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

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Living in San Juan del Sur

Cockfights

Rooster Fights in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

When I travel, I like to see the traditions of the place I am visiting, so seeing a cockfight was on my list. These are held on Sundays, rotating the two ring locations on the road to the South beaches. We had tried to go once before, but after spending the day figuring out which location the fight would be at, then being told, “Mas tarde” (later) for hours, we were finally told that they were not going to happen that day. It took awhile before we felt we could spend another day trying to achieve the same goal, but when my parents recently came to town, we thought it was a perfect excuse for them to babysit.

Here’s a the video I made:

Blowing out candles

Azalea Turns 5

Letter to my daughter after her 5th birthday

Hey Little Woo,

First off, I can’t believe you’re 5! I feel like your officially a kid, not a toddler. Of course I also don’t feel old enough to have raised a kid. : )
All you really want to happen this year is for your teeth to start falling out. You have a little obsession with this and the tooth fairy coming. I’m listening carefully to what the tooth fairy does so I know what to do.
We’re still living in Nicaragua and in fact, just decided to stay an extra year. I’m hoping this will create more memories for you here so that will always remember when you lived in Nicaragua as a kid. We’re building a house that we’re going to move into in the next couple months and then when we move back to California we’ll rent it. G’ma is also building a casita, so she is here while we try to get both finished enough to live in.
At school you’re slowly learning to read and write. Teacher Lisa is always telling me how smart and kind you are. You guys just learned about weather and evaporation. You really loved the science lessons, and I’ve loved listening to you tell me everything you have learned and teaching your brother.
You’re such a good big sister to him (most of the time). He looks up to you so much and just thinks the world of you. He even wears your old pink shoes, probably knowing that they were once yours.
You’re taking dance still with our friend Maggie. She too says that you are doing so well and are beyond the other kids your age. I love watching you perform and you always get a very proud look in your eyes.
You absolutely love doing art. You draw several pictures a day at the house and even more at school. There’s a new art studio in town so for your birthday we had your party there. You seemed to really like it and all the kids got to paint their own creation on a board and take it home. Your pinata was The Little Mermaid. We went to Rivas to pick it out with Grandma Moo one day. I let you pick out all the candy and toys that we put inside of it as well.
You’re getting bigger and more responsible. You now have 1 chore, to feed the dogs, and you are very good at it. I give $C2 ($.20) each time. You use the money mostly to buy chips for yourself, Titus, and the neighbor kids.
You still say your favorite color is rainbow. Your favorite food is fried fish eyes, canned octopus, and tomatoes with salt. You are a very strange eater, but a lot like G’Ma. You still love unicorns, so Grandma Moo hand sewed you a giant stuffed unicorn. You also still love dressing up, so we had a princess closet made for you. It looks great and it makes it easy for you to see which dress & accessories you want to wear.
You like a lot of undivided attention, I think its how you feel the most loved. You were so sweet this morning, I told you last night that I wanted to get some cuddles from you today because I didn’t get much yesterday. The first thing you said as you walked into my bedroom and woke Daddy & I up was, “Okay Mom, you’re going to get your cuddles now.” It was so cute that you remembered and I loved lying in bed with you, breathing in your smell and feeling your skinny body snuggled against mine as I slowly began to wake up.
I love you my Baby Girl. You made me a Mommy, you challenge me daily, and you are what makes my life great.  Looking forward to another year of watching you grow.
Love,
Mommy
Azalea painting  Titus painting
Showing off their art  Pinata time
Unicorn from Grandma Moo  Princess Closet present

Pica Pica

Why am I so itchy?

Its January and the windy season has begun and with the initial winds comes random itchiness from the Pica Pica. Translated to mean Itch Itch, this irritation is  is due to vine called Mucuna Pruriens that is prevalent on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and other tropical countries. Used in some itching powders, the course hairs on the pods contain the proteolytic enzyme mucunain which causes itchiness.When the rain stops and the pods of this vine begin to dry out, the tiny fibrous hairs catch wind and sail throughout those countries.

picapica-podsThe fairly intense itch lasts only a couple minutes, but the more you itch, the more you spread the invisible hairs around and drive them deeper into your skin. Once a spot has shown some relief, it is usually not long before another spot on your body is ready to be itched. These tiny fibers get everywhere! Clothing I haven’t worn since the winds started will be covered in them. My bed sheets, car seats, bras, and yes, even underwear!

While the fibers dusts swirling about San Juan del Sur can be highly irritating, I hear that to actually touch the dried bean pod is excruciating and lasts considerably longer. No thank you!

Dino Park

Dinosaur Park in Nindiri

IMG_20161130_112606Azalea’s school, San Juan del Sur Day School, has been studying prehistoric times. They’ve learned about cavemen, fossils, and dinosaurs. The teachers of the classes for kids ages 3-5 decided to take a trip to Parquesaurio de Nindirí to see the local park that had 5 dinosaur statues in the grounds. I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer to chaperone.

We took the one and a half hour trip in a rented big, air conditioned van. It was a great field trip! This community park is open to the public with no entrance fees, and has the added bonus of these giant dinosaur statues. It is situated about 30 minutes outside Managua, so a great stop if you are making the trip to and from Managua to San Juan del Sur or other more Southern towns. I also hear that the dinosaurs light up at night!

