Making the Move: 6 More Items to Pack in Your Suitcase

Today’s post is a follow up to a recent article we published titled “Making the Move: 6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase”.

Here’s a list of 6 more items we recommend packing in your suitcase complete with the reasons why.

#1
SUNSCREEN

Making the Move: 6 More Items to Pack In Your Suitcase
Although sunscreen is available everywhere here, it’s expensive. Very expensive, in fact! At $13.27 USD for a 236 ml bottle it makes sense save some space in your suitcase for not just one, but a few tubes of sunscreen.


#2
INSULATED REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLESix Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Hydroflask

Do yourself a favor and bring an insulated water bottle with you. I recently purchased this one made by HydroflaskThey are a little pricey, but worth every penny. I love that I no longer have to drink lukewarm water or deal with condensation dripping from a bottle of water I froze in the freezer. Another added bonus of using a refillable water bottle? You’re helping the environment.  This is one item in Nicaragua I never want to have to live without!


#3
PORTABLE BLUE TOOTH SPEAKER

Air Raid by Skull Candy


Rock out at home, on the beach or poolside with a bluetooth portable speaker. We purchased the Air Raid by 
Skullcandy and absolutely love it! In addition to being water resistant and shock proof it also sounds great.


#4

HEAT DIFFUSERHeat Diffuser

Propane gas stoves are common place in Nicaragua. Sometimes when cooking on gas it’s just not possible to get the flame low enough for a proper simmer. Whether you do a little or a lot of cooking an inexpensive heat diffuser is certainly handy item to have here.


#5

REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 10.02.33 AM

Plastic bags are used everywhere in Nicaragua and sadly litter the streets, ditches and beaches in many areas. I much prefer packing my groceries in larger canvas or cloth shopping bags. One — because I can put way more in them — and two — because they also easier to carry, especially if I’m walking to and from the market or grocery store. This is a light weight item that doesn’t take up any room in a suitcase and therefore, in my opinion, a good thing to bring with you. 


#6

OVEN THERMOMETERSix More Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Oven Thermometer

Most oven knobs here have the numbers 1 through 5 marked on them, rather than temperature. This makes using the oven a bit more challenging, especially when it comes to baking. Although I don’t use the oven here nearly as often as I did in Canada, I’m glad I packed an oven thermometer.

Snapshots: Playa Remanso, Nicaragua

Making the Move: 6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase

Making the Move: 6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase

– Leaving Calgary, Alberta, Canada on December 9, 2011 with only 4 – 50 lb suitcases and 2 carry ons

“What should I pack in my suitcase?” is a question we often get asked by soon-to-be Nicaraguan expats. With some extra legwork and a willingness to pay premium prices you can almost always get what you need here. 

In the capital city of Managua you’ll find a Pricesmart, which is very similar to Costco. You’ll also find a couple of large department stores such as Sinsa and Siman.

And although it’s not at all like the super Walmart stores found in the US and Canada, there is also a Walmart that recently opened in Managua.

If you’re moving to Nicaragua, our guess is your chosen destination is probably not Managua.

In towns and cities like Granada, Leon, Matagalpa and San Juan del Sur small Ma and Pa shops, that specialize in one type of product or service, are the norm. It can be very difficult to find quality inexpensive household and personal items in these places.

So, if you’d like to avoid paying premium prices — and save yourself the time and extra expense of traveling to Managua when you first get here — we recommend adding the six items listed below to your packing list.

 

#1
E-READER

6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Kindle


New and used English books are sometimes hard to come by, especially if you’re looking for newer releases. And when you do find them, they aren’t cheap. If you enjoy reading and don’t already have an e-reader you’ll probably want to invest in one. We love our Kindles!

 

 

#2
QUALITY KITCHEN KNIFE

6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Quality KnifeSharpening stones are easy to find outside of Managua, but inexpensive good quality chef knives are not. With more time to enjoy cooking and a bounty of vine ripened fruits and vegetables available a good knife will be a welcomed companion.

 

#3
ELECTRONICS

6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: iPad Pro

 

With technology outdated by at least two years and items priced 30% to 100% higher than in Canada and the United States you’ll definitely want to bring your laptop, iPad and any other electronic devices you can’t live without.  It’s also a good idea to make sure everything is working well.  Repairs can usually be done in Managua, but don’t come cheap. 

 

 

#4
SPICES6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Spices

Although the selection is better than what it was when we first moved to Nicaragua the variety of spices available here is somewhat limited. For example oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes and cinnamon can be found in almost every grocery store, however cardomom, allspice and sage cannot. If you have some not so common favorite spices you can’t live without you may want to stash them in your suitcase. 

