Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

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The New Vacation Paradise: Nicaragua

George Foster - February 22nd, 2007
The New Vacation Paradise: Nicaragua?
Where can you travel for perfect tropical weather, beautiful beaches, magnificent volcanoes, friendly locals, and live well for under $25 a day? Maybe Hawaii in the 16th century, right?
Travel to Nicaragua is well under the radar for North American vacationers. Though I planned such a trip with two other backpackers, who also had some low-budget travel experience in Central America, we didn’t really know what to expect. Most acquaintances ominously warned me to stay away.
“Isn’t Nicaragua where those crazy Sandinistas run around the country dodging bullets from the Contras? “Did I know the Communist leader, Daniel Ortega, was just elected president again? “After all, it is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. “If the robbers don’t kill you, the mosquitoes will.” And on and on.
Actually, despite the Nica’s passionate interest in politics and the many insurgencies of the past, Nicaragua is now one of the safest countries in Latin America. Statistically, violent crime there is a fraction of that measured in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, their more turbulent neighbors to the north.
The U.S. government has meddled mercilessly in Nicaraguan affairs in the past, yet most locals seem to like gringos. The humblest North American traveler is rich beyond the average Nicaraguan’s dreams, yet we experienced relatively little begging on the streets. Best of all, I didn’t even see even one mosquito. Shhh... Nicaragua is a secret.
Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, has most of the pitfalls of any Latin capital city. Yet, even Managua has at least one nice open-air market and other vibrant shopping and entertainment venues to offer.
Granada, one of two renowned colonial-period cities in the country, was crowded with tourists from Europe and even a few North Americans. Trips to a nearby volcano and its downtown market are big hits for travelers. Granada is nestled near Lake Nicaragua, the biggest lake in Central America. In addition to its size, the lake is famous for its freshwater sharks and two large volcanoes that form the island of Ometepe.
San Juan del Sur is a booming beach town on the Pacific Ocean near the Costa Rican border. Among many activities, trips to secluded surfing beaches and fishing excursions are popular. This town was the most expensive of any place we visited. My private room with bath was still only $15 per night and a huge meal could be ordered at any of several high-end restaurants on the beach for less than $5. The average bus ticket between Nicaraguan destinations costs about $1. But remember, you can’t mention Nicaragua to anyone.
A real jewel in the country is Isla de Ometepe, a 45-minute ferry ride from Nicaragua’s bustling cities on Lake Nicaragua. This unique island was formed by two volcanoes and is ringed by villages and beautiful beaches. The volcanoes are still active but no worries, none have erupted in several years. A throwback from another era, most of Ometepe’s residents reside on farms, explaining why the roads are trafficked by livestock, not cars. The islanders seem to survive on their own enterprising, such as plantain production and cattle ranching. It is said that most own their own land.
While on Ometepe, climbing the perfectly-formed cone of Concepcion Volcano is a must-do. Rising from parched farmland into jungles teeming with howler monkeys, blue magpies, and an occasional poisonous snake - one never knows what the next corner will bring. The grueling journey ended at cloud level of the volcano. We battled fierce winds on this last leg of our seven-hour trip, much of it on treacherous volcanic rock. Wow.
While in Nicaragua, it was obvious that more than a few gringos were prowling the country for real estate deals. Purchases of property by foreigners for second homes and retirement have increased dramatically of late. Real estate prices in Nicaragua have risen five-fold since 2000 but are still cheaper than in Costa Rica or Panama. I discovered some Nicaraguan lots on the water that were selling for only $5000, though most of the area’s real estate is a little more expensive.
But please, please, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone. Nicaragua is our secret, okay?




 
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