Tuesday, June 27, 2006


One of the biggest surprises I encountered on my trip to the beach this past weekend was the preponderance of real estate signs – in English. Seems that the Gringos have run out of cheap coastal properties to purchase in Costa Rica, so they’re now buying land in Nicaragua. Many of the real estate signs are Century 21 or REMAX.

A quick internet search for real estate in Nicaragua will yield quite a few hits such as www.nicaraguarealestate.com, www.nicaraguaproperty.com/, www.nicaland.com/

And the prices are good. You can’t buy beachfront property in Florida for less than a million dollars, but here the same parcel of land costs a fraction of the cost. We met a lawyer from Texas who decided to move down to Nicaragua to make a living selling real estate to foreigners. She surfs in the morning and works in the afternoon – not a bad life.

Getting Around Managua

I’ve already mentioned that Managua is not the most accessible city. There are no street names or numbers, so if you don’t have a good sense of where the main landmarks are, you’re absolutely helpless. And that’s how I’ve felt for my first week here. I tell the taxi driver the directions for where I want to go, but I have no way of knowing if he’s actually taking me where I’m supposed to be going. Yesterday, I took a taxi back to the house from the Health Center, and I told the driver to take me to a house “Two blocks south, and half a block up from the Bar Los Rostros.” He took me to an unfamiliar street, and told me that we were at the location I had requested. I told him that this wasn’t the street, but I had no way to know where we had gone wrong, so I paid him the fare and decided to find the house on my own. After circling the block, I realized how I had gone wrong: the house was one block south of the Los Rostros Bar, and I had told the taxi driver two blocks south.

However, there are some landmarks that I am beginning to recognize. Whenever I go to the Health Center the taxi will pass by Stadium Denis Martinez. When I go to the laboratory, there is a Pizza Hut along the way. Plus there are the Redondas (traffic circles) that serve as major landmarks. Any time you go from one side of the city to the other you end up on one of the major roads, and these roads all intersect each other at traffic circles – usually with a statue in the middle.

For my first two days I was driven everywhere by drivers who work for the Dengue Project. This was great since I didn’t know my way around the city and was worried about being robbed. But the problem was that I’d have to wait to go at a time that was convenient for the drivers. By my fourth day, I got tired of waiting for them to pick me up and started taking taxis. They cost about $1.25 to $1.50 to go almost anywhere in the city – but that’s if I pay the Nicaraguan price rather than the Gringo Price. Before getting into a taxi I ask the driver, “How much to X neighborhood?” And usually he’ll quote me 30 or 40 Cordoba (2-3 dollars). But since I know it shouldn’t cost more than 25 Cordoba, I’ll tell him so, and sometimes he’ll drive away (probably out of pride/spite) and sometimes he’ll agree. From my experience thus far, it’s about 50/50.


At 1:19 PM, Anonymous shirley lund said...

jamie im at the library again jan 26 but im having some difficulty getting to read all your latest accounts. i wish i were better acquainted with the computer.anyhow i just wanted to let you know that im thinking about you and admire how you're managing to get around so well in a strange country.i'm sure it will be a most gratifying experience for you. keep well---love grandma

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