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Thread: Purified in Chinandega

  1. #1

    Default Purified in Chinandega

    I took the 9:00am bus from Rivas to Managua on Saturday the 14th of January. I stuck around Rivas that late so that I could buy C$50 worth of saldo for my Claro phone. I had run out, and I needed it to send text in order to find my room for this next month. The Claro office next to the central park didnt open until 8:30am.

    I paid C$50 more for the two hour bus ride from Rivas to Managua. The bus unloaded everyone in the Huembes market. I walked around the market to the main street south of it, and I waited for a bus thatd take me to the Israel market on the western side of Managua. I could walk it. Ive walked it before, but this would take hours.

    A bus that is card only showed up first. I was going to let it pass, but a guy holding a card in a plastic holder connected to a long lariat around his neck offered to card me in for double to normal fare (C$5 instead of C$2.5). I agreed and climbed aboard.

    I saw several of these guys at each major stop as we made our way across Managua. I guess this makes sense. Taxis would charge C$40-C$50 to take a person across town, so it makes way more sense to pay the C$5 for a bus, and with the advent of the bus cards, tourists used to not have any other choice but to take a taxi or wait for the rare mixed buses that still accept coins. All these men have to do is to hang out near a bus terminal and get C$2.5 for free for every tourist that comes through. I imagine that this adds up quickly.

    The ride across town in the 106 took me by all of the universities. It filled to overflowing, and I had to ask a female student to let me know when we were coming up on Israel, because my view was blocked by the press of bodies. I bowled my way through people with my large pack held out front with two hands like a tackling dummy to get off at Israel.

    I walked a few blocks north through the market to get to the terminal. I climbed on an express bus to Chinandega, and I was charged C$69. That brings my traveling total from Rivas to Chinandega to C$124 (or $4.25). This bus ride took about two hours as well, so Id spent about 5 hours in buses.

    I spent the next couple of hours walking around Chinandega looking for a place to stay. A man on the street directed me to the first place that I looked. I found rooms for C$200/night, but I was unimpressed with the look of the place. I kept looking at several more places, and I finally settled on a place for C$300/night called Alojamiento Familiar. I picked this place mainly because I was physically exhausted after a couple hours packing my stuff around Chinandega in the heat and sun after an entire day of travel. However, it also had good internet, free purified water, a private bath, and a TV. And, the woman who works there told me that the owner knows someone who rents rooms by the month, and if I hung around until the morning, then I could ask her about it when she got back. I figured Id spend one night luxuriating and then hit the ground hard the next day to find my long term spot.

    I asked the owner the next morning. She might have known so other place that rents by the month, but if so she wouldnt tell me about it. She did offer to rent me a room there without furniture and without a private bathroom for $150/month at the Alojamiento Familiar. The most that Ive paid for a furnished room with a private bath in Nicaragua is $150/month, so I turned her down, strapped on my stuff, and hit the street again.

    I checked a few more places around Chinandega, and I sent several texts to numbers that I saw on doors that said Se Alquila Cuartos. None of these ever got back to me, and so I ended up back to the first place that I looked by the early afternoon. I was offered a C$150/night instead of a C$200/night discount if I stayed a month (or about $155/month), but I talked the owner down to $130. The room has a private bath, but its an old, broken down, dingy looking spot.

    I learned that for whatever reason rooms are more expensive to rent in Chinandega than they are in Rivas or Ometepe or Masaya or Leon. After a week here, I have still not found anything else as inexpensive as my $130/month living arrangements at my hotel.

    Chinandega may have unreasonable rent, but the food prices are great. I can get a good meal for C$50. I can get a great meal for C$70. I can get a great breakfast for C$25. There are two markets about the same distance from me in my room. One is to the north and the other is to the east. I visit them usually every day to buy fruit and vegetables. Mandarin oranges are in season right now. I found 3 for C$5 once, but they are usually 3 for C$10. Bananas arent as dirt cheap as they were on Ometepe (where they are grown), but they are still just C$2/piece in most places. Avocados are really expensive, but Im told that this is because they arent in season yet, and so supply and demand.

