Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guadalupe Sunday Lunch Ladies - León, Nicaragua

Local Fritanga
Have I mentioned that we love eating out? Living in Nicaragua has made it so easy and so affordable. Every neighbourhood has a local "fritanga" or two where you can get some delicious gallo pinto, fried cheese and a variety of meats cooked on a bbq.  A plate of food for less than $5.00. Delicious and filling.

Every Sunday a group of ladies in the Guadalupe Church area get together and make a variety of dishes - not your usual fritanga fare. No deep fried foods here! Starting at 11:30 am the ladies start serving an assortment of family friendly dishes - all very delicious, filling and at a reasonable price.  Eating at this location has allowed us to try some Nicaraguan cuisine that we might not enjoy anywhere else since they aren't necessarily served in restaurants.

The menu on this particular Sunday included such items as Lengua en salsa - which is tongue. There was also a soup which we haven't tried yet but sounds so intriguing - Sopa de Cola con Punche.

You can eat your meal at one of the tables they have set up in the back yard or you can take your food home to enjoy. They also sell a selection of drinks to enjoy with your meal.

These ladies have many regulars and we are happy to say that we are now included in that number.  We love walking past their homes during the week and hearing a friendly "adios" and knowing that they consider us part of the community.... Well, almost!

Serving a plate of Pollo Jalapeno
Lunch to go
Cannelloni with salad, rice and bun
waiting to place lunch order

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cost of Gas in León, Nicaragua - June 21, 2012

Here is the current price listed at the neighbouring Esso.  The exchange rate is at : 22.8882

                       Diesel: 25.87 cordobas a litre = $1.13 CDN
                       Regular: 29.58 cordobas a litre = $1.29 CDN
                       Premium: 31.52 cordobas a litre = $1.38 CDN

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Renewing your Visitor's Visa at Metrocentro Mall

When you enter Nicaragua your visitor's visa is only good for 90 days. There are a couple of ways for you to renew your visa. You can leave Nicaragua by visiting Costa Rica or any other country that is not part of the C4 or you can "purchase" a renewal through Migración. Remember, that every 180 days you must leave the country - you can't pay to renew your visa at this point.

Migracion Y Extranjeria in Metrocentro Mall
We recently accompanied some friends to Managua when they had to renew their visitor's visa. The Migración y Extranjería office is located in the Metrocentro Mall - just follow the signs in the mall. The office hours for this location are from 10:00 am until 6:pm. When we arrived at about 9:45 on a Monday morning there was already a long lineup waiting for the office to open. One of the Migración officers was handing out the necessary forms to be filled out for the visa renewal. The cost for the form was 5 cords.  It took about an hour and 15 minutes for our friends to reach the counter. They said that the officer was really helpful and the process itself took very little time. The current cost for renewing your visa at the Migración office is 500 cords per 30 days.  The office will not accept American dollars so be sure to carry local currency.

I have heard that it is possible to renew your visa without even leaving León. However, the office in León takes your passport and payment and forwards it to Managua for processing. Sometimes this process can take weeks or even months.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chicken with Salsa Jalapeña

Recently, we enjoyed a delicious meal from our "Sunday Lunch Ladies" - Chicken with Salsa Jalapeña. It was so delicious that I had to find a recipe that I could make at home. I was able to find a recipe at Latin and Caribbean Cuisine @ suite101 and after a few modifications here it is:

1 cup of crema (substitute heavy cream)
1/2 cup milk (you may not need the full amount)
2 medium onions, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 jalapeños, sliced length-wise (remove seeds for a milder sauce)
salt and pepper to taste
3 chicken breasts sliced into strips

1. In a sauce pan saute the onions, jalapeños and garlic for about 5 minutes over a medium heat until they soften.
2. Add the crema and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.
3. Add half of the milk to loosen the sauce. Allow to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. If the sauce thickens too much, add more milk. Be careful not to cook over too high a heat otherwise the milk could either boil over or scald. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. As you are preparing the sauce, place the chicken in a fry pan (add a small amount of oil if necessary) and cook until the juices run clear. When chicken is cooked add the sauce to the pan and coat the chicken.
Serve and enjoy.

