Step 1 – Get a new tourist visa by having a 3-day vacation in Costa Rica
I am still confused about that “mandatory 72 hour-leave” in order to get a new visa… all expats I’ve heard of simply do a border run, means they turn around right after leaving Nicaragua and enter again within a few minutes. But then even the immigration officials told me that it’s necessary to stay out of the country for 3 full days (just so that’s it’s not toooo apparent that you actually just keep living in their country). Whatever is right, I took the safe way and combined it with some much needed vacation (hahaha, you won’t believe me or what?).
I chose Playa del Coco because it was the nearest touristy beach town to the border! Good that I already have a friend down here which I was able to convince to come with me! (Melvin didn’t deserve the holidays) 😛
And what should I say: Congratulations to Playa del Coco for maintaining a beachfront which is 100x more turtle-friendly and natural than in San Juan del Sur, while being a town 200x bigger and more touristy than this shit-hole here.
Step 2 – Work out your difficulties
Well, things have been tough. I keep thinking that I got it figured out and then something happens which shows me that I still don’t have a clue about what it really means growing up underneath the poverty line in a country controlled by foreign investors and a few local business men which turned into assholes. And you know what? I am kind of happy that it’s not so easy for me to just run away sometimes… I mean, running away would involve buying an airplane ticket, figuring out what to do with my cats, trying to sell the car… Instead, I hesitated and thought about it once again. This was the best decision I could have taken. Our relationship has always been like a rollercoaster ride but heyyyy… I enjoy it yupppiiiieeeeehhh
Step 3 – Buy a moto
Ohhhh yes we’ve got a bad-ass dirt bike now! Unfortunately I’m not allowed to drive it but I’ll just sit on the back or have my boyfriend do this and that for me. It cost me over 1.000 $ but if it survives a few years we’ll save a hell lot of gasoline expenses!
Step 4 – Try and find a good work-life-balance
Man, you won’t believe how stressed out I am sometimes. I mean, Melvin was never able to get a permanent job and even if so – his 200 $ a month won’t help us a whole lot, I mean, our expenses are usually over 1.000 $! Having that said: we’re still living a very basic life, I find. On the other hand: How would we live with less money? We’d own a tiny dirty room in this parents’ house, ride a bicycle, never get out of town and eat rice and beans three times a day! Do I want that? NO!
So I want to make money, and fortunately I have been really busy with good-paying writing jobs, but it’s just so hard to work a straight eight hours a day! I mean, there are a lot of distractions at home, we have to do our laundry by hand, cook everything from scratch for breakfast, lunch and dinner, clean every morning (there’s dirt and dust, cat hair and chicken poop…), go buy this and go ask that, around noon it’s too hot and around dawn it’s too mosquitoey, and then there’s the occasional power outage. Sigh…. I just wish I had a nice little office in town with A/C and someone gave me some real nice fast food.
Step 5 – Discover hidden gems off the touristy path
We keep adventuring from time to time. Usually it’s me looking at Google Maps, finding a nice-looking spot and checking road access. Then it’s time to go and discover! Of course, we always keep asking people along the way “if it’s safe” and what there is to expect further on. So we found this little gem, a village between the big lake of Nicaragua and the Costa Rican border -wooden houses, coconut trees and no electricity – that’s where life is still peaceful and quiet.
Step 6 – Get romantic observing a wedding on the beach
Ohhh yes we chose quite a rainy day for our trip to the beach, but we got rewarded with a nice little wedding ceremony. Guess what? The couple was a western girl and a local guy! Soooooooo…… adorable.
Step 7 – Release your first sea turtle in Nicaragua
Unfortunately it was just ONE but hey…. this little buddy helped us realize that we have to get things going now. Melvin is never going to find a good job down here and after all, we are still absolute turtle lovers. Nowadays every idiot seems to get involved with sea turtles (because they bring tourists and those bring the money!) but we are the ones who are truly passionate, dedicated and professional. So we won’t give way to those other freaks that think they’re doing so much good for this world by not gathering any scientific data, not bothering about temperature and releasing the turtles during the day off the paying visitors’ hands!
Step 8 – Optimize your future plans and find easy-peasy solutions
So our little survivor sparked that flame in us and we got back on the road. Now it’s about finding a suitable beach, working out a business plan that runs with little investment and setting up a business! Whoop whooop
Step 9 – Love your cats, as usual
I’m the crazy cat lady. Still and forever. No more words needed.
Step 10 – Start being more like a Nica
Okay, so I will NEVER EVER turn into that kind of Nica woman who is dependent on and oppressed by her man, cheated on with several other women, reproducing like some crazy bunny and cleaning, cooking and shouting at her kids all day long. But I will rather turn into a modern, independent, good-looking, intelligent woman from Managua, which is a whole different category! I get dressed in some real Nica clothes already, enjoy the Nica entertainment, master the Nica traffic, understand the Nica behaviour and use the Nica slang words.
Step 11 – Condemn once more turtle-unfriendly beachfront development
Really, San Juan del Sur, you’re heading the wrong way. In one or two decades you’ll be a shitty ghost town of old stinky expats and a few local tourists, but nothing more. Where has your beach gone? Where has your appeal gone? Look at other places, how they successfully combine their tourism infrastructure with a well-maintained, nice-looking natural environment. LOOK AT THEM!
Step 12 – Get to know sea turtle nesting beaches of Northern Nicaragua
We did a 4 day-adventure trip to check out a few potential beaches for our future project. Well, the good news first: Most of the beaches have already a hatchery project.
The bad news: They are run very unprofessionally by private business owners, without any permission by the government and they are NOT RUN BY US! So there are only few options left if we want to make our dream come true… We kind of have to hurry up.
Isla Los Brasiles – Surfing Turtle Lodge
This one is a popular backpacker and party hostel on an island formed by a mangrove swamp lying behind the coast. There’s just a very narrow but long stretch of land you can build on, and a group of young investors took that chance ten years ago and set up an eco-minded hostel, powered by solar energy. They have a huge hatchery but really just put the eggs in the ground and then have the tourist release them. I also don’t see how nightly bonfires and parties one the beach match with sea turtle nesting… well, too bad we were too late for securing us this turtle nesting hotspot!
So those are actually still in the race, and of course I won’t tell you how this little piece of paradise is called or where it is located, so that YOU, greedy investor, don’t steal it away from us! Just look at that panoramic view… On one side the Pacific Ocean and on the other side a mangrove haven. You like it? We do so, too!
Here again: Bad news. There is already a hatchery project. The local man running it gets paid by some hotel owners so that they have some hatchlings to show off to their guests, but he actually never received training and doesn’t really know how to work with the turtles. The good thing about Playa Aserradores is: All the infrastructure is like 200 metres off the coastline! So you actually have to walk through an enchanting forest to get to one of the best surf spots in Nicaragua. Unfortunately you realize it’s “surfers’ territory” when seing all those vehicle tracks.
Step 13 – Start to make your dream happen!
We gotta staaaaaart guys! We’ve got no money but we’ve got the clue, the creativity, the dedication and the skills! Our goal is to have our project open by June 2018. If that won’t happen, we’re condemned for the whole future, haha….
Step 14 – Write a blog post about it
Some days I’m super optimistic and some days I just wanna lie in bed and cry all the time. Do I have the worst life of all those people surrounding me? Hell no! Am I exceptionally lucky to have found the man of my life? Hell yes! So I guess I’ll just move on… Stay tuned!