An ever-evolving collection of art, nature and political musings, with a little bit of photography, economics, humor, world news, and the rantings of a bookstore/coffee farm owner living by the beaches of Nicaragua tossed in for good measure.
I may have set a world record for longest menu, which probably doesn't surprise anyone that knows me. There are 12 pages of food, several pages of superfoods and health information, the FAQ and several pages of random book notes before getting to my list of favorite books. Each time I edit it, I add pages.
You can see photos pf my store here, though it hasn't been updated for a while. We have a Facebook page thanks to Rob, but it's his domainand he is bad about putting up photos.
The menu covers are homemade, abstract collage creations. This batch was not quite as interesting as the last menus, which included the sex menu cover: a collage of a brochure from The Vagina Monologues and The Dysfunctional Family Doll Set with cross-drssing dad, S&M mom and the psychiatrist in the pink rabbit suit. I have a twisted sense of humor.
Despite the uniqueness and intricacy of some of the menu covers, most people don't notice them. Or they notice them they are falling apart becasue we haven't updated the menu and prices in more than two years and it's costing us money on any item with blueberries. But in good condition many people never noticed that they were holding the sex menu cover, Playboy centerfold and all.
I am also working on coffee bag labels and because I have to be different, I am using several different cats and mixing them with vibrant labels, of which there will be almost limitless color combinations. On top of the labels. I am creating 5x6 postcards and two sizes of stickers. I like that I can sell my art in my store!
Off to the printers tomorrow. Here are a few more of my images:
Some of my friends are obsessed with their TripAdvisor rankings, believing it will make or break their business. I suppose it is more important in the hotel rankings as opposed to restaurants. Anyone looking at the Top Ten restaurants in San Juan del Sur can see that there is something funny with the algorithm, especially when a sleazy sports bar with prostitutes standing in front of the place occasionally gets a number two or three ranking. Restaurants that are closed and have been for some time occasionally appear on the list.
I once went nine months in between reading the reviews, and then another six after that. It doesn't matter what my rank is (and it is abysmally low given my sales and the generous accolades from my customers and in comparison to some of the other places reviewed) - el gato negro is still the most popular spot in town in the morning and the vast majority of my customers are returning guests, sometimes even returning two hours later for lunch. It can't be perfect all the time and when it isn't, there is a good chance somebody will bitch about it on TripAdvisor. I have also learned that spurning the sexual advances of an insecure man can induce the spurned into making false claims on TripAdvisor in a pathetic attempt to discredit the business (hint to the spurned: you need a better synonym for your favorite term). Some businesses offer free lunch or beer for a good review. Some business owners have faked reviews and trashed their competitors, but at least there was karmic blowback.
Rob has recently had the unfortunate luck to be appointed by me as the person in charge of responding to bad Trip Advisor reviews. I prefer to put my head in the sand and have never responded to any of the complaints. Some say that is bad business, but I have a hard time dealing with petty whiners - and I am long-winded to boot. And sometimes mean. This is my first and only response to a recent negative review. We'll see if it makes it past the censors at TripAdvisor.
This is one of the owners of el gato negro - the sometimes sarcastic, often long-winded at the keyboard one.
You claim to have been traveling all day and couldn’t wait to get to El Gato Negro. This brings you to our store near closing time at 3 p.m. You then state that our prices are higher than the local area, but your post implies that you had just arrived in town. You should work for a travel guide publisher because you managed to travel all day and instantaneously knew the selection and prices of all of the other restaurants upon your arrival, much like the “writers” of guidebooks of all countries across this cut-and-paste world. Can you tell me what the average price of a Smoked Turkey Club with fresh, thick cut, locally smoked bacon, garlic cream cheese, provolone cheese, avocado, tomato, cucumber and onion on an imported NY style bagel served with organic field greens and a blueberry smoothie with maca, bee pollen, chia, coconut oil, raw cacao and goji berries costs you at other restaurants? Or smoked salmon from Chile (which is healthier than salmon fished from the Northern Hemisphere) on a cream cheese bagel with capers? No, because that quality of sandwich and smoothie does not exist at other restaurants in town or Nicaragua. How many coffeehouses have you been visited where they roasted the coffee on premise? Where do you suggest one find a better deal for coffee in San Juan del Sur, since you obviously know so much about the local offerings having just arrived into town. Your TripAdvisor reviews under this name consist of solely of El Gato Negro. If there are better places for a better value, why haven’t you listed them? Oh, you probably just need a little time to digest the overwhelming beauty of the cheap advertisements for beer, rum and cigarettes illuminated by white fluorescent bulbs at the the fine dining establishments, 90 percent of which have a big bottle of MSG next to the stove. I anxiously await your review of the 70 cordoba gallo pinto breakfast at the mercado, especially if you eat from the comedor famous for its toxic effects to your digestive tract, specifically the the lower tract. But you in your infinite wisdom, you already now which one I am talking about.
