My First Business Meeting in Nicaragua

Thursday, August 22nd

Tomorrow I head off to the capital. I’m not going there for great business gain. I don’t have meetings set up with heads of State.

I’m going there to buy an old truck. There’s 2 there, actually: an old Land Cruiser FJ40 with a rebuilt diesel engine.And a ’94 Land Rover Defender truck. Both of these trucks are really pretty tough.

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Saturday, August 24th

My man, Oscar and I left on the 7am transport out of San Juan del Sur. I was carrying an overnight bag in case I wanted to stay there in town. I did have $5,000 in $20 bills in the bag, too.

It’s times like this i would prefer having a conceal-carry permit. Instead i just had a SOG blade, which i kept in my front pocket. I honestly think if some dummy tried to snatch my bag, I’d stick him.

The ‘direct, non-stop’ Managua bus – the one that “doesn’t stop” actually stops about 60 times. They’re not turning down fares. Just forget about it.

First stop was at my attorney’s office – i wanted to drop off the cash. After an hour, that was done. What took so long? Who knows. I was just glad to be in air conditioning for the first time in weeks.

Off to the first truck!

We arrived at Stanimir’s house but there was no truck there. He sat us at a kitchen table and closed the door behind us then walked in the other room and was talking to a few people back there. I couldn’t make out their Bulgarian Spanish, so I just kept watching my man, Oscar to see if he was getting nervous, and he was a little. But it wasn’t from what they were saying, just the idea of being locked in an unfamilar house in a Managuan barrio.

It’s times like this i would prefer having a conceal-carry permit. My vision of what could happen would leave me outgunned in that scenario, even if i did have, say, a 9mm. Most the Bulgarians I know from say, The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, etc. – they don’t carry 9’s. They seem to bring it pretty strong. Still, i’d rather go down in a gunfight with a gun in my hand, not a SOG. “Always bringing a knife to a gunfight,” as Sean Connery once said.

I also didn’t like that Stanimir was wearing an old crummy track suit, like you’d assume an eastern European would be wearing. I felt it added to the criminal persona.

He walked out carrying not weapons but a cell phone. We were told the truck was at another location. We needed to take a cab. It would cost 70 cordobas to get to the location of the truck.

After a 15 minute cab ride, we arrived at a Land Rover mechanic shop, a taller (tie-yaer). There were plenty of old Land Rover’s there. Pretty cool. But not the one I was there to see. It was being kept at another location, I was told.

We waited while the truck was being retrieved. I talked with the mechanic some, who told me the truck i was interested in needed some work. I told him i wasn’t interested in a truck that needed work. Plus, where was the truck? “Just 20 or 30 more minutes,” I was told. Which means an hour.

I told them I was late for another appointment but could come back in a few hours. Not an option, they said.

“ok guys, I’m going to say no. thank you for your time.”

After being a ‘pendejo’ the guy stormed out, cussing and spitting.

It was my first business meeting in Nicaragua

My second meeting was way different. Really nice guys – brothers who owned an old Land Cruiser. The engine was in decent shape, not a ton of rust, but in just awful shape.  When I asked if any of the guages worked, he pointed to the battery amp meter, which worked. He seemed proud to display its functionality.

Back to the attorney’s office to sign the cash back out. I was now again carrying $5,000 in $20’s back to the bus station, Wembes. this is not a great place for gringos to be. Even the taxi drivers warn the cheles (chele is kind of reverse way of saying ‘leche’ (milk) – a dorragatory term used for white people by old men and little girls alike) to be very careful at Wembes.

What does ‘be careful’ really mean? don’t leave my bag on a bench somewhere while i go take pictures of flowers and kids? don’t take a nap in the parking lot? don’t pick a fight there? i guess people say it because what else can you say? there’s not really anything else to say. maybe its just a subtle reminder that you are now officially at risk.

When your mother says, ‘be careful in Panama,’ what she really means is “stay out of bars, don’t talk to attractive women, don’t gamble, smoke, or ride motorcycles.”

 After going oh – for – two in the vehicle game, my man Oscar told me that he owned an ’86 Isuzu Trooper, one of the old boxy kinds. It just needed an engine, which he could get for about $500. Diesel 4-cylinder. 4×4 works fine, air conditioner lines can be cleaned out, brake line can be fixed, oil pump needed. Tires are ok (they’re not). out the door – $2,500 – $3k. Which means $3k.

 Done.

 We start work Monday. And when i say ‘we,’ i mean Oscar will work on it. I’m going to drive it when it’s done.

 Or will I? He and the mechanic yesterday said it’ll take about a week. If it’s done in 3 weeks, I’ll consider that a win.

With any luck, I’ll have more than a $3,000 story to tell.

 

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