The place we now call home – San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – just so happens to be one of the most popular places for Nicaraguan youth to party during Semana Santa.
Rooms (with only cushions on the floor for sleeping) rent for up to $75 USD a night. Vendors line the streets. There is no shortage of cheap beer, rum, knock off sunglasses or inflatable toys.
One of the local restaurants has set up a temporary Tip Top chicken franchise. Morning, noon and night we see Nicaraguan men passed out on the sidewalks and streets.
Girls in booty shorts and bikini tops represent Heineken, Victoria Frost, Flor de Cana, Tona, Claro and Movistar.
As we sit in the Heineken tent and sip 30 cord ($1.21 USD) green frosties a group of special forces police – clad in black -march together in a troop of six. Rifles are strapped to their backs and they carry hand guns in holsters on their hips.
Convoys of Nicaraguan families have set up camp on the beach. The bay has become a place to bathe and use the toilet. Avenida del Mar reeks of urine. Beach parties rage on until the wee hours of the morning. The techno beats can be heard all way to our house, which is more than three blocks away.
This is San Juan del Sur during Semana Santa!
So we became a little more Nica today. We decided to invest in our first Nicaraguan cell phone. I say our first because to really be Nica you need two cell phones. There is actually some good logic behind this dual phone principal. Calls within your own service provider are nearly free but to call someone using the other provider it is the same price as calling Canada. When someone gives you their number here they always write down their provider as well so you know which one of your phones to call them from.
Since we are slowly working toward being Nica we decided to start with one phone. So which provider to go with. We have Claro internet but the Movistar prepaid plans look better. In the end we decided to go with Movistar because that is the main line that Carlos uses and he will be the one that we call the most, so off to a Movistar dealer we go.
On the way to the cell phone store we stopped at the bank to change some USD to cords. And yes this picture is actually how it is done. Not in the bank, but on the street in front of the bank. There are no lineups here so we are back on our way in no time at all. The only thing left to do was choose a phone.
I know that in Canada most of you are IPhone snobs and think that Blackberry is so three years ago. Well, here in a developing country Nokia is still king and I haven’t even seen an IPhone. We didn’t need anything high tech, but we didn’t want the cheapest piece of no name junk on the shelf either. There were about 50 phones on the wall and someone who only speaks Spanish, who is more than willing to tell me about all of them. I don’t understand much but pretend that I do and then just point at one.
I know all of the techno geeks reading will need to know the exact model or your curiosity would eat you alive, so as to not disappoint here you are – Nokia 1616. The phone plus SIM card, plus enough minutes for the month, plus tax rang in at a staggering $580 cordobas. Divide that by 22.8 and you have $25.44 USD all in. There is also a bonus of having one Movistar friend to call free for the first month. Since we only have a handful of Nica friends our minutes should last a long time.
Sweet! A text just came from Movistar. If we buy $50 cord in minutes today they will multiple that by 5 for free. I have no idea how many minutes that even gets me but it sure sounds like a bunch. I’m on way down to the store to jump on this deal faster than a fat kid on a Smartie.