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:

Living in Nicaragua

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

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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Dayana and Kharron with Choco Banana

Try Something New – Choco Banana

Choco Banana storeI’ve been attempting to try a Choco Banana for weeks. There’s a place in town with a big sign and I’ve stopped there 3 times asking for a Choco Banana. Each time the woman sitting inside hollers back, “Mañana!” The first time we failed at this location we walked around town looking for another vendor, but were unsuccessful. It turns out, she is the only permanent vendor of the Choco Banana.

Today Kharron, one of his employees Dayana, and I headed over for a little afternoon pick me up and they were finally in stock. The first bite was amazing, the cold chocolate & almost frozen banana was refreshing on this sweltering day. But after a couple bites the joy of the chilly treat wore off and the texture of the smooshy banana mixed with the chocolate that stuck to the roof of your mouth took over. The chocolate wasn’t strong enough to satisfying my chocolate craving so we bought a Snickers bar to share.

With all this said, while here in San Juan del Sur, give the Choco Banana a try!

Sunshine the chicken

Buying Chickens in Nicaragua

A Hen in the Wolf House

First off, I love having chickens. I grew up always having at least 5 chickens. As an adult, at our house in California, we had chickens before we moved to Nicaragua. Any excuse I can come up with to own chickens, I’ll use it.

So since we have property with plenty of bugs, I decided we MUST have chickens grazing on it. It would give us something to visit on the property each day, good nature lesson for the kids as they laid eggs and created chicks, and I’d get to own chickens!

We started asking around where we live and quickly found out that we needed to go further away from town, “el campo” where people have more land, and therefore enough chickens to afford to sell some. We also learned that it being November which is close to December & Christmas, that the price of a chicken was going up. We decided to make a trip to “el campo” after our car was fixed.

checking-out-chickensSince I love having chickens, the weekend after we got our car back we took Juanita to “el campo” to look for chickens for sale. We had to ask several houses and kept hearing about a person who had “bastante gallinas” (a lot of hens). When we turned the corner on the dirt road, we knew we had found the right place.

Even though the woman had “bastante gallinas” she was not thrilled about selling some. Juanita & her spoke and she started rounding them up to pick out 4 hens. We put our chickens into a large dog crate in the car, buckled up, turned the key and the car wouldn’t start!

Our battery had been acting a little funny, but we were in “el campo” we can’t be stuck! The look on Juanita’s face said the same thing. After waiting and trying a couple more times, Juanita, Kharron, and a helpful gentleman pushed the car down the slope while I tried to get the car to start. I didn’t realize you needed to have the car in 1st gear, so with Kharron at the wheel and Juanita & I pushing down hill the car revved to life and I literally jumped for joy.

trying-to-set-up-the-coopThat night the chickens slept in the dog crate at our house. The next morning after jumping our car to start, we went out to the property to release them. Kharron left me alone in the drizzle with the crate of chickens, some chicken wire, and a machete while he went to buy a new battery for our car. I developed a game plan, spread some feed on the ground, filled a water bowl, and opened the door of the crate. Almost instantly one of the chickens had a scorpion in her beak. I was so proud and happy to have my girls cleaning the property.

I propped a large branch from the ground against the sturdiest tree I could find. While the hens picked around their new land I used the string that held the chicken wire in a roll to make the best coop I could for the night. I hoped that our day laborer, Manuel, could make something better the next day.

The next morning when Kharron went to the property we were already down one chicken. The other 3 had found a larger tree off the property to perch in. Our workers digging the well & Manuel kept telling Kharron how sad & scared the hens were to be left alone on the property. We had no idea Nicaraguans cared so much about their chickens! That day 2 more fled up the hill and off our property, so we were left with only one and by then I surrendered that the chickens indeed did not belong on the property yet. We caught the one and brought it to Manuel’s dad’s house down the street.

