were taking the country. Rushdie ostensibly went looking for that silent majority.

My first immersion into Nicaragua was Blood of Brothers by Stephen Kinzer. It took an anti-Reagan but also an anti-Sandinista stance. And Kinzer’s opinions have certainly colored my own opinions. It was wonderful to read another person’s opinion, one which opposed, and even at one point directly attacked, Kinzer’s.

The next morning I had another quick meeting with Eli, the ETCA administrator. The ladies were having a little trouble with multiplying all of the quantities of ingredients in the pizza recipe, so we made an easy to use poster where they could choose how many personal pies they want to make and how much of each ingredient they need to include. After that meeting it was time for me to take off, headed back to León.

A few simple scenes from the visit:

This was the first time I went to El Tránsito on public transportation. On my other two visits I went in someone else’s private vehicle. And on this trip I learned about one of the true hardships of life in Tránsito. El Tránsito is off of “Carretera Vieja,” the old highway from Managua to León. The government recently repaved the road and it is excellent. However, Tránsito is 14 km from the highway, down a dirt road to the ocean. Three buses a day leave Tránsito in the morning and head to Managua. And they come back in the afternoon. Any other time of day, those last 14 dirt km completely strand you. Your only hope is to hitch a ride.

The view when you finally make it into town

The view when you finally make it into town

I was lucky and got a ride quickly on my way into Tránsito. But on the trip out I waited in the sun more than an hour before someone came by and gave me a lift up to the highway. There is one woman in ETCA who is currently undergoing chemotherapy. I can’t imagine how hard it is for her to have to get to Managua multiple times a week for such a debilitating procedure.


By the way, does anyone know how to make a Facebook Page “badge” for a Page that they do not own? I wanted to put badges up in lieu of these hyperlinks, but after doing some research I could not figure out how.

But let’s face it, if you’re headed to El Tránsito you are going there to surf.

Where to Stay:

One possibility is right at ETCA. The rooms are basic, but very clean and comfortable. All information and contact information is on their website.

El Tránsito also has a number of surf lodges. I have never stayed at them so I can’t vouch for quality, but I’m sure there are TripAdvisor and other credible reviews:

Green Surf Nicaragua


Free Spirit Hostel

How to Get There:

If you are traveling with a surf board you may want to take public transportation. I assume that a taxi driver from the airport will take you for $40 – $80, but those last 14 km can be pretty rough, so if you want private transportation I would suggest booking it ahead of time. One taxi driver who will make the trip is Oswaldo: +505 8454-2715.

There are three public buses a day going out, and three coming in. The ride is about an hour and a half. They leave early morning and return early to mid afternoon. They leave from Mercado Oriental in Managua and then pass by Mercado Israel to pick up more passengers. Wait at the main bus exit at Israel. The bus will pass there.

El Tránsito to Managua

5:00 AM
5:45 AM
6:45 AM
Sundays: 6:00 AM only

Managua to El Tránsito (passing Israel)

12:00 PM
1:00 PM
3:00 PM
Sundays: 12:30 PM only

If you are coming from León or the Managua bus times are inconvenient, there is a “Carretera Vieja” bus every hour from León to Mercado Israel in Managua, and likewise from Israel to La Terminal in León. León to Tránsito only takes an hour now that the highway has been resurfaced; however, that still puts you 14 km away from your final destination.

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