Monthly Archives: December 2011
Without thinking twice the lady in the seat in front of me drops her plastic Fresca bottle out of the bus window. To my left I can see Volanco Momotombo. The air is filled with the smell of smoke from the burning palms; it’s the “smell” of Nicaragua. A pop song I recognize (but can’t recall the name of) is blaring from the speakers.
As the bus slows to pick up more passengers, ahead in the distance I see a herd of 50 or more cattle blocking the road. The driver approaches slowly, honks the horn and plows through the herd, nearly missing a few of the lazy ones.
Two seats ahead of me a Gringo lady with heavily black lined lids cuddles with her little white dog; he seems to be enjoying the ride. She’s seated with a local guy. This is the 2nd time I’ve seen this couple while traveling on the bus and I wonder what their story is.
The windows are down, but the breeze blowing in is balmy. The frequent stop and go motion of the bus makes me feel nauseous and a little bit dizzy. Finally, we arrive at our destination. As I stand up the back of my legs are sticky with sweat and I think to myself how crazy and amazing it is that I am living in Nicaragua!
I guess you could say this is a continuation of a previous post “How much do things cost in Leon and surrounding area?“, but today it is accompanied with a little story.
Elisha and I were roaming around the hot bustling city of Leon today checking out some rental homes to see what types of places are available. Who knows, Leon may be of the next places we choose to live? It offers a nice mix of tourism and local commerce that seems to strike a balance that is rarely achieved. There certainly is a great energy that you can feel as soon as you step off the bus and into busy streets. Foot traffic is more prevalent, especially the six or so blocks surrounding the Central Cathedral.
We finished our time in Leon getting a big load of groceries. Elisha decided that she was well deserving of a little treat and of course I concurred. Happy wife, happy life.
Instead of spending 20 cordoba to ride the bus (45 minutes to an hour) to our home in Poneloya she wanted to hop in a cab for 200 cordoba (15 to 20 minutes). Elisha pitched this idea as we were getting ready to leave the grocery store and just like in a Seinfeld episode things have a way of evening out.
I looked to my left and didn’t I see a treat for me that would cost just 1 cord less than Elisha’s. There it was gleaming like a sacred jewel in the sun. A package deal for 2 litres of rum with a bonus of two pocket rockets for the “make me stand up and shout” price of 199 cordoba.
That’s right! Do the math, sweet sister. In Canadian terms that’s about 82 ounces (or enough to get me Rum Dumb not twice, but thrice) of Nicaragua’s finest for $8.69!
A relationship built on sharing and equality never tasted so sweet. I suppose the new saying should be,
“Happy Wife, Baracho Husband”
I need to give you a little background so that you can fully appreciate our realization today.
We live in Poneloya, which is a small beach town 20 minutes away from the Leon, Nicaragua. Poneloya and Las Penitas are separate towns in name, but are really just two ends of the same beach with a population of possibly ten thousand (and that might be generous).
The locals tell us that from December 25th – January 2nd the Leoneses (population 200K+) flock to the beach. I would say by the dozens of buses and pickup trucks packed tight with people that the town has swelled to twenty times it’s regular size. The restaurants that used to be reserved solely for our pleasure are now full to capacity.
In our travels we have noticed that locals always get preferential treatment and with us being the only two whities in sight we didn’t think that we would even get into any of our regular restaurants. Hungry and thirsty after walking the 100 or so yards from our house to the centre of town we went to see if we could squeeze in anywhere. As we approached one of our favorite spots the staff saw us and waived us over. The place was packed with people, but after a few minutes of our waitress running around she were able to free up a table and coax a few chairs away from other groups so that we would have a spot to sit.
We realized that even though we were the only Gringos on Poneloya beach we were actually the locals and these Leoneses were just tourists in for the day. This was further corroborated when we walked past numerous local Poneloya entrepreneurs who stopped serving to the Leoneses throng long enough to make eye contact and give us a friendly wave and a shared smile at all these “crazy tourists” invading our little paradise.
Today we got to see things from the opposite side of the coin and it was interesting to say the least. In hindsight I should have realized that I was accepted as a local before Christmas day. On Christmas Eve I went to my favorite beer store to replenish my dwindling stock. Anna didn’t have change for my 500 cordoba bill ($25), so she shrugged and told me to take the beer and pay next time. This amount may seem insignificant to you, but many people here work for a week to earn that much.
I guess Elisha and I are a little more Nica every day. Special thanks go out to the girls at the restaurant, the old Checkers master, Hazel the Coconut Girl and Anna the Beer Slinger.
Poneloya has a dozen or so restaurants, all very similar. On the menus you will find typical Nicaraguan fare such as ceviche, shrimp cocktail, soup, fried fish and chicken.
* Prices on the menu are shown in cordoba.
Last night we enjoyed red snapper at Bar Y Restaurante “Katy”. Our fish was cooked to perfection. A squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salt on top of the crispy skin equaled pure goodness. The fish inside was tender, light and flaky. Simply delicious!
Dinner for two (like this) with 1 litre of Tona in Poneloya will set you back about $12.00 USD.
