Last year we missed the local rodeo, so this year I wanted to make sure we went. I had heard the bulls were treated poorly, but when traveling, I like to experience the culture’s traditions, so I went, despite the pit in my stomach.
Besides the empty beer cans being tossed at the bulls and the small holding area where I’m sure the bulls were less than happy to be squeezed in with each other, the mistreatment of the animals was not that bad…on the day we went.
Here are a couple videos from that day.
Its true, Nicaragua has its fair share of bugs & critters. Here’s a few pictures that I’ve taken of my housemates since we moved to San Juan del Sur about a year and a half ago.
About a month ago we heard that the Masaya Volcano was not only active as we had seen before, but now bubbling lava. We visit Masaya Volcano regularly when friends come into town because unlike anything in the States, you can actually drive up to the lip of this active volcano. It is part of our “Volcano Day” when we take our guests to see an active and the imploded volcano of Laguana de Apoyo. When we heard that it was now flowing lava we knew it was a bucket list moment we could not miss.
We were told to get there at 5pm because 300 people were showing up each night, but time only allowed for about 100 to view. We made the turn off the main road at 5:02pm and there were parked cars already filling the front area before the gate. A lot of people were out of their cars and waiting at the gate, so I got out of the car to investigate.
Turns out it was mostly Nicaraguans who were mad that the park had temporarily closed the gate until 5:30pm at which time they would begin charging the Night Tour fee of $10 per person (fee for kids 4 and under). This may not sound like a lot to you, but the average daily income in Nicaragua is about $6, so this was a lot of money. It was also significantly more than the C$30 (about $1) that Nicaraguans usually pay before 5:30pm.
It appeared that the angry mob had convinced the park attendants that they should be allowed to go up for the lesser price because suddenly there was a stampede of people rushing for their cars & motorcycles. I had to pick up Azalea to make sure she didn’t get trampled over. Once our car finally made its way to the gate we told the attendant that we wanted to do the Night Tour and would wait until 5:30pm to pay our $10 each. The attendant had been shouting something about being allowed 5 minutes at the top and after our 2 hour drive, I wanted to spend more time than that. I also assumed by the word “tour” it meant that we would get a bit more hand holding once at the top.
It wasn’t until 6:30pm that we were able to pay and proceed up the mountain. We think the staff needed the people who paid the lesser fee to leave before we could be allowed to enter, but we are not really sure why the long wait. Finally at the top, we were met with an immense red glow coming out of the cavern like a large witches brew. Instantly, it was worth the wait. The parking attendant had us park backwards in case there was an eruption and we needed to escape quickly.
It was pretty amazing to see the lava bubbling far below. It turned black at the top and then back to fire orange with each bubble. Azalea zoomed around in the dark too close the edge of the crater and so I held tight to her shirt so she couldn’t accidentally hurl herself over the edge. The park only lets a set number of cars up at a time, but it was still pretty busy with everyone trying to capture a photo that did the scene justice.
It is very hard to get a good picture or video of the lava. Not only is at night, so everything around it is dark, but the movement of the lava called for a steady hand and a fast shutter speed. I forgot to take my good camera, so we had to make do with my phone camera. I have included in this post some pictures and video off the internet so you can better see what we were looking at.
We left Titus with Juanita for the night because we knew he would be unimpressed with the lava we would be getting home late. It was a great little night excursion for us. We left the volcano at around 7:20pm and had a nice dinner before driving home.
Hiring someone to clean your home and help care for your children is a common dream for Expat parents living in Nicaragua. It is important to know the labor laws and follow them so that you do not end up in a confusing legal depute with someone you once considered family.
The Ministry of Labor reports the 2016 minimum wage for a domestic worker is C$4,669.50 per month (or $166.75 at the time of writing this). Standard wage in San Juan del Sur seems to be about C$200-C$250 ($7-$9) per day or C$5,040-C$6,440($180-$230) per month domestic help.
A standard full time work week is 8 hours per day, 6 days a week, with Sundays off. It is common to provide a meal for workers if they do not get that time off. Otherwise one hour lunch break is required and is usually taken from 12-1pm. Since our house cleaner works through lunch time, she usually eats lunch with us, or takes her portion of what we are eating home in some Tupperware. If your domestic worker has to pay a lot of pasaje (bus fare) or taxi fees, then giving some money towards that is common.
One you have a schedule agreed on, always make sure you get a signed written time indeterminate contract. That spells out any areas either party feels can be a bit grey.
Whether an employee is let go, fired, or quits, they are entitled to 1 month (30 days) pay for every year worked for the first 1-3 years and 2/3 month (20 days) pay for every year worked from 4-5 years. The max owed ever owed is 5 months pay. Also you must pay any unused vacation time and percentage of 13th month in portion of how many months into the year work is terminated.
This is something we just recently learned about. Our house cleaner is aware that we are planning on moving back to the US in another year and a half and she asked for her “indemnización” now so that she could use the money to finish constructing a room in her house for renting. After much research we decided to go ahead. This meant the original contract with her would be terminated and we’d write a new contract. We felt like this was to our benefit because at the end of our time living here, we won’t owe as much on our exit.
Social Security – Seguridad Social & Insurance – Seguro – INSS
For more information, please refer to