Buying a vehicle in Nicaragua is almost as interesting as driving one. Unlike what we are used to, a two year old vehicle here in Nicaragua could very well look like (and have been driven like) its actually ten years old. Some of this is due to pot holes in roads, back streets that are actually more like cow trails, and a host of other hazards on the road. But also, if something breaks, not a lot of people here in Nicaragua fix those things well. Things will be fixed, but maybe with a part of lesser value, or quite literally, caulk. Its not bad (and actually a lot of people are very resourceful) but as we were looking for a good quality used vehicle, we had some issues.
The first truck we looked at was a 2014 Toyota Hilux that looked like it would be pretty awesome from what we could see on the encuentra24.com post, which is like the Nicaraguan version of Craigslist. So we planned to meet the owner at a nearby gas station with Brinson and Santos. (Again, Santos deserves his own blog post…) As we all climbed out of Brinson’s truck and began looking at the champagne colored Hilux, the excitement quickly dissipated. I am not a car person but even I could tell that the truck had not been taken care of well, and in fact had probably been in an accident, after which it was fixed on the cheap. Brinson, Landon and Santos quickly confirmed. The oil needed to be changed, the after market fenders were detaching, and the ‘fixed’ issues were hardly better. So we said thank you to the owner, and drove away. A little bummed, but also more sure that we needed to make sure to meticulously check any vehicle we were thinking about spending money on.
Luckily, in the mean time, we have had a vehicle to drive, so we have been able to be a little picky and take our time. But with teams coming soon, we really wanted to get this loose end tied up. So we kept searching, and then tossed around the idea of going to the used car lot here in Managua. There is a big car dealer, called Casa Pellas, and across the street from their new lot they have a used lot. Couldn’t hurt, right?
We arrived at the hottest part of the day (why? I have no idea) and began walking around looking at the different vehicles. There were loads of Hilux’s, which gave us a little bit of confidence. Surely we could find one here. A salesman came out to help us, and he was awesome. He was patient, kind, and helpful. I think we may have looked at every Hilux on the lot that afternoon, and he was happy to continue to get the keys so we could turn them on and listen to the engines. There was a silver 2014 that seemed good. It already had a brush guard, a roof rack, a heavy duty bed liner, tinted windows and running boards. I personally didn’t care for the roof rack, but oh well. It started up well, and we kept coming back to it. Brinson met us there and we showed it to him. He liked the truck, but was concerned that it looked like the had painted the chassis. Which didn’t readily make sense, except that maybe there was rust they were trying to hide. We decided to think about things and maybe come back the next day.
The next afternoon (at the same time, almost) we returned, but this time with Santos. And he crawled under, over and all around that truck checking EVERYTHING. I seriously was so grateful that he could and would come to look at the truck for us. He checked for leaks, loose parts, and typical signs of neglect. And then he took it on a test drive. I personally wasn’t there, as Brinson, Landon, Santos and the salesman, Carlos, went on the drive, but I was told later that Santos didn’t hold any stops. He drove it hard, trying to expose any potential issues or sounds that could cause problems for us later. Upon returning to the lot he said it was a good truck, with a great motor, but he didn’t think it was worth what they were asking. So we took that into consideration, and told Carlos our offer. He said they couldn’t do it, and we said ok. And then began the waiting game. We were very straight forward about what we were willing to pay, and that we were very willing to pay that, but not more. And then we left. And it took five days, but they finally accepted our offer!
We went to go pay for the truck and pick it up, and Carlos told us they could do a complimentary maintenance on the truck, to sort of set everything at zero for us. Oil change, check the brakes, top of the fluids, etc. We agreed and said we would return that evening to get the truck. When we did, though, we entered what we now jokingly (but sort of seriously) call the ‘Nica vortex’. [The Nica vortex is this thing that exists that means that everything is going to take more time than it needs to, and consist of more stamps (they love stamps here) and generally just be a little less efficient.] Carlos broke the news to us that when they did the maintenance they found that all the doors unlock together, but would not lock together. So they wanted to put an alarm on the truck, because it might fix it. We agreed to them keeping our truck another day, and prayed it would work. It didn’t, but it seems that it is something we can fix still. So in the end, our patience got us not only the price we wanted, but an alarm system and the roof rack, which they were going to remove when they told us they would accept our offer.
All said and done, the process took over a week to finalize, but we now have a truck that we believe will be an awesome vehicle for us here in Nica. And I can cross one more thing off my To-Do list (which is always a good thing).