Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Nicaraguan Fisherman and the Gringo with the Harvard MBA


A vacationing American businessman was standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.

A small boat with just one young fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Nicaraguan on the quality of his fish.

"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American casually asked.

"Oh, a few hours," the Nicaraguan replied.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American businessman then asked.

The Nicaraguan warmly replied, "With this I have plenty to support my family's needs."

The businessman then became serious, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

Responding with a smile, the Nicaraguan fisherman answered, "I sleep late, play with my children, watch soccer games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs..."

The American businessman impatiently interrupted, "Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch.

With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, you can then buy a second boat, a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.

"Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you'll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery.

Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Managua, or San José, or possibly even Miami or LA or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise."

Having never thought of such things, the Nicaraguan fisherman asked, "But how long will all this take?"

After a rapid mental calculation, the businessman pronounced, "Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard."

"And then what, señor?" asked the fisherman.

"Why, that's the best part!" answered the businessman with a laugh. "When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions? Really? What would I do with all that money?" asked the fisherman in disbelief.

The businessman boasted, "Then you could happily retire with all the money you've made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch soccer games, take siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want."

The moral of the story is: Know what really matters in life, and you may find that it is already much closer than you think.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Survivor Nicaragua Update

Adapted from TV Squad

This fall, a new set of masochists will descend upon the jungle to compete on the 21st season of CBS's 'Survivor.' This year, however, it won't just be a match of wits that will weed them out. CBS announced Wednesday that the show will divide the contestants by age, creating one tribe of competitors over age 40, and another tribe of those under age 30 for a face-off called 'Young vs. Old.'

"The Espada Tribe, made up of individuals over the age of 40, must prove they have the life experience and knowledge that will ultimately help them outwit and outlast their younger competitors," the network said in a statement. "The La Flor Tribe, consisting of individuals 30 years of age and younger, will have to use their youth and vitality to outplay and ultimately outlast their elders."

'Survivor: Nicaragua' won't be first the time that the series has split its cast along age lines. In season 12, 'Survivor: Panama' divided its cast into four tribes, but split them by both gender and age.

While the sheer physical demands of 'Survivor' would suggest that the young'uns will easily best their elders, some of the old-timers in Nicaragua might just have a fighting chance - and they can look to previous seasons for inspiration. In season 10, it was then-40-year-old Tom Westman who took home the top honor, beating out his nubile jungle-mates on 'Survivor: Palau.' It looks like Nicaragua will feature some similarly tough cast members who were born long before 1980.

The cast of 'Survivor: Nicaragua' has yet to be officially announced, but casting newly leaked casting rumors include hearty elders such as former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson, 67, who was previously suggested to be joining the show, former Massachusetts fisherman Jimmy Tarantino, 48, amateur cycling champ Dr. Jillian Halmi Behm, 43, and former army nurse Wendy Jo Kohlhoff, 48. Other potential members of the Espada tribe include Brooklynite Dan Lembo, 63, rancher and pageant director Holly Hoffman, 44, and dog breeder Jane Bright, 56.

As for the rumored under-30 crew? So far, Team La Flor is all pecs and bikinis, and include model-actor-drummer Jud Birza, 21, ex-cheerleader and paddle board enthusiast Brenda Lowe, 27, hunky club promoter Ben Henry, 24, swimsuit model Alina Wilson, 23, and track athlete Ma Onka Mixon, 27. Of course, there are also a few serious athletes rumored to be in the younger tribe, too, including ex-NCAA linebacker Chase Rice, 24, and marathoner/real estate broker Matt Lenahan, 30, among others. Still, with a potential elder cast this rugged, the nubile flowers better watch their over-tanned, wrinkle-free backs if they want a shot at winning season 21.

'Survivor: Nicaragua' premieres Sept. 15 on CBS (8 pm/ET).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Survivor Comes to Nicaragua

There has been a lot of talk lately about the popular TV Show, Survivor, currently filming 2 seasons near San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The 21st season is already highly acclaimed by Survivor's creator, Jeff Probst. He describes Nicaragua as "...a land of impenetrable terrain, smoking volcanoes and savage wildlife." While I have personally have never run into any "savage wildlife" in my daily life, I do agree with Probst that the series will "star a brand new set of survivors" - Nicaragua being one of them.

Speculation about Nicaragua being thrust into the limelight during the 21st and 22nd seasons is probably quite accurate, as previous promotion in countries like Belize and Honduras resulted in an influx in real estate investors and higher prices, due to the countries' increased international profiles and increased demand for property.

"Pre-Survivor" prices are still here today, but that will likely change as soon as the hit show broadcasts simultaneously in many countries world wide. Survivor is franchised in over 50 countries.

I personally am very excited for Survivor Nicaragua not because of any direct impact on real estate, but because of the positive exposure of a largely misunderstood nation. Hopefully Survivor will show an accurate portrayal of the beauty and friendliness of Nicaragua.

For anyone interested in checking out Nicaragua prior to the Survivor Season airing later this year, please please be wary of real estate offices or property sellers pressuring too much or artificially increasing prices today. There are still many great deals out there in Nicaragua, and organic appreciation in the values of land prices will come slowly and steadily as the truth about the optimal conditions in Nicaragua reach more mainstream markets.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

US Demand for Costa Rican & Nicaraguan Produce Increases 28%

Costa Rican and Nicaraguan producers of vegetable, pineapple and different types of melon are preparing for the increased horticulture demand in the USA expected for 2010-2019. US demand will grow 28% over the next 10 years, according to a USDA Report - Agricultural Projections for 2019. This is equivalent to over 6.5 million pounds in additional produce.

