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Thread: What city is best for a starting point?

  1. #1

    Default What city is best for a starting point?

    I will be making the plunge between 3 and 6 months. I haven't asked much about the cities because I know it's just something you have to see to find out (for the most part.) What I am wondering is if you would recommend a city to start out at what would you suggest?

    I have never been to any Central or South American country. I am just now starting to learn Spanish at livemocha.com. I'll probably have to buy some interactive CD's like Rosetta Stone (but NOT Rosetta Stone because it seems way overpriced.) I am planning on eventuallly getting my Cedula and settling down there, but obviously I need to get to know the place better before I make it a certainty. I'm up for the challenge of Nicaragua though...

    Some of the places I'm interested in are Leon, Esteli, San Juan Del Sur, Granada, and Jinotepe. Most all of what I know of those places are from vianica.com and reading related posts here.

    What would you recommend as a good starting point for someone like me who knows nobody, doesn't speak a lick of Spanish yet and has never been there before? I was thinking Granada because there would be more expats that I can ask advice from and for general shooting the shit. In the long run I really am not moving there to hang out with only expats though. I want to immerse myself in the country and culture. Not saying I'm not gonna hang with expats at all but you get my drift I hope...

    Oh... Almost forgot. Any information on what certain cities or areas are like would be appreciated also.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Viejo del Foro El Greco's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Granada and San Juan del Sur are were most expats are settled. I'm a Nicaraguan and can tell you that we have a holiday for every Saint, so prepare to have a good time, and live a very fun easy way of life
    Dios es Amor!

  3. #3
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    I agree with El G you will want to be around someone to help with translations and the culture difference. But don't worry, with a positive attitude you will be just fine.

    Those expats already know who is good and who not to trust (Hustlers) it will be a bit higher in those places but a durn sight cheaper than what you probably know now
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  4. #4

    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Thanks guys, I appreciate your input.

    SJDS sounds like alot of fun. Would you say it's less humid there than Granada? I love tropical (hot/humid) weather but at night when trying to sleep humidity bothers me more and to cut costs I'm going to try to get by without AC.

    One thing is certain. Wherever I go there had better be a bar nearby that has all the american sports packages. Especially NFL! This is one thing I refuse to give up. My car and all my belongings I am either giving away or selling, but I can't live without the NFL.

  5. #5
    Active TRN Member
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    right where the plane lands..mga..that or metagalpa..thats my 2 choices..

  6. #6
    Viejo del Foro El Greco's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Electricity is expensive in Nicaragua, there is a company called tecnosol that installs solar panels and Eolic wind turbines for the home, it is an excellent choice if you want to save money on electricity, here's the link.

    http://www.tecnosolsa.com.ni/
    Dios es Amor!

  7. #7

    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    For good immersion, I'd recommend that you start someplace small like La Conception de Masaya or El Rosario in Carazo. The people tend to be more laid back and to have more time for you. The pace of life is gentler.

    The downside to this suggestion is that there isn't much of a Gringo presence in small towns, and it will probably be harder to find an NFL game.
    Soy el chele mono.

  8. #8
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    You NFL request may be an issue outside of Managua SJDS or Granada.

    For example I have never ran across any indication of games being broadcast in Masaya.

    If this toe dip trip is in the guise of eventual residency / perpetual tourist I'd say jump in with both feet.. Nicaragua can not be understood by reading a forum nor by lurking in the tourist enclaves of Granada and SJDS..

    After a week of acclimatization in any of those 3 places jump in with two feet to the rest of the country to see if you can remain sane in the land of floating lead and sinking cork..
    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  9. #9

    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    The plan now is perpetual toursit and eventually residency. Of course that can change once I get there and I get hit in the head with a huge stick of culture shock. I doubt that happens though as I'm very adaptable really want to do this.

    I'm making the plunge head first! I believe once acclimated to the how to do things and familiar with the different areas I'll find a place in one of the quiter areas and then on weekends I could just take a trip to the nearest city for my football fixes.

    Just have a ton of thoughts and really appreciate all this input. For those interested I'll certainly be looking forward to buying a few beers once I get there.

  10. #10
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Why not Bluefields or Puerto Cabezas? There's native English speaking people (sort of) so you don't need to find Gringos to speak English.

    Esteli is fine, especially if you'd rather not sleep in a pool of your own sweat. It's a big place, something like 125,000 people. Much fewer English speakers though, which could be a plus if you want to learn Spanish by immersion.

  11. #11
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swanny View Post
    I'll certainly be looking forward to buying a few beers once I get there.
    Tona - C$60 ea at the On the Run..