You claim that my employees were talking rudely about you behind your back and they did not know that you spoke Spanish. I don't believe your claims. You have another agenda for saying that. Whatever transpired was filtered by your attitude at that point, but my employees were not trashing you. They would certainly have waited until you had left the store before engaging in that kind of gossip. They have manners.
And might I ask why you think you can walk into a BOOKSTORE (or any business) and recharge your phone and computer without at least inquiring about it first? You state that my staff was rude, but walking into a business and acting as it is a fundamental human right that a BOOKSTORE provide you with a free charge for your phone seems rude to me. Why is it my duty to recharge your phone or laptop? One of the reasons for the charge is that we do not want people sitting for hours nursing a coffee, staring into a not-so-smart phone like a zombie while using our internet, which is not advertised as “Free wifi”. We graciously allow clients to use our PRIVATE internet connection for free. We are not an internet cafe, nor are we a recharging station. (By the way, it costs $3 to recharge a phone at one major US airport.) We suggest that references to wifi signal be relegated to reviews of Internet cafes should such a category exist. We would prefer people spend their time finding the right book to balance the negative vibrational energy of their electronic addictions or a book on survivalism, the Kindle version of which will be useless in a power outage.
Some people complain because we charge $1 to charge a laptop or iPhone (which uses more electricity than you think and in a country with the highest electricity rates in the Americas), but we do not want to cultivate a culture of entitlement. Your life is not going to end if you cannot check your email and Facebook account 80 times a day. We do not feel any desire to help you live in the electronic world while you sit in a real BOOKSTORE with a huge collection of books you will find nowhere else in the world. Complaining about your battery recharging experience in a bookstore/coffeehouse will not elicit any sympathy from us.
We always have a manager on duty; you could have asked to speak to one. Getting your point across would be easy since you speak Spanish, right? Sometimes our bills are confusing because the menu price includes the 15 percent sales tax created by the vultures at the IMF and World Bank, but the lengthy complexities of the Nicaraguan accounting system require us to back it out of the price and rewrite it as the tax on the official factura, all of which takes time. Again, you could have spoken to someone if you had a problem before whining here.
The petting zoo is not a petting zoo and it is not ours. It belongs to our landlady. She has chicken and geese, which she raises for eggs. Geese keep down the insect population, especially tics. I am not a fan of the pigs, but since I love to eat bacon and try to promote a self-sustainable lifestyle, who am I to criticize her anmimals? The kids love them and the geese are super friendly - and they are fenced in. Finally.
You state that you are never coming back. That is fine. We do not want the energy from clients who forget that they are in the Third World, regardless of the cool and funky aesthetics of the interior of our store. We do not want clients to treat our establishment as an internet cafe or a battery charging station. We do not want clients who demand a Four Seasons experience on a taco cart budget. There is a reason that TripAdvisor is known as WhineAdvisor amongst hospitality business owners around the world. You have reinforced this stereotype. You have taken it upon yourself to ANONYMOUSLY write ONE review of ALL the places that you have visited in your travels because your experience in a COFFEEHOUSE/BOOKSTORE IN THE THIRD WORLD wasn’t perfect. Perhaps it wasn’t the second coffee that was bad; maybe it is something inside you.
The worst thing you can do is try to compare ANYTHING that happens in Nicaragua to your experience in the US. Lead floats here. Just above that on the list of Things Not To Do in Nicaragua is to judge a place by your first impression, especially if you plan on sticking around in place with a limited selection of food. If I was angry and wine-typed reviews of my favorite restaurants in San Juan del Sur on TripAdvisor, I could HONESTLY write, “Steak so tough I needed the Heimlich Maneuver” and “Bit into bread crust and swallowed part of my molar” and “Last bite of chicken was raw and so is my esophagus” amongst other literary gems. Sometimes I get bad service in my own restaurant and I have given up trying to understand why. We all have bad days, especially at the end of our summer season. It is hot, dusty, humid and uncomfortable, making everyone grouchy. Let’s face it, my zinc roof store is hot in the afternoon and the girls are anxious to get home. The aren’t perfect and I cannot complain because I would only be a hypocrite.
