Picking the right path got me thinking about the Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua development model -- both in the past and in a possible future. In Nicaragua, the idea (call it plan of the government, if you wish) was to become as self-sufficient as possible. Clearly part of the inspiration was feeding the people was a priority when Nicaragua's largest trading partner embargoed the country but there is more to the story.

Stay Home and Grow More

Planting vegetables and other foods has allowed families to create their own businesses and also create jobs.

After experimenting with tomato planting and getting good results, growers from San Buenaventura, Boaco, Carlos José Cantillano have dropped plans to travel to Costa Rica in search of work in the coffee season.

I joined the Facebook Nicaraguan Aquarium group

One of my interests has always been fish keeping and breeding even though I'm down to guppies at the moment. I think the first two or three or so years of being here are about the exoticism of the place, then either people find people who share their interests in this new language or the exoticism fades and nothing else replaces it.

New Military Hospital, for Civvies too!

The new facility, being built on the grounds of the old Hospital El Retiro, is about 50% complete and is on course for opening this time next year.

With a total square area of 50,000 square meters (47,000 of which is the multi-story main building) the facility meets all international standards.

When complete it will have 476 regular beds, 64 intensive care beds, 11 operating rooms and “The best equipped emergency unit in the country” said General René Darce, Head of the Army Medical Corp of Nicaragua.

Your Money

Banks in Nicaragua would like more customers and want to streamline systems, especially payment systems, to encourage more people to open accounts.

The Association of Private Banks, known by their acronym ASOBANP, recently met with the Central Bank of Nicaragua (Banco Central de Nicaragua, BCN) to discuss a more flexible system.

The banks want to make it easier to transfer money between accounts and make bill payments.

The stats show that in Nicaragua, only 14% of the population have a bank account, only 8% have a debit card and only 2% of the population has a credit card.

Thinking about Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith was my neighbor from age 12 to 21. He and his wife (Mrs. Smith, of course) lived next door to my parents' house. After I moved out he was still there. I remember my mother telling me "Mr. Smith died" 20 years later.

I happen to know his first name was Brian -- I think because his electric bill was mistakenly delivered to our house. I don't think I evern knew his wife's first name nor do I think my parents knew it. And, of course, my parents were Mr. and Mrs. Hughes to him.

French Beans

I like these stories. The numbers look good too.

A lot of this stuff going on in and around Jinotega.

Various Early August.

US AID has printed some very nice brochures -- two in English about guiding services in Somoto and Jinotega, and two city and outlying area maps for Esteli and Jinotega, available at the Solentuna Hem Hotel and probably various other locations around Matagalpa, Jinotega, and Esteli. The maps are in Spanish only, but the Esteli one has bus schedules that are pretty straightforward even without Spanish. There hasn't been a good map for the two regions before according to a friend who tried to get to all the locations mentioned in various guidebooks.

Costa Rica Now Charging $5 to Leave

It was put aside in 2012 but the bill that proposed a departure tax of $5 is now in place and has been published in the Gazette. Ergo, it is now law from 5th August.

Air travelers already pay a secret $15 arrival fee included in their airline ticket price (Not many people knew that), and they also pay a $29 departure tax - the amount was raised recently.

So a family of four tourists now would pay $172 in airport taxes in and out, obvious and not so obvious fees.

Some of the money is designated for the civil aviation agency and also for the airport.

Know your neighbors vs. massive spy networks

When I was a kid we knew the name of the milkman, the postman and we knew our neighbors. If I had grown up in a small town instead of a huge city, I expect I would have known the names of the police force, the firemen and more.

To be or not to be a leaker

This has nothing to do with Nicaragua but a lot to do with the ongoing Snowden and/or Manning is good/bad discussions in other threads. I want to talk about my own life experiences that helped me form my current opinions.

Twice in my life I had a chance to disclose what I personally consider government wrongdoing. Neither time did I commit a crime but I became personally unpopular in one case. In the other, I didn't make the disclosure but a friend did and I got to see what happened to him (and what didn't change).

Costa Rica – New Way to Send Remittances

Correos de Costa Rica (Postal Service) and Teledolar have joined forces to offer a local and international money transfer service from postal outlets in CR to countries such as Nicaragua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Peru. Money will be paid into the system in CR Colones and can be paid out in U.S. dollars or the currency of the country of destination. The service is also offered to people aged 12 to 17 who have a CR child identity card and is only for transactions up to the equivalent of US$500. Service can be effective in any point of the network enabled.

Maybe it's just humor

Maybe a year ago I read an article that suggested you follow article about you. That is, articles related to your name. I believe I posted this idea here on NL. And I actually have been doing it.

While expecting to see ex-NL members (one in particular) regularly getting recognition for badmouthing me, I have learned about two Phil Hughes characters.

Tres años

I've now been in Nicaragua for three years, minus a few weeks when I went back to the US on visits. It's the land of far gentler cops than US average, except when the protestors tried to take over the airport which was resolved very fast and not on video, apparently. It's also an alcoholic motorcycle mechanic who does cocaine when someone brings some to town and he can grab something to steal and fence or talk people out of money. It's the Tortilla Girls giggling and wondering what I have in my house and asking what the dog's name is. It's getting into a cab full of sentimental music.

New Tourism Initiative - Northern Nicaragua

A new tourism to the north of Nicaragua was announced this morning.

Norte Verde is the name of this initiative that seeks to promote the best attractions in Esteli and Jinotega.

The project consists of 13 small companies, which are offering cheap packages for tourists, from U.S. $ 60.

Trails, natural pine forests, coffee plantations and local cuisine are part of the deals that local and foreign tourism might enjoy.

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