    I had to adapt to make my room work for me. It only has a single two hole electrical socket, so I wandered all over Chinandega looking for an inexpensive converter for my three prong plug on my laptop. The best that I could find in a normal ferreteria was a multiple plug bar with 15 feet of cord for C$80. I didnt want to pay this much or have to lug around something that bulky. I finally stopped into the local Sinsa on the main highway. I found a bizarre pricing convention, but I also found what I was looking for.

    The small orange converter was in a two for one packet. It was market for exactly $1.00 after IVA (tax). I asked them at what rate they converted, and they told me 29.7 (or something close to that). This is a rip off conversion rate for those paying in cordobas, but I figured Id still be getting what I wanted for C$30, so I grabbed it off the rack and brought it to the register up front.

    The woman working there told me that she didnt have the item number in the system, so she asked someone to go back and get the item number for a similar (but more expensive) converter so she could ring me up. It ended up being C$32. I told her that the item that I wanted was only C$30, and she seemed baffled by the problem. She referred me to a co-worker. He had me take him back and show him the price for the item that Id selected, and then he asked me if I was making a big deal over C$2.

    His question annoyed me. It wasnt about the C$2. It was about being charged the price listed in the storethe agreed upon price. Its the principle of the thing. Rather than say all of this, I just stared at him with a Yes I am expression on my face. He went over to a terminal and in a huff changed the price on my item to C$23 while telling another co-worker that he was doing it in a put out tone.

    I went back to the front and was charged the reduced amount (which I didnt request), and I left Sinsanever to return.

    Another issue that arose in my room was the smell of sewage. I thought at first that one of my neighbors must have not flushed their toilet and that the smell was coming over the wall. This seemed like a reasonable assumption, because the water tank here has to be filled and shut down manually. It will overflow and spill out into the courtyard if they leave the water on, because it doesnt have an automatic way of knowing when it should stop filling. For this reason, they shut the water off to the tank before they go to bed, and the residents here invariably use up the water from the tank leaving me without water during the nightif I should have to use the bathroom (for example).

    However, after spending a night with the smell of sewage, I remembered a similar problem from an old inexpensive room that I rented in Leon years ago.

    They had run all of the pipes along a single line so that the holes where the water from the showers drained went into the same pipe that carries the sewage from the toilets. My solution in Leon was to buy a stopped for the hole in the shower, so I went on a stopped hunt in Chinandega. I finally found a great solution of a hard PVC screw top pushed inside a rubbery part of an entirely different fixture. Id have to buy both pieces for a total of C$80 to make this work, so I opted to pay C$25 for just the hard PVC, and then I wrapped a plastic bag from Pali around the base and wedged it into the pipe to prevent the smell from leaking out while I wasnt using the shower.

    I converted the bucket that was originally my trash can into a water bucket that I keep full, so that if I should need to use the bathroom at night, I can flush my toilet. My toilet never has any water in the back tank, because the stopper is broken, everything that I put into it just runs out. When there is water, I have to hold down the stopper with one hand and run water until it is full and then flush any time that I want it to work.

    There is an evangelist church on the same block around to the side that ends up being next door to the long row of rooms around the courtyard. 3 or 4 days a week from 7:00pm until 9:00pm, they blast their music at death metal rock concert decibel levels. The first night was tough, but Ive learned to take this time to go to dinner and to go to a park to write. I have also learned that I shouldnt get on a sleep schedule that would have me trying to sleep before 9:00pm.

    There are two large mango trees in the courtyard with the young mango-laden branches handing over the zinc roofs of the rooms. I hear several loud bangs each night as a mango grenade drops. I understand that these will only get louder over the next two months.

    Ah, the simple joys of renting in Nicaragua.

    All that being said, I have found that since Ive made simple adjustments to the way I live that there is a lot going for this place. The courtyard is cool and shady in spots even during the really hot Chinandega afternoons. There is a second floor sitting area where they have they broken water tank that I use to write. There are plenty of places to hang my laundry to dry in the sun as they have lines crossing the entire length of the long courtyard. The owner is a good conversationalist and hes knowledgeable about Nicaraguan history and politics. Some of the people here are friendly. Some are stand-offish. Some are odd in an intriguing way. There are three cats that patrol the grounds, and as a result there are no mice or large insects. One of the cats loves me, one is terrified of me, and the third finds me to be terribly boring.

