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

Juanita serving us a local dish, arroz aguado.

We’ve Got It Maid

While doing research of where we wanted to move, we came across a couple Nicaragua blogs that mentioned the extremely low price you pay to have help in your home.  No one said it better and more convincing than Mike’s Gringo Life, “We have a traditional home. I work outside the house and Carol works at home and with the kids as a full time mom. If we lived in the US, she’d probably be doing most of the laundry, housekeeping, cooking and cleaning. Here she doesn’t have to. She gets to spend an extra hour (30 minutes each way) with them every day because she is free to take and pick up the girls from the school. She creates crafts and games ready for them after school. She’s there rested, relaxed, and ready to listen and engage them in conversation. This, alone, is a treasure chest of gifts for the girls.” I knew I wouldn’t be working at least at first, and it seemed like a daunting task going from working full time to raising 2 kids, doing all the household chores, and shopping, all in a foreign country.  It was a pleasure to hear that I didn’t need to…and that my husband was on board!

We mentioned to our landlord that we were interested in hiring someone to help in the house, so he set up a meet-and-greet with his friend Juanita (and her son who speaks English).  We negotiated how many days she’d work and what hours. Juanita wanted to work 6 days a week, with Sundays off.  She gave us the choice of either 7am-12pm or 8am-1pm. I mentioned I’d like her to cut fruit to have in the frig, make lunches some days, and prepare dinner for about 3 nights a week.  She already seemed to understand the regular household chores she’d be doing. Juanita seemed perfect for the job and we told her we looked forward to her coming the following day.

So here’s the breakdown: Juanita works 6 days per week 8am-1pm officially, but usually she leaves between 1:30 and 2pm for $200 per month.  That’s about $6.70 per day or $1.30 per hour…assuming she actually left on time. At first she worked Monday – Saturday, but recently she’s asked to take Wednesday off so she can bus to Managua to buy clothes for her side business.  She now works Thursday – Tuesday. She makes lunch probably 4 days a week and prepares dinner about 3 days.  Its best if I take her to the supermarket (Palí) and the mercado to do the shopping for the week, otherwise I’m running to the store every day after we decide what she should cook.

I had an epiphany the other night while the whole family was enjoying dinner together as usual since we’ve moved.  We hardly ever ate dinner together in the US.  I’m embarrassed to say, we usually parked Azalea in a high chair seat in front of the TV with her favorite show playing so that we could get a 30 minute break.  When she was a baby I’d feed her mashed up veggies hours before we even started making our own dinner. We could never get our dinner ready early enough for us all to eat together.  With Juanita preparing the meals, its easy to eat dinner together every night, its become the norm.  Even when we cook, we start early and always include both kids around the table.  This is the way I grew up, and I’m so happy to be passing the dinner table tradition on to my kids.

Every morning I make a fresh fruit smoothie or fruit and yogurt mixed with granola.  Its easy to do now with all the hard work already done.  I have 3 Tupperware containers full every day of cut fruits to choose from.  The fruit is SO good here!  Papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple are our favorites.

Kharron usually comes home for lunch and we all eat again around the table.  If we don’t eat at home, the kids and I meet him in town and go to one of the many restaurants.  After lunch both kids are usually ready for their nap.  I put them to bed feeling gratified that they are getting the love and attention they deserve from both of their parents.

Juanita has helped us in so many ways outside of the household.  She not only lead us all around Rivas shopping for a motorcycle for Kharron, but also put the motorcycle in her name since you have to be a resident to own a vehicle in Nicaragua. The day after we purchased the motorcycle she rode back to Rivas to file all the paperwork and get a tune up.  She rode with me into Rivas to get local prices on new tires for the car, hunt for everything necessary to make cupcakes, to go to the cleaning store, Casa de Limpieza”, and navigate the large mercardo.  She also gives us a patient Spanish lesson each and every day she works.

