I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I re-booked flights to arrive in Alabama a few days early so I could hop onboard a trip to Nicaragua. Eddie Spencie, the owner of the Shrimp Basket Restaurant Chain, takes his King Air F90 down to Nicaragua at least 3 or 4 times per year. But he doesn’t just use the trip as an excuse to go on a vacation – he modeled everywhere we went based on a location where we could best help those who needed it most in backcountry Nicaragua.

Below is a video overview of the trip inside Nicaragua:

Some asked me before the trip, “Ok, so is this just some sort of trip where you guys drive around and throw out candy to kids on the street.” The answer is no, it was so much more than that (although there was a lot of candy involved). Between two carloads of supplies for up to 7 families that Eddie had established relationships with over years, and funding a village inspiration of a baseball team, I’m proud to say that I was a part of a trip that didn’t include any sitting on a beach with a cold drink in my hand. Read on and you’ll find out exactly what went down on the 5 days of dusty roads in Nicaragua… 

(Click here if you want to read about our King Air flights from Alabama to Nicaragua)

Day 1

After a long day of flights, we arrived into Managua in the afternoon and quickly met up with Julio, the founder of Julio Tours Nicaragua, in the airport. Eddie became friends with Julio years ago and has supported him in growing his business ever since. Upon seeing Julio in the terminal, the group started loudly chanting “Julio Julio Julio,” which I later found out was a tradition every time they arrived. A few minutes later, Eddie cut the ribbon on Julio’s brand new SUV and the trip began.

Ribbon Cutting On Julio's New Car

Ribbon Cutting On Julio’s New Car

We split into two groups: Eddie, Sylvia, Julio, Kevin, and Bethany in one car, and me and Rod in the other car (along with most of the luggage and supplies). I started to get a sense for what the trip would be like when within minutes of leaving the airport we began driving around neighborhoods, stopping at food stands, and handing out candy to children – a VERY special treat for the less fortunate kids in Nicaragua who don’t have access to it.

As we entered Granada, where we would stay for the night, we went to a local grocery store and bought two carloads of supplies for the 7 families we were going to support during the trip. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about the food for the 100+ person Las Mercedes village we were going to throw a cookout for. Settling down in Granada for the night, I couldn’t wait to see what the next days would hold.

Day 2

Starting on the PanAmerican Highway, we began our off-roading adventure on the dirt roads of Nicaragua. Keep in mind, many of the people and places we visited over the next few days didn’t even have dirt roads until 2000, essentially making them removed from the outside world completely.

We met first with Leonell and Rosita Chavez, whom Eddie and the group helped many years ago when they noticed a local man unable to push his oxen and cart up a steep hill. Eddie, Rod, and everyone else hopped out to help Leonell push the cart up the hill – and the friendship has lasted ever since. The Chavez family prepared a meal for us in their house and gave us one of the most touching moments of the trip by presenting Eddie with a key to their house. Eddie also supports one of the younger family members with English schooling. Throughout the visit, Julio translated between the two groups, allowing everyone to communicate.

Later, on the way to a cookout for the Las Mercedes village, we drove along a dry riverbed to really test out our new cars. Besides one incident where Rod and I got stuck in some deep mud (thank god for tow straps), everything went great! We talked to a local boy who we saw using his slingshot against a tree. We quickly found out that he was hunting an Iguana, which was 60 feet in the air on a tree branch. The boy climbed up the tree, and managed to hit it off. With the help of two small dogs, Kevin, Eddie, and Rod, we caught the Iguana (and later let it go).

That evening, we threw a cookout for the Las Mercedes village, where Eddie funds the baseball team so they can have a field and uniforms. Last year, they won a championship and greeted our arrival with a few signs. We managed to have just enough food for everyone, luckily.

After spending time in Las Mercedes, we drove through more dirt roads to Punta Teonoste, a pretty cool beach resort and turtle reserve where we stayed for one night.

Stay tuned for part 2, which includes the trip highlight for our group. Thanks for reading and watching!

About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

3 Responses

  1. Karlene

    Swayne, this is the most awesome trip ever!! Thank you so much for sharing and the great photos of the kids too. Amazing! Be safe and have a wonderful time sharing love and food with the world!

  2. Anne

    Amazing adventure! So glad you are seeing parts of the world most never get to…

  3. Donna Huguley O'Brien

    My heart was filled with more joy than words can express. I am so proud of Eddie. Glad to have spent 10 yrs as his step sister and glad I have never let them leave my thoughts.


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