Wow, has it been two years already? This last year has really flown by. I remember there being almost painfully slow times in the first year, but that was not the case in the last year. We have a more solid footing in our community, in our friend group, in our work, and in our routine.
Both kids go to school until afternoon, leaving me time to focus on what I want to do. At first with my new found freedom I immersed myself with “work”. I started working as a Project Manager for my husband’s website development company, Señor Coders, I blogged more, and I volunteered more. Then I realized one day, that that’s not what I wanted to be doing with all my free time, I really wanted to get back into exercising regularly. I started going to the gym a couple days a week, we take boxing now a couple days a week, and I run more often. I’ve allowed myself the flexibility to be more spontaneous with my time, like taking a random hula hoop class.
We found a great solution for babysitting, so we feel like we have more freedom to go on impromptu date nights and overnights without the kids. Something that I’ve learned as I watched families return to their home country earlier than planned, is that taking advantage of the inexpensive labor here is important in making Nicaragua manageable. Life here can be more complicated and navigating a third world country is not easy, so not having to worry about cleaning the house or watching the kids full time is not only a luxury, but often times seems like a necessity. Being able to afford help in the home is a major perk of living here and those who do not indulge tend to have a longer list of cons of living in Nicaragua.
I’m more comfortable with our Nicaraguan life style. More at peace with the bumps in the road…. Literally, we drove a few bumpy dirt roads over the weekend and on Sunday night our brakes weren’t working properly. Now used to these types of hiccups, my husband and I discussed our plan of attack. How to get the car in the shop, how to get the kids to and from school, etc. Its a discussion we’ve had many times that used to stress and frustrate me. Now I’m comfortable hailing a cab and I know the best places to catch them and how much I should pay. Some even know me now and know where I live. The kids are used the taxi etiquette of trying to all squeeze on one seat so Mommy only has to pay for one person. My husband, Kharron, knows exactly where our mechanic is located in Rivas, knows the mechanics phone number, understands his Spanish, and knows where to catch a collectivo taxi back to San Juan del Sur. We’re a smooth running, disaster management, machine now.
Of course what’s really marked the last few months of this last year is purchasing property and building a home. This leap of fate has tied us further to Nicaragua, expanded our Spanish vocabulary, and brought a huge challenge into our relationship. Everything from setting up a Solo 401k, to looking for property, designing our home, finding a contractor, digging a well, and now construction, has been arduous. Often I feel overwhelmed and under qualified. I push on, making decisions on things I know nothing about and trusting that Kharron’s online research & my gut feeling yields the right results.
To be honest, we bit off more than we can chew and our finances are thin. We used all of our retirement funds to build the shell of the house, but now we have to use our own monthly income to finish the inside and landscaping. Our plan is to make the house livable as soon as possible and use the money we will save on rent to finish the house. I am not looking forward to the stress of living with no closets or cabinets and a construction site for a front yard, but the payoff should be worth the misery. It will be a humbling experience for the whole family and reinforce some life lessons that were part of the goal of moving here. Learning to live with less.
Mostly because of the slow finishing of the house, we decided to stay an extra year in Nicaragua. We had planned on moving back this July, but now we will use the next year to complete our home to a rentable standard, decide on a career for me, and work on making Señor Coders a viable business that can sustain us in the United States. I feel a bit bittersweet with this decision. I do not feel like I am finished with my life in Nicaragua, there is still so much I want to see, learn, and accomplish. I want Titus to be old enough to remember his life here and the people who cared for him. We had a rich life in California and I do miss it. I still miss my friends and our neighborhoods and the weekly get-togethers with people I love and who love me. I was foolish to think I would make the same close relationships with people here as I have in the US. Those types of bonds take time, more time than I will have in this country.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
So onto and into the third year we go, ready to be stretched and forever changed.