Ok so last night we went out with Phillip Southan, the Owner of BigFoot Hostel & Green Pathways Tours. We went to Manhattan, a Sushi bar/early night drink spot across from the Hotel La Perla. Then, we went to another bar and they had loud, live music – what was funny is there had to be 200 people there, and at midnight they kicked everyone out & closed. So goes it in Nicaragua. I was exhausted so we came home and slept. We had a sitter for Miller our Son.
Today I got up at about 7:30 and put Miller in his “backpack” which is this apparatus that he rides in with an aluminum frame when we go hiking. We went to this little cafe and I had the “Americano” breakfast which was two fried eggs, potatoes, and bacon with coffee for $2 USD. The place is like 2 blocks off the central plaza/square in Leon.
When done, I came back to Julie downing a cup of ramen. I then met with Marginne my employee down here for http://www.nicaeco.com and went over our month long schedule. We book the Plaza Colon in Granada for two nights, the Casa Iquana on Little Corn Island in the Caribbean for when Julie’s mom Linda gets into town (2 beachfront “cabinas” I LOVE this eco-hotel) and also Pelican Eyes a private 2 bedroom home with a pool in San Juan Del Sur…I’m getting VERY excited for our trips!
Monday I meet with our first language school here in Leon to get all the pictures, photos, and videos of not just the school, but the teachers, classrooms, and a host family as we do home stays for our spanish study abroad program here in Leon.
Tuesday we meet with La Isla Foundation to set up some volunteer opportunities for our students while here doing a semester abroad.
TODAY….we went to Las Penitas Beach and the neighboring Poneloya beach area. Poneloya is a tad NORTH of Penitas (penitas & poneloya are more or less seperated by a huge rock outcropping that you can’t walk down the beach around)
The thing about both beaches is they are a bit eerie in that most of these homes are remnants of the old ruling class families and hierarchy Nicaragua had – more or less the Dictator Samosa gave his croonies some prime beachfront property in the 1960’s-1970’s (1979 was the revolution) as this beach is the CLOSEST to Managua, about 1.5 hours away only. They built about 100 homes between these two beaches all beachfront. Then the Sandinistas came to power, threw them all out as they were communists and you couldn’t own such a thing. So of course, about 50% I’d say are in too bad of disrepair to ever be used again.
As Nica’s economy is booming with tourism, some of these places are now converted into hostels and even hotels. The most “American style” hotel is the Suyapa…which our parent company http://www.InertiaTours.com uses for 2 nights on the alternative eco-spring break trip offered. It has air conditioned rooms, a gift shop, pool, and beachfront bar & restaurant on a spectacular beach setting.
What’s odd is, even though Samosa and his family were total assholes, you can’t help but a get a bit sentimental wondering what these beaches were like in their “heyday” in the middle 70’s – I envision a lively beach environment. The good news is…this place is coming back. Not big time, but coming. There are TRUE DEALS here…a beachfront home you COULD renovate goes for about $125,000 USD…that’s BEACHFRONT…not sorta beachfront on the Pacific ocean…now that’s a bargain! You have to start a public Nica corporation in order to buy land in Nicaragua if you are not a resident.
One cool thing about Inertia/Nicaeco is that we ARE a publicly held company here in Nicaragua. Nica Eco Inertia Tours S.A. means we do business correctly with the government.
Anyway, we had a great beach lunch at Suyapa for about $10 you get grilled fish, rice, veggies and some potatoes. Too much to eat. There are not really annoying beach vendors. There were two kids selling some sea shell necklaces they made and they chatted us up from outside the split rail wood fence of the restaurant. They made my wife Julie a palm leaf grasshopper and this little toy. I gave them a 10 Cord tip ($.50 cents) but they reluctantly took it. We then rented horses to ride for 30 minutes for $5 USD each. Mine REALLY wanted to gallop & run.
If you want to book a week long spring break trip to Nicaragua Inertia Tours is the place to do it. For $1099 per person, we get you a 6 day trip, with 3 nights in Leon at Las Balcones Hotel, 2 nights at Suyapa beach at Penitas; 2 meals per person per day, a suggested night time party schedule, you go volcano boarding, and you get a surfing lesson. INSANE deal and it’s in the high 80’s here in March/April.
It was nice to see some gringos there lying out – mostly college aged girls. I see way more college aged girls here than guys which is hilarious…The guys must still be all pussies thinking there is a revolution still or guerillas out shooting at you – cuz’ the girls sure don’t seem to give a shit. Phillip picked up a Dutch girl with my wife & I but I wouldn’t call it a pick up, she plopped down at the restaurant with us like she owned the place.
When done our driver Eron brought us back to Leon. We then went swimming in our pool with our son, and I snuck out and got 2 pizzas (like 10 inch onces) at Pizza Roma just down the street. The 2 pizzas and a diet coke were 167 cord or about 8 bucks. They do charge you $.50 cents USD for each carryout box there LOL 🙂
Then we watched some TV – julie is lovin’ the pictures we took over 150 today alone, I shot about 20 videos (check out my youtube at http://www.youtube.com/nicaeco for all the videos) and I promise I’ll post more here. Our wifi is fast but not that fast!
Tomorrow we are going to church at the old Cathedral built in 1740 at 10:30 and then Julie wants to do some shopping. I hired Eron’s sister to cook us breakfast every morning for $10/day she does lunch too so we can eat here at our house poolside with Miller. I’ll get some pics up of the food tomorrow.
Until then have a Happy Saturday!
When I walked into the formal study at our home here in Leon
We had ALOT of major problems with Continental Airlines yesterday. It made me very sad that their service levels were that subpar.
