Where is Phil Hughes?

Well, that's easy to answer but, more important what is he doing? And why? Well, here is a not so quick update. First, the executive summary:
  • I am in Nicaragua
  • I just finished a book (that you should buy and read)
  • I am creating another Linux-based web site with, of course, free software.
  • I am still working on the Geek Ranch for you guys


I moved to Estelí­ Nicaragua over three years ago. It is a big little town in the mountains in northern Nicaragua. It offered a good compromise between the "city conveniences" I need (basically regular mail service and decent Internet connectivity) and being three minutes from the country. It also is a relatively inexpensive place to live and has decent weather year round. What will likely come as the biggest surprise to most who know me is that I got married. I thought I was still too young to do such a thing but it happened. Maybe I was just trying to prove my Spanish was good enough to seduce a local (I still can't believe it really is) but, in any case, it happened. To her credit, she had never heard of Linux, free software or any of that funny stuff and had never owned a computer until I bought her a Nokia 770.

The Book

Let's move from Ana (that's my wife's name) to the book. I remember talking to someone 25 years ago about Nicaragua and they told me that Nicaraguans must be looses because the average income there was $600/year. That got me thinking that if a Nicaraguan could live on $600/year and I paid more than that for car insurance then they must know something I don't. Twenty five years later I figured it out. Helping me was my wife. She comes from a poor family. But, poor is not a dirty word here. It doesn't mean you expect a government handout nor that you live under a bridge and beg for quarters. It just means you don't have a lot of things folks in "the first world" know are essential. That got me thinking about the people I hear about buying land here "for their retirement". They appear all the time on my discussion web site, http://www.nicaliving.com. They don't know anything about Nicaragua except that while they can't afford land on the California coast, they can on the Nicaraguan coast. They will continue to pay off mortgages, college tuition for their kids and huge heating and cooling bills until they retire. Then, maybe, they will get to come to Nicaragua. To me, it seemed there must be a better way. That is, a way for someone relatively young to escape from the rat race now--not when they are too old to appreciate mountains to climb, the surf and generally nice outside weather. Well, Ana and I put our heads together and wrote ain ebook called Living Like a Nica. We just self-published it on lulu.com. It combines my knowledge of where you might be coming from with her knowledge of how to live here cheaply. It is full of pictures and personal anecdotes. Yeah, before you ask, it was produced using Scribus and other Linux-based programs. Now, before you say you don't want to live in poverty the rest of your life, let me explain that isn't what the book is about. I see Nicaragua as the land of opportunity--much like the US was 50 years ago. The idea is that today you could afford to bail out of the rat race, get your life established here and live cheaply as you move yourself up the food chain. It is hard for someone paying $2000/mo rent to imagine living on $200/mo but is is possible. And it is possible to live well here for $500/mo. Anyway, end of the sales pitch. You can read the table of contents and introductory chapter for free on Lulu and then decide if you are ready to drop out. We will be waiting for you.


Always wanting to do something geeky, I decided Nicaragua needed a business portal. Not for multi-national corporations but for ordinary people with ordinary businesses. NicaPlaza.com will, hopefully, become that site. It is based on Joomla. I will be adding more modules with more functionality over the next year. Now, confession time. I was looking for business directory software. I made two mistakes. Both were proprietary packages and both proved to be exactly what I didn't need. While they came with source code, it quickly became obvious they were not going to do the job. I found a module called SOBI 2 for Joomla that is a much better fit and, besides, it actually works right. That part is now installed. Once I finish the tuning I will be adding another Joomla module called Joomfish which will make the site multi-lingual.

The Geek Ranch

Finally, I am working with a Nicaraguan on a Geek Ranch. What's that, you ask? Well, it is a facility where you will be able to run away from your huge rent payments, heating bills or whatever, hide in a little cottage and write the world's greatest piece of software. The main difference between doing your work here as opposed to Silicon Valley is that you will be able to afford it. We are shooting for $500/mo for a private mini-house, maid service and three meals a day. Sure, we will give you options to spend more money if you really want to but I am guessing that isn't in the ballpark of anything in Silicon Valley. While the idea was initially just for geeks, Jill quickly pointed out that book authors would probably be interested as well. So, while I still want to call it a Geek Ranch, anyone who wants to hide, not have to do the gruntwork they find at home and just work on whatever they want may see this as a great opportunity.

That's It

That's pretty much the update from here. Keywords are peace, tranquility, good weather and continued work with Linux. Oh, and toss in local fresh fruit and vegetables year round and excellent organic coffee at $2 or so a pound. Hope you are all having fun in the first world.

Phil Hughes


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Paul Smith

Paul Smith's picture



rugs's picture


A few of you may know we

caballosweb's picture

A few of you may know we advanced past Pawtucket in the first round of the International League playoffs and will kick off the Championship round tonight against Durham. We have a great team and hopefully we can win this whole thing. A lot of great pitching match ups in each game. You should really check it out if you get a chance.

I'm also heading to the Arizona Fall League when the season is over to get some more innings in. I'm really excited to work on some things and get my innings count up for this year.

Submited by : Libros Gratis

In my dreams

Anonymous's picture

I would love to be able to live somewhere I could actually afford. Right now I'm retired on disability and homeless. My brother is letting me stay with him for a while, thank $DEITY.

My disability annuity is just under $1400/mo. That's about what rent costs on a two bedroom apartment in this area for me and my son. This leaves nothing for food, utilities, cloths, etc.

If I didn't have such funky medical issues and could convince my ex to move down with me it would probably work fine[*]. The only downside I can see to living there is the hurricanes.

Joe, who can never remember his password for this site

[*] She'd never let me move there with our son and I'm not living anywhere without him.

hot love it

absentdave's picture

nice stuff

appreaciate it



thanks best regard.

Anonymous's picture

thanks best regard.

Life in Central America

Marty K's picture

I've been living in Honduras for almost four years now. I sure like the simplicity of life here and I appreciate the laid back culture for the most part. I'm impressed that you've settled in Nicaragua and are committed to life here. Personally, I'm ready to go back to the U.S. for a little while (before my next adventure), but I certainly recommend Central American to anyone who feels there's more important things in life that "the rat race".

Honduras vs. Nicaragua

Phil "nicafyl" Hughes's picture

I can assure you that "returning" is not on my list. Things aren't perfect here but life just makes so much more sense and what one person can contribute is so much bigger.

Honduras has never been on my list. While I am not that far from the Honduran border, the rate of violent crime in Honduras (as well as El Salvador and Guatemala) make it pretty uninteresting to me. On the other hand, violent crime rates here are lower than the US.

For me, the big challenges are trying to get locals to understand you don't need 1/4" of oil in a teflon-coated pan to cook an egg. :-)

Three trips to Honduras

dan's picture

I've made three trips to Honduras and never felt unsafe. As usual it probably depends a lot on where exactly you go. I was in Santa Rosa de Copán. Tegucigalpa might be an entirely different matter.

Do you know a good website for checking on crime statistics?

I bought your book, and enjoyed reading it.

i also love it

islanddave's picture

very good stuff

appreciate the thoughts

island filipinadave

Good On You, Phil!

Bilfurd's picture

If I had stayed in the service, I would be retiring to Panama in two years for the same reasons you moved to Nicaragua. The "simple" life is sweet once you get used to it...

I look forward to reading your book.

Cheers & best wishes

Very Nice

JW's picture


Let us know when the Geek Ranch is complete. I'm sure you will get quite a few takers on that offer.



Phil, Let us know when the

Anonymous's picture


Let us know when the Geek Ranch is complete. I'm sure you will get quite a few takers on that offer.