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Hippie Lodging, Alcoholic Flasks and Exchange Rates

NICARAGUA | Tuesday, 16 June 2015 | Views [203]


June 8 - Islas de Ometepe
Goodbye Granada! After living there for almost three months, we finally packed our bags and left for the pacific coast where we spent four nights in the beach town of San Juan del Sur.  We are now in Isla de Ometepe. To get here, we took an hour long chicken bus ride, a taxi and then a boat to the destination whose name means: The island with two mountains (they are actually volcanoes). We are staying at a lodge called El Zopilote. The place seems to cater to hippies with cell phones, munching on granola and organic yogurt while surfing the slow_but_working59876355 Internet. El Zopilote is a finca, the place practices permaculture, they have a free yoga class every morning, instead of flushing you throw rice shells into the compost toilet, and the showers are outdoors because "it makes you feel closer to earth". 
    Our cabaña hut is made of a palapa thatched roof, bamboo windows and there is a sexy violet mosquito net that hovers over our bed at night. To get to the restaurant/reception, to the toilet, showers or a sports bar, you have to hike a bit. Volunteer opportunities to help out in the farm abound.
    The place is a great idea and I'm happy to have spent two full days here. For $18 bucks a night! It was one of the most idyllic places I've ever stayed at but I am over it. It helps to point out that rain poured during our first night here, making the roads muddy and that nixed our plans to rent a motorcycle and explore the island the next days. As I type this, torrential rain continues to fall with random bursts of thunder. Boom!  
    Some popular activities here include: horseback riding on the Santo Domingo beach, swimming inside the jungle like pools near the big town of Altagracia, venturing Altagracia, hiking up one of the two volcanoes and hiking to a waterfall. We did none of that. Our spirit to prance around the island was lost with the expensive gas prices, meaning that flagging down a cab was next to impossible. So we stayed in, I took the yoga class and ate the rest of my book. James and I put in about two hours of work (I have a remote job as well which I'll describe later), then we had lunch and did a quick walk to the petroglyphs. We watched the Playoff games at a bar called Little Morgans, got some free beers and rum shots for being Cavs fans, then made the hour long hike back to our lodge in the rainy and very dark stormy night. Side note: there were two friendly Australians who worked there and were pleased to learn that Dellavedova is an Aussie as well. If cell phones didn't have built-in flashlights, I don't know how we would've made it back without bumping into a snake, a frog or a wild pig. Actually, we walked right over a harmless snake during that stormy night. But HOW did you know the snake was harmless? I don't know, it was small. Look ma, no bites! And earlier that day, James got to pet a wild horse and a wild pig within 30 seconds of each other. It looked like James and the horse had an understanding; the pig hated it.
Quick Trip Advisor review for El Zopilote:
You're on your own here. If it rains, they won't sell you a poncho. If you go out and return really late, then they won't warn you about how dark the hike back will be. The bus schedule posted on the wall is off by an hour but there is no sign of that anywhere. All of this can seem frustrating or typical for a backpacker but for me it added to the allure of the 360 degree view of fields of green type of environment. 
    They have a stone brick oven so for breakfast, try the fresh bread with their homemade peanut butter. The Nica staff can seem unhelpful but they understand enough English so just speak up if you need anything. BRING A FLASHLIGHT AND A PONCHO.
4 stars
    After five and a half months, James and I still have plans to travel for a year, perhaps longer. Yes, our savings account is dwindling and it was at a fast rate during the first couple of months. As it turns out, my gig as a bartender in Granada did not break us even. Some of the reasons for that include: eating out once a week and splurging on Mondays at pub quiz i.e., drinking. So a few days ago, we sat down and discussed how to make the money stretch. Words like cooking! Couch surfing! Flasks and sandwiches sprung up... The following will discuss cooking.
I love to cook and I love garlic!  Especially when married with onions. They're the perfect match. I love garlic and onions! Could that be the secret to Peruvian cuisine? But wait, there is also chile. Ahh so it's a three-way.
      Okay! When traveling for a long time, cooking your own meals will make a difference in your budget. The cheapest meal we found was for $3 a plate, this includes rice, beans, a piece of meat, fried plantains and maybe even a disgusting slab of salty fried cheese. Now if I make my carrot pasta sauce (inspired by my mom) with canned mushrooms and throw in two avocados (because I can) plus the ménage a trios I will get three meals out of it and each plate will have cost $1.50. That's a huge difference!  
Now with work, many of James's friend's are lawyers and a couple of them need help with marketing their business via SEO and social media. Since I have experience with the latter, he's handed that to me. James is also doing some grant writing. All said and done, he's putting in four hours of work a day, I'm putting in two. Until I get another writing gig on Elance or a bartending job (which will happen when we get to Colombia), I will cook, contact people on Couch Surf, and figure out this thing called Travel Hacking. I've done it before and got a free RT flight to South America.
Alcohol! Giving it up has not been an option. We like having a few beers once or twice a week. And the rum in Nicaragua has been exceptional. A rum and coke (here it's called a Nica Libre) cost about $1.50 at most places but a can of coke is under a dollar. Take a flask and that can of coke will yield you 4-6 drinks.

"The flask was a great idea," James said. Yes! It was my idea to purchase the party flask at Bevmo a few nights before my flight to Cancun; we've since upgraded to packing a 32 ounce water bottle with our favorite Flor de Caña 7 years rum (that was his idea). Working remotely, eating in and drinking out is how we will save.


Right now, we are foolishly waiting for the rain to stop so that we can leave Nicaragua, somehow, but it looks like we will have to tough it out and make the grueling hike down and out of El Zopilote to catch the bus to the ferry. We have on big backpacks and we look like tortoises. Here we go.

Mom, dad, grandma, I've translated this to Spanish to the best of my abilities. I hope you enjoy it! Les quiero mucho!

Tags: grant writing, nicaragua, seo, working abroad, zopilote

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