Wow. I really think my life right now is a bit boring. Or let’s say: ordinary. Totally normal. I live together with my partner in a rented apartment. I work from Monday until Friday. I watch over the money I spend throughout the week. I have a car. I have two cats. From time to time I do some kind of work-out to work against that fat belly. On the weekends I go on fun trips to the beach or to the mountains, watching my man surf, relaxing and discovering new places. I keep dreaming about a better future.
I learned to be a Geographer. I then planned to become a sea turtle conservationist. I dreamed about being an eco-hotel owner. But for now, I am just a pretty boring freelancer.
My work life is about the exact opposite of what I wanted it to be. I work on the computer all day long, I don’t move at all and live very unhealthy, and I don’t talk to anyone until my man comes back home in the afternoon. I am stressed. I do my work how other people tell me to. On some days, I don’t even put a foot out of the door. And after all I work for a mere 10 $ an hour, sometimes even for less, and I never know when the next job is coming as soon as I completed one. If I didn’t live in Nicaragua (where you can survive on 400 $ a month), I’d be highly in trouble.
However, I kind of like my work. I always loved to write. And I always loved to use my brain and my language skills to create something new. To finish a piece of work and leave behind a highly satisfied client. Sometimes I even get excited about it and can’t wait in the morning to finish my breakfast and start.
But please please please… I don’t want to get old doing this – kind of shitty – freelancer job.
FREEDOM ON FOUR WHEELS
How amazing does it feel to be a happy car owner in Nicaragua! I can leave whenever I want to any place I want. I’d like to see the beach? No problem: take my sunglasses and my sunscreen, fill the tank of my car, drive about one and a half hours and there we are. I’d like to hike through mountain forests? No problem: take my hiking sandals and my camera, fill the tank of my car, drive about three hours and there we are. I’d like to stroll through a western-style shopping mall? No problem: take my money and my handbag, drive about fifteen minutes and there we are.
This I call freedom! After having sold our old Suzuki for over 3300 $, we found a beautiful Toyota Tacoma from 1999 for under 8000 $. Yes, it is still quite an old car, but it has been barely used, is in perfect shape and condition and it brings all these little extra things like fully functioning air condition, windows, speedometer and even Airbags! Various people have told us that this car was a good deal. And I knew it would be when the seller’s wife nearly started to cry because she didn’t want to give away her angel. We still needed to invest some money in reparations and maintenance, bus this time it feels right and totally worth it.
And once again: Managua is simply amazing! It is a perfect place to live if you want to get to know this magnificent country and its natural wonders, just because Managua is placed quite in the centre of everything. From here, you can reach volcanoes, beaches, jungle forests and mountains within just a few hours ride.
Using Managua as a base to explore the natural surroundings is great fun, but driving in Managua itself is simply HORRIBLE. These are the reasons:
- Regulations to get a driver’s licence aren’t that strict at all. You finish your practical course within one week, attend a four-hour theoretical seminar, pay for some documents and that’s it. Still too complicated? Just pay a person that issues driver’s licences for 100$ and you got it. Easy Peasy.
–> As a result, people here don’t know any traffic rules. And if they know, they simply give a shit about them as the others don’t follow them either.
- “Space”, what’s that? Leaving a mere 2 cm between you and another car is totally acceptable, it seems. Drivers squeeze themselves into any kind of gap that opens up, just to advance as fast as possible. How many times did I hold my breath already because I thought they would cause an accident now… And dare you, you lousy Nica driver, if you damage my beautiful Toyota!
- “Peeeep peeeeeep”. The traffic light has only switched from red to yellow, and the guy behind you is already honking impatiently. Buses have terribly loud honks and use them ALL the time, so that I personally think they pose a threat to all other traffic participants around them. People are honking to greet somebody, to advise you that they will pass you, or to say that your driving skills are shitty. That’s very kind of you Nicaraguans, but by having this honking noise constantly everywhere around me, I have no idea if you mean ME or the 30 other cars on the street. Neither I know what you want to tell me with it. So in the end, it doesn’t help me at all and is just annoying.
- Some Nicas seem to not value their life. Seriously. They give a shit about red traffic lights. They drive with cars that haven’t seen a mechanic for the past 10 years. They don’t repair broken lights or indicators. They pass you in the most dangerous situations. The official Nicaraguan TV news are a compilation of all traffic accidents that happened that day all over the country, showing blood and tears and dead bodies. Nobody cares about world politics but just about the most recent tragedies on the street, and I have the feeling that some people plan to be starring in the news one day.
However, I am still accident-free, yippieh, and I will do my best to not be shown in TV one day. Fingers crossed.
THE BEAUTY OF NICARAGUA
As we now have an awesome car and a boring stressful life during the week, we set out regularly to discover new places that even Melvin hasn’t seen yet. Here are the beautiful places we have seen so far:
Nature Reserve Chocoyero-El Brujo
Who thought you need to drive five hours out of Managua to get stuck in a challenging, badly maintained road for all terrain vehicles? This nature reserve is pretty close to the capitol but pretty difficult to access. It is furthermore quite small (in 2 hours you’ve seen it all) but very green, spectacular and a real heaven for bird lovers! (which I am not, but the sound of tropical birds singing all around me leaves me still pretty satisfied)
Just one and a half hours from Managua, you would think this little beach spot is even more popular on Sundays. However, most of the visitors are the cool dudes from the surf hostels which are riding the waves at any time during the day. I have seen few places where local inhabitants AND foreign tourists play in the water at the same time and enjoy their lives. The beachfront development that happened here, however, is just as terrible and climate-change-ignoring as in many other places in the world. Otherwise I’d truly love this place.
Yes, as a real Nicaraguan you feel the 1°C temperature difference between hot Managua and cool Matagalpa in the mountains. Besides a pretty nice viewpoint and the white church (which might be the only real attraction in the town itself), Matagalpa has to offer some spectacular surroundings full of agroforestry farms, hilly landscape and nature reserves. It is therefore a perfect base for nature lovers, hikers, trekkers and coffee drinkers. The nearby EcoLodge Cascada Blanca has a scenic waterfall. Spending the weekend in Matagalpa made us want to see more of the mysterious and undiscovered North of Nicaragua.
Well, and that’s about it. Not many crazy stories to tell if you live the ordinary lifestyle. I hope this changes soon.