    My recommendation...

    Land --- Day 1-4 Granada - Remainder of Week 1 and Week 2 SJDS


    Week 3 Rivas / San Jorge / Ometepe (more time on Ometepe)
    Week 4 Masaya/Catirina
    Week 5 Jinotepe / San Marcos / Diramba
    Week 6 Matagalpa
    Week 7 Jinotega
    Week 8 Esteli
    Week 9 Leon
    Week 10 Chinondega
    Week 11 Pochomill / Masachapa / Day trip or one night at Montelimar
    Week 12 Managua


    Of course on Day 2 you will realize that planning is not working, on day 5 you will come to the stunning realization that is it not only is it not working it is completely and utterly futile .

    Enjoy..

    BTW.. If your budget allows there is a Driver with a car which is highly recommended.. About 30ish $US a day plus gas..

    While bus is the best immersion method to get from place to place, Robeth could get your first couple intercity transfers done with travel commentary..
    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  12. #12
    Active TRN Member Dolly's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    You'll have to stay in one of the major gringo towns to get the NFL package at a bar. I was on Corn Island last years and a couple of guys asked where the closest sports bar was. You should have seen the looks that they got.
    It's all part of the adventure!!

  13. #13
    Junkyard Dog randude's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Quote Originally Posted by bill_bly_ca View Post
    Tona - C$60 ea at the On the Run..

    My recommendation...

    Land --- Day 1-4 Granada - Remainder of Week 1 and Week 2 SJDS


    Week 3 Rivas / San Jorge / Ometepe (more time on Ometepe)
    Week 4 Masaya/Catirina
    Week 5 Jinotepe / San Marcos / Diramba
    Week 6 Matagalpa
    Week 7 Jinotega
    Week 8 Esteli
    Week 9 Leon
    Week 10 Chinondega
    Week 11 Pochomill / Masachapa / Day trip or one night at Montelimar
    Week 12 Managua


    Of course on Day 2 you will realize that planning is not working, on day 5 you will come to the stunning realization that is it not only is it not working it is completely and utterly futile .

    Enjoy..

    BTW.. If your budget allows there is a Driver with a car which is highly recommended.. About 30ish $US a day plus gas..

    While bus is the best immersion method to get from place to place, Robeth could get your first couple intercity transfers done with travel commentary..

    $3.00 US for a beer in Nica? OMG
    Survivor

  14. #14
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Oh Sh!+...

    I goofed.. C$20 per beer when bought in a 12pack it comes out to something like C$13 ea (... I think it was C$160 or 160..

    Mixup day today.. Too many things on the go..
    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  15. #15

    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Lot's of great food for thought. I love the itinerary Bill... Are you for hire? Seriously though, it really is a good idea and I will do something (if not exactly) like that.

    John, what kind of gringo presense is in Esteli? I do know it's small but is there enough of a presense so I don't get totally bonkers? Do you know of any bars that have sports packages? I have read alot about the place and it sounds like someplace I'd like after a while so any more personal thoughts on it would be appreciated.

  16. #16
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Robert Ow (505 8 851 6232 and 505 8 852 4792 and orob07@aol.com)

    He is a good guy..
    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  17. #17
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swanny View Post

    Some of the places I'm interested in are Leon, Esteli, San Juan Del Sur, Granada, and Jinotepe. Most all of what I know of those places are from vianica.com and reading related posts here.
    Depends on the time you have. If you're planning to be here for three weeks, see all of them. If you're going to be here for a week, hit YouTube and look for city videos and try to narrow it down to two. How much money will you be retiring with? Air-conditioning is brutally expensive here if you have to run it most of the time. The highland cities (Esteli, Matagalpa, and Jinotega) will be cooler, but if you can afford the AC, both Granada and Leon are said to be spectacular, especially Granada, but Leon is more real Nicaragua (again, on what I've heard)

    Esteli in on the Pan Am highways which is both good and sometimes negative (lot of transient truck traffic, not all necessarily legit). It's got a fairly vibrant expat community but smaller scope than Granada's. Matagalpa would be Boulder if Nicaragua was as rich as the US. It's got feminists who do Slut Walks, grocery stores with the gringo food groups (brownie mix, brown rice, and more varieties of cheese), and a spectacular annual drag show (see YouTube for Miss Gay Matagalpa). Jinotega would be Roanoke, Virginia, with less trash (it's the size of Greenville, S.C., but higher in elevation, at about 3,000 feet).

