Monday, April 30, 2012

When you need.... photocopies, documents scanned, internet

When we purchased our printer we found that we were very limited in selection and so we decided that we would just go with a basic printer with no scanner/photocopier. However, recently we came into a situation where we needed to have a document scanned and sent back to Canada. Panic set in because these documents were time sensitive and we weren't able to arrange to use a friends scanner.

Most neighbourhoods seem to have "Cyber Cafe's" or at least small Internet Stores. These locations have computers set up where you purchase internet time. Quite a few are "full service" where they are able to make photocopies, scan to email as well as print documents.

HJ ServiTech, Leon, Nicaragua

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quesillos - A Nicaraguan Treat

Quesillos Tipicos de Mi Tierra
Recently we stopped by Quesillos Tipicos de Mi Tierra restaurant in León for lunch and had our first taste of these popular "comida rapida". The restaurant seems to be a popular choice for lunch since it was filled with students from a local high school, but don't worry the service is fast and efficient.

Quesillos are originally from Nagarote and La Paz Centro in the Department of León but can now be enjoyed in other parts of the country. They are often served "to go" in little baggies, but we enjoyed ours in the casual dining area. They are an inexpensive choice for lunch at only 23 cordobas for a single.

The ingredients are simple: corn tortilla, Nicaraguan cheese, finely chopped pickled onions, sour cream and salt. If you would like to try and make quesillos at home I found a recipe on line at Nicaraguan Food website.

Quesillo (Leon, Nicaragua)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Salman Grocery Store, León, Nicaragua

The Salman Grocery Store (Supermercado) is the most "complete" grocery store that we have found so far in León, Nicaragua. The Lonely Planet describes it as "half grocery and half superstore" which is a great description for this place. Not only will you find your usual grocery fare like fruits, veggies, meats and dairy but you will find kitchen gadgets, cooking pans, bathroom accessories, clothing and office supplies. Oh, and not to be forgotten - a great selection of liquor! The meat section has a traditional meat counter but also a "pick your own chicken pieces" bar - very unusual.

Here is a walk down some of the isles - see if you can find some of your favorite brands:

Stash Tea

Del Monte canned vegetables

Liquor - note the Flor de Cana

Corn Flakes and Choco Krispis - on sale!


Casserole dishes


This Salman Grocery store is located approximately 4 blocks west of the La Union and is well worth your visit!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cost of Gas in León, Nicaragua

Although Pat and I don't have a car here in Nicaragua there are many who are factoring the cost of car ownership into their budget. Here is the current price listed at the neighbouring Esso.  The exchange rate is at : 23.7143

Diesel: 29.41 cordobas a litre = $1.24 CDN
Regular: 33.06 cordobas a litre = $1.39 CDN
Premium: 35.21 cordobas a litre = $1.48 CDN

Friday, April 20, 2012

Shopping for meat - La Unión - León, Nicaragua

Shopping for meat at La Unión is no different that shopping at your local supermarket back home. You can buy prepackaged meat - chicken, beef, pork, sausages - or you can go to the meat counter and buy the exact quantities that you want.

What we like about La Unión versus the local Palí is that La Unión has packages of seasoned meat. This makes mealtime really quick and easy when you are in a hurry.  

So... what did we buy from the local La Unión today?

package of beef slices for stirfry - 2 meals at 39.82 cordobas
package of chorizos - 2 meals at 58.31 cordobas
package of ground beef - 4 meals at 142.05 cordobas
package of 3 full chicken breasts - 6 meals at 126.79 cordobas

So, for approximately $16.50 CDN we have enough meat for 14 dinners.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Filing Canadian Income Tax

Tax Deadline 2012 MenWe left Canada before we were able to file our Canadian Income Tax report for last year and as you know the April 30th deadline is fast approaching. For quite a few years we have been using Turbotax (Intuit software) because we could use the NETFILE option. We have always had great success with this program.  We have to buy this program each year and since this year we are on a tight budget we thought we would try a different program - a free one.

After a short internet search I found Studio Tax and decided to give it a try. The download was quick and easy and the program itself was a breeze to use. Please note - our taxes aren't complicated, just simple reports with T-4's and donations. I was able to use the NETFILE option with no problems.

The Studio Tax program is free to use but they do request donations to help support the production of the program.

Do you have questions about when your taxes are due? Check out the Canada Revenue Agency website for details: Canada Revenue Agency

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Staying cool - swimming at the UCC

With the heat here in León it can be a challenge to stay cool. Recently, we heard that the UCC (Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales) has a pool that is open to the public. There have been some days where we felt we were absolutely "melting" so we decided to find out if the rumors were true.

To our delight we found this beautiful, clean pool only minutes from our house. When you enter the UCC campus the pool is to your left. However, before entering the pool you have to go to the office to pay (currently 20 Cordobas per person/per hour or $10.00 US monthly). The security guard will point you in the right direction.

There are changing rooms available onsite and there is a small, shaded seating area where you can put your things. 