The original article suggested that you could add either monterey jack, cheddar, or quesio to the sauce and use it over a grilled hamburger with sliced tomato and avocado. You could also serve the sauce over grilled vegetables like squash rounds, broccoli or every cauliflower - yum!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cooking with Gas

Surprisingly, a large number of families in Nicaragua still cook with wood. It's very common to see a horse drawn cart carrying firewood. When we moved into our home I was happy to see that I wouldn't have to cook over a wood stove - we use propane. When we purchased our stove we also  bought a 10 lb propane tank that is attached with a regulator to the stove. However, since the tank comes empty we gave up our shiny, new tank for a full, used tank (not as pretty in the kitchen).

We have found that a tank of gas will last us about six weeks. We usually cook on the stove three times a day - morning for coffee and oatmeal, noon time for heating up our lunch and then again to cook supper in the evenings. I have yet to use the oven because I find it too hot. However, if you expect to do some baking when you move to Nicaragua, then expect that you will use more propane and will have to replace your tank more frequently.

Propane tank delivery
Every neighbourhood has a propane distributor. Usually their hours are very good - about 6 am until 8 or 9 pm.  Ask your neighbour who they use or just take a walk around the neighbourhood and you will see a sign advertising that they refill propane tanks. Make sure you get their phone number because you will likely be in the middle of cooking something when your gas goes out. When you phone them be sure to ask what the current cost is for replacing the tank - the price fluctuates. For example, we have paid $310 cordabas and $270 cordobas for a tank of gas. Also, try and have exact change - they seldom have a lot of money on them to give change.  Delivery times will vary but we haven't waited more than 1/2 hour which is very important when you are in the middle of cooking dinner.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nicaragua to Costa Rica

Recently we took our first trip to Costa Rica to renew our visitor visa. The current rules for visitors from Canada is that you receive a 90 day visitors visa when you enter Nicaragua. When your 90 days are up you need to renew your visa in one of two ways - you either buy an extension (up to 90 days) or you leave the country and return to Nicaragua and receive another 90 days. You can only renew your visa in a country that is not part of the C4 (Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador) so the closest for us is Costa Rica.

Since we had already prepaid for a bus ticket from Managua to San Jose, Costa Rica as our proof of onward travel we decided to take a short vacation for our visa run.  We spent 3 nights in Costa Rica at Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste - a beautiful little beach town on the Pacific side of the country. Here is a breakdown of our costs:

Hotels: Hostal Dulce Sueno in Managua = $16.00
            Villa Kokomo in Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste = $120.00 (3 nights @ $40.00/night)
            Hostal El Carmen in Granada = $11.00
Food: Groceries = $42.12
          Restaurants in Costa Rica = $104.19
          Restaurants in Nicaragua = $29.91
Border Fees: $4/person to leave Nicaragua = $8.00
                     $14/person to return to Nicaragua = $28.00
Transportation: Local Bus to Playa Hermosa and return to Liberia = $6.35
                       Tica Bus, Taxi and InterLocal Buses in Nicaragua = $77.55
Snorkel Trip = $63.41

Total expenses for visa run/vacation: $516.92. We will be exploring less expensive alternatives for future visa runs.

Nicaragua Border

Nicaragua Border

Nicaragua Border

Friday, June 1, 2012

May 2012 Expenses

May 2012 Expenses

Following is a list of our living expenses in León, Nicaragua for the month of May 2012. The costs are listed in CDN dollars with accurate exchange rates (ie. rent into US dollars) at time of exchange.

Rent:   $204.48
Groceries:   $150.29
Eating Out:   $59.72
Phones (buying time):   $8.99
Transportation (taxi, bus, contributing to gas):   $13.06
Alcohol:   $4.99
Cable/Internet:   40.98 (April invoice)
Electricity:   $1.02
Propane for stove:   $0
Water:   $3.31
Bank Fees:   $8.00
Misc:   $123.77

MISC Items included: Donations, pedicure, backpack, clothes, towels, mosquito repellent, haircut, refill of black ink toner, plastic for window, clothes pegs, mosquito netting (8 yards) for windows, duct tape to tape mosquito netting to openings

Total expenses for the month of May 2012: $618.62

Expenses to renew our visa in Costa Rica are not included in the above totals. They will be listed in a separate blog entry.