This morning I was hopeful that Kharron would find more, happily grazing on our property again, but there was no sign of their return. I am happy to report that one hen did show up later this morning and is now safely at another home with her sister-hen.

 

new-car

Buying a Car in Nicaragua

Our Worst Investment

We planned to arrive in Nicaragua sight unseen with a baby, a toddler, 7 suitcases, and 2 dogs. We knew that we needed to have a car immediately. Luckily, one of Kharron’s friend’s fathers, Joe already lived on the Atlantic side of Nicaragua and offered to help us get a car purchased before we moved. He seemed to know what he was talking about and convinced us to spend over our $4k budget so that we would have less problems. He advised us to spend at a minimum $10k, but that was not financially possible, so we agreed that he’d look in the $5k-$6k range.

After test driving a few SUVs he found one that needed a clutch, but he could get that fixed and all said and done it would be $6k. We agreed and wired him the money to purchase our 2007 Mitsubishi Montero. When Joe picked us up at the airport he had our car waiting for us at the hotel in Managua. It was really great to immediately have wheels and a way to get around town. We had a list of items we wanted to purchase before we moved to San Juan del Sur a week later.

getting-tires
            Getting new tires put on

Since that day, we have made many repairs on our vehicle. It turns out Mitsubishi’s have computerized engines so when something goes wrong, the mechanic needs a diagnostic computer to tell what that problem is. This is super easy in North America, but we only found one mechanic in San Juan del Sur who has that computer. The abundance of bumpy dirt roads in San Juan del Sur is rough on cars. It is common to replace bushings annually and hoses come loose often. One of our sensors needs to be cleaned every so often or our car doesn’t start. This is always fun when you have everyone loaded in the car in the morning for school.

Car getting worked on
                   Car getting worked on
Burnt engine
Burnt engine

We found a mechanic we really like, but he is located in Rivas which is 30km from San Juan del Sur, so depending on the issue, it is sometimes hard to get our car to him. Slowly we’ve been ticking off a list of fixes our car needed, but then on our way home from Matagalpa our car finally took a dive. There was a hole in a water tube that caused the engine to overheat. A nice Nicaraguan towed us the 9km to our mechanic.

Over the last 2 1/2 weeks we’ve been having our engine rebuilt and got it back yesterday. Thank you to the “collectivo” for being a cheap was to get to Rivas to pick it up. We are hoping this major rebuild will solve most of the issues and we can finally feel confident in our car.

Mechanic receipts
                       Mechanic receipts
Ready to Sign

Buying Real Estate in Nicaragua – Part 2

Property MapThe day finally arrived when we could sign the paperwork and take ownership of our piece of land. We had already found & measured our lot and had been waiting for the surveyors to complete the required map. We did this crazy thing to pay the fee to get it approved & expedited. We put the needed $120 in an envelope, paid a “collectivo” taxi the $2 fair to Rivas, and sent the envelope of cash in a taxi to be delivered to surveyor’s office. I guess this is done all the time, but the process was very strange, and took some faith on our part.

We met at the attorney’s office at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon. Both parties did not fully trust the other. We were skeptical to wire the money before the seller signed and the seller didn’t want to sign before he received the wire. We worked it out that we wired at the attorney’s office and showed him the confirmation. We had previously wired a chunk of the money in our Solo 401k account to our personal bank account so that we could easily send a wire over the internet the day of. There were a couple hiccups like needing to have a SafePass account to wire an amount larger than $1k & not having a USA phone number, but a quick call to a responsible friend to see if I could use her number and she could send me the code made the process work out easily.

After a few minutes we showed a confirmation to the seller and then we stepped into the conference room where we were all read the whole real estate contract out loud. While in that room the seller and I received confirmation emails that the wire was sent, and the mood became much lighter. We paid a reasonable $520 attorney fee and drove back to San Juan del Sur with nervous & hopeful smiles.

The next day we quickly got to work clearing the property and looking for someone to start digging the well.
Property getting cleared  Cleaned property