Wow, it has been over three months since my last update! I have to admit, I wasn’t really in the mood of writing a new blog post and things have been going crazy as well. So I wanted some tranquility and some good stories to tell before I continue giving updates from my way of becoming… well, something.
The initial plan of being a sea turtle conservationist-for-life seems to become more and more a dream I was chasing after in my youth. I feel like I arrived in reality, like probably so many other people of my age after they’ve finished university. Now it’s time to get some money, which means: work for at least five days a week (PAID work and no super-hippy-fun-travel volunteering any more!). It’s time to handle bureaucratic stuff, to visit all kinds of offices and agencies, comply with the formal standards of living, deal with some difficult people, buy insurances, take care of pets (or babies, as in the case of most other people I know) and so on…
Yes, with the job I’m currently doing I could keep traveling all over the world, spend some months in my favourite-destination Indonesia, visit some more turtle projects, then live in South America for a while before taking the adventure of discovering Africa. But there’s one problem: I found the perfect man (who couldn’t come travel with me, or at least couldn’t afford it) and I’m already so much in love with my cats that I’d never leave them behind. So it seems life is set for me: I’ll live in a beautiful rented house with a garden, not moving any more unless it’s for weekends or holidays, facing all the problems people taking part in society face as well.
And that’s in a country which is considered the second-poorest in Latin America, where things are a bit more difficult than in the countries I’ve lived in before. Okay I won’t lie to you: Things here are A LOT more difficult.
Why am I still here? Because where else in the world would I be?
When I had my turtles I was looking for love and stability. Now I have it both, but I’m missing out on the turtles. Can I have all? Well, I try to! The prerequisite ist there, because Melvin and me share the same passion, the same dream for the future! But it’s hard when this weird country makes you spend all your money you’d otherwise invest in setting up a project/business.
Whatever, now I still have to tell you what happened over the last three months:
The highlight in October was definitely the visit of my sister. We did a “highlights of South Nicaragua”-tour roughly set up by me beforehand, which included: San Juan del Sur, Melvin’s hometown Ostional, the volcano-island-in-a-lake Ometepe, charming colonial town Granada and the must-see bubbling lava volcano of Masaya. Including kayaking, ziplining, making chocolate, hiking, dining well, exploring new roads and so on. Also I was fortunate enough to enjoy a one-night-stay in this country’s exclusive super-expensive EcoLodge Morgan’s Rock. Most of it was new for me as well, so I enjoyed a little holiday and got to know more of Nicaragua’s touristy side.
By the end one October me and Melvin finally moved out of that dark tiny s***hole of an apartment and started renting a little house in the countryside. From now on I wouldn’t be able any more to just walk to the beach whenever I needed some stress-free time, but instead I was surrounded by trees, tranquility, lots of outdoor-playground for my cats and the sound of howler monkeys nearby. Here I thought we’d stay for quite a while! With a good feeling I left Melvin on the 25th to have a 5-week home retreat in Germany.
The time in Germany I used to
- meet (and say kind of goodbye) to my family and the few friends I still have there
- eat as much good stuff I can
- gather all the documents I need for getting the Nicaraguan resideny
- aaand benefit from the awesome health system one last time and have my long-awaited operation
People were sad that I didn’t stay longer, but I always told them: “I’ve got a man, three cats and a car I have to take care of. I can’t stay away for much longer” 😉
Part 1 – The house
Holy shit, Nicaragua didn’t really welcome me back in the nicest way. We pretty soon knew we wouldn’t stay in the house we were renting, for a couple of reasons. One was security concerns. Most of the houses here, especially in cities, have tall metal fences around their property and some extra window and door bars to be 100% safe from intruders. People who don’t have this keep themselves a very aggressive dog instead. Our house did not have any protection, and I got more and more concerned that someday someone (knowing that here lives the rich white girl) will get in and steal everything I own. Then a couple of housebreakings happened in the neighbourhood and I knew: I want to have a house with fences and window bars as well!
