Just Another Day at the Office…in Nicaragua

Before Justin and I departed for our 3-week trip to Boston, we had a flat tire – front left.  Pretty typical here in Nicaragua.  The roads have improved dramatically over the last 5 years (so I’ve been told).  Nevertheless, flat tires are a common occurrence.  While we were gone, we were fortunate enough to have a friend help to repair it.

Fast forward 3 weeks to our return…we are back in San Juan and the front left tire is in great condition.  My friend, Emily, is due to arrive in Nicaragua later this afternoon and Justin and I are planning to depart for Managua to retrieve her from the airport.  Justin and I are both trying to cram in some work at Aurora Beachfront Realty and Vacation Rentals Nicaragua, respectively when Pedro (the persistent bearer of bad news when it comes to our car) strolls in to announce that we have a flat tire – a very flat tire.  Annoying?  Yes?  Terrible?  No.  All we need to do is put on the spare, drive the car to the mechanic, and get the tire repaired.  It’s only noon, so we’ve got plenty of time before we need to head to Managua.  

There’s only one problem…The spare tire is locked to the back of our truck, lovingly nicknamed El Gallo Rojo.  Okay, no problem, we’ll just unlock the spare…except that when we purchased our beloved used car, Justin threw out the little key to the spare, not understanding its very important purpose.  Well, we’ll just drill off the lock. *Note, that I use “we” pretty loosely here, as it’s really all Justin running around doing the work, while I sit back and watch.  However, the reality is that I’ve done this to preserve our marriage because I know that if I get involved, I’ll only aggravate the situation.  So, Justin, with the help of Giovanni – who works in the office – acquires a drill from a friend, and begins drilling, only to discover that the drill is losing juice quickly and he doesn’t have the battery pack to recharge the drill.  Justin is a very happy man.


The problem lock

The problem lock




2 pm – Justin has stripped down to his shorts and is sweating in the mid-afternoon sun.  The clock is ticking and we haven’t even gotten the lock off, let alone taken the car to the mechanic.  The drill is dead and the drill bit is completely worn down.  We need to leave by 4 to make it to the airport in time.

2:30 pm – Justin rides the office bicycle down the beach road to pick up the charger to the drill and to buy a new drill bit.


3 pm – It’s now raining and a group of men have gathered around the car  to “help,” which really means that they are all watching and giving advice, but not really doing any manual labor, except for Justin who is now under the car, still sweating, and covered in grease.

Spare tire?

Spare tire?




 The spare is off the back of the car and the leaky tire is off the front of the car.


Justin's "helpers"

Justin's "helpers"










In the meantime, our friends have called and emailed to offer their help in picking Emily up from the airport, which has relieved some of the time crunch in repairing the tire.


3:30 Justin is on his way to the mechanic.


The car is operational again though we fully expect to wake up to another flat tire tomorrow morning.  We are heading off the Happy Hour.  Just another typical day in the life of an Expat…

Packing/Moving List – Nicaragua

Before moving to San Juan del Sur, I was lucky enough to make a connection with a woman who had made a similar transition to Nicaragua, with her boyfriend, just a few years before us.  Her advice on what things to bring to Nicaragua were invaluable.  In the same spirit, I’d like to pass along some of her words of wisdom, as well as a few of my own regarding preparing for the big move:

1) Bring creature comforts that will help ease the transition – photos from home, your favorite tea, books, etc.

2) Good linens are expensive in Nicaragua – they can be purchased in places like Pricesmart (in bulk), but I recommend bringing a set or two of sheets and towels.  

3) Flip flops!  I rarely wear any other type of footwear.  

4) Sunglasses

5) Electronics are worth bringing if they are things you use regularly, i.e. laptops, iPods, etc.  Appliances are more expensive in Nicaragua, so at some point, you need to evaluate what you need from home or what you can live without.  I’ve learned to toast bread in our oven and defrost food in the sun.

6) Headlamps are a great investment (and actually very inexpensive).  When the power goes out, you will be happy to be hand’s free.

7) Medication that you require and you can’t get in Nicaragua.  It’s helpful to know the generic names of your medications, as well as the dosage, because you can often find more common ones in pharmacies in Nicaragua.

8) Shorts – might seem obvious, but I never wore shorts when I lived in the States.  I always stuck with capris, etc.  However, it gets hot down here and you will appreciate having  lightweight clothes.

9) Clothing in general: bring breathable fabrics – cotton, linen.  

10) Raincoat – stay away from heavy, unbreathable gortex.  It stays pretty hot when it rains and you don’t want to sweat under your coat.  It’s also worth investing in a looooong raincoat that falls below your knees.  In heavy rains, your lower half will get soaked in a waist-length raincoat.

11) My husband can’t live without his Goldbond powder – it helps to ease the chaffing during the really humid days 🙂


It’s also helpful “to reevaluate what your “needs” are and simplify them. Once you’ve spent some time among Nicaraguan families and seen how much they are able to do with so few resources, you might reconsider some things you previously thought were indispensable. This is highly personal, but you might very well discover that in your new lifestyle in Central America you can live more simply than you’d expected.”  borrowed from Transitions Abroad.

My First Job in Nicaragua!

Actually, I am volunteering…nonetheless, I feel very positive about this work. I have teamed up with the organization, Community REfund.

Community REfund solicits contributions from real estate buyers, developers, agents, and other parties involved in the real estate transaction, and channels these funds towards the needs of the local communities in a way that is mutually beneficial to both donors and recipients. My primary responsibility is to make contact with each of the real estate agencies here in town and educate them about this initiative and give them the tools they need to talk about the project with their clients.

Ometepe and my Parents’ Visit

My folks were just here for a 10-day visit.  During their trip, we took a day-trip to Ometepe.  One day just doesn’t do that place justice.  You really need more time to explore the island of two volcanoes, to hike, to stay in one of the awesome hotels, etc.  Even with just an afternoon, we saw a ton, including petroglyphs in Altagracia, Charco Verde Nature Reserve, and my personal favorite – Ojo de Agua – a natural spring with a rope swing.  


When we returned from Ometepe, my parents were so taken by San Juan, the culture and the warmth of the people here, that they actually bought a home here!  It’s not done yet, but you can check out a photo of the mock-up.