Ups and downs of settling in

Remember, here burglar bars are considered to be a good thing!

Our new home — remember, here burglar bars are considered to be a good thing, in spite of the fact that Nicaragua has the second lowest crime rate in the Americas

Someone once told me that job satisfaction is like a sine wave — up and down in cycles. The same thing goes for how you feel about where you live,but wow, that’s misleading when applied to our life here in Ometepe. A sine wave would imply there’s been some sort of logic or science to our flounderings here, but that’s simply not the case. We are on an upswing right now, but neither Mark or I can credit that to our good planning and logical approach. It’s luck, pure and simple, or perhaps, as a fellow blogger  ( and I recently discussed, “serendipitous” is a better word for it all!

Saturday, we decided to move into the cute  house the cab driver showed us when we arrived Tuesday. We arrived with all our bags and found….no water, even though the water seemed fine the day before. And it’s well water here, not city water which means we were completely dependent on the landlord to fix it.The floor had been cleaned, but everything else was covered in an inch (slight exaggeration) of dirt.  It is dry season here and, with  predominantly dirt roads in the area, the dust builds up quickly.  I made half hearted attempts at cleaning with different cleaning fluids and paper towels, but decided I just wasn’t up for the job.

It’s also difficult to describe how I felt when I asked  where we could take our laundry, and was proudly shown the laundry area. Please take note of the washboard.

More than I wanted to tackle

Neither of us wanted to tackle this!

The genuine expectation was that once we had water, I would  wash our laundry outside, by hand, the old fashioned way. We were gearing up for that reality (in my mind, I was the supervisor, Mark was the one executing under my benevolent direction) but thankfully we found a place that will do a load of wash (with a machine), hang it to dry, and fold it, for just a bit over $4.

Even better than finding laundry, was the reaction of Mario, the landlord and owner of the closest pulperia ( mini-mart), to our list  of complaints. I kept a smile on my face while I made my requests, and in return, he refrained from visibly cringing at my accent and phrasing. He showed up at the house right away, and explained to us that the problem was in the pressure of the tank and that it would fix itself overnight … ? But in the morning, still no agua. We walked over to his pulperia again ( it’s less than 5 minutes away), and once again, he came right over to check things out, obviously wasn’t pleased, but I never got the feeling that it was me he was unhappy with. He repeated that the problem would be fixed, before the evening, and…. it was. We were gone most of the day, so I’m not sure if he had to do anything to make that happen, but we were relieved.  Flushing toilets and cold water showers (few places in Ometepe have hot water) have never felt so luxurious!

Unfortunately, the water in the kitchen was coming out of the spigot in tiny little dribbles — not something that could possibly be considered normal, even in Latin America, so, with great trepidation, at 12:30 pm I once again made my way over to Marios’s.  From what I could understand, he and his wife (who works the pulperia) already knew about the kitchen spigot, which didn’t leave me with a great feeling of confidence, but Mario said he’d be over at 3 with his brother to fix the pipes.

The pulperia Mario's family runs

The pulperia Mario’s family runs


You always hear about the “manaña, manaña” culture in Latin America, but guess what — at precisely  3, Mario, his brother and his young grandson came over, and in the matter of a few hours , dug a trench in the front yard, laid down new PVC pipe, replaced the spigot and filled in the trench.

When we were in Bocas del Toro, we would have to ask three or four times to get anything done. Holy smokes, even in the States, that sort of responsiveness is almost unheard of!! It’s amazing even BEFORE you find out what we’re paying for rent. (It’s  $170  per month, for a 2 bdrm/1 bath house, with full  kitchen and a nice size lr/dr area, and includes water and electric — no cable or internet though.)

As far as the cleaning goes, I said that we would pay to have someone come clean properly.  Mario arranged for a relative of his to come over, and told me that I’d have to work out the pay with her, but that if he were having the work done, it would cost  $100 Cordoba. When she showed up and I asked the price,she made it clear that Mario had negotiated on my behalf — 100 cordoba for 4 hours of cleaning?? That’s $4.16 U.S. I’m all for good deals, living economically, and staying within the local customs for pay, so as not to mess things up for everyone else, but that just doesn’t seem right.

So many other  stories to tell, but they’ll have to wait for later. For now, Mark and I are on the “up” side of the sine wave, I am more comfortable in Ometepe than Granada, and I see this obscure little island as one where we could comfortably live. I can’t wait until later this week when we start sightseeing on the other side!