A few months ago we learned that there is a cheap taxi service option between San Juan del Sur & Rivas. Its called the “collectivo.” For only $C50 (less than $2) you can catch a ride from in town San Juan del Sur to the market in Rivas and visa versa. The reason this is such a good deal is because the Rivas taxis need to get back to Rivas & the San Juan del Sur taxis need to get back to San Juan, so they wait until they are full with 4 passengers and you’re on your way… fast! In San Juan del Sur you pick it up outside of the delicious pizza place, Don Monchis. Typically the wait is no more than 15 minutes, but if you happen to be the 4th person then you can be on your way in a matter of in minutes.
Our Worst Investment
We planned to arrive in Nicaragua sight unseen with a baby, a toddler, 7 suitcases, and 2 dogs. We knew that we needed to have a car immediately. Luckily, one of Kharron’s friend’s fathers, Joe already lived on the Atlantic side of Nicaragua and offered to help us get a car purchased before we moved. He seemed to know what he was talking about and convinced us to spend over our $4k budget so that we would have less problems. He advised us to spend at a minimum $10k, but that was not financially possible, so we agreed that he’d look in the $5k-$6k range.
After test driving a few SUVs he found one that needed a clutch, but he could get that fixed and all said and done it would be $6k. We agreed and wired him the money to purchase our 2007 Mitsubishi Montero. When Joe picked us up at the airport he had our car waiting for us at the hotel in Managua. It was really great to immediately have wheels and a way to get around town. We had a list of items we wanted to purchase before we moved to San Juan del Sur a week later.
Since that day, we have made many repairs on our vehicle. It turns out Mitsubishi’s have computerized engines so when something goes wrong, the mechanic needs a diagnostic computer to tell what that problem is. This is super easy in North America, but we only found one mechanic in San Juan del Sur who has that computer. The abundance of bumpy dirt roads in San Juan del Sur is rough on cars. It is common to replace bushings annually and hoses come loose often. One of our sensors needs to be cleaned every so often or our car doesn’t start. This is always fun when you have everyone loaded in the car in the morning for school.
We found a mechanic we really like, but he is located in Rivas which is 30km from San Juan del Sur, so depending on the issue, it is sometimes hard to get our car to him. Slowly we’ve been ticking off a list of fixes our car needed, but then on our way home from Matagalpa our car finally took a dive. There was a hole in a water tube that caused the engine to overheat. A nice Nicaraguan towed us the 9km to our mechanic.
Over the last 2 1/2 weeks we’ve been having our engine rebuilt and got it back yesterday. Thank you to the “collectivo” for being a cheap was to get to Rivas to pick it up. We are hoping this major rebuild will solve most of the issues and we can finally feel confident in our car.
The day finally arrived when we could sign the paperwork and take ownership of our piece of land. We had already found & measured our lot and had been waiting for the surveyors to complete the required map. We did this crazy thing to pay the fee to get it approved & expedited. We put the needed $120 in an envelope, paid a “collectivo” taxi the $2 fair to Rivas, and sent the envelope of cash in a taxi to be delivered to surveyor’s office. I guess this is done all the time, but the process was very strange, and took some faith on our part.
We met at the attorney’s office at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon. Both parties did not fully trust the other. We were skeptical to wire the money before the seller signed and the seller didn’t want to sign before he received the wire. We worked it out that we wired at the attorney’s office and showed him the confirmation. We had previously wired a chunk of the money in our Solo 401k account to our personal bank account so that we could easily send a wire over the internet the day of. There were a couple hiccups like needing to have a SafePass account to wire an amount larger than $1k & not having a USA phone number, but a quick call to a responsible friend to see if I could use her number and she could send me the code made the process work out easily.
After a few minutes we showed a confirmation to the seller and then we stepped into the conference room where we were all read the whole real estate contract out loud. While in that room the seller and I received confirmation emails that the wire was sent, and the mood became much lighter. We paid a reasonable $520 attorney fee and drove back to San Juan del Sur with nervous & hopeful smiles.