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.
Load Disqus comments