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What’s Up, My Nicas (Part 2)

As Katie already mentioned here, our trip to the Nicaraguan shore and back was chock full o’ crazy times.

A lot happened in three days (96.5% of it fun) and I could rattle off a lengthy play-by-play of the entire weekend but if we were to skip the polite banalities and be honest with each other here, I think we’d come to the mutual agreement that (a) I don’t want to write all that jazz and (b) you don’t want to read all that jazz.

So, let’s just skip ahead to the part of the post where I break the trip down by the numbers, mmkay?

Mmkay.  So here goes…

7 – Number of people in our Nicaragua-bound band of misfits.

175 – Approximate distance, in kilometers, from Bagaces, Costa Rica, to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

2 – Number of hours it took our bus to reach the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

1 – Number of hours it took us to actually cross the border.

8 – Degrees Farenheit the temperature rose as soon as we stepped foot onto Nicaraguan soil.

1 – Cost, in US dollars, of the tasty Nicaraguan beer, Toña (pronounced “TOE-nya”–do not disrespect the beverage by saying its name wrong).

21:1 – Exchange rate for calculating Nicaraguan córdobas to US dollars.

π = (ℓ)-1(t)1(ℓ /t)1 – What the currency exchange rate formula may as well have been, considering my cripplingly bad math skills.

15 – Cost, in US dollars, of our hostel per person, per night.

4 – Number of hostel beds available for our party of seven.  (Katie and I shared a double bed and Donovan kept the mosquitoes company in a hammock out in the courtyard.)

10 – Amount of time, in minutes, it took to walk from the center of San Juan del Sur to our hostel.

8 – Approximate number of times someone tripped and fell during the 10-minute walk.

9 – Average rating, on a scale of 1 to 10, of the meals we ate during our three-day tour.

60 – Approximate percentage of San Juan del Sur’s population that were gringo ex-pats with nappy dreads milling around the coffee shops and trying to hock puka shell necklaces on the sidewalk.  30 percent were actual native Nicaraguans (a.k.a., “Nicos” and “Nicas”).  The other 10 percent were us.

1 – Number of near-fatal accidents involving a seven-foot-high ledge, unreliable depth perception and poor life choices.

3 – Amount, in US dollars, of the best dang mojito I’ve ever had.

4 – Number of trips taken to the ATM for the last time, seriously.

12 – Estimated median age of the three producers of Survivor we met while eating at a pizza joint in town.

4 – Number of times I tried to get them to tell me which cast member they hate most.

1 – Number of heartfelt renditions of Bette Middler’s “The Rose” Katie was able to tolerate before evacuating the karioke bar.

1,542 – Number of beers consumed over the weekend.

0 – Number of times we swam in the ocean.

28 – Number of immigration forms filled out coming and going across the border.

0 – Number of people in our party who had proof of the exit visa that Costa Rica’s border patrol suddenly decided to start requiring for re-entry into the country.

140 – Amount, in US dollars, we were advised by a Costa Rican border patrol clerk to pay for false documentation to cross back into Costa Rica.

3 – Number of times someone suggested just running for it, man, before Becca managed to charm the clerk into grudgingly giving us all temporary visas.

30 – Amount of time, in seconds after we boarded the bus that it left for Bagaces.

No shoes or shirt?  No problem.  No exit visa?  You’re screwed.

All in all, it was a great trip to Nicaragua and we got to spend it with an awesome group of folks.

And perhaps the most important–yet highly underrated–part of what makes any trip great is:  Being able to go home.

What’s Up, My Nicas? (Part 1)

This past weekend we went to Nicaragua.

Nica.  Frickin’.  Ragua.

We jammed a lot into one little weekend.  And we’ll tell you about it forthwith.  (Can I say “forthwith,” or is that so last century?)

But first, it only makes sense to introduce our motley crew of fellow travelers.

This is Rebecca.  I call her Becs.

Becs and Chips Ahoy

Becs is quickly becoming one of my favorite people in the world.  And not only because she bought us cookies and knows how to pick the bugs out of pasta.  She is the extremely patient mother of two beautiful little boys, is as easy-going as John Mayor after he’s had a couple of blunts, and she had the cajones to pack up her world and move to another country – in a town without a Starbucks.  But the best thing about Becs is that she’s always game for a laugh.  You cannot not laugh when you’re around her.  And laughing is good for the soul.  So by my reasoning, so must be Becs.

As far as I can tell, her only questionable quality is the fact that she married this guy.

Aaron with seedlings

This is Aaron.  Okay, so maybe he’s all right – even though he tried to lock me into an ATM booth in San Juan del Sur.

*Fingers have been blurred to protect the innocent.

Maybe he’s all right because he’s been giving us a place to live and money for food and might – occasionally – read this blog.

But in all honesty, he’s an extremely creative goofball and we love working for him.  He makes a mean torti burguesa (we’ll cover that eventually), has a wicked sense of humor, and – though he’ll hate me for saying it – is incredibly generous.  He wants everyone around him to have a good time, and that they do.  Oh, and suppose I have to give him credit for being the mastermind behind what Erin and I believe to be a soon-to-be HUGE hot sauce hit.  He’s the Mayor of Chile Town, and so far all the citizens seem pretty damn happy.

Chile Town Hot Sauce

And I have to admit – he and Becs make a pretty fantastic couple.

Becs and Aaron

Then there’s this guy.  Donovan.  Donovan started working here a few days before Erin and I arrived, but he’s been to Costa Rica a multitude of times.  Donovan thinks he IS Costa Rican.  (And judging by the way he already knows everyone in Bagaces, I wouldn’t be surprised.)  Donovan does not like to be called Donny.  And even though he looks like a hardass, we can always count on Donny – err, Donovan, to make sure we make it home okay.  He wants to do good things for the people of this country, and I do believe he will.


Matt (aka. “Matteo”) is another one of the interns working in our office.  A gifted guitar player and singer, Matteo makes you want to sit around a campfire cooking s’mores and singing songs.  Matteo speaks his own language – a combination fraternity boy/California surfer dude mixed with intellectual college grad/insightful world traveler.  One who got arrested for stealing manhole covers in Italy.  He looks like a thin Jack Black.  No, the guy from Into the Wild. No, Syndrome from The Incredibles. Whatever.  Matteo’s a trip – the kind who will make you laugh when you think about something he said days after he said it.  And that’s a pretty good way to be.


And finally, our group of 7 wouldn’t have been complete without JJ – or Jota, as everyone here calls him.  An extremely talented artist, Jota designed all of the luchadores found on the Chile Town hot sauce bottles as well as the town map.  When Jota plays the guitar, he inspires.  The music flows, eyes close, and you always have to smile.  He’s better than he’ll admit.  I already know my memories of his music will be my soundtrack to Costa Rica.  He’s lived here for a few years – is half-Guatemalan, in fact – and has big dreams of a beautiful future in Central America.  I don’t doubt he’ll make it happen.

Jota's Guitar

So that’s our crazy group of wild gringos.  I have tons more to share (and so does Erin), but the obscene amount of photos is going to force us to break this down in parts.

But let me give you the quick Nicaragua weekend summary:

We ate fantastic food.

Nicaragua breakfast pizza
Nicaragua breakfast burrito

We drank fantastic drinks.

Jota and Tona

We met some fantastic people.


And we sampled plenty of fantastic hot sauce.

Chile Town Hot Sauce Tasting

This weekend we traveled to Nicaragua and came out a little smarter, a little muddier, and a lot more appreciative of coming home to a place where we could throw our toilet paper in the toilet – not the trash.

Nicaragua Crew

It’s always the little things.