This is just another one of the results of CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Costa Rica was the last of the Central American countries to approve the agreement in 2007.

Pineapple is the product most exported to the USA after bananas. The National Consortium of Pineapple Producers and Exporters (Canapep in Spanish) also expects 10% increase in export growth to Europe, their second largest market. Nearly 5,000 containers of melon (cantaloupe) alone were exported to the US in 2009 while 2,500 were sent to Europe, excluding watermelon exports.

The only complaints from the local agricultural voice is that they could take better advantage of the USDA's predictions if there were better lines of credit and infrastructure in the country.

What does this mean to foreign investors? --- That expansion from traditional real estate investment into alternative investment like energy and agriculture can be fruitful (no pun intended) for local and international interests alike. Costa Rican farmers need credit and international investment support to keep up with demand from those same countries. Credit is tight in banks everywhere, but international investors can also benefit from granting angel investor loans to established Costa Rican farmers. In turn, production and profit will flourish for all parties involved, not to mention helping to meet global demand for fresh produce and fruit.

So thank Costa Rica and Nicaragua for the fresh cantaloupe, watermelon and bananas you enjoy all summer long!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yoga Community, Lots & Yoga Retreats in Nicaragua - El Camino del Sol San Juan del Sur

Everyone who knows me knows I rarely align myself personally with any developer or development project in Nicaragua or Costa Rica. I am a buyer's agent who scouts the best properties for my clients, regardless of who owns the property or what the price point is. I do like to find the outliers, however, and tend to specialize in finding properties that are priced well below market comps in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

In any sense, I am genuinely impressed with the development, infrastructure, amenities and property management at El Camino del Sol in south west Nicaragua, just outside San Juan del Sur. The owner has really transformed a common finca into a community center and upscale development for people interested in quality of life, health, wellness, surfing and yoga. This community, though humble in its marketing, actually boasts the highest lots owned to houses built ratio in all of San Juan del Sur. Most developers sell a bunch of lots without anyone building anything, or in some cases, without any infrastructure at all. El Camino is quite the opposite. Not only are there 8 houses built in the small community, but there are also indoor/outdoor yoga spaces, a gourmet restaurant and coffee/tea spot with wireless internet, an impressive lap pool and swimming pool, lush gardens and landscaping, water, electricity, well-maintained roads and ambitious drainage and finishing touches to all construction.

Every day, young, lively local residents, expats and tourists frequent the development to drop in on a Nica Yoga class, eat at the restaurant, check their email or converse with friends and travelers. The short term and long term residents alike in the rental houses all feel at home and like a part of the greater San Juan del Sur community and coastal lifestyle.

Here are the specs on owning a coveted lot in El Camino del Sol by Mark Sullivan of Pro Nica Development.

ON SURFING: Great waves are basically as close to surf as the town of San Juan del Sur. Remanso is 10 min down the road to the south and Maderas is 15 min away to the north. After those there's several breaks within 25 min of here.

ON BUILDING: There is no building timeline requirement; however will consider granting a lot credit if someone builds right away.

ON CLOSING COSTS: Utilities are already installed and ready to go to each lot. Closing costs are usually less than 3k.

ON BUILDING REQUIREMENTS: There are no specific restrictions but there are CCRs for the community. Basically, the developers have the right to disapprove of any design that is structurally unsound or absolutely hideous. Other than building correctly and aesthetically, there are no restrictions on what folks can do. Building costs depend greatly on the materials used and finishings that go in eventually. We're looking at building methods that have us spending $35-40/ft2 with structurally sound natural building materials, as well as sustainable options.

ON OCEAN VIEWS: El Camino isn't best known for it's ocean views, while there are a few left with affordable price points.

ON LOT PRICES: Lot prices for 1/4 to 1 acre lots are average from $25-225k but at a much lower price per meter than San Juan del Sur just a click down the road.

ON HOA's: Association fees are $95/month and cover 24 hr security, maintenance of the common areas, internet, full time gardener, road maintenance, etc.

ON FINANCING: On a case by case basis, we would consider seller financing.

Here is another link to the amenities of El Camino del Sol.

For anyone who wants an affordable lot in a secure community close to the beach in San Juan del Sur, El Camino del Sol is for you!

They offer:


Homes and Construction Services

Vacation Rentals

Contact me for questions on buying or check out their website at and tell them Nica Chica sent you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Popoyo, Nicaragua Surf Vacation Rental Properties

Surfari Charters' Jeff Soderlind starts a new property management company in Popoyo, Nicaragua.

Karina Noguera, the Vacation Rentals Manager of Horizon Group, recently reported a new website,, which will display all of their real estate listings, home construction projects and vacation rentals here in Nicaragua. Be sure to keep your eyes open for our first Horizon Newsletter which we will send out once the site is live.

They now have a large selection of beautiful and diverse vacation rentals all along the Pacific coastline - including San Juan del Sur, Guacalito de la Isla, Hacienda Iguana, Rancho Santana and the Popoyo area.

Contact them for the inside scoop on Popoyo, Nicaragua house rentals and real estate properties and tell them the Nica Chica sent you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wall Street Journal Great Reviews of Granada, Nicaragua

Nicaragua for years has been on top of various travel agencies' Top Destination lists, but you know you've made it when the acclaimed Wall Street Journal offers accolades to Nicaragua as an enjoyable tourist destination.

Reporter Nicholas Casey recently spent some time down in Granada, Nicaragua, the oldest European city in North America, and had a lot of good things to say about the colonial city, Lake Nicaragua's isletas, ecotourism in the area and the gastronomy of Nicaragua.

Read the full article here.