 

#5
BEDSHEETS & PILLOWS

6 Items to Pack In Your Suitcase: Bedsheets & Pillows

We’re people who appreciate nice linens.  You can find them here but, like many other quality items, they are sold at a higher price than what you can buy them for in North America.  Keep comfy and save yourself some cash by bringing a couple of sets of sheets with you. For added comfort you may want to bring your favorite pillow and a quilted mattress coverWorried about space in your suitcase? Space saver bags like these ones work great!

 

#6
EAR PLUGS

Six Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Ear Plugs

 

Here in Nicaragua roosters, barking dogs and fire crackers are common sounds we hear all hours of the day and night.  To avoid sleep disruption you may want to pick up a multi-pack of ear plugs. You’ll be happy to know, that just like those individuals living near an airport or a railway crossing, you too, will eventually desensitize to these sounds.

 

 

Have you recently made the move to Nicaragua? Is there an item not on our list that you wish you would’ve packed in your suitcase?

 

DISCLAIMER
In Nica Now is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. If you purchase items through the links we have provided we will receive a small commission.

 

Feliz Año Nuevo from Nicaragua!

Happy New Year from In Nica Now

What I Ate Today: Satay Fish with Coconut & Peanut Sauce

Satay Fish

– Satay sail fish with coconut & peanut sauce:  El Bocaditos Tapas y Cervezas, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

With so many great dishes to choose from at El Bocaditos I had a hard time narrowing down my decision of what to order for lunch today.

But in end it was the satay sail fish with coconut and peanut sauce (satay pez vela con coco y salsa de mani) that won out.

This dish was one of “9 for 99 cordobas” that is currently be offered on a special executive lunch menu. 

If you’re looking for a light, healthy, satisfying and affordable lunch option in San Juan del Sur these $3.60 USD plates are perfect!

 


RESTAURANT DETAILS

El Bocadito Tapas y Cervezas
(505) 8440-2591

Location
50 meters North of the central market
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

https://www.facebook.com/elbocaditotapas/

Open Monday to Saturday from noon to 10 pm and offering a full menu of tapas, 1/2 portions and full entrees. Don’t miss $8 paella & sangria every Friday night!


 

El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

IMGP9653
Vehicles are parked on both sides of the street as far as I can see. I find a clearing and pull off onto the side of the road to park the truck.

Two young girls walk past hand in hand with their grandma. Each carries a bouquet of bright red flowers. As I approach the cemetery I hear music in the distance. Suddenly I’m covered head to toe in goosebumps.

It’s November 2nd and hundreds of people are gathered in the cemetery to celebrate El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

Day of the Dead: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– El Dia de Los Muertos: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Families have spent the last couple of days cleaning up and decorating the grave sites of their loved ones. They have come together today to honor and celebrate the lives of friends and family members that have passed.

Cleaning Up: Dia de Los Muertos, SJDS, Nicaragua

Aside from the tombstones the scene before me mirrors that of a busy park on a sunny Sunday – anywhere in North America.

Refreshments of all kinds including ice cream, cotton candy and snow cones are available for purchase. Typical Nicaraguan dishes such as vigarón and barbecued chicken are also available. Some families have come prepared toting their own picnic.

Dia de Los Muertos: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Ice Cream Vendor: Dia de Los Muertos, SJDS, Nicaragua

Children are playing quietly. Long time neighbors and family friends are enjoying the day together. They share stories of their lost loved ones. Some tales invoke a tear, but most bring laughter, or at least a smile.

Day of the Dead: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Day of the Dead: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
A lone chicken crosses my path and a couple of children run by.

I look around taking in this celebration with awe and amazement and I think to myself, “Why don’t we do this in Canada?”

Happy Halloween Wishes from In Nica Now!

Happy Halloween from Nicaragua

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra
Just because we live in a tropical paradise doesn’t mean we still don’t love weekend getaways and vacations. 

We recently enjoyed a three day, two night stay at a luxury vacation villa with our good friends Debbie and Bastin.

THE PROPERTY

Casa Culebra is beautiful 2000 square foot two bedroom, two and a half bath luxury eco-home.

It is one of eleven villas situated in the development of Balcones de Majagual (pronounced ball-cone-ehs-day-ma-ha-wall). This gated community is located just 12 kms north of San Juan del Sur.

At Casa Culebra you experience nature and tranquility without having to sacrifice comfort.

This vacation home has it all — king size beds and quality linens, hot water and wifi, a fully equipped kitchen, ocean views, jungle views, a gas grill, an outdoor shower and an infinity pool!

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

– Large sliding screened doors and windows keep the jungle outside while still allowing you to feel a part of nature.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

Imagine gazing out over the Pacific ocean…savouring a fresh cup of locally grown coffee…a good book in hand…all you can hear are birds singing in the trees and the deep growl of howler monkeys off in the distance.

OUR EXPERIENCE

A thirty minute scenic drive from home — over a bumpy road known as La Chocolata — brought us to the gates of Balcones de Majagual.

