Lindsey in Chinandega invited me to write a guest blog (a while ago) about staying in touch with your Peace Corps person, family or friend. My daughter, Kate, has been in Nicaragua just over a year, and in Corinto about 9 months.
Lindsey had noticed when she visited kate, that Kate always had new cards or pictures on her wall or refrigerator, from me, her sisters, my sisters, her father, the grandmothers, and various and sundry friends. Mail to nicaragua is not bad, most letters and cards arrive in 5-6 days up to 2 weeks, all for $.98. We'd include photos or sometimes checks.
Packages are a different story. They'd arrive in a timely enough manner, 10 days to 2 weeks, but a 4-5 lb package that I could mail to vermont for $4-$5 will cost $40-$50 to send to Nicaragua. We found a cheaper way to send things. If you know a PCV who's coming home to visit, you can mail a smallish item much more cheaply to that person's USA address, and they can carry it back to the volunteer. Kate came home early in her service and did bring two items back, one very small, and one not so small (maybe size 15 sneakers.) Seriously, she was happy to do it.
We also stay in touch using the Peace Corps cell phone, which is great, (very different than communication with a PCV in Niger that we knew of who had to take a 4-6 hour trip from her site to a phone). You can get international phone cards here, but success getting through varies greatly. Also, I don't usually get the total minutes that I'm promised, and often get cut off mid call. It's about half the cost if your PCV can call you from a call center.
Skype is another great and free way to communicate with anyone in Nicaragua. It's actually free if they have internet, and low cost if they need to buy time at the call/internet centers. Some areas have free wifi, I've heard, if your PCV has a computer. Whats great about skype is that you get to see your person and the sound is like they are in the room with you. So we don't really feel like we're so far apart from Kate.
One last note: If at all possible, visit your Peace Corps family member or friend. It was hugely important for me, and for Kate, to see and for her to show us where she lives and works, and for us to meet a lot of the people that she lives and works with. I had a pretty accurate picture in my head of her house and somewhat accurate picture of the towns in Nicaragua, but the reality overwhelmed me. Kate's sisters, one of my sisters, and I had a truly fabulous and unforgettable Christmas in Nicaragua.