    See all of them if you can. Others know Jinotepe first hand, but from this site, I see a fair amount of expats living there, not as lavishly as some other places.

  18. #18
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Esteli has quite a few Nicas who lived in the US then returned, so they speak English. Not so many gringos that I know of, so MizBrown must know a bunch I don't. There's that guy with the igloos, and me when we are able to get there every year or two. There's a cyber a couple blocks north of the cathedral where a lot of gringos seem to hang out, and some backpackers who need a good shower and haircut. They have several discos and sports bars, but my wife won't let me go to them so I can't say if they have NFL on TV.

  19. #19
    TRN's fiesty redhead catahoula fan's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Spending a little time in several towns across the country is a great way to get to know this place. One town can be hugely different from another just down the road.

    SJDS has the serious beach vibe going on and eating out will cost you more than in most other towns. Lots of half-naked folks walking around, which is NOT always a good thing!

    Granada has a huge expat population, many of the "more normal" ones are working for a living so it'll be harder to meet and hang out with them but there is no shortage of old farts drinking at corner bars from early on in the day, in case you want their take on life in Nicaragua.

    Jinotepe's expat population is usually in hiding, unless you go to Teri's Diner near the park (which has THE best breakfast and burgers around). This town would allow you to make visits to several of the nearby towns to get a real feel for the country. Santa Teresa, to the South, is a quaint and friendly town. I keep hearing that it's full of booze and drugs...maybe that's why the locals are always smilin' every time I visit for cheap beer, quizás? Diriamba, to the North, is another great town to walk around. San Marcos, to the east, has an awesome English-language college, a killer library, and again, lots of friendly folks. Check out La Casona if you get to this town, super friendly family (one of our member's girlfriend's relatives) and great food!

    Nandaime is about 25 or so minutes south of Jinotepe and is a really big place once you get walking around. Lots of really nice homes, folks here own big fincas and there's a definite rural feel to this town.

    We live near the Jinotepe area; feel free to email me, you can buy me a beer when in country while I regale you with adventures of this crazy, crazy place!
    "Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing."

  20. #20
    TRN's fiesty redhead catahoula fan's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    PS Any bar/restaurant that has SKY tv will have at least the basic package which covers the NFL channel, just ask for SKY and channel 526.
    "Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing."

  21. #21
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Swanny .... You have just received about 100 person-decades of real good advice.

    Do not take it lightly!
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  22. #22

    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Much like Swammy, I am doing the same, but different if you get my drift. I'm working with Paul Tiffer right now on Residency status and things are going quite well.

    I plan on staying in Granada, Leon, and Esteli to get a feeling of life in more populated areas. Then will move on to smaller less populated with Gringo enclaves. Until some place hits over the head and says "this is the place to settle down"

    I appreciate all the input on this Thread for my upcoming move, which if all works well, will be September, 2011, and I'll buy beer when I meet up with board members. Thanks again.

  23. #23
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    You have gotten some very sound advice so far and it sounds like you have the right attitude.

    Do Not underestimate the "culture shock".

    My suggestion (and I will surely catch Hell for this) is to have a Paxeos Shuttle waiting when you arive in MGA and head to Granada. Have a hotel lined up for a few nights. Then hit the streets, find a hotel that will rent you a room by the month. Granada has everything you are looking for. Ok now you have habitacion.

    Either look a school to learn at or start travelling, using Granada as your base.

    Granada is not perfect, but it is a very good way to ease yourself in to things.

    I first went to Granada in 2004, and I still see some of the same guys drinking beer and looking at the street now as I did then, I could show them a dozen places here where the beer is 25% cheaper and they would be looking at the Caribbean Sea. Everyone has a different idea about paradise.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  24. #24
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Shush....there is no such thing as the Caribbean Sea.

    Stay in Granada!
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  25. #25
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: What city is best for a starting point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonh View Post
    Esteli has quite a few Nicas who lived in the US then returned, so they speak English. Not so many gringos that I know of, so MizBrown must know a bunch I don't. There's that guy with the igloos, and me when we are able to get there every year or two. There's a cyber a couple blocks north of the cathedral where a lot of gringos seem to hang out, and some backpackers who need a good shower and haircut. They have several discos and sports bars, but my wife won't let me go to them so I can't say if they have NFL on TV.
    I met a number of people who spoke English, not all USAnos, at Janie's (Luna-y-Luz). Probably a more international scene than some others. Jinotega has a fair number of English-speaking expats, too. Even San Raphael del Norte has some. Expats in the smaller cities can't afford to be nationalistic. I know of some in Matagalpa, but have never met them.

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