Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Financial Habits…don’t exist in Nicaragua

This week’s Photo Challenge is Habit – stuff of the everyday, places we go, things we do, people we see.

IMG_3813This is our electric bill attached to our fencepost. Last month, when the electric man came to our house to cut off our electricity…AGAIN…I said, ” What happened to the bicycle deliverer this time?” You see, as hard as I try to be efficient and pay our bills in a timely manner…it’s almost an impossibility on Ometepe Island because good financial habits that I have developed throughout my lifetime don’t exist in Nicaragua.

The first time the electric guy came to our house to cut off our electricity he told me, “The fat guy on the bicycle quit delivering the bills.” In the ‘land of the not quite right’, even though we never received a bill, it was our duty to pay in a timely manner. So, Ron raced off to town on his motorcycle to pay our electric bill, while I entertained the electric shut off guy on my porch and taught him a few English phrases like efficiency, good financial habits, pay bills online, and I am never late paying my bills.

This time, the new electric bill delivery guy was afraid to deliver the bill to us because he didn’t speak English. “Oh my Lord…just tell him to hang it on the fence,” I said. And so, coming home from paying our other bills in town today, the electric bill was posted happily and fearlessly on our fencepost.

IMG_3811Let me explain the Latin logic in our bills. The big stack of receipts…over 3 years of receipts (in the picture on the right) is our Claro internet bill. We didn’t have residency when we wanted the internet at our house, so a friend of mine who had residency used her information to get us the Claro internet dongle. Every month, I have to go to the office to pay the internet bill and every month he asks me, “You are Betty?” At first, I tried to tell him that Betty passed away, and it was my internet bill. But, when he said, “Muchas gracias, Betty” after I paid the bill, I thought… what the heck. I’ll be Betty for the rest of my life as far as Claro is concerned.

The confusion at the Claro office started when I got the Claro phone plan with my residency card. I pay the bills on the same day. “Muchas gracias, Betty,” he said when I paid my internet bill. “Muchas gracias, Deborah,” he responded when I paid my Claro phone bill. I think they are humoring me and suspect that they are dealing with a loca gringa with dissociative identity disorder.

Good financial habits don’t exist in Nicaragua. Very few bills can be paid online…only my SKY satellite TV bill…and that’s from Mexico. The electric company is the only one that delivers the bills from house to house on a bicycle…no mail service here. For the other bills, we play the game of seek and pay. First, we have to find the stack of old receipts attached to the original contract, then pay them in the right office.

It really becomes tricky if we can’t find the stack of stapled receipts because the electric and water bill aren’t in our names. We tried to change the bills to our names…but don’t get me started on that fiasco…which involved Spanish words like abogado ( lawyer), escritura (our property title), and mucho dinero ( much money).

Maybe I really have developed dissociative identity disorder? Paying bills in a fiscally responsible way in Nicaragua is a habit I’ve had to break. It’s the only way to stay sane in the ‘land of the not quite right.’


12 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Financial Habits…don’t exist in Nicaragua

  1. When I asked the previous owner of our house if I should get the names changed on the electric and water bills, all he said was, “Good luck with that.” I will forever be Berta Juarez to the electric company and Ben Wheatley to the water company.

  2. a person with good financial habits is very hard to develop… after developing them we would like to think other people have the same type of financial responsibility.
    isnt it always interesting to know its their world and we now have to learn how to live in it….
    bills getting them not getting them sometimes its not as important as just plain paying them …

  3. Oh so true! Our electricity bill has some previous owner’s name on it, our cable bill has another name and our internet bill is in a friends name that lives in Granada because we don’t have residency yet and had to do the same thing you did. We were told just to keep things as it is otherwise we would be asking for trouble and we don’t want that so that’s the way it stays.

    Just a little side note, my parents go to Croatia every year for the summer. My dad goes and prepays the electricity and water for the family house for the whole summer while they are there. The house is not used by anyone else. Except this summer my cousin arrives for a visit and tells my dad she has been paying for everything for over the last 10 years. A bitter argument ensues. My dad says impossible…I’ve been paying every year. When my dad goes to the office to check he realizes that he has been paying someone else’s bills with the same name as my grandfather for all these years since he didn’t know they were billing my cousin. And forget about trying to recoup the money.

    • Oh Gordana, you do understand. That is the craziest story, but it makes sense to us, right? On another side note, I have a very good friend from Croatia. One year, we rented a car and drove around Europe. We wanted to go to Croatia, but they wouldn’t let us take the car across the border. Someday, we will have to visit your beautiful country.

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