Saturday, October 27, 2012

English Speaking Doctor in León, Nicaragua

Many people have asked about medical care here in Nicaragua and whether it is possible to find an English speaking Doctor if you need one. A friend of ours recently had to seek out a Doctor due to a fall that resulted in an infection.  She was directed to the Clinica Metropolitana here in León where she asked the receptionist for an English speaking doctor. Clinica Metropolitana is a private clinic where you pay for the care you receive; whereas the local hospitals provide free care even to non-residents.

After waiting for the doctor to return to the clinic she met with Dr. Róger Barrios Chica (according to the information on the prescription slip he is a specialist in General Surgery). She told us that he has basic English but they were able to communicate sufficiently that she felt she received appropriate care.

The cost of the initial office visit was: $21.00 US. The cost of medication was $20.55. A few weeks later our friend went back for a follow-up visit with a cost of $20.00 US. She had an e-xray for $13.00 US (the x-ray was done at a different location).

Contact information for Dr. Róger Barrios Chica:

Clinica Metropolitana Telf: 2311-3503
Emergencias Celular: 8852-9778

Clinica Metropolitana is known by most taxi drivers.

Clinica Metropolitana -  Leon, Nicaragua

Waiting area at Clinica Metropolitana

Dr. Roger Barrios Chica Information

Monday, October 22, 2012

Communicating with Claro Text Messaging

When we first moved to Nicaragua we knew that we had to get a couple of inexpensive cell phones so that we could keep in touch with each other and our friends. We decided to get two Claro phones. For the first little while we did all right, we added (REGARGA) C$ 100 (Cordobas) to the phone and it would last a month. But now, as our circle of friends has expanded, we find the C$ 100 lasts sometimes less than a week. Now what do we do? We had heard of the text plan but didn't know how to get in on the action. Do we ask for it when we put saldo (Money, Time) on our phone? Or what?

Well here is the answer, I finaly stopped to read a Claro Poster and yes, I understood what most of it said:

Activá tu paquete SMS enviando la cantidad
de mensajes que querrás al 1200
30C$ 10301 día
IlimitadoC$ 20Ilimitado1 día
500C$ 5050010 días
300C$ 180300030 días
*Tarifas incluyen IVA

Claro/Nicaragua text messaging info

This ia a Google translation of the highlighted text "Activate your SMS package sending the amount
Messages that you want to 1200".

This is what you need to do to sign up for a text plan. You first need to know if you have enough time (Saldo) on your account, for that dial *5. Listen to the message, and then convert the dollar amount into Cordobas. If you don't have enough $$'s in your account go and get "RECARGA" at anywhere that displays the "Claro" sign.

Great! Now you know that you have enough for the 500 message (Mensajes). Now all you have to do is text 500 (Paquete) to the number 1200. The C$50 is taken from your voice/text saldo and put into the slot reserved for text messages and you have 10 days to use up all those text messages. So get texting! (My thumbs have never been this sore since I first got my X-Box)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Parrots - a Popular Pet in Nicaragua

When we first arrived in Nicaragua we couldn't help but notice how many households had birds as pets. From almost every house you could hear the happy chirping of birds and almost every time we went to the market we saw little babies being sold. Also, many owners take their birds to work with them - at least a lot of the street vendors do. You will see the birds either in a small cage or loose near the owner. Without doubt the most popular pet parrot in León seems to be the small green parrot also known as a Chocoyo.

We decided that even though we had absolutely no experience with birds that we would like to see what all the fuss was about. Our first step was to buy a cage. There are many sizes and styles available at both the Central and Estacion markets.  We chose a cage that was on the larger side and had legs (as opposed to the ones you hang). Once we had a good cage we set about looking for a baby Chocoyo. One afternoon we went to all the markets looking for a baby but with no success. We were told that we would have to wait a few months until some were available.

Then, one afternoon a friend told us that a Chocoyo had "flown" into their yard and it needed a new home - did we want it? Although we were hoping to have a baby bird we decided we would give this poor little guy a chance. We decided to call him Pancho and he really is a sorry sight to see. We don't know how long he was away from his previous owners but the little guy was so stressed that he has pulled out all of his chest feathers. We're hoping that he hasn't developed a permanent habit of doing so because he looks like a plucked chicken (at least on his chest).

