We Have a Bar of Laundry Soap

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We left Canada on February 24 –wow it’s been nearly a month already– with hardly any clothes. Except for once, we’ve been washing our clothes by hand…in a sink or in the shower. 

Underwear is a great replacement for a luffa, in case you’re ever in a pinch. 

I’ve used shampoo to wash my clothes, and it’s my preferred method. It’s so easy to spread around. A bar of soap kind of clumps in your clothes. And the shampoo seems to work well.

Actually, I have no idea if it’s doing what it’s supposed to but my clothes smell better afterwards at least. But shampoo is a luxury in Nicaragua (I think) and seems to be expensive. 

So. Matt and I have been using a bar of soap we bought in Canada.

But…Dove soap costs the equivalent of about $2.00USD here! A beer is $1, maybe $1.20, water is a little cheaper than a beer. So 2 dang dollars for fancy soap is too much to waste on our dirty clothes! 

So when we went to our first Nicaraguan supermarket in San Juan Del Sur and saw laundry soap we couldn’t resist!! It was the highlight of the day, basically.

It also took us about 10 minutes to feel confident in our translation abilities to ensure we were in fact buying soap for clothes. And not something else. 

 — Cyn

What’s With The Wind in Nicaragua?

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San Juan Del Sur is just as windy as Managua! Sometimes it feels like mother nature is trying to pick you up and throw you…or stop you in your tracks…and at the very least, it’s like she wants you to reconsider if you really want to go wherever it is your going.

But not everything is as it seems. 

The rainy season is coming to Nicaragua. The winds will bring the rain next month. 

What a cool thing it is to be able to experience this change of seasons. It’s things like this — like the ridiciulously strong winds — that make travel most exciting and well worth doing. You’d never really know, or be able to understand something like that unless you’re there…until you’re here.

 — Cyn

We Have to Learn Spanish – We Suck at Miming

Matt and I are doing a homestay for 3 weeks while we take badly needed Spanish lessons. Do you know how awkward it is to live in a stranger’s house, with her massive extended family, and have her cook your every meal, and not be able to understand what anyone is saying!? I can hardly think of many more awkward situations. 

But that’s just part of it, the whole exerpeince of travelling, isn’t it? You get to get out of your comfort zone, and the more times you do that and the more uncomfortable you are, the faster you grow. I know that tomorrow will be less awkward than today was. And today was less akward than yesterday was. It’s just how it goes. You get used to stuff.

I mentioned that we badly need Spanish lessons. Basically, our first day in Managua, Nicaragua invovled us taking a taxi around town, trying to figure out how to get the bus to San Juan Del Sur. 

We never figured it out, by the way. We paid $70USD to have our Spanish school pick us up (it’s a 2 – 3 hour trip).

After our bus station fiassco, we got our taxi driver to take us up some military guarded hill to Loma de Tiscapa so that we could get a panaoramic view of Managua, see Laguna de Tiscapa — a lake in an extinct volcano, and visit the momument to Sandino. 

Okay, so she got us up there. Matt just pointed at where we wanted to go and she took us there. But then things got complicated. 

We wanted her to wait for us for about 20 minutes. She was our only way down that armed hill. We literally had no idea how to tell her to wait for us while we walked around.
We pointed at her…pointed at the car…made a stop sign with our hands…then pointed at us….made walking fingers…all while one of us was frantically flipping and sweating through our phrase book…then we wrote 20 minutes on a piece of paper and the verb for “to wait”. You’d think that would be clear. (LOL, btw).  

It wasn’t. She kept repeating VIENTI DOLLARES. We didn’t want to pay her because we didn’t want her to leave. Our lives felt like they were dependent on her. 

So we helplessly continued our mime routine. And she continued to repeat VIENTI DOLLARES. Then she added para gasolina. At that point, Matt looked at the gas gauge and it was on empty. So he forked over $20.

At this point, our choice was basically, continue sitting in the car miming and run out of gas and not see the sights. Or give her money for gas and hope to god she comes back for us.  We got out of the car and maybe said a little prayer for her return.

She came back about 20 minutes later – woowhoo! Our miming/prayers worked. 

And not only did she come back, she brought a translator with her. Ha!

That’s when we knew that our Spanish lessons would be the best investment we make on this trip.

Sorry, this guy got in the way of the nice view of the Laguna…


— Cyn

In the dog’s house in Managua

We made it to Managua, Nicaragua!

Before I tell you about our first night and day here, let me tell you about getting here. We did not take a direct flight from Miami, which would have been a quick 2ish hour flight. Oh no, we flew with Copa and went via Panama. So it was a 3 hour flight, 4 hour layover, and 1 hour 45 min flight. If you’re pressed for time, go direct (obviously). If you’re pressed for money, go indirect or direct – you never know what’s cheaper.

Panama airport reminded me of one of those corn mazes that you might run through when you’re a kid, in the autum, out in the country, after you pick out your family’s pumpkin. You know what I mean, right? 

The only difference is the airport has freezing cold patches and boiling hot ones. We never knew what temperature it would be when we turned a corner. The only other notable thing about Panama airport is that it’s extremely expensive — $3.45 USD for a bottle of water?? — and there were a few surfer kinda shopssprinkled  amist the standard high-end designer brands. 

Okay now that we’re out of Pamana airport (forgive the detail…we were there for 4 hours!), join me in Managua, will you?

The taxi from the airport was $30USD. I need to start distinguishing currency – in Nicaragua it’s the Nicaraguan Cordoba, which is about 26.5:1 American. 

The taxi was simple to arrange – there was a dude in a bright yellow shirt holding a sign that said TAXI when we walked out the door. 

This is turning into a boring chronolgy of our trip. Sorry! Details are fresh in my mind and everything seems relevent, which I’m sure isn’t for you at all.

Our taxi ride from the airport taught us alot. Like…

…red lights might be optional sometimes

…or maybe there’s an express lane that lets you go straight through red lights

…that Managua doesn’t have any skyscrapers

…and hardly anyone is out at 10:00 at night

Once we arrived at our little house, Mei’s House (named after our host Marlen’s tiny poddle), we got settled into our apartment thing. It’s joined to the main house and has an attached bathroom. It’s basic and cute. The neighbourhood — Altos de Najapa — seems nice, though it’s hard to tell because we haven’t walked around (a little scared, to be truthful).

 — Cyn