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Current Location: Rented room, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

01.24.11

Price of beer in a bar: US$1.84/liter
Song currently stuck in my head: Volcano (Jimmy Buffett)

Why is Nicaragua cheaper than the US, and how much of our savings is due to our modest lifestyle rather than our locale? Well, I can tell you this much…

Groceries are cheaper in the US, even in a large city.
Energy is cheaper (per kwh) in the US, though we use much less here (especially for climate control).
Rent here seems only slightly cheaper than what I would expect to pay in many cheaper American areas for a similarly simple place, though it’s just over 1/4 what we paid in a large American city.
Here no vehicle is needed and the cheapest public options are very very cheap.
Food out is much cheaper here, though groceries are more expensive. Part of this is because of smaller portion size, but mostly it’s due to much lower overhead/labor costs.
Water is similar to what we paid in a large American city and may or may not be drinkable (though plenty of people refuse to drink tap in The US, too).
Labor is much cheaper. For instance, I have my laundry washed, line dried and folded for less than the coin-op machines cost at my last American apartment.

There’s not much to report. I’m killing time today in my guesthouse, listening to the older travels’ Brazilian cassette tapes in the common area and trying to figure out how to jigger some airflow through my room. I spent yesterday draining bottles of Tona at Big Wave Dave’s until the cold Tona ran out and I switched to Victoria and, later, to Tona over ice. This “beer over ice” blasphemy is more common than you might expect, especially on Saturday mornings when a crowd shows out for the Farmer’s Market and the day’s supply of beer hasn’t yet had time to chill. Today I’m staying away from the booze due, in part, to some early morning errands I want to take care of tomorrow.

I scored the nice room at my guesthouse, with lots of space, a big mirror and a serious amount of ventilation that seems utterly uninterested in ventilating. The wall mounted oscillating fan (one of my favorite Central American mainstays) over my bed is picking up the slack, though, so between it and the plush over sized hammock in the common area I’m hiding out in comfort. We’ve experienced a woeful lack of hammock at our rentals and splaying out on this one only underscores the gravity of such an absence. New Year’s Resolution? More hammock. When I was in highschool I traded in about 2,000 Marlboro Miles for one of these beauties and kept it around for another 17 years or so. My idea was to only ever hang it once; I’d spend years searching for the ideal location, whether in a big suburban yard or a tropical beach, then, upon deciding that I’d found my new home, I’d hang that hammock and triumphantly nap.

Keep in mind that I was a teenager when I hatched the idea and once it gained momentum it was hard to abandon; hard, but not impossible. Having carried it through 3 states and countless apartments, I finally unloaded it before we left for this trip, also via Craig, able to advertise it as “never used”. When the time comes, I’ll buy a new one.

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