There are some hidden costs to hiring household help. People in Nicaragua are paid on a 13 month payroll, paying double in December.  Its possible your maid might ask for help with a medical bill or other necessity they cannot afford. I am told that if you hired correctly, you will not mind sometimes paying for the small things requested.  We have already volunteered to purchase Juanita glasses after seeing her squint to read the small print of Google Translate on our phones.  This cost us $170 for exam and glasses, but the pride I feel when I see her put them on is priceless.  Juanita has 3 sons and asked for a loan of $100 to send her middle son to finish English class.  This came at a good time because we started to need some childcare for 3 hours a day twice a week while I volunteered.  We negotiated just $15 more a month (and towards her debt) for this extra service. Last night she asked to borrower our motorcycle to ride to church because her family’s motorcycle had a flat tire, we gladly lent it…its in her name!

We have lucked out with Juanita.  We totally expected to go through a few maids before finding the right one, but couldn’t want for anything more.  We look forward to speaking more of her language because its become clear that she is very funny and can’t wait to understand all of her little jokes.  After one month she’s already become one of the family.

 

 

Yoga in the morning, chill spot in the afternoon.

Surf Tours Nicaragua – aka Paraíso

I had to hit up my friend “Goyo” who runs Surf Tours Nicaragua  for a favor because in the end we couldn’t get our place in San Juan del Sur until the 9th of March and already had plane tickets for Feb 28th.  We were having a hard time finding a temporary option for the dogs that also had good internet so Kharron could work. Luckily he seemed to have no problem with us invading his space and welcomed us to his Eden.

It was like a scene from the movie The Beach coming from Managua to this garden of paradise.  We found the place easily with his step-by-step instructions and were soon sitting up top at “The Rancho” watching the sets of waves roll in and enjoying some homemade sangria.  I can’t say enough about the beauty of this surf camp and the hospitality my friend and his local & American staff offer.

Goyo took us and the other guests to “The Lobster Lady” which was a great look into the way the locals live and the best food I’ve had yet in Nica.

Bittersweet to leave this sanctuary and drive the 3 hours south to our new home in San Juan del Sur.

 

 

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Saying Goodbye

I’ve never been good at this, preferring to say “See you later” even when I know I won’t. So all the goodbyes leading up to our departure were very hard for me.

The first big goodbye was to the non profit group I’ve been apart of for the last 5 1/2 years.  At our January meeting I brought our new son, since he’s easier with me than with Daddy.  I was pacing the halls trying to get him not to cry and disrupt the group while listening to the agenda, when I heard our President say my name.  She announced to the room of 40 women that I was moving and thanked me for all I had done. After the meeting was over members gave me sad faced hugs.  It was heart wrenching.

It was even hard saying goodbye to our house cleaner who we started using the second month we moved into our home.  She’s seen us go from no kids to two and has always been so sweet and trustworthy.

The final days were by far the hardest. At a friend’s annual Academy Award Party they paused the TV and made a speech about how much we’ll be missed. My female friends (dubbed “The Cats”) pulled me aside and had each gotten me a charm. They went around a circle telling me why they had chosen that particular charm.  It was beautiful & perfect!

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Palm Tree to remind me of home, Tree represents strength and planting my roots in this new experience, Wish Bone to wish me success & happiness on this journey, 1 because I’m taking the 1 Less Traveled, Key because I hold the key to some of her deepest secrets and she sells houses, The anchor to represent my role in her life, California to remember where I came from, Star because I am a glowing beautiful person, talented, loving and strong… people look up to me, and the owl because she is always asking me advise about life and raising a baby.

 

Everyone has promised to visit and I believe that they do intend to. But I know that life can take over and suddenly years have gone by.  I would love for everyone of my friends to come and see us, but I know sadly that will not be the case.

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The Little Things

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I’ve been wanting to make feet impressions of Azalea for quite sometime now.  I saw the idea on Pintrest (make-baby-stuff.com/making-stepping-stones.html) and I thought it would be a cute idea for our future steps to the garden area.  Now that we’re leaving for 2 years the pressure was really on.  I needed to get those tiny fit in some cement quick, before we go and I loose out on the tiniest feet.

