The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost

the 1 less traveled by

A move to Nicaragua

Browsing Category:

Life Savors

Carved watermelon ready for judging

Does Nicaragua Celebrate Halloween?

No, but San Juan del Sur does!

The October festivities started the Friday before Halloween with a watermelon carving PTO fundraiser. Pumpkins are harder to find, and watermelon is not only easy to carve, you also get to eat the insides! The proceeds went to fund scholarships for local kids to attend San Juan del Sur Day School. If you’d like to donate for that cause, please click here. Obviously providing excellent education for our adopted country is important, but it is also important that our kids socialize with the local people & envelop themselves into the culture. I believe the more a person travels, the more tolerant they are to people’s differences. Tolerance & kindness are important attributes that I want my kids to learn.

Anyway…The event was held at a restaurant, Bocadito, where families and people in the community came to carve a watermelon and enjoy a plate of tapas and a sangria for a good cause.

The crowd of carvers  Dads & Daughter Creating

Pumpkin carving is something I do every year, so I pre-planned my, er, um, I mean Azalea’s creation. Many said that we cheated by bringing props, but Zombie Elsa was a hit with the judges, so say what they will.
Zombie Elsa  Zombie Elsa at night

On Halloween a group & I had organized the annual “Dulces y Disfraces” (Candy & Costume) event. Through October we asked businesses in town if they would volunteer to pass out 100 pieces of candy to 100 kids. The library kept a sign up list for 200 kids. Then we made 2 routes of businesses leading from the library to a restaurant called Crazy Crab. At Crazy Crab we set up a haunted house, 2 piñatas, and a Halloween music playlist blasting for the kids.
Some of the kids lined up for a photo  Trick or Treating at a hostel in town

The Princess & The Basketball Player  Pinata time

Backpacker costumesAfter the event we ate at our friend’s delicious restaurant, Jicaro Garden. Kharron & I dressed as backpackers in tank tops from Sunday Funday, the pool party crawl that backpackers flock to San Juan del Sur to attend.

November 2nd every year is Día de Los Muertos. The Nicaraguans celebrate it by going to the cemetery where family & friends are buried. They bring the deceased person’s favorite foods and spend the day cleaning, decorating, and spending time around the grave. It is truly a special day here to honor loved one who have passed.

Dia de Los Muertos here in SJDS


Family Photo with Cascada Blanca in the background

Trip to Matagalpa

Azalea’s school had a “rainy season break” so we decided to make the best of it and took a long weekend trip to see Matagalpa and the famous coffee plantation & hotel, Selva Negra. We invited some new friends who seemed to have like minds, the same slightly twisted sense of humor, and kids with similar ages.

We left San Juan del Sur at 6am on Saturday, hoping to have a full day The 4 1/2 hour drive North was a little long, but breathtakingly beautiful. Rolling green hills and the sight of coffee beans drying.
Rolling green hills  Coffee beans drying

We reached Selva Negra at 11am and decided to see if we could get an early check-in. With no problem at all we paid for our 2 nights upfront and were given 1 key to the 3 bedroom “bungalow” Grethel. We quickly unpacked and headed to the restaurant for lunch and some running around. We were all pleasantly surprised – the food was not only delicious, but also a reasonable price and there was a huge playground next to it that the kids loved!

Azalea loves to swing  Happy Titus in a sweatshirt!

Happy Ice Cream EatersFor dinner we went into the town of Matagalpa and as suggested by a friend, we ate at the restaurant California Happy. It was really delicious! I think I’ll dream of my taco salad for the rest of my time in Nicaragua. We then went to Kiss Me for ice cream dessert. The decorations are insanely cute, but to be honest, we weren’t impressed with the ice cream or the service. Plus, our 4 year olds ordered “chocolate” but we were not told that it was actually chocolate cafe. I realized this only after licking a little off my daughters cone before it melted onto the floor.  Luckily the coffee did not have an affect on our tired travelers and they went to bed with ease.

Horse Riding in the mouthains

The next day both families went on a 30 minute horseback ride through some of the coffee bushes. It was a little scary with the little one’s because the horses loved to trot, but for some reason I couldn’t stop laughing. 30 minutes was the perfect amount of time.

Walking to the swimming areaOnce back we quickly packed to go see Cascada Blanca. I read that there was an on-site restaurant, a cave, and place to swim, so we packed accordingly. Someone with kids had suggested it, and after doing some research it seemed doable with little ones. Feeling how cold the water wasIt was about a 30 minute drive from Selva Negra and was so worth it! We had a great afternoon exploring and could have definitely stayed longer if the toddlers didn’t need naps.

When we got back to Selva Negra we were all in need of a shower, but the water pressure in our bungalow was non existent in the shower. Our friend, Jason went up to the reception to ask if we could use another bungalow’s showers. The offer for us to move to another cabin and after checking out the 5 bedroom, 3 bath kid paradise, we decided it was worth the effort to move. Casa Bosche has a long hallway that the kids loved running up & down.

While moving our car loaded with all our stuff, my husband miscalculated the width of the driveway in the dark and one of the wheels of our car went off the edge. The men try to fix it that night, but decided it was a task better done in the daylight. With the help of a few Selva Negra employees and the winch on Jason’s SUV, our car made it to four wheel on ground safely.

Breakfast ChaosAfter freeing our car and breakfast our friends got on the road to take advantage of their littlest’s nap time. Kharron used the Wifi in the restaurant to get some work done and after we did one last walk around the property to get some of the kids energy out. Selva Negra is truly beautiful and we look forward to another trip to the chilly mountains.