Dino Park Bronto  Dino Park TRex

Dino Park2  IMG_20161130_120129

 

digging a well

Digging a Well in Nicaragua

My husband has been annoyingly videoing every part of the process of digging our well on the property we bought in San Juan del Sur. After finding water he made this amazing video documenting the journey in reverse order. He is now forgiven for my irritation.

Container Delivery

Buying a Container in Nicaragua

We liked the idea of an easy office/storage shed by using a container. We had heard there was a surplus of them in Nicaragua so you could get one cheaper than constructing a regular building. We asked around San Juan del Sur and randomly stopped by places we saw containers while on trips away from town, but the quoted prices were much bigger than what we had planned for until a friend of ours came back into town and hooked us up with his contact. We ended up paying about $4,000 for the container with delivery.

Tying chains to the backhoe bucket       Lift Off
    Tying chains to the backhoe bucket                          Lifting the container off the truck bed

I'm Hidden

Fun at Monteverde

Trip to Monteverde, Costa Rica

Our friends had a vacation to Monteverde booked and their United States friends ended up not being able to go, so they invited us! We jumped at the chance to take a vacation to a part of Costa Rica we had heard was magical. Monteverde is in the cloud forests in the northwestern part of Costa Rica. It is known as the birth place of zip lining, or canopy tours as Costa Rica and Nicaragua call it. It seems like most places also have suspension bridges, Tarzan swings, and bird watching trails as well.

Crossing the Costa Rican boarder
                      Crossing the Costa Rican boarder

We hired a van to take us to the boarder and then rented a car through Alamo on the other side of the boarder in Costa Rica. We had a lot of stuff and were worried about carrying it all the way through, but luckily they had guys with carts waiting right at the entrance to the boarder so we didn’t have to carry much ourselves. We paid them about $8 since it ended up being two guys who had to pass our luggage cart once entering the next country.

We stopped at the Africa Safari Adventure Park on the way, which ended up being a great stop for everyone and since is was almost halfway through our travel day, a good break.

About an hour before Monteverde the roads got pretty bad. Very bumpy. We even pulled over once thinking we had a flat! It was getting dark and rainy so the last hour wasn’t a pleasant drive.

Stella's Bakery
          Playing in the tea cup outside Stella’s Bakery
Fun with animal statues
                                     Fun with animal statues

Our friends had rented a house and it ended up being in a great location. We could walk down to a coffee shop called Stella’s Bakery, a place called Whole Foods (no, not that Whole Foods), and there was a little park with statues the kids could climb on. It was only a 10 minute drive to the main town of Santa Elena and about 20 minutes to most of the zip lining places.

 

The first night we ate at a far too fancy Italian place called Tramonti. They had a lot of glass & knives pre-set on the table and did not give off a kid-friendly vibe. My mushroom pasta was delicious though! After dinner we stopped by a market for a couple items and then headed back to our house.

 

Even though it was quite windy and cold the first day, we decided to go to Sky Adventures and do the suspension bridges. We were worried that the conditions would be worse the next day. Kharron doesn’t own a jacket, so after eating breakfast at the house we went into town to find some rain coats and parkas.

Sky Adventures was really fun. We did a small loop on the suspension bridge before our reservation on the gondola/Sky Tram ride up to the top of the mountain. It was truly freezing up there, so while the ride was neat, the visibility was lacking and the weather made it barely enjoyable. We drove into town for a substantial lunch at Treehouse Restaurante & Cafe and then went back to Sky to do a larger loop on the suspension bridges.

I'm Hidden

Waiting for dinner
 Waiting for to-go dinner

That night we thought it would be easier to pick up to-go food from Monteverde Beer House, but it took awhile to get our order and didn’t make for great to-go food as the name would suggest.

Orchid Cafe
             Daddy trying to work during breakfast

The next day ended up being beautiful and our friend Jason and their son Brooks wanted to go zip lining. We first went out to a delicious breakfast at Cafe Orchid Coffee Shop while Kharron tried to get some work done. Then went back to the house for some relaxation. After all of us ate large burritos at Taco Taco, we dropped Jason & Brooks off at Selvatura Park and went back to the house for naps for the little ones. When we picked them up they had had a blast. A couple of the zip lines were really long, the longest being 1000 meters!

Monteverde sunset
                              Monteverde sunset from our house

On our last night Kharron made us an amazing beef straganoff dinner. It was nice and cozy in the house and we all had fun playing around. After the kids went to bed the adults played a short game of Heads Up before calling it a night.

 

 

The next morning we ate a quick breakfast at home and were on the road by 7am. A hurricane was approaching the east coast of Costa Rica and Nicaragua and we wanted to make it back through the boarder before the heavy rains started. We all made pretty good time and drove straight through except for a quick lunch stop at a fried chicken restaurant that had a kids play area. Returning the car and getting through the boarder was quick. It helps to have kids because you get to cut the line.

We really like traveling with this family. They have a similar schedule and same pace of day. Sharing a home is family friendly and fun. The kids are close in ages so everyone has a friend. Azalea plays very well with Brooks (usually) and it is adorable watching them together. I’m sad to say that they have decided to move back to New Mexico earlier than planned. We are truly going to miss them.