Fortunately Melvin knew someone who was just preparing to rent the house of his passed-away mum. I had a look at it and it seemed perfect: Fenced in garden, parking area, rural setting, privacy, and more living space than we ever enjoyed before. We took the offer for 200$ a month and moved our stuff like 30m down the road.
Now I live in a cute little green house somewhere outside of San Juan del Sur. Yes, it has seen better days, but I might still call it “upper Nicaraguan standard”. We have a huge kitchen area, a dining area and two bedrooms (one of which is unoccupied) with their respective bathrooms. And the best of all: Thanks to three lemon trees on our property we have as much free lemonade as mother nature can offer! My cats can live a hell of a life out here, and I feel happy and secure. Surrounded by lots of greenery and animals, in a remote hidden spot with only an unpaved road leading to the entrance (and further on to a surfer’s beach). But if I sit in my car for 10 minutes, I’m already in San Juan del Sur and can go shopping, dining and tourist-watching as much as I want. No need for a TV or any kind of household luxury items. This is the simple, happy lifestyle of the Nicaraguan middle class (which you would consider poor!).
Part 2 – The car
As our Toyota Tacoma is from 1999 and the climate here gives the vehicle body a really hard time, it needed to be painted. We had left the car with one of Melvin’s friends who was allegedly an expert in this. He said it would take four weeks to take off the old paint and put on the new paint. In the end, it was eight weeks. Eight weeks of walking, hitchhiking or paying for a taxi to get into town. How annoying! I was pushing the guy to get things done (letting him feel german aggressivity), but all he did was smile at me and say “You don’t understand”. Of course I understand! Sometimes things are NOT WORKING in this country, and the people aren’t either. Needless to say that the paint didn’t end up THAT GREAT, and I had to complain with him. He promised me to fix the errors, but right now he doesn’t have time. What I can do about it? Nothing. With everything being so informal und unregulated here, you’re f***ed up if somedoy does a bad job.
The first thing we did with our newly painted car was take it to the repair shop. The bumpy roads around San Juan del Sur let the old chassis suffer A LOT. Plus the battery and something else which would get the motor going didn’t work any more. The mechanics ripped us quite off as they knew we were dependent on them (they are the only mechanics in this town and without a functioning motor we wouldn’t get to any other town). So I payed a sum I don’t even want to tell here. Good that I have a credit card with still some savings on it, which I can withdraw any time I need to. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a functioning car right now.
Part 3 – Our life
Well, we are happy. The only thing which is still missing are the turtles. Honestly. I said to Melvin “if this house was on a nesting beach and whenever we feel like it we’d go out on patrol, just you and me, protecting some nests and enjoying the night, my life would be perfect right now”.
But this is still far away. At the moment we don’t find the time or energy to keep working on our future plans. For now I just want to enjoy a stable income for both of us and no more huge expenses, so that we can actually put some money aside month by month. Certain things here in Nicaragua are incredibly expensive if you consider that a usual worker makes 200 to 300$ a month. It seems that everything “specific” and “special” that needs to be imported, like utensils for pets and for cars, any kind of electronics and food which isn’t rice and beans and plantains, has the same price than in Europe. The difference is that here you earn 10 times less than in Europe.
This is the reason why so many people here are poor and work for their whole lives just to get rid of their debts. The few ones which own a business take advantage of the many desperate people looking for a job. Low wages, no insurance, no work contracts. They promise you a fulltime permanent position and three days later they tell you they you’re gonna be kicked out once the tourism high-season is over. The problem is there is no industry here. And the education standards are low. Everyone is dependent on the rich white people spending their money (and I’m considered as one of them, so I feel that I get ripped off all the time – it’s stressful!).
A lot goes wrong in this country, but how many other countries in this world are like that? Sometimes I think I’m just spoilt of having been born in one of the richest and most-advanced nations on the globe. So it’s difficult to adapt. To accept how things are working or NOT working out here.
Now, first of all, I need to get my residency. Because besides everything, I’m sure that we can have an awesome future here. We just need to overcome the initial hurdles.
Next year can only get better! You’ll hear from us!