We are currently renting a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom partially furnished house on the beach in Poneloya. The monthly rent in low season is $350 USD.
Our bed is very comfy! Hearing the waves crash on the ocean as you are falling asleep is awesome. Waking up to sunny skies and blue ocean visible from our bed is even better! We have A/C in this bedroom, but so far we’ve been sleeping without it.
The wardrobe is nice large wardrobe with lots of space to store our clothes.
The bathroom off our our bedroom…
…equipped with a double wide shower. The water pressure isn’t the greatest, but it does the job!
The only furniture we have right now, aside from two double beds is 4 chairs and a kitchen table. We are on the hunt for some nice handmade rocking chairs and hopefully we’ll find the right ones at the right price very soon!
The kitchen is equipped an apartment size fridge with freezer. The fridge does a great job at keeping our cerveza cold!
We also have a four burner countertop gas stove and lots of cupboard and counter space.
And the best thing about our place in Poneloya – having the ocean just a few steps away.
* Conversion based on an exchange rate of 22.9 Cordobas for 1 USD.
|Monthly Rent||2 bedroom, 2 bathroom partially furnished house on the beach||350.00||8015|
|Bus Fare||Poneloya to Leon; takes 1 hour||0.45||10|
|Taxi Fare||Poneloya to Leon; takes 15 minutes||10.92||250|
|Chicken Dinner for Two & 1 Litre of Tona||Purchased at Tip Top; Nicaragua’s version of KFC||12.36||283|
|Pineapple||Bought fresh in Poneloya||0.70||15|
|Roasted Chicken||Just like you get at the Co-Op – only better; purchased at the supermarket||2.95||67.50|
|1 small cucumber||Purchased at the supermarket||0.35||8|
|1/2 litre milk||Purchased at the local corner store||0.52||12|
|Bottled Water||5 gallons||1.97||45|
|12 pack of Tona||Purchased at the supermarket||8.86||203|
|1 can Tona||Purchased at a restaurant in Poneloya||0.87||20|
|1 bottle red wine||750 ml Cabernet Sauvignon; Chilean Wine||5.46||125|
|1 litre of Tona||Purchased at the local corner store||1.66||38|
|Benadryl (Difenhidramina Clohidrato)||20 – 50 mg pills||0.87||20|
|Antibiotics (Ciprofloxacina)||10 – 500 mg pills||1.31||30|
|50 pack sandwich bags||Ziploc brand||2.51||57.45|
|Roll of Aluminum Foil||25 square feet||1.08||24.70|
|Liquid Laundry Soap||Cheer Brand; 16 loads||4.60||105.30|
|4 pack of toilet paper||Charmin’ Premium Jumbo Rolls||2.88||66|
We received feedback from a friend that we needed more pictures on our blog. Ask and you shall receive! These photos were taken this afternoon as Gord and I took a leisurely stroll around town. We hope these images paint a bit of a picture of what it’s like here in Poneloya.
Gord posing in front of our favorite store where we purchase 1 litre bottles of Tona. They are perfect for sharing.
A shot of the street just a few steps down the road from our place.
Master and Student enjoying a game of Checkers.
Nicole and Nancy Just Hangin’ Out
These little girls came running out of their house as soon as they saw us with the camera. They were very anxious and excited to have their picture taken.
They grabbed another little friend to get in the next shot. She wasn’t quite as excited about having her picture taken as the others.
Nicaragua’s Next Top Model
Where the river meets the ocean; a great spot for swimming.
Collecting Firewood “Nica-Style”
This little piggy’s name is Lolita!
…and this little boy waited patiently to have his picture taken with his pet piggy!
A short video clip I shot while we were out for a walk about town this afternoon. Enjoy!
Most of us don’t need yet another reason to drink beer, but here’s one for you anyway.
The story goes like this…
Nadia, Elisha and I drank liberal amounts of beer during our first four days in Nicaragua. Nadia’s boyfriend Steve doesn’t drink, which actually scares me a little. In my experience anyone who doesn’t drink at all is usually religious, a recovering alcoholic, in serious training for something or has something to hide. I’m not sure which (if any) of these categories Steve fits, but none the less, he DOES NOT drink.
I thought Steve looked very healthy drinking huge fresh made juices every day so I began to think maybe he was in training. Then when I saw him praying so vehemently to the white porcelain God I figured he must be one of those religious fanatics and then suddenly he turned around and shat on his God with more venom than any evangelical preacher I’ve seen on TV. Confusing?!?
Steve told me he has only had 8 drinks in his entire life – so alcoholic is out. This leaves me to believe he is hiding something. I do know one thing – after spending 2 days on the throne – it certainly isn’t his dignity!
The moral of the story is:
Just drink the beer – it’s obviously good for you!
Tonight we prepared fried plantains and cheese as an appetizer. This salty goodness (that makes you want to drink beer) is a dish we enjoyed at El Dorado restaurant last night, so we thought we’d attempt to make our own.
$4 got us 3 plantains, 1 pound of cheese and a 1 litre of cooking oil. No one was injured during preparation, however we did loose one glass plate in the process.
Although not the healthiest appetizer; it sure was tasty!