Update (July 2012): the cost for the pool is now 30 Cordobas per hour

Here is a little video: UCC pool video

They are open for public swimming:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday:
               6am to 8am & 1pm to 6pm.
Tuesday and Thursday:
                6am to 6pm
                 6am to 3:30pm
                 6am to 2pm


The official address is: Frente al campus medico UNAN, León. To give you a sense of where that is, it is located behind the Guadalupe Cemetery (usually indicated on Tourist Maps).

UCC Pool website: UCC Pool

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Terminal Market - April 10, 2012

There are a number of different markets throughout León, two of which are convenient for us to shop at.  The Central market is located behind the Cathedral and is within walking distance for us. However, many tourist go there and the prices tend to be a little higher for locals and gringos alike.

The Terminal market is a bus ride away for us and only takes between 5 and 10 minutes to get to. It is called the Terminal market because it is where the terminal for the buses is located.  This is a large, sprawling, open-air market where you will find all the freshest fruits and vegetables along with all sorts of household goods.

What did we buy today???
1 cabbage - 8 cordobas
small bucket of tomatoes - 40 cordobas
small bucket of peppers - 10 cordobas
onions - 20 cordobas
12 mandarines - 20 cordobas
small pineapple - 10 cordobas
garlic - 10 cordobas
small watermelon - 5 cordobas
3 large carrots - 10 cordobas
chayote - 5 cordobas
4 plantaine - 10 cordobas
avocado - 18 cordobas
4 cucumbers - 10 cordobas

Total spent - 176 cordobas = $7.56 CDN

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Where do I pay my water bill in León, Nicaragua

We had a visit from our landlords daughter this weekend. During the course of the conversation she asked if we had been receiving our bills for the utilities - power and water specifically. We informed her that we had only received the bill for our power and that the usage was only for one week due to the timing of the invoice.  We told her that we hadn't received the water bill yet. She said that we should go to Enacal and find out how much is owing and pay it so that we don't become delinquent.  When we asked her where the office was here in León, she indicated that she didn't know.... It didn't take too much investigation and we found someone who could tell us how to get there.....

This is the sign you are looking for.
From the south side of the Cathedral going East you will pass the Central Market. In the next block you will find Panaderia Mungui. You will know you are there because it is extremely busy with people lined up on the sidewalk - and with good reason too because their treats are delicious and well priced.

A few buildings away is your destination = Enacal.  This is how close you are to the Cathedral when you look back the way you came.....

The staff here are very helpful and as long as you have the account number and the name of the person that the account is in they will let you know how much is owing.  Can you guess how much our water bill was for the month of March???

A whopping $2.35 CDN

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pizzeria Antonino - León, Nicaragua

We have always enjoyed going out to eat. In fact, you could call it one of our hobbies. So when some friends suggested we go to one of their favorite spots we weren't going to turn down the opportunity!

Pizza in León? How good could that be you may ask.  Well, let me tell you - it was delicious. The pizza they serve is thin crust and comes in two sizes 16" and 12".  Since we can never agree on what to put on a pizza we had a 16" pizza with 1/2 Hawaiian (ham and pineapple) and 1/2 meat lovers (pepperoni, salami and ham).  Their menu has a number of different combination pizza's or you can design your own.  They indicate that they serve buffalo wings but our friends tell us that they have never been available when they've asked.

The prices are pretty good too. We had a 16" pizza as indicated above with a beer and lemonade for 260 cordobas or approximately $11.00 CDN. Surprisingly, there were two pieces left over for lunch.

Location -  Parque de los Poetas, 2 1/2 al Norte (just north of Lazybones Hostal)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Jamaica a popular local drink

We have been experimenting with some of the tasty drinks and refrescos that are available in Nicaragua.  One of our favorites is - Jamaica.  That's where you take this:

and it turns into this:

Ok - the picture doesn't do it justice - but, trust me - this is an easy to make, deliciously refreshing drink.  Here is how I make it...

Put 8 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar into a pan.  Bring it to a boil. When it has come to a boil, take the water off the heat and add 1 cup of Jamaica flowers.  Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the Jamaica flowers from the water.  Add another 4 cups of water along with the juice of two limes. Let cool. When it has cooled strain the drink into a container that can go into the fridge and chill thoroughly.  Serve with plenty of ice.

Purchase the Jamaica flowers in the local grocery store in convenient packages or buy loose dried flowers at the market.

March 2012 Expenses

So, we have tallied our expenses for the month of March 2012. Before arriving in Nicaragua we had decided that March would be a "grace" month.  We allowed ourselves a settling in time with a few more luxuries than we will have in the months to come. We didn't keep track of all of the small expenses such as taxi fare, bus fare and eating out.  We will be including all of these items in the future.  The breakdown we have is as follows:

Alcohol 23.23
Food 174.28
Household 3378.15
Personal 6.01

Items charged in US$ the exchange was calculated at : 1.00145
Items charged in NIO$ the exchange was calculated at : 23.2838
Exchange rates were found at XE Currency Exchange as of April 1, 2012.

Household items included just about everything you can imagine when you are settling up house - coat hangers, garbage cans, furniture, curtains, plastic containers - you name it and it will be included in this total.

Personal items included a haircut (and tip) for Pat as well as some shampoo.