I am sorry that there is so little to be grateful for in your life that you felt the need complain vociferously and publicy about your coffeehouse experience. Remember, you are the creator of your experiences. Peace to you, wherever your travels take you.
I remember in grade school that some of the boys in class were being disruptive by talking and the nun told us all to stand and put out our hands so she could smack our hand with a ruler. About half the class stood up and put out their hand but when they saw that the rest of us were still sitting at our desks they slowly sat back down. The bewildered nun didn’t know what to do and finally told us to open our books.
That’s what happens when a person in authority threatens you and you all stand up to them. They expect you to obey and when you don’t they back down. In other words, they are nothing more than the school yard bully.
The government is so out of control and making laws that are insane. People are now being fined for the simplest things. Remember the slogan, “Buckle Up – It’s the Law”. You can be fined for not wearing a seatbelt in your own car. You can be fined for using a rain barrel to save water to irrigate your small garden in the back yard; you can be arrested for selling raw milk which has been a staple for thousands of years. You can be fined or arrested for photographing the police abusing someone and your camera confiscated. The government mandates you get vaccines for your babies and children when legitimate research tells you it is harmful. A woman was fined $81 for parking her car with the windows rolled down. The police classified it as an unsecured vehicle that could easily be broken into. Another woman was recently fined for growing a small garden in her front yard. What would happen if we all planted a small garden in our front yard? Actually, that might not be a bad idea. We would have some GM free veggies. Are you really going to obey these ridiculous rules or laws? If you do they will keep adding more.
The elite think they can rule you by starting out slowly. I’m sure you’ve heard the story of putting a frog in a pan of lukewarm water and then slowly heating it up and the frog doesn’t realize that he is being boiled alive until it’s too late to get out of the pot. Mostly that’s what the government does to us. First one license or fine which they got away with, then another, then another, and now we have well over a hundred different licenses we are required to obtain and fines we are expected to pay. Another manner in which the government controls you is by fear.
The government tells us the laws are for our safety. They won’t label GM food because they know it will harm your health; even the wild animals won’t eat it; rats fed Monsanto GM corn developed shockingly large cancer tumors. They add sodium fluoride to our water and to our toothpaste which is a rat poison; they fill our skies with chemicals, they fill the atmosphere with all sorts of radiation including cell phone towers. If they are for our safety, why do they hide many of those health-threatening cell phone towers in trees, and church steeples and crosses, water towers, and schools? I’ve even seen them in palm trees. Churches and schools love these because they generate big bucks. Dr. Mercola states on his website:
As school budgets shrink, some are getting money from an unlikely and controversial source: cell phone tower installations. Local schools can make hundreds of thousands of dollars from leases on towers. mercola.com
Why did you get a marriage license? Most people get one because everyone else does; it’s the norm; it’s the law. My research showed the first marriage license was issued in 1856 in Shawnee, Kansas. So since the beginning of recorded time it was the norm to marry without a license until 1856.
Were Adam & Eve married? Did Adam & Eve need a license, the authorization of some man or government? It is plain to see that God recognizes a couple as married when they “cleave unto” each other. Genesis 2:23-24 (not when a government gives them a license/permission).
Did you know there are Pastors who will marry without a marriage license and they are more common than you think? All you have to do is go online or open up your local phone book and call the numbers in the churches section. Sooner or later you will find a man of God who hasn’t sold his soul applying for a 501(c) corporate status with the IRS and who believes that there ought to be a separation between church and state and marriage and state.
Pastor Trewhella of the Mercy Seat Christian Church in Wisconsin stated;
“You should not have to obtain a license from the State to marry someone anymore than you should have to obtain a license from the State to be a parent, which some in academic and legislative circles are currently pushing to be made law”. ~ mercyseat.net/marriagelicense.html
When Pastor Trewhella marries a couple, he always buys them a Family Bible which contains birth and death records, and a marriage certificate. Record the marriage in the Family Bible. What’s recorded in a Family Bible will stand up as a legally binding document in any court of law in America. Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were married without a marriage license. They simply recorded their marriage in their Family Bibles. So should we. What happens if no one acquires a marriage license from the government? Well, outside of the obvious, we wouldn’t have to ask permission from the government to get a divorce.
