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Thread: The Sun Also Sets

  1. #1

    Default The Sun Also Sets

    I hung out with a friend this weekend. I had spent so much time alone (both in Rivas and now on this island), that it was a refreshing change of pace to be able to share what I did and what I saw with someone else.

    We tried to find nacatamales Sunday afternoon. We walked to four places that I know of where they sell them, but they were sold out in every location. I guess if you want weedend nacatamales, you need to get out in the morning. They're a hot commodity.

    We ended up eating at a place connected to a pulperia along the main road. I knew of this place, but I'd never eaten there before, because they overcharge for everything. I can get a good plate of food near the port for C$50, but at this place they charge C$80. I can get a breakfast in Masaya for C$30 (just eggs and guillo pinto), but at this place they charge C$60. Still, we were hungry and out of good options.

    My friend ordered a C$70 plate of pulled beef, and I ordered a C$60 beef soup. The beef soup may be the only thing that is reasonably priced. I can get the same thing for C$50 in the central park in Rivas, but they gave me tons of stuff in the soup, and it was huge bowl.

    We walked down to a place called Puesta del Sol on Sunday. It calls itself a "community," and it's just to the south of Moyogalpa on the shore. There are a line of houses with name tags and a nice well ordered pulperia across from a green tower of rooms for rent and a central pavilion with tables and hammocks.

    There's a placard in the pavilion that offers rental services on bikes and kayaks (for $5/hour) and other things. They also offer $15 massages. I tried to figure out how much it costs to stay in the green tower, but the girl who was working there told me that I needed to ask the woman who lived in the house across the way. I walked over there, but it was closed up tight, so I am left wondering.

    The road that leads out to Puesta del Sol has some house and passes by some very small towns with baseball fields. It turns towards the lake at a fancy wooden playground jungle gym. It's nicer than most of the new ones that I seeing going up in the parks of large cities, so my first thought was, "What is an expensive piece of playground equipment doing out in the middle of nowhere?" After seeing the "community," I think that I have my answer: tourist money.

    The woman working at the pavilion told me that the people who live in Puesta del Sol take tourists into their homes so that people can both see what "normal life" is like for a Nicaraguan as well as learn how to do things like fish and grind corn into masa and other common activities. The people living there all band together to maintain the tourist spot--cleaning, teaching, guiding, massaging, etc.

    I've spent many years in Nicaragua learning how to survive on my own with as little expense as possible. This includes washing my clothes on a lavandero by hand, cooking my own food (even over a fire pit), cutting down monte with a machete, harvesting beans, and walking long distances to get where I need to go. However, I never had to pay someone to teach me how to do these things, nor did it occur to me to do so.

    Doesn't idealizing "the simple life" by paying someone large sums of money (for the locals) defeat the purpose? They don't do what they do because it's chic or sustainable or idyllic. They do what they do in order to survive and to try to carve out some sort of living. For this reason I find the community in Puesta del Sol unnerving. It's a bizarre aberration from reality that only exists because it sells itself as reality.

    That being said, I found the people in and around Puesta del Sol to be friendly enough. They didn't challenge my presence as my friend and I wandered through and sat on a bench to look out over the lake and take pictures. However, I did get the sense that the people there saw me as a wallet and not as a person.

    We walked back to Moyogalpa taking pictures along the way. My friend is a coffee junkie, so we walked around Moyogalpa just after dark looking for a fix. We tried 5 or 6 places, but they all gave us weird looks and told us that they only had coffee in the morning. We eventually gave up and decided to get dinner. I admit that I was surprised at how hard it was to find coffee in Nicaragua. That's like not being able to find plantains or chickens or red beans in Nicaragua.

    We ate dinner in a place I had tried before. They do grilled chicken with the normal sides (arroz, tajadas, ensalada). They charge C$60, but it's a worthwhile place to eat from time to time because of the citrus marinade that they use on their chicken. It's tasty. We asked about coffee where we got our dinner, and they agreed to make my friend a cup for C$10.

    After dinner, we hung out in the park for a bit. There are Christmas lights up over a metal frame in the shape of a tree as well as other Christmas decorations. The park was as full as I've ever seen it, and we had a hard time finding a place to sit. We ended up sitting around the side of the basketball court.

    All in all, I've decided that while Ometepe is a nice place to escape and to find solitude to reflect on my life and to center my thoughts and to write--it's also a nice place to experience with a friend. I'm glad that I had the chance the try the latter.

    Saludos!

    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    Nice post....looks like you have found your "spot"....Omotepe that is.

    I like the green tower....reminds me of Faro Blanco in Marathon in the Florida Keys.

    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  3. #3
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    Tom, there's the steps you need. So they'll rust away in a year, at least you'll have steps.


  4. #4
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonh View Post
    Tom, there's the steps you need. So they'll rust away in a year, at least you'll have steps.


    Yeah...those are pretty cool...only problem with spirals is you can't get anything big up or down...they are a real pain with anything more than yourself. They do look good though.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    The tower is a cool design. Wonder if you pay more as you go up for the view or less since you have more stairs to climb?

    I always found "farm stays" a bit suspect also. I grew up on a farm and didn't appreciate it until I got older. Don't think I'd pay to do it again. Likely they make money by scratching that lefty itch. Think you hit the nail on the head with- "It's a bizarre aberration from reality that only exists because it sells itself as reality."

  6. #6
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    Can you imagine tourists coming to, say, Palatka, Florida and paying to live with a family who runs a gas station or something? Learning how to pick frozen food and how many minutes to microwave it? Learning how to call cable TV customer service to straighten out a billing problem?

    I think the idea of doing that with a Nicaraguan family is condescending and creepy. We're so dumb we have to take lessons in how to grind corn, but we're so rich we can travel two thousand miles and learn a skill we'll never use again? No doubt the Puesta del Sol residents are aware of this, take advantage, and snicker behind the tourists' backs. I know I would.

    We bought a manual corn grinder on Amazon and just went with trial and error. It's not easy to do. The corn has to be just right and apparently there are about fifty thousand varieties of corn and you just can't get the right kind around here.

  7. #7
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonh View Post
    Can you imagine tourists coming to, say, Palatka, Florida and paying to live with a family who runs a gas station or something? Learning how to pick frozen food and how many minutes to microwave it? Learning how to call cable TV customer service to straighten out a billing problem?
    The idea was to keep people on the land while giving them a way to pick up some cash for paying land taxes. Some of the gringos planning to rent out space on their farmettes, too. One woman is asking between $300 and $500 a month for rooms with and without bathrooms and space. My three bedroom house in Jinotega isn't that expensive. Sort of reminds me of Cool Top's plan to have people pay $600 a month for a geodesic dome and board.

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    I like the pic of you with the tree, the circular staircase up the outside of the green building (is that in the community that caters to tourists?), the black horses in the trees, and the volcano with mist at its base.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Sun Also Sets

    Quote Originally Posted by songbird27 View Post
    I like the pic of you with the tree, the circular staircase up the outside of the green building (is that in the community that caters to tourists?), the black horses in the trees, and the volcano with mist at its base.
    Yes, the green tower is in the community that caters to tourist.
    Soy el chele mono.

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