Eating like a king in CA while Nic dines on cereal

Trip Start May 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 31, 2010

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Hospedaje Soya

Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Sunday, July 11, 2010

It appears that I've reached my limit of nights sleeping on a sweaty, dirty, cockroach-infested foam mattress. I spent my last night at La Casa Loca and at the great expense of $7usd, I found myself a private hotel room in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. SJDS is only 68km or 35
miles from Granada but the ordinarios (buses, that stop for everyone) they literally stop for everyone! It took us 90 minutes just to get to Rivas and an additional 35 minutes to get to San Juan del Sur.

I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about SJDS. Some like it but it's dirty and I´d have to admit it´s no Manhattan Beach but then again, it´s not as expensive either. Therefore, you can definitely sense a land-grabbing mentality in the air. There are lots and homes for sale everywhere and it appears to have a strong real estate market all due the the American and European money that is filtering into the economy. Perhaps that´s why many argue that San Juan del Sur lacks the Nicaraguan flavor that one becomes accustomed to in other parts of Nicaragua. But the truth is, most people come here to hang out at the beach; they don´t come here for a taste of Nicaragua. Lonely planet calls SJDS "vacuous and gringofied" for once, they might be right.

I generally am not much of a beach-goer since I have a talent for "drowning". I´ve nearly drowned 3 times in my life so...yeah, I don´t really enjoy the beach but my wifey loves the beach so I´m just doing a recon mission for when she get´s here on Wednesday. I took a shuttle trip thru Casa de Oro for 100 córdobas or $4.75usd up to Playa Maderas. It´s known as a really great surfing beach and it´s really tranquilo for gettin´some sun and doing a little swimming, again, not really my cup of tea but the waters of the Pacific really tried to convince me otherwise. The water is so warm; I´m pretty sure that it´s warmer than 90% of the showers that I´ve taken in Central America. The surfing looked pretty good too, according to the guidebooks; Maderas offers a wave for all ability levels. So...if you want to try surfing in Nicaragua come to Playa Maderas.

The ride to the beach was amazing!!! The roads to the beach are mere jeep trails so you need a 4 X 4, horse or moto of some sort to get there. What´s crazy is all the jungle/forest and pasture land that you have to drive through to get to the beach. I rode in the back of a converted dump/grain truck or something like that. There were 24 of us crammed into the back sitting on wooden benches that could have used a few more planks. Did I mention the ride wasn´t very comfortable. I imagine it was only slightly more comfortable than crossing the prairie in a covered wagon. Anyways, we covered terrain that resembled something you might see in a Land Rover commercial. Muddy roads bathed with a layer of rainwater and very steep pitches in the road. At one point, I wondered if we had a winch on the truck just in case we got stuck. But more striking than the condition of the road was the landscape. I can´t describe how much green, undeveloped, jungle and then pastures that I saw. It was beautifully raw but it´s rawness was tempered by all the "Lots for sale" (se venden lotes) signs that I saw.

So if you don´t already know. I´m cheap (pinche, tacaño) and I´ve also been on a really tight budget for the summer and I thought I was doing a really good job eating on the cheap. Breakfasts often consisted of 2 donuts for 8 córdobas or 40 cents usd. Lunch was usually at Pupusawa, an El Salvadoran restaurant. I´d usually throw down 2 tacos campesinos for 25 córdobas or $1.25usd. Then the big meal in the evenings was generally street food which consisted of Gallo Pinto (beans and rice) and a piece of Queso frito (fried cheese) or maduros (fried bananas) served to you in banana leaves, that´s what they use for "to go" containers. Anyways, I usually leave stuffed for 20 córdobas or under a buck. However, after 6-7 weeks of Central American food, one starts to miss flavors from home. So...towards the end of my stay in Granada, I was throwing down 90 córdobas for gigantic plates of fried rice and lo mein. What this equates to is about $4.50usd for enough food for 2 meals. I´d never get 2 meals out of it though because every evening one of the street dogs would come around for some lovin´ and eating. I am such a sucker for animals. Now to put 90 córdobas into perspective, that´s more than I usually spend for an entire day´s worth of food and it cost more than a night at Casa Loca so, yeah, it´s "extravagant" in Trang terms. Anyways...if you´ve been reading the blog, you know that I sometimes post pictures of the delicious and cheap food that I´ve been eating down here. Well, the other night when I was talking to Nic and she said "Do you realize that you´ve probably eaten better in Central America than I have all summer?" How could this be? On average, including snacks, I spend about $4-5usd/day on food. It turns out that Nic has been eating a lot of cereal. I guess since I´m not around cooking for 1 person just isn´t worth it, sorry wifey!

Well tomorrow I´ll be in for a spending shock! I´m going to Costa Rica tomorrow and prices instantly double, triple and sometime quadruple those of Nicaragua so it will be an adventure trying to find an affordable hotel near the airport. Not only that but I get to change money again, booo! I hate changing currencies. First it was quezales 8/1usd. Then lempiras 20/1usd then Córdobas 21.30/1usd and tomorrow Colones 520ish/1usd. All the conversion sucks. Not only that but sometimes it´s really hard to get change. Try spending a 200 or 500 Córdoba note in Nicaragua, it´s a nightmare! Why do they print these bills when no one has enough money to give you change. Anyways, Nic gets in on Wednesday at 5:22am; I can´t wait, I haven´t seen my wife in almost 2 months! Well, sorry I will have to load pictures later, the internet doesn´t like me here. But you´ll...take a look at some of my latest meals, I guess they are slightly "better" than a bowl of cereal and soon Nic won´t have to eat cereal anymore!
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Viet on

You better clean up that mouth before you kiss your wife with it. Although I have to say, the Spanish f-bomb has always sounded less caustic. Maybe it's because people always used it on me in an endearing way. Pinche chinito, for instance.

10asians on


That´s really funny that you know that it´s the f-bomb but I thought that was mainly a Mexican/Spanish thing! In Nicaragua it also means that you´re cheap and that was what I was referring to but thanks for the vocab lesson. I actually met an American girl living in Nicaragua. She said she learned her Spanish in Mexico and the Nicaraguans were apalled by how dirty her language was, good stuff I know!

Viet on

And I learned mine from Los Angelinos, so I imagine it's even dirtier. If you're home on Aug. 1 or 2, maybe we can stop by on our way back from Bozeman. Keep me posted on your whereabouts.

PS - I saw today that some ranchers in Texas shot some strange animals they think could be chupacabarras. The photos look like one of those hairless dogs that usually win the ugliest dog contests. So have you heard any local lore about these "beasts" in your travels?

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