If every American refused to obey these insane laws what will the elite do? The same thing as the nun or the school yard bully when not obeyed – brute force and if that doesn’t work, they will back down. Just like the schoolyard bully who takes your lunch money every day. A day comes when you tell him “no” and he beats you up. You don’t give him your lunch money the next day and he beats you up again. Then he looks for someone else who will ‘obey’ him. Where would that school yard bully be if no one gave him their lunch money? Where would the government be if no one asked for permission and never got another license or paid another fee or fine?
Let me clarify what a license or permit is. It is simply asking permission from the government and paying the government a fee for what we have every God-given right to do in the first place – for free, without asking anyone for permission. Burn that statement into your mind. Memorize it, use it as a chant. If that’s not bad enough, we must renew many licenses’ periodically and pay again and again. What if we all decided we would no longer get or renew our driver’s license and pay them for the right to drive our own car? What if we all stopped getting a license of any kind? They could fine us. But what if we didn’t pay the fine? We might go to jail. Where do a few get off telling the many we can’t get married, defend ourselves, or drive a car or go fishing or hunting or any of our other God-given rights without their permission? I don’t need the government to give me permission to purchase a gun to defend myself. Why aren’t you outraged? Just because you grew up under these insane rules and you accepted them as normal you don’t have to obey them anymore. They aren’t normal; they’re insane; you are obeying insane laws. You don’t have to stand up and put your hand out so the nun can whack it with a piece of wood or give your lunch money to the school yard bully anymore. Like the frog, you’re slowly being boiled.
Every permit, every license, and every birth certificate has a number on it. You even have a social security number. Have you ever asked why you and everything you do has a number on it? It’s to keep track of you, what you do, where you do it and when you do it. If you move you have to notify various government agencies of your new address. Why is that? Why isn’t just notifying the post office of a change of address enough?
Why can the government get away with these insane laws and fines? For several reasons. You do what you’re told because you believe it to be the norm; it’s what everyone else does. That doesn’t make it right. Another reason people follow these ridiculous laws is because of fear. If I don’t get my children all the vaccines the government mandates my children won’t be able to get into school and I fear the law will come down on me, maybe arrest me and put my children in Children’s Services. I must get this flu shot because if I don’t I fear I will get the flu. Besides, my doctor told me to get a flu shot, television told me to get the flu shot, the local drugstore advertises the flu shot. I believe the reason my classmates sat back down when they saw the rest of us still sitting is because they feared us more than they feared the nun with her little ruler.
If a slave owner can tell his slaves what to do, what does it mean when the government tells you what you can do? It means you’re a slave to the government. Yes, it’s the same government that tells you that you are a free man living in a free country.
There is a story about two frogs hopping down a country road and they happen to hop into a bucket of fresh milk. They begin thrashing about and swimming in the milk and the older one got really tired and gave up and died. The younger one kept on swimming until he felt something solid under his feet and hopped out. (No, it wasn’t the body of the dead frog!) He thrashed so much and so long he turned the milk into butter.
The moral of the story is “there are butter days ahead”…if we all decide NOT to OBEY.
If we all stop obeying these insane rules the government places upon us, there will be better days ahead with true freedom, but you gotta fight for it by being passive – by not obeying – by not applying for anymore licenses and paying them a fee and obeying them. Freedom is not going to come softly in the night while you sleep. Don’t leave it for the “other” guy. Remember, you are the “other” guy to everyone else.
You Don’t Have To Get or Renew Anymore Licenses!
You Don’t Have To Pay Anymore Fees or Fines!
You Don’t Have To Obey Anymore!
About the Author
Jan Fox is a life time astrologer and was introduced to astrology in middle school and began a serious study of astrology in 1972 – getting her license in 1974. She has performed thousands of in-depth personal readings, as well as teaching astrology, and is proficient in most branches of western astrology. She previously had a website named “Astro-Sports” in which she successfully analyzed sporting events utilizing astrology. After retiring in 2007 and moving from Las Vegas to the heartland, her attention turned to writing articles on astrology as it relates to the world we live in now. She is also well versed in the outside subjects of Herbology, Ancient History, Metaphysics, Astro-theology, and is also a Yoga instructor.
"Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of the earth. We learn to do what only the student of nature ever learns, and that is to feel beauty. We never rail at the storms, the furious winds, the biting frosts and snows. To do so intensifies human futility, so whatever comes we should adjust ourselves by more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint. Bright days and dark days are both expressions of the Great Mystery, and the Indian reveled in being close the Great Holiness." -- Chief Luther Standing Bear