Perhaps it was the anticipation and excitement of a mini-vacation, but the drive seemed to take no time at all.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

– Balcones de Majagual: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

We engaged the four wheel drive on our truck and made our ascent up the hill to Casa Culebra.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

After quickly unloading our truck and unpacking our bags we were hot and sweaty. We grabbed some drinks and snacks and walked a few steps down to our 15 meter infinity pool. 

The cool clear water was a little chilly, but incredibly refreshing. This was a nice change from the bathtub like water in our pool at home.

A Unique Place To Stay in San Juan del Sur: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

– Soaking in a pool…surrounded by jungle…with a view of the ocean…with a cold Toña in hand is pretty hard to beat!

Howler monkeys lazed overhead in the trees a few feet away from us, while birds tweeted happily around us.

Much of our chatter centered around how fortunate we were to be “right here, right now” “living the life” in Nicaragua!

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

– A stay at Casa Culebra is better with friends!

As the sun went down and day turned to night conversation ceased. We were hypnotized by a magnificent sunset. 

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

On the menu for night one was fresh mahi mahi that we had purchased in town at the local market. The well appointed, fully equipped kitchen made meal prep a breeze.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

- A Jamie Oliver recipe -- Baked white fish (mahi-mahi) with olives and tomato sauce served with creamy mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

– This Jamie Oliver recipe — Baked white fish with olives and a simple tomato sauce — is now one of our favorites.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

– Comfortable furniture is generally hard to come by in Nicaragua, but not at Casa Culebra.   

A good part of our day on Saturday was spent at two of our favorite beaches, which just so happen to be a five minute drive from the house.

We parked our truck at Playa Majagual and from there walked leisurely across the white sand beach and rocks towards the popular surf beach of Playa Maderas.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

– Cold beverages and typical Nicaragua fare can be purchased at Matilda’s Snack Bar.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

In less than ten minutes we arrived at Playa Maderas. We found a quiet shady spot on the south end of the beach where we “set up camp”.

Here we kicked back, relaxed and sipped on a couple litres of Toña (local beer) that we had packed in our cooler bag.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

– Cheers to good friends, Casa Culebra and another day in paradise!

Later on — while surfers ripped on head high waves — we chowed down on fish tacos.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

 Low tide: Playa Maderas, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Although we love the beach our walk back to Playa Majagual where our truck was parked was at a much less leisurely pace. We were on a mission as we envisioned a pool and sunset experience similar to the one we had the night before. 

Sunset on night two did not disappoint.

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

After our fun filled day of sun, surf, more pool time, another delicious meal and a game of Dominoes we were spent.  Our eyelids started to droop early in the evening as our comfy king size beds called to us.

As I crawled into bed crickets buzzed outside my window. The wind rustled softly in the trees and I was asleep almost immediately after my head hit the pillow.

Sunday came faster than we had anticipated.

Just a bit more time in this calm quiet peaceful environment (and maybe one more poolside cocktail) is all we wanted.

But sadly…as we know…all good things must come to an end.

We throughly enjoyed our time as guests at  Casa Culebra and are look forward to returning again one day soon!

A Unique Place to Stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: The Luxury Vacation Villa Casa Culebra

YOUR EXPERIENCE

Your experience at Casa Culebra can be much of the same as ours — but with one added bonus — you’ll have your very own concierge — which just so happens to be me and Gordon. 

We’ll meet you upon arrival in San Juan del Sur. After a quick tour of town and picking up a few supplies we’ll escort you to your home away from home and help you get settled.

We’ll tell you about our favorite sunset happy hour spots and make sure you know where to go for inexpensive and delicious seafood dinners. We can also help with recommendations and reservations for activities and excursions. 

BOOKING INFORMATION

Casa Culebra
Balcones de Majagual

Suze Menary
casaculebra.balcones@gmail.com
(650) 452-2460

Nightly rates starting at $145 USD.

A 4 x 4 vehicle is required to access Casa Culebra.

What I Ate Today: Chilango Hot Sauce

Chilango Hot Sauce

A few months ago a friend of ours introduced us to Chilango® hot sauce. We love this stuff, but unfortunately it’s not available for purchase here in San Juan del Sur.

Earlier this week we managed to complete another successful border runWhile cruising the aisles of the Duty Free shop in search of  inexpensive wine we were delightfully surprised to see Chilango on the shelf. Without hesitation we grabbed one of the only two remaining variety packs that was left in the store.

WHY WE LOVE CHILANGO

Each sauce has a perfect amount of tang with just the right amount of heat. At $12 USD for 4 – 150 ml bottles it’s reasonably priced.

What’s even better?

It’s made right here in Nicaragua!

The Pepperoncino Piccante was the perfect accompaniment to the scrambled egg wraps we enjoyed for breakfast this morning. 

If you dig hot sauces and happen to find yourself at a La Colonia or a La Unión grocery store (or the Duty Free shop in Peñas Blancas) you might want to pick up a bottle or two … or three!

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