Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Claro Mobile - Internet Packages to Keep Connected

Fortunately for us, we don't have to rely on the internet to work while we are here on Big Corn Island. Internet on the island is not the most reliable - especially for anyone looking to earn a living online, such as teaching English. However, we do like to stay connected and use the internet daily. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram are all lifelines for us to our friends and family back home, but are of no use if we can't get online.

Some long term accommodations here on Big Corn Island come with a steady internet connection, but most don't. Getting connected on your mobile device then becomes imperative because you just can't rely on the free internet at the parks or the Culture House.

So... determining the best mobile internet package can be a challenge. About 3 times a week we get a message from Claro indicating that you can purchase 10 GB for only 30 cordobas which is a fantastic deal. However, you only have until midnight to consume the 10 GB.

Since we want to have access to the internet on a daily basis we have found that purchasing a weekly package works best for us. We currently are buying the package on Fridays because you get 5X your recarga - this means we have plenty of "bonos" for making phone calls. So. this is how it works for us: We visit the Claro store and put 140 cordobas on our phone. When we get the "confirmation emails" we select the 7 day internet option. Once that is processed, we usually get a message that says for 10 cordobas more we can purchase 500 MB by typing EXTRA to 8833. Therefore, for 140 cordobas we get 1.5 GB and 564 bonos for making phone calls. Mind you, we can only phone other Claro numbers with our bonos.

If you want to check out what the promotions that are available type *555# into your phone and you will get the following display.

When you select #1 you get the list of available internet packages:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Easy Does It - Don't Get Dehydrated!

Since moving to Big Corn Island, we have found that we are far more active than we used to be. Almost everyday we are biking, no matter how hot it is. Also, who doesn't want to spend time at the beach? Especially, when there are so many pretty beaches to choose from! At other times we are spending hours on boats and buses as we travel to renew our visa or to visit other parts of Nicaragua.

Keeping properly hydrated can be a real challenge. We have already found ourselves feeling unwell because we haven't been conscious of how much and what we have been drinking.

Here are some signs to watch for which could indicate that you are dehydrated:

  • Thirsty - Being thirsty and having a dry mouth is the first indication of dehydration and can be easily treated by replacing lost fluids.
  • Sluggishness - Dehydration can make you feel tired and weak, especially in warmer weather or when being physically active.
  • Dry Skin and Lips - A simple test of dehydration is to pull the skin on the back of your wrist - if the pulled skin stays pinched and then slowly (more than 5-10 seconds) returns to normal, this is a sign you are dehydrated.
  • Feeling Lightheaded - Feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded upon standing can be a sign of dehydration. In addition to drinking, which provides two-thirds of our fluid intake, foods such as fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry provide the other third. Another good reason not to skip a meal!
  • Dark Urine - An easy way to check your hydration level is to look at your urine. If you 'pee clear', you are likely well hydrated, but if your urine is dark yellow, this is a sign of dehydration and you need to replace the fluid your body is missing.
The above signs were taken from the following article: http://www.chpcanada.ca/en/blog/signs-dehydration

Friends of ours told us about a simple solution that is available here on the island and can be purchased in other parts of Nicaragua as well. It's a powder or liquid called Suero. One of the uses of this is to help prevent or treat the loss of too much body water (dehydration) and replaces fluids and minerals such as sodium and potassium. 

The powder is only 5 cordobas per package and is available at most Farmacias.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Is there a Bank or ATM on Big Corn Island?

After living in Pearl Lagoon where there was no bank, we were concerned about the ease of banking on Big Corn Island. We were happy to learn that there is a bank on the island with an attached ATM. The ATM dispenses both US dollars and Cordobas.

After having been here for a while we have found that the ATM can run out of money on the weekends, especially during holiday seasons. As the ATM processes your request, you will get a message telling you that no money is available. You could then try a different currency or wait until the following day (if it is a week day). The ATM may not get restocked with currency until Tuesday morning if it runs out on the weekend. If the ATM has run out of money, then your account should not be affected. Another option is to go into the bank to withdraw funds from your account.

We have run into a situation where there was a "glitch" in the system. The ATM did not dispense our money, but the funds were transferred out of our account. When this happens, you could always try and speak to a teller in the bank (if the bank is open) or phone your bank as soon as possible and let them know what happened - they will start an investigation to get the money returned. It took us about 2 months to get the money put back into our bank account.

Another question people have about the island is whether or not the businesses take credit cards. Quite a few of them do, but it isn't your best option to pay by credit card. The reason for that is that most businesses will add on a surcharge of about 3-5%. It is better to pay in Cordobas whenever possible.

You will find the bank on the Brig Bay side of the island, on Via Principal across from the entrance to  where you can walk across the runway.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Crazy Parents in Nicaragua Take II - Big Corn Island

View from our balcony.
We have been living on Big Corn Island for over six months now – we arrived in December 2016 and it is now almost the middle of July 2017. Coming back to Nicaragua has been quite an adjustment for us. Maybe because we have lived here before we mistakenly thought the transition back to Nicaragua would be easy. Perhaps if we had returned to either Leon or Pearl Lagoon that would be the case. However, life on Big Corn Island is vastly different than either of those locales and we have found it to be somewhat of a challenge.

For us, life here on the island is far more physical than it was in Leon or Pearl Lagoon; and vastly more than what life was like in Canada. Our primary form of transportation is by bicycle and we don’t have a washing machine so clothes are washed by hand. There are no supermarkets to buy food, although there are a few well stocked tiendas where we can purchase the majority of our groceries but shopping for basic necessities can be a weekly if not daily challenge. Since we have a clay filter we bike to the public well to fill up containers – it is a 5km round trip – which we do at least two or three times a week.

Even the horses enjoy the beach!
In order to keep within budget (or at least try to) we have opted to live in a one room efficiency apartment. It really is a converted hotel room in a rundown former hotel. However, the location is amazing – truly waterfront living with a constant ocean breeze which means we have no need for an air conditioner. Our landlord is in the process of fixing the place up and in time these rooms will be in high demand if he makes all the changes he talks about. Living in one room has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side – there is very little to clean. On the negative side – there is very little room to move around and no sitting area except on the bed. This isn’t really a big problem because we have a huge veranda and only becomes an issue when it is raining and we can’t sit outside. For the most part, we have embraced tiny living.

Another reason for a difficult transition was the fact that we don’t know how long we will be able to stay in Nicaragua. The day before we left Canada Pat received a phone call from his Lymphoma doctor about a couple of lymph nodes he is concerned about. The doctor indicated that if we were staying in Canada that he would recommend that Pat have a biopsy performed on them. Since we were due to leave the following day we decided that we would continue with our plans and find a doctor in Nicaragua to monitor Pat’s health. There is a doctor from Bluefields that Pat visits every three months – so we are living our lives in three-month increments.

 All in all, life here on Big Corn has been good. We are enjoying spending more time together doing the things we love. We are discovering new talents and resurrecting old delights. We hope that this blog continues to be a resource for anyone looking to travel or live in Nicaragua – Crazy Parents in Nicaragua Take Two!