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 Tag:

girlfriends

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Living in San Juan del Sur

Why we live in San Juan del Sur

We have been contemplating buying property and building a rental home here, so this topic has been on my mind quite a lot lately. With a large impending decision like this, I have been weighing the pros & cons of choosing San Juan del Sur as a permanent tie… So, I thought I’d write about it.

When we moved abroad, our plan was to live in San Juan del Sur for the first 6 months and after learning some Spanish and understanding the country a bit more, we’d relocate to the more northern and less tourist town of Miramar. We were told by a friend who had been living in Nicaragua, that because of the large Expat population in San Juan del Sur and Granada, those cities would make for an easier transition. We wanted to live by the ocean, so San Juan del Sur it was! After the 6 months went by in a blurry flash and still flailing at Spanish, we found we had already started making friends and and a life in San Juan del Sur. We made the decision to stay.

We have a friend who runs a surf camp called Casa Sirena Surf Lodge in Miramar, so we visit often. Every time we go an air of tranquility rushes over me. I have a great fondness for that tiny fishing village that is probably today a lot like San Juan del Sur once was. I had to think long and hard about whether purchasing up there would be a better investment and location for our family’s second home. In the end we have decided San Juan del Sur is the most logical spot for us and with Miramar’s consistent surf and a major paved road connecting it to the university city of León and capital Managua, its only a matter of time before its gentle pace will too speed up.

Here are some of the reasons we choose to live in San Juan del Sur:

Beaches are Everywhere

San Juan del Sur is full of uncrowded beaches. In the year and a half of having lived here, we still have not been on every beach. In fact, we went to a private bay for the first time last Sunday for a BBQ with friends. Playa Hermosa

International School

This was a big one for us, as our children grow older the need for education will become even more important. We are confident that not only will San Juan del Sur Day School be around for many years to come, we also love the education Azalea receives there. Because of the large Expat population here, there are even more schools popping up. Titus will be starting at Escuela Adelante next week and I believe it will continue to grow and prove to be a wonderful bilingual school.

Diverse Restaurants & Food

It might sound trivial, but I don’t think I can survive solely on local Nicaraguan food. Here in San Juan del Sur there are different flavors of restaurants opening weekly. Date Night at Jicaro GardenWe have a Peruvian, Indian, Thai, Falafel, Mexican, Canadian, Mediterranean, Spanish, German, and of course North American. We have a few shops that specialize in selling imported food products like alfredo sauce, Franks hot sauce, rice & balsamic vinegar, cheese, cereal, bagels, olives, spices, Doritos, alcohol, dijon mustard, quinoa…things you never even thought about not being available. Our food menu always consists of some Nicaraguan dishes and a healthy mix of flavors from around the world.

English Speaking Spanish Teachers

One of the major reasons we moved to a Latin American country was for our family to learn Spanish. There are not only a plethora of Spanish teachers here in San Juan del Sur, but because of the tourist influence, many have seen the value in learning English. This makes the answers to questions about the rules of the language clearer.

Our House Cleaner Juanita

It has become a priority for us to make sure that our house cleaner, Juanita, never has to worry about finding work again. She has been with us since our first day of living in San Juan del Sur and we care about her, and her family deeply. She treats our children as if they were her own and our children treat her like a member of our family. Juanita is very honest, always removing money out of Kharron’s dirty clothes pockets and placing whatever the denomination is on our counter. She knows where all our valuables are, maybe even better than we do. Whether we buy a property or not, we will somehow ensure Juanita’s future. If we do buy the property, then she will manage our vacation home and her husband will be our “cuiador”.

FriendsTwo Guys Adventures

We’ve met a lot of like-minded people in the one and a half years we’ve lived here. Although most of these people are Gringos, we have also made close friendships with Nicaraguans. When moving to a foreign land, I have found that friends you can trust are even more important than they are at home. When your car breaks down in the middle of the night on a quiet road, you need someone. When you go out of town, leaving your pets for a few days, you need someone. When you’re kids have taken every last bit of your patience, you need someone. Besides the friends we have here, in San Juan del Sur there is an amazing network of Facebook pages. You can ask any question and strangers will give you an answer.

We’ve been here awhile

Navigating a new city is hard anywhere, but doing it in a foreign country and in a foreign language is a daily struggle. We’ve finally started to figure some things out. I can now offer information when someone posts a question on Facebook. We have a mechanics (actually 2), a wood guy, and someone to help with bank runs and other odd, but complex errands. We’ve worked out a network here and starting over is a task to great for me.

 

There are many amazing cities in this beautiful country we live in, but San Juan del Sur has proven to be the best fit for our family. Part Gringo, but still mostly Nica, this town has so much to offer. San Juan del Sur will always and forever remain our second home.

Monday Photo Dump – Trip to Santa Cruz, California

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Monday Photo Dump – Rainy Season Fun

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The visiting crew

First Visit from Friends

I’m writing this post the afternoon of the morning my friends departed…perhaps not enough time to reflect on their trip, but with events still fresh I’m going to give it a go.