    I have been walking around Chinandega many times over this week. I found a new and nice park across from the Tip-Top near the central park. Its dedicated to Ruben Dario, and is called Parque de Ninos. There are fountains, and jungle gyms, and benches, and it is well lit and kept clean. Ive gone there a few times to write after dark. The other parks are usually so overloaded with people, that I cant find a place to write and feel comfortable. Im glad that they made this new park, as it seems that Chinandegas population has outgrown that parks that it already has.

    I tried to get out and take pictures of Chinandega to share early on, but I had a hard time finding any pictures that I really liked. Chinandega is a rough and dirty functional working city. It is large and sprawling. Id guess that its around the same size as Leon, but it lacks an historic monumental center or the vistas afforded by Leons hilly terrain. Chinandega is flat. It has many old churches, but they seem to be going out of their way to conceal them with high walls, bushes, trees, and other buildings. Its clear that Chinandega isnt trying to impress anyone or to show off. It is what it is, and its okay with that.

    I havent given up on finding good photos here, but Ill have to switch up my focus and my mindset. Until then, Ive included some shots of my hotel and the few that I like from Chinandega.

    There is a statue in the middle of the round-about near the entrance to Chinandega from Leon of a naked man holding a hammer over his head with one hand and holding a chisel in the other. It seems as if he is chiseling himself. The artist is Piero Coen. The statue is labeled Monument to Work and the inscription reads, Work purifies the soul and the spirit.

    I like the inscription about work, because I selected Chinandega for this leg of my trip so that I could buckle down and work on my writing. I felt that it was symbolic of my personal journey and would serve to motivate me to stay on task. I walk by this statue nearly every day, because the MaxiPali and the local mall are both on the other side of it from my room. I use the MaxiPali for chocolate milk and snacks, and I use the mall for movies and for a place to write. The food court area is kept cool and clean and it is almost always mostly empty.

    The owner of my hotel told me that there used to be another statue there about 15 years ago of a warrior. On my second day in Chinandega, he told me that Piero Coen is secretly gay, and that his woman left him because of it, and that this is why the statue is of a naked man. He much preferred the imagery of a strong warrior at the entrance to Chinandega rather than what he sees as monument to homosexuality.

    Now that hes told me this, I cant help but see the statue through his eyes some of the time. Did he ruin the statue for me? Maybe, but it is still working as a reminder to motivate me to work.

    Saludos!

    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    Great story and pics.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

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    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    The fun of Cheap Hotels.

    I have a great place I stay in Rama for 200c nt, but they are sometime full and the other 200c hotels are pretty rough.

    Paid 450 in Juigalpa the other nt but it was real nice, looked at a real good 250c room (no bathroom, but was across hall and nice) and 300c room in town but liked this place, so splurged a little.

    Sometimes hard to figure out the pricing on cheap place, how they arrive at them.

    For the Sewer Smell go by a Ferreteria, get granulated Cloro, 75c# over here. Septic Systems here are a wreck typically. Put a little of the Cloro in the drains every day. # will last you a good while.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  4. #4
    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    check on Claro--if you buy 300 cords you get a bunch of minutes good for 5 weeks. Better than piddle farting around with little recharges.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

    Covid was an intelligence test and we flunked.



  5. #5
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    Few days a week that are usually 5x, I buy on Fridays 99c (you buy 100+ you do not get the bonus) there are days when you can buy any amount and get the bonus. You have to watch for it. Also usually less than 20-30 you do not get bonus. Every so often they will do 6x.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  6. #6

    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    Quote Originally Posted by cookshow View Post
    Few days a week that are usually 5x, I buy on Fridays 99c (you buy 100+ you do not get the bonus) there are days when you can buy any amount and get the bonus. You have to watch for it. Also usually less than 20-30 you do not get bonus. Every so often they will do 6x.



    Have you guys looked into getting a postpago plan? For about $18 you get unlimited calling, never have to worry about saldo again. Messaging,, email, and some internet time is included,,

    Internet is not unlimited, I can't remember what mine is,, maybe 500 MB, but I really don't use the phone for that. There are various promotions from time to time that sweeten the deal.

    For the non-residents,, you need a straw man,, but once it's set up,, they will send YOU an email,, or just show up on the due date or before and pay it.

