Current Location: Hospedaje Elizabeth, San Juan Del Sur, Pacific Coast of Nicaragua
Price of beer in a bar: US$1 happy hour specials abound, some of them will only end up costing you US$1.
Song currently stuck in my head:
So my place is a US$350/month (all in with periodic cleaning, laundry, internet and all other utils, which are not dependable in this town) 1 bedroom with no real living room. My kitchen has an oven, which is kind of rare and unlikely to see use this month, a microwave (I used the one in the shared kitchen once and the owner insisted I take it to my apartment), a medium sized fridge… all and all I rented it for the location, amenities and kitchen. The “indufoam” mattress and the wonderful onsite landlord are unexpected bonuses. Living in a vacation destination is like living in Manhattan; you overpay for tiny amounts of square footage and abridged facilities with the intention of enjoying your time out; a capsule hotel with a nice courtyard would probably suffice, or the Nicaraguan equivalent, a hammock with a locker. Still, this would be a tight fit for the The Girlfriend and I together. I looked at a 2 bedroom sublease for $350 and they were willing, impromptu like, to throw in water and electric at that price so it shouldn’t add to much. That would have been plenty of space; enough to accommodate a visiting guest or two. There was no view to speak of, but a bit of yard and a porch big enough for 2 hammocks and some chairs. Adding internet would be the biggest additional expense. The place we used to rent has increased in cost by 33%, from US$300/month to $400 (+ all utils).
There used to be ramshackle buildings in town, often in the process of falling down, where you could get a liter of cold beer for US$1.65 and similarly economically priced food. One in particular was caddy corner to Casa de Oro and was a wonderful place to enjoy a couple of plates of fresh grilled tipica and a bottle or two of icy beer on the streetside porch; no music, no traffic, just cool evening air and the sound of surf if it was particularly stirred up that night. I loved it; it had a distinctly Caribbean vibe. It’s the one place that I really miss this time around, but it certainly seems like anything even resembling it is gone. I haven’t re-explored the area along the river, over by The Crazy Crab Disco, but it seems like in-town SJDS is no longer a place for your average Nica to hang. The only remaining economical beach bar from our last time around has been overhauled and now has tablecloths (though the seasonal vendors in tents that pop up along the beach during holiday weeks/weekends still cater to Nica crowds).
Property in-town is at a premium; geographically it’s bordered by an Ocean, 2 steep hillsides and a river, so there’s only so much town to fill. The wide open (though sloped) area over the hill to the South is beginning to developed; roads are carved, some power lines run, a small handful of nice homes are in place. The views are terrific, especially if you can angle a line of sight down the Southern coast towards Costa Rica. I’ve heard lots go for about US$40k. Survivor is in town, filming another Nicaragua season or two, and confounds any conclusions I could draw about how tight the rental scene is since they tend to eat up quite a chunk of the local availability.