Pancho our pet Chocoyo

It doesn't cost very much to get set up to have a bird. This large cage only cost us 280 cordobas or approximately $11.50 CDN. Also, a bag of bird seed from La Union was only 50.5 cordobas or $2.07 CDN. Bananas - his favorite treat - are 1 cordoba each. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cooked Beans in a Bag

One of the most popular foods that local Nicaraguans eat is beans - frijoles. Some families have a steady diet of beans because they are so cheap here and are a good source of nutrition. When we first moved to León, Nicaragua I was determined to cook my own beans from start to finish - you know - soak them and then cook them for hours. It didn't take me long to realized that not only did I not have the knack for cooking beans (they always came out a little tough) but it was much cheaper and easier to do what the locals do - buy them ready cooked.

Many houses in our neighborhood have a sign posted saying "Frijoles cocidos" meaning that they have cooked beans for sale. You don't need to bring a container since they will have some plastic bags to put the beans into. In the picture below you can see how much you receive for only 10 cordobas.... plenty for two people. If you have a larger family you can get more.

Once you get your beans home you can quickly add whatever you like. Below I have added some onion and peppers and later I mixed in some rice for a quick version of Gallo Pinto.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Getting to Maxi Palí by Bus

When we first moved to León, Nicaragua we were thrilled to find the local Maxi Palí which we blogged about here. We asked around to find out if it was possible to take the bus rather than a taxi but everyone told us that there wasn't a bus that went to the Maxi Palí.

Well, we have since found out that everyone was right - but also wrong. We haven't found a bus or a camionetta that passes right in front of the store but there is one that will drop you off within walking distance. 

If you are in Barrio Guadalupe you need to take the large bus that is heading into town. If you are already in the city center you can pick this bus up at the Recollection Church. This bus weaves back and forth through the north part of town but will eventually come to a T in the road - there will be a Uno gas station on the left hand side. The bus turns left here. About a minute or two up the road the bus will come to the National Police building - pictured below. These is a regular bus stop so just be on the alert and the bus will be dropping people off here.

Police grounds near Maxi Palí

When you exit the bus you want to walk up the road in the direction that the bus was going. When you get to the intersection you are going to follow the road to the right. There will be an Esso "On the Run" on the left side of the road. Walk up the road a very short distance and you will see the Maxi Palí on the left (set back from the road).

Maxi Palí - León, Nicaragua

Returning from the Maxi Palí into town is just as easy. Reverse your steps to where the bus let you off. On the opposite side of the road from where you got off the bus you will see a large tree. This is where the bus will pick you up again. Don't worry if you have a lot of packages - there are bicycle taxis just outside of the Maxi Palí and they will drive you to the bus stop.  Enjoy your afternoon shopping!

Large tree where you will pick up the bus to return to the city center

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Coffee Break - Casa del Cafe, León, Nicaragua

Yummmm. What could be better after a long, hot walk around town than relaxing with your favorite coffee and a tasty dessert?

Casa del Cafe is a good choice - it is centrally located - just off the Central Park.  They have a nice selection of all your hot and cold favorites and WiFi so that you can keep connected. This small cafe does not have air conditioning but is kept cool with a number of ceiling fans. I was excited to see that they have an awesome selection of cheesecakes - my absolute favorite dessert!

You will want to note that Casa del Cafe is not friendly to those on a tight budget. One medium Granizados de Frutas and one large Carmelatto  came to $108.21 cordobas - you can get a couple of lunches including refrescos for this price. However, every once and a while the treat is worth it! I can't wait to go back and try some cheesecake!

Location: North of the Cathedral, beside Bestwestern Las Mercedes Hotel.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Six Months Living Expenses in León, Nicaragua

We have been living in León for over 6 months now and we have some solid financial figures in regard to our expenses and whether we have achieved our goal of living on $600.00 CDN a month. 

Our Average Monthly Expenditures are as follows:

Rent: $208.69 - this figure fluctuates because of the CDN/US exchange rate
Groceries: $176.68
Eating Out: $86.92
Phone recharge: $10.22 (for two phones)
Transportation (Taxi/Bus/Gas): $20.47
Alcohol: $9.55
Cable: $40.88
Electricity: $2.42
Propane for Stove: $6.24
Water (utility): $2.94
Misc charges: $69.10

Our average monthly expenditures is $640.77

Our monthly cost for Electricity still seems quite low in comparison with other expats that I have spoken with. I suspect that now that we have a new meter this expense may increase. It looks like we will need to review how much we eat out in order to bring our expenses into the $600.00 a month range.

The above does not include our expenses in regard to renewing our Nicaragua visitor's visa or any vacations.

Please note: All prices are in CDN dollars.