Current Location: Harvest House Guesthouse, Leon, Nicaragua
Price of a beer in a bar: US$0.86
Song currently stuck in my head: The American Way (The Crystal Method)
In addition to the road weary Iphone 4 that I’m carrying, I have a netbook and a 2nd gen Ipod shuffle (before the weird gum pack form factor). I packed the ipod shuffle for use in the gym and on long bus trips; it’s tiny, cheap, hearty, has amazing battery life and, ultimately, I’m not using it at all. I see enough locals using tablets and smartphones that I feel comfortable pulling out my visibly damaged Iphone every couple of hours to switch podcasts on bus ride. I wouldn’t miss the ipod if I’d left it at home, but there was no way to know that ahead of time. It’s the size of a small box of matches. I’ll deal.
The netbook is an EEE PC (epc1000he, to be exact) that I picked up second hand for US$100 specifically for this trip. The reviews praised the keyboard, which was simultaneously my main motivation and biggest fear about using a netbook. In the hierarchy of keyboards, the Iphone is a nice step above typing on internet cafe and hostel computers. Their worn out, sticky, sticking keyboards were often in a different language and layout than the computers believed. If you haven’t experienced this you can’t imagine the frustration of hitting the button that promises a colon and getting a lower case n with a hat on it. But typing on the Iphone has it’s own drawbacks, several of them, and it ranks far short of something with a physical keyboard.
Plenty of people are carrying tablets down here, locals and travelers alike. One of these combined with an add-on keyboard would probably take the place of my ipod, iphone and netbook, but my current arrangement was cheaper and having a real OS never hurts. Well, okay, it kind of hurts right now. I’m running the latest Ubuntu Linux (14.04) and I’m having a driver issue that limits my wifi range to about 10 feet. It’s a known issue, nothing mysterious about it, and I could work around it by buying a USB wifi adaptor. I did this in Panama once, for different reasons, and there’s a good chance that I could source one locally. I’m not sure what it would cost, it’s about a $10 item in The States. But using the Iphone for most of my casual connectivity has been fine, so I’m not particularly motivated to go on the hunt.
I’m a little over halfway through my stay in Leon; to this outsider it’s very similar to Granada. There aren’t as many expats or upscale nightlife destinations, but there are still more than enough. The routine I’ve established here is as follows: Mon/Wed/Fr 6am Alex’s Gym, Sat/Sun ~8am Cappuccinos at Pan & Paz or Rosita… that’s about it. It leaves a lot of time to read, listen and lounge. I never adjusted from the 2 hour jetlag, so I often go to sleep around 9 and wake around 5. It gets dark here around 6 and light again around 5, so this feels pretty natural. The weather has been partly cloudy with occasional bursts of rain and a nice breeze; in other words, ideal. I try to keep this frail gringo skin hidden indoors during the peak of the day, but the big markets close early so I’m occasionally forced to brave some Vitamin D in order to collect provisions and fuel the steady amount of cooking I’ve been doing, mostly in an attempt to adhere to a diet that I started back in The States. The Nicaragua diet is pretty carb heavy, what with all the rice and beans and such, and that’s just not my thing right now. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts are about US$2.25/pound at Pali, which is just about what I pay for them back home. I’m spending roughly US$5.38/day on food including meals in and out. My most expensive meal thus far was a US$5.29 burger and fries at Jack’s. I’m currently eating at a caloric deficit, but I don’t think eating more would add much to the cost. In fact, it would probably be cheaper since I could rely on less lean (and less expensive) sources of protein.
In which case, gallo pinto, here I come.