This is what a $3 a night room in Nicaragua looks like

My original hotel choice fell through when I  couldn’t find it in this small place.  It wasn’t late, so I wasn’t panicked, but I wanted to put an end to a long day of buses, boats and border crossing, so I went in a place that I saw some other backpackers go.I asked if they had a room for one person for the night, and when the guy quoted me “Noventa,” I heard “900.” It was about $35, more than the $20 I planned on, but I figured it was one night, and I could look again tomorrow.  I handed him 1,000 and asked for change.  He laughed and said again, “No, noventa.” 90.  $3. It took a second to process, and right then I should have asked to see the room, but I froze and mechanically handed him 100 cordobas and followed him upstairs.  We passed a room with an open door with an old man flopped out on the bed, clothes scattered around.  Another room about the same size housed a woman and here two children.  She was hanging out her laundry to dry on the balcony.  We got to my door and he put the key in a small padlock I’m not sure I’d trust on a diary, and opened the door.

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Too late to back out now, I confirmed that this was a private room and I wouldn’t be joined by anyone else.  He laughed again and said he was confused as I already told him I wanted a room for one person.  Well, it was only one night, and it was $3.

I decided to try to open one of the storm shutters to get some air, since the room didn’t even have a fan,  and at least see the view.  The first one fell on my head when I slid out the bolt and pulled gently.  It had just been weakly nailed to the frame.  I tried another, more carefully, and saw that I didn’t have the worst view.  Off course, those rooftops were awful close and the shutters not very secure.

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I went downstairs to find the bathroom, he hadn’t told me where it was.  There were two toilets, and one was missing a seat.

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I guessed that was the official urinal toilet.  When I pulled the handle to flush, nothing happened. I paused and looked around, and realized the blue barrell of water with the scoop outside the door was for flushing.  When I tried to rinse my hands in the utility sink, it was dry, so I figured that barrel was for washing up as well.  I looked next door at the showers, and saw each of the two had water barrels with scoops in them as well.  I had checked into a hotel that appeared to lack running water.

I thought about just writing off the $3, and going to find someplace else, but instead, I just kept repeating to myself “$3, one night, funny story.” I went down to the Malecon and watched the sunset with all the other Nicaraguense.

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I sat at a Soda at one end and had three $1 beers. I took out my phone and saw it was nearly dead.  I occurred to me then that there very well might not be an electrical outlet in my room.  I turned my phone off  to save the battery, as I still needed to email reply about a hotel reservation at my next stop, Altagracia on Ometepe Island, where I’d be arriving at midnight Tuesday/Wednesday on a ferry.  I needed to confirm so someone would wait up for me.  I went to dinner and decided not to think about the electrial outlet until later.

I got back to the room, and after much searching, I did find an outlet, but it didn’t work, so I turned the phone back on, used the last bit of the juice to email my confirmation, and had an early night.  I tried two of the beds, skipping the springed frame with no matrress.  The other springed frame sagged near the floor when I sat down.  The other mattress was thin, beaten down, and rested on slats.  I tried mattress one on the other spring frame, and sank to the floor again.  I chose the barely-a-mattress on slats and pretended I was camping, sleeping on the ground. There was no topsheet, but I had a liner for this kind of situation. Then I wondered about bedbugs.  It hadn’t occured to me until now.  I looked at the mattress carefully, but didn’t see anything.  I stripped to my underwear, put the rest of my stuff on the mattress-less frame, and hoped for the best.  This is what real travel supposed to be, right?

There was a bar nearby, and I went in and out of sleep hearing voices and laughter.  At somewhere around 5am, I guess, the roosters started.  At 5:52am, there was a knock on my door, then another.  A voice said “You awake?” It was the guy who checked me in.  I said “un momento” while I put on my shorts and wondered what he could possibly need at 5:52am. When I got to the door twenty seconds later, he was gone.  I laid back down in bed, but I was awake for good.   I checked myself for bites, and found myself bite-free.  As if I wasn’t already getting a new hotel, I certainly was now.

I found one, just around the corner, for $11.50/night.  I had my own roon, with a fan and a bathroom.  The toilet has a seat, and a lid.

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But the shower, well:

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They must have a water pressure issue in San Carlos.  It’s only $11.50 a night.

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