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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Toddler Tales

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.

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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.

Feeding a hungry zebra

Trip to the Africa Safari Adventure Park

On our way through Costa Rica to Monteverde we decided to stop by the Africa Safari Adventure Park located just off the freeway in Liberia. It could be that we’ve been living in Nicaragua too long, but we were extremely impressed by this place. For only $30 for adults (our kids were free) we got in a tractor pulled wagon and were lead to different areas where we could feed ostrich, zebras, giraffes, and a camel carrots from a bag we purchased for $2. We also saw gesbok, African cows, white tailed deer, and wildebeest.

The kids had a blast and it was a great break from our drive.

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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



Try Something New – Street Fresco

fresco-vendorI’ve always heard the vendors calling out “Fresco!” while riding by, but I never actually purchased one. On a hot afternoon at the park with Titus I finally decided to try some Nicaraguan street juice. I purchased the calala (passion fruit) and it was delicious!titus-drinking-fresco

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 – 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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