    For someone who comes and goes from the country,, the payments continue.
    For someone who is here all the time,, it seems like a good solution.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    Great read and it looks pretty good for a working town.

  8. #8
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    There is a statue in the middle of the round-about near the entrance to Chinandega from Leon of a naked man holding a hammer over his head with one hand and holding a chisel in the other. It seems as if he is chiseling himself. The artist is Piero Coen. The statue is labeled “Monument to Work” and the inscription reads, “Work purifies the soul and the spirit.”
    Thanks for all the excellent fotos of the statue. That's usually a very busy traffic circle, so I can appreciated the risk you, a man on foot, took to get them.

    The artist is probably not Piero Coen. The Coens are one of the 10 most influential families in Central America, according to Forbes. (And like the Pellas, of Italian origin.) There are several generations of Piero Coens from Chinandega. And one of 'em undoubtedly said that quote. In a 2013 magazine interview with Piero Coen Ubilla, he said,
    Mi padre me deca desde pequeo: “No quers ser pobre?, trabaja. Quers ser rico?, hac que otros trabajen por vos. Quers ser millonario?, hac que otros piensen por vos”.
    Which, beyond "work if you don't want to be poor", I would liberally translate: You wanna be rich? Learn to exploit others. Super-rich? Exploit their minds (steal their best ideas).

    And so what I see first on entering Chinandega is a worker with a hammer - half of the hammer & sickle symbol of the international worker. That he is creating himself from stone is disconcerting. Michaelangelo had several partial statues struggling to be released from stone, as if the marble itself contained them, and his job was only to expose them. But this artist is saying something different - what it is is not clear to me, for his subject, the worker, is creating his own body, not his soul & spirit.
    See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil: be a wise simian

  9. #9

    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    Quote Originally Posted by Daddy-YO View Post
    Thanks for all the excellent fotos of the statue. That's usually a very busy traffic circle, so I can appreciated the risk you, a man on foot, took to get them.

    The artist is probably not Piero Coen. The Coens are one of the 10 most influential families in Central America, according to Forbes. (And like the Pellas, of Italian origin.) There are several generations of Piero Coens from Chinandega. And one of 'em undoubtedly said that quote. In a 2013 magazine interview with Piero Coen Ubilla, he said,

    Which, beyond "work if you don't want to be poor", I would liberally translate: You wanna be rich? Learn to exploit others. Super-rich? Exploit their minds (steal their best ideas).

    And so what I see first on entering Chinandega is a worker with a hammer - half of the hammer & sickle symbol of the international worker. That he is creating himself from stone is disconcerting. Michaelangelo had several partial statues struggling to be released from stone, as if the marble itself contained them, and his job was only to expose them. But this artist is saying something different - what it is is not clear to me, for his subject, the worker, is creating his own body, not his soul & spirit.

    Whoa! Some great insights.
    I had the feeling too that it was a Soviet (revoution) era work. Has that look.
    Is there a date on the statue.

    Nothing wrong with the concept,, the reality was always different.

    Some interesting history too.

    I would translate the latter phrases a bit differently:

    If you want to get rich,, have people work for you.
    If you want to get filthy rich,, have them think for you.

    I've never exploited the people who have worked for me,, sometimes quite the contrary. I HAVE benefited from their labor in realizing my goals.

    The guys I have working for me now used to show up at 6:45 latest to start working at 7AM. I always have coffee waiting for them,, and a donut if I've been to PriceSmart, or a buttered hunk of home made bread.

    Lately, they are getting here at 7AM and drinking their coffee on my time. I don't pay them enough to make it a big deal (but more than they get elsewhere in the campo, and consistently).

    On the other hand,, they will stay past the 3PM quitting time if there is anything that drags on a bit. If they stay really late,, I compensate them on the spot.

    So,, the exploited-exploiter thing cuts both ways. What did the soviet workers used to say: "They pretend to pay us,, and we pretend to work".

  10. #10
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    The word is simple enough. Google definition: exploit (verb) - make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource). But it is charged with a negative cultural connotation, a measure, IMO, of how the 100+ year old philosophy of Marx has affected our thinking. My translation of papa Coen's advice was partly tongue-in-cheek which is why I called it "liberal". I didn't mean to put you on the defensive about how you treat your workers, KWP, which I'm sure is more than fair.