In Austin, we had a counter agent named Tara. She was agitated like customers usually are – I was not. We had a 730 am flight but got there 2 hours in advance. Good thing.
To start, they had no skycabs to help with our luggage. We had 4 bags to check, two “exempt items” (ie baby stroller and play pen thingy) and 2 carry on’s. I had to do this all alone with my wife with our baby.
I paid for all upgrades (not first class we aren’t rich) like “more legroom” seats etc. I am also a Presidential Club member. The problem came with our luggage. I had one piece at 34 lbs. 1 right at 50. 2 at about 55. This rude agent literally barked at me “REPACK YOUR BAGS OR PAY” I said ma’am, what’s the fee? our bags are full, I have a crying baby, an agitated wife, we are very tired. She said “$200.00” That’s 200 for 10 lbs over weight.
Hold on. It wasn’t $200. It was $200 per bag. Yeah, 1 one way. This fraud. $400 when (actually) I was (net) 5 lbs underlimit as one bag was only 34 lbs filled with baby stuff).
I wouldn’t fly Continental if you have a family. They don’t care. Who has that kind of money. This lady was rude to me to the point of almost bringing tears to my eyes as I was so tired. Manny the “Manager” was like “there’s nothing I can do, sorry.”
The fact is many people consider airlines commodity purchases. I do not. I like continental (1) and southwest (2). Now, I would switch these two. These guys owe me $400. Will I chargeback my credit card? Nope. I am going to sue them in Travis County when I return in small claims court. I bet I get my money back. I did not, do I agree with this fee.
The flight then was 2 hours late with no AC on board and they kept us on the plane an hour before telling us why. Just rude service all the way around.
Enough whining about continental – but if you have “over bag weight” get ready to pay. I mean…who keeps a scale in their home ? That’s where the scam comes into play. They know this.
When we arrived in Managua – we were greeted by http://www.Greenpathways.com staff – NicaEco’s grou handler. It was awesome – Marginne was there the new Nica Eco full time employee and Erlon, our driver for the month.
We stopped & got 3 frozen coffees, a gatorade and a bottle of water for $10. Nica is really inexpensive – but I have noticed since 2006 my first time here it is going up to be just about 25% lower than the US. Used to be about 50%.
We met up with Aurora Real Estate’s agent (Jordan Clark) an American Ex-Pat that lined up the house Casa Leones (an old hotel we rented the entire place out for the month with a private pool about 4 blocks to the Center Sqare (plaza) in town.
They have two helpful staff for us. Karen (our nanny here) is $5 usd per day.
On the first day we didn’t do much. We went to eat at Jack’s, this cool upstairs bar across from the plaza and the autonomo university. It is owned by a Canadien Ex-Pat that got out of Canada after 9/11 – feeling it was too friendly with the US. Julie had pasta – something with basil he made fresh and it was delicious. The chicken cesar salad I had was just alright. I had a Tona Beer ( big one like 4 eight ounce glasses worth) and she had a rum and coke and a water for $12 USD.
Then, we walked back to the hotel and Julie went for a swim and surfed the web letting our families know we are safe in nicaragua. I passed out I was exhausted! I’m an old man compared to my wife, she’s 11 years my junior. Miller our son is of course acclimated already loving life. He’s just SO ACTIVE right now my julie needs a break sometimes. A 14 month year old is a handful!
Today we woke up to be greeted by the owner of Green Pathways Tours and he also owns Big Foot Hostel. His name is Phillip Southan, and I met him in 2006 here on my first visit I think. He’s from Barbados originally and just a cool surfer dude but very hard working. His firm is our onsite tour company for all of our side trip activities you will take when you arrive to study abroad in Nicaragua with us.
I ONLY USE HIM as a.) he’s cool b.) he CARES about quality and service like I do c.) he knows I am a tree hugger and he must conserve and be eco friendly with his tours (we use only diesel vehicles – FULL hybrids I will import to Nica in 2012 so we are fully greened out and last he speaks fluent english and his staff must too.
We woke up and went to breakfast at Mediterrano. Mine (eggs sunny side up with bacon) was almost inedible. My wife had Pinto Gallo which is beans and rice a Nica staple food, and some sort of odd chicken wrap that was really good. The thing is – Leon has EXCELLENT food so I don’t know what their problem was (LOL!!)
Today we went to the plaza and had lunch at this Chinese place. We shared a gigantic chicken fried rice, fried wontons, and a chicken and corn soup. All was awesome and $12 with waters included. Then my wife did some shopping. She got two cool tops for $12 for the 2, and wanted a cheap wedding band to not wear hers. She bought a $2 silver ring 🙂 that says “love on it” ahhhh! 🙂
Then we came back and I went to sleep. I was so tired! It’s only about 90 degrees but it rains at night so during the sunny day it’s super duper humid with very little wind. The big “hills” and volcanoes around Leon prevent the pacific ocean trade winds (Penitas Beach is just 10 miles away) from reaching Leon which is a shame.
I woke up and relieved the nanny and am writing this post. Tonight we are going to El Jardin this outdoor italian place with a wood pizza oven I guess on Calle Real by some school over there. I’;m starving! We are waiting on our nanny that is going to take over for an hour but Miller is already going to sleep. The new environment has him overwhelmed and tired.
Well, I’ll keep posting daily. Next up tomorrow we are going to go see Viejo Leon (old Leon) and her ruins . Tomorrow night out with drinks with Phillip and his gang and on Saturday we are off to beaches of Las Penitas for some fun in the sun!