I used the plastic trays for catching water under plant pots, sprayed a coat of PAM on each one and quick dry cement.  It was easier than expected and turned out great!  I fudged the date slightly so I’d have something from 2014. : )

Previously I purchased quick dry concrete and the large gravel makes it impossible to get a clean impression, so if you decide to do this, make sure you buy cement.

 

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Toddler Tales

Last night I succumbed to my daughter’s request to “lay with me for a couple minutes”.  I had read this article about laying in bed with your toddler the previous day while daddy was away at work and had promised the next night when daddy was home that I would lie with her. I had posted the article on Facebook and the comments were very inspiring, talking about how when my friends take the time to lie in bed with their kids, that’s when they have the best conversations.  So after daddy read books I passed Titus off to Kharron and snuggled up close to Azalea in her toddler bed.  I asked her about her day and we discussed how the next day we were going to take a load to storage.  Looking up, I couldn’t help but think of the task of having to dismantle her never-been-used loft bed that was currently her room’s monkey bars.  I told her about how when we move back from Nicaragua that she will be so big, she won’t fit in her bed anymore and that Mommy is going to buy a mattress for the bed above us.  I pointed out the ladder I had draped over the unused wood mattress panels and how she would get to climb into bed at night and Mommy could climb up there too.  She could fit even more stuffed animals on that bed!  I explained how tomorrow we would have to take it apart and put it in storage so it could wait for us to come back. She seemed to take it well and today before pulling it apart, I let her take her maiden voyage up the ladder.

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Sad De-party-tures – Azalea’s 3rd & Our Last Party

This day was such a blast, our home filled up with friends & love so thick it was palatable.  I found myself continuously getting caught up in the moment. Moments that were so sweet and so spontaneous that I couldn’t help but feel the intense smile spread across my face and the glow radiate out of me. But on this day, this smile was proceeded by an uncontrollable sting, like a cancor soar you forgot about. Even as my neighbors entered our house with big hugs and bigger smiles I could hear a voice whisper, “You’re leaving soon.” As I watched a friend mimic my directions of where to put the gifts, “You’re leaving soon.” Watching the God Mother of my kids know just where our wine key is kept, or my husband’s best friend’s wife fill my wine glass & make a new batch of margaritas, “You’re leaving soon.” My mother-in-law’s friends we haven’t seen since our wedding coming in baring gifts, hugs, and a sincere heartfelt smiles. My dad, ever the obedient guest, cutting taco meat, refilling chips, rice, & beans, “You’re leaving soon.” Watching the “littles” play in the baby area I set up – Avery already big enough to go down the slide, but I’ll probably miss her first steps. Is it possible I’ll miss Ben’s first week of walking too? I looked across the party and a table was full of the only nanny Azalea has ever known, her husband, daughter, baby son, and even her parents. Love, love everywhere. You could have painted the house with it, thick like glue…stuck to everything, every plate, fork, laugh, every step thick with love. A twinkle in every guest’s eye, like a tear might be forming below the surface.

The kids put on a singing show and my parents, teary-eyed had front row. I know what they were thinking because its the same recording that was playing in my head…”Soak it in, they are about to leave, no more moments like these for two years.” I was seated across the yard at a table with the neighbors and nursing their grandson, the guilt and love equally enveloping me.

Once in bed, I could still hear the muted sounds of my husband & a neighbor out in our bar, The Drunken Chicken.  Still laughing. Are we really leaving all of this? Two years…will it really only be two years?  Where will life take us?

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Life Savors

With only 6 weeks left I’m instinctively savoring every moment here in San Diego. Today the family hit up four local spots; The Carlsbad Chocolate Bar, 83 Degrees, Privateer Pizza, & of course Dini’s (where Kharron and I met).