View from breakfast  Gazebo across the pond

Pond View  Titus & Kharron with the Chapel behind them

Azalea in local school

Local Nicaraguan School

Azalea Goes to Local School (for a month)

For the first year, San Juan del Sur Day School changed to be more like the traditional North American schedule with 6 weeks off between mid July and end of Aug. We decided to take advantage of this break and enrolled Azalea into a local primary school to give her a jump on learning Spanish and make some local Nica friends.

We decided that Newton Montgri would be the best option for preschool since the other local preschools in town lump all kids 2-5 years old into the same class. Not only does this sound like a logistic nightmare, it increases the number of kids per class, and I can’t image much time is spent on actual education. I took Juanita with me to ask the director of the school if enrolling Azalea for just one month would be okay. With much relief she said “sí”, introduced us to the teacher, and showed us the classroom. I think Juanita was proud that Azalea would be attending a local school and quickly went to work finding a uniform in Azalea’s size. She also obtained the required notebook, colored pencils, and regular pencil.Newton School

We went to California for a month, planning on Azalea attending the week after we returned. During our vacation I talked to Azalea a lot about her new “Summer Spanish School” and how everyone would only speak Spanish just like when she hung out with her neighbor friend & family. She seemed fine with the idea. She is a very social little girl, so I had high hopes for her integration.

First Day of SchoolThe first day of school I was a little nervous for Azelea, but that quickly dissolved after seeing her in the traditional uniform. I pointed out all the kids in the same uniform on our way to school at 8:15am. Kharron & Juanita also went on the first day, apprehensive for her new adventure. I picked her up after school at 11:30am and she was excited that she had made friends and one girl had given her a little “present”. The teacher told me she had done well, to pack a plate in her backpack, and that her water had spilled, so she had put it in a bag….all of which, took me a second to translate.

The next day when I told Azalea that it was time to get ready for school, her nervousness was visual. She told me that she didn’t want to go to “Spanish school” and that she didn’t understand what anyone was saying. I felt bad, but I know my daughter and if I continued to force her to go, she would soon make friends and her nervousness would dissipate.

This week the teacher asked if I could make the lunch on Wednesday. I didn’t really understand what she meant until another woman put dried beans, oil, and very dry corn in a bag. Oh, I was supposed bring these items back cooked! I showed Juanita when I got home and she offered to cook it. Actually she suggested that I buy cooked beans, tortillas, and Nica cheese so that the meal would have some flavor.  We delivered it Wednesday morning along with a gallon of orange juice. From what Azalea said it was a hit. She told me the “Spanish speaking kids stole her tortillas.” That’s okay, she doesn’t really like Nica tortillas anyway.

We’re now about 2 weeks into our 4 weeks and the pre-school tears have ceased. Azalea still tells me she is nervous on our drive to school, but she is always excited about her morning when I pick her up. She is quickly making friends. I feel very proud when I walk around town with her in uniform, it makes me feel like I am a part of the community rather than just another gringo family living in Nicaragua, but not integrating with Nicaraguans. I still plan on sending Azalea to the international school, but I hope that Azalea is able to go back to Newton during school breaks and continues the friendships she’s making.Newton preschool playground

The local schools are free for students, but we wanted to give something to the school as a thank you for letting Azalea drop-in for a month. I asked Juanita what she thought would be a good gift and she suggested “maletin de primeros auxilios” (a.k.a. first aid kit) or a buy a Filtron water purifier for the classroom. Both items are not very expensive, so we may just buy both.

Monday Photo Dump – Trip to Santa Cruz, California

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Monday Photo Dump – When Life Gives You Lemons

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Monday Photo Dump – Rainy Season Fun

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Monday Photo Dump – This Beautiful Country

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Monday Photo Dump – Taking Advantage of Nicaragua has to offer

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My Mother's Day view.

Mother’s Day in Nicaragua

Today was Mother’s Day in the United States. I love Facebook because I am able to see how all my friends & family were able to celebrate it and all the sweet gestures by husbands and kids. My tradition used to be mimosas & breakfast at a not-so-busy restaurant with the family then I would get dropped off to enjoy a massage. It was perfect. I could get the same thing every year and be completely satisfied.

Last year was our first Mother’s Day in Nicaragua and my husband tried to keep this tradition going. Sadly, as the US Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday, it was impossible to find a spa open for my massage. We had to settle on just breakfast and the hope that I’d be able to celebrate more fully on Nicaragua’s Mother’s Day on May 30th.

Kharron’s mom is in town and she’s been wanting to spend the day at our most beautiful beach, Playa Hermosa. We left the house around 9am and were able to score the large palapa with comfy couches. It was a fabulous & surprisingly relaxing day.

My Mother's Day view.
My Mother’s Day view.

Both kids were able to take a nap so we were able to stay longer into the early evening. Azalea boogie boarded for the first time, and even Kharron & I got to play in the waves.

Azalea loves her time one-on-one with Daddy.
Azalea loves her time one-on-one with Daddy.





Kharron’s mom did discover that at Playa Hermosa they still do massages on Sundays, so she was able to enjoy her Mother’s Day fully.

This was also my view on Mother's Day. Somehow both kids took a nap at the beach so we got to stay all day - an unexpected gift!
This was also my view on Mother’s Day. Somehow both kids took a nap at the beach so we got to stay all day – an unexpected gift!

I think Mother’s Day is better than my birthday and I feel so lucky not only to get to celebrate it, but that I have such an amazing family to celebrate it with.