First off, I must mention the overwhelming emotion that invaded my body at first sight of my friend Carly and her youngest daughter, Willow, skipping towards me outside their hotel.  I knew I missed my friends, but it wasn’t until the echos of my sobs rang through my ears and I felt my body involuntarily convulsing with each out take of breath, that I realized how much I need my friends. Our daughters too ran for each other and embraced in a heartfelt, tender hug.

The first afternoon my husband and I decided we’d take them to lunch at a beautiful restaurant, El Timón, on the bay. Its a great restaurant to showcase the beauty of San Juan del Sur.  Azalea was a great hostess and after lunch showed the girls just how we do it in Nicaragua.

After skipping naps we ended the evening by ordering pizza from Don Mochis for delivery and enjoying their air conditioned hotel.  Azalea was already comfortable again with old friends so she got to have her first friend sleep over.  I’m so proud of her for sleeping through the night and not crying for “Mommy” in the morning. She’s growing up so fast!

The next day was Friday and Kharron had to work, so after a relaxing morning I packed everyone into our car and headed to the beach.  I decided Romanzo would be a good choice since it is fairly close to my house. I had asked Juanita to cook arroz con pollo for lunch, a cheap, but delicious dish that the whole family enjoys. We had a great time enjoying the beach, but the waves weren’t big enough to try surfing. After lunch it was nap time for all!

Our friend, Sean, has a home up on the hill overlooking the bay so we decided to watch the sunset from there while introducing street food to our friends.  We got a selection of meat: chicken, pork, and beef with sides of fried plantains, frijoles molida (mashed black beans), and gallo pinto (beans and rice).  Sean also has a pool of course, so the kids did some more swimming.

On Saturday my husband, Kharron, was off work, so after a traditional breakfast in the mercardo, we all got to enjoy the pool at Villas de Palermo, where our friends were staying. That night we had arranged for two nannies to come and babysit the kids while the adults enjoyed full-sentenced conversations. We barely made it to sunset at HulaKai Hotel, but as usual were stunned by the beauty of Nicaragua. Next we took them to a restaurant we recently discovered called El Jardin.  The food and wine selection is fabulous there.  It is not traditional Nicaraguan food, but the change of menu is welcomed. Of course we ended the night in town at Republika Bar for one last night cap.  I hope our friends enjoyed the evening together as much as we did!

Date night with the Anderson's
Date night with the Anderson’s

On Monday Willow went to school with Azalea at San Juan del Sur Day School for the morning and the rest of their family had fun zip lining at Parque de Aventuras.  Then after naps that afternoon we all went to Surf Ranch for a swim, drinks, and a snack.

Tuesday was Nicaragua’s Father’s Day and Kharron took the day off work. We decided to be a little more adventurous and go see Laguna de Apoyo.  It’s an imploded volcano that created a crater and has filled with water.  The pictures are breathtaking and we’ve been wanting to go. The men used this opportunity to go on a motorcycle ride and the women & kids followed in our car. Unfortunately we made the mistake of inputting “Laguna de Apoyo” in Google Maps instead of one of the hotels along one section of the shore.  We ended up over shooting our turn off the highway and caravaning through the busy streets of Granada‘s mercado.  We asked locals how to get to “Laguna de Apoyo” and found ourselves at its edge on the opposite side of the hotels.  Foolishly, we took the dirt roads around the lake to finally reach our destination tired, dirty, & grumpy. The kids were starving, moms were fed up with wining, and the dad’s bottoms hurt. BUT the views were striking!

On the last full day of their trip we went to what I think is the most beautiful beach in San Juan del Sur, Playa Hermosa.  It costs US $3 to enter, but once through the long dirt road there are bathrooms, fresh water showers, palapas with hammocks, and a restaurant that doesn’t completely gouge you on prices. It is always very tranquil at Playa Hermosa.  It was a great day spent relaxing, collecting shells, and enjoying the warm ocean water.  We also rented a couple boogie boards for $8 each for the kids to try.  We got home that late afternoon and cleaned off in Villas de Palermo pool (shhh…) Kharron met us after work and we spent the evening ordering room service and letting the kids play.

Willow & Char on Playa Hermosa
Willow & Char on Playa Hermosa

It was great having our friends here and we feel so lucky to have friends willing to make the long trek just to see us.  I know Nicaragua was never on their radar of places to visit, but I hope they found it as beautiful and interesting as we do.

Char asked me while driving someplace, “Before you moved, did you know people wouldn’t have doors and stuff?”  I tried to explain to her that yes, I did.  That Kharron and I had chosen to move here because America was very expensive and in this country I didn’t have to work to afford to live.

I think travel is so important (obviously) for everyone and especially as children.  If nothing else, a “first world” country kid can get a glimpse of how other people live.  Maybe they see the smile on kid’s face as he peaks through the doorway while standing on a dirt floor or hears the roar of laughter coming out of a group of children playing with sticks, a little girls giggle of delight while dressed up in a torn and dirty princess dress, or a little boy’s confidence as he herds a pack of sheep down the road, the laughter from a family sitting outside their shack of a home as they enjoy the evening and each other. Maybe that child just for a second can see that life is not about all the gadgets and screen time, it’s about the love we have for each other and this one life we have to live.  I am glad our friends are among the parents that get the importance of these lessons.

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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.