    Papa Coen's advice, justly translated, as you did KWP -- if ya wanna get rich, have others work for ya; to get super-rich, have 'em think for ya -- spells out not just how wealth is created, but how it's concentrated. But humans are a funny 'resource'. They enter into 'relationships' with one another. Those that endure longest seem to always be family, blood ties. Even the heads of mega-corporations. Money & creature comforts only go so far in satisfying those who work for others. (Not that people can't be made desperate/miserable enough to 'happily' join in building the next pyramid.) A sense of ownership will motivate people to give more of themselves to their work, such as a patriot will die defending his country. But that's more difficult in a business that must profit to survive. Workers come & go depending on their utility; owners define what is/will be the business.

    The slogan, “Work purifies the soul and the spirit,” rings in my cynical mind as the latino version of "Arbeit macht frei", in which case the worker with hammer & chisel is working to be free of the stone that binds him.
    See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil: be a wise simian

  11. #11

    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    I cross that intersection at least twice a day as I walk to and from the mall/theater and the MaxiPali. It is busy, but if I pick the right angles, it's doable without too much danger.

    On the day that I took these photos, I circled around half the statue before a security guard came out and told me that it was forbidden to take photos of the statue from on the round about. I asked him if it was okay to photograph it from the other side of the road, and he said yes...seems like an odd rule.
    Soy el chele mono.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    i hate SINSA for that very reason. I rarely go there, but in the handful of times i have ended up there, i dont think a single time i have ever been charged the correct price at the register.
    One time i bought a flashlight from the end of the checkout aisle. They were having a special for 4.99 or something. Big sign that says 4.99 about 3 feet from the cashier. It rang up at 8 bucks. I mentioned it to the cashier and 4 or 5 employees and a couple managers later, they informed me that, the price must be 8 dollars because thats what it rings up as. Even though i mentioned a few times where i got it from, it took them many minutes to look at the sign, which then prompted another meeting among many employees to figure out why the sign and the computer price were different.
    Eventually i said forget it, but she had already rang it up, and so they tried to convince me it was a good flashlight and well worth the money. i had to tell 2 or 3 different people NO i do not want it, for them to finally remove it.

    My favorite is when they raised the price on the computer, and after all the checking they just say "well the sign is wrong, we havent updated the sign yet".

  13. #13
    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    Well, the local sinsa has at least speeded up, it used to take 45 minutes and a lot of interpersonal skills to buy a lightbulb.
    Not yet up to the standards of a 1980s Ace Hardware.

    More and more, I see what sinsa offers and try to find somebody else with the same stuff. Sur Paint is one of the winners in this. Looking more and more at El Halcon, too. Construnica in esteli has reinvented itself and actually has a pretty good inventory. And my recent conversion to galvanised has me hitting ferromax quite a bit.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

    Covid was an intelligence test and we flunked.



  14. #14

    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    i can find most of what i am looking for in the local neighborhood ferreterias. But if i gotta go big, i like to go to the Fetesa do-it-center places, which are just Home Depot. right down to the same color scheme and everything. At least they have always been relatively helpful (when comparing customer service in this country), and have charged me the correct price.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    Quote Originally Posted by vinyljunkie77003 View Post
    i can find most of what i am looking for in the local neighborhood ferreterias. But if i gotta go big, i like to go to the Fetesa do-it-center places, which are just Home Depot. right down to the same color scheme and everything. At least they have always been relatively helpful (when comparing customer service in this country), and have charged me the correct price.


    Where are they? I'd like to check one out.

    I've had good luck at Sinsa. The trick is to become friendly with one of the ayudantes, give him or her (surprisingly the girl I use now is more lista than most of the guys, and more accommodating).

    The revision of your purchases is annoying,, especially if there is a line.

  16. #16
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purified in Chinandega

    As KWP says, make a friend. I frequent a few Ferreterias and if I do not see my "people" working then I keep walking go to another.

    Young Creole Man at one place is my go to when I need something odd or am looking for something they may not have. He is a wealth of information. Always stop and say Hello when I pass by, even if not shopping.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

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