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:


San Juan del Sur Rodeo

San Juan del Sur Rodeo

Last year we missed the local rodeo, so this year I wanted to make sure we went. I had heard the bulls were treated poorly, but when traveling, I like to experience the culture’s traditions, so I went, despite the pit in my stomach.

The rodeo was on Nica-time, so we had some cold beers in one of the pop-up bars outside the rodeo while waiting for it to begin.
The rodeo was on Nica-time, so we had some cold beers in one of the pop-up bars outside the rodeo while waiting for it to begin.
SJDS Rodeo
Bull clearly winning this round

Besides the empty beer cans being tossed at the bulls and the small holding area where I’m sure the bulls were less than happy to be squeezed in with each other, the mistreatment of the animals was not that bad…on the day we went.






Here are  a couple videos from that day.


Monday Photo Dump – When Life Gives You Lemons

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Beautiful butterfly floating in my friend's pool

Bugs of Nicaragua

Its true, Nicaragua has its fair share of bugs & critters. Here’s a few pictures that I’ve taken of my housemates since we moved to San Juan del Sur about a year and a half ago.

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Monday Photo Dump – Rainy Season Fun

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Monday Photo Dump – This Beautiful Country

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Went to see the active Volcano Masaya last night.

A Trip to Masaya Volcano

About a month ago we heard that the Masaya Volcano was not only active as we had seen before, but now bubbling lava. We visit Masaya Volcano regularly when friends come into town because unlike anything in the States, you can actually drive up to the lip of this active volcano. It is part of our “Volcano Day” when we take our guests to see an active and the imploded volcano of Laguana de Apoyo.  When we heard that it was now flowing lava we knew it was a bucket list moment we could not miss.

We were told to get there at 5pm because 300 people were showing up each night, but time only allowed for about 100 to view. We made the turn off the main road at 5:02pm and there were parked cars already filling the front area before the gate. A lot of people were out of their cars and waiting at the gate, so I got out of the car to investigate.

Cars all waiting for the gates at Masaya Volcano to open.
Cars all waiting for the gates at Masaya Volcano to open.

Turns out it was mostly Nicaraguans who were mad that the park had temporarily closed the gate until 5:30pm at which time they would begin charging the Night Tour fee of $10 per person (fee for kids 4 and under). This may not sound like a lot to you, but the average daily income in Nicaragua is about $6, so this was a lot of money. It was also significantly more than the C$30 (about $1) that Nicaraguans usually pay before 5:30pm.

Filling time waiting for the big event
Filling time waiting for the big event

It appeared that the angry mob had convinced the park attendants that they should be allowed to go up for the lesser price because suddenly there was a stampede of people rushing for their cars & motorcycles. I had to pick up Azalea to make sure she didn’t get trampled over. Once our car finally made its way to the gate we told the attendant that we wanted to do the Night Tour and would wait until 5:30pm to pay our $10 each. The attendant had been shouting something about being allowed 5 minutes at the top and after our 2 hour drive, I wanted to spend more time than that. I also assumed by the word “tour” it meant that we would get a bit more hand holding once at the top.

It wasn’t until 6:30pm that we were able to pay and proceed up the mountain. We think the staff needed the people who paid the lesser fee to leave before we could be allowed to enter, but we are not really sure why the long wait. Finally at the top, we were met with an immense red glow coming out of the cavern like a large witches brew. Instantly, it was worth the wait. The parking attendant had us park backwards in case there was an eruption and we needed to escape quickly.

It was pretty amazing to see the lava bubbling far below. It turned black at the top and then back to fire orange with each bubble. Azalea zoomed around in the dark too close the edge of the crater and so I held tight to her shirt so she couldn’t accidentally hurl herself over the edge. The park only lets a set number of cars up at a time, but it was still pretty busy with everyone trying to capture a photo that did the scene justice.

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It is very hard to get a good picture or video of the lava. Not only is at night, so everything around it is dark, but the movement of the lava called for a steady hand and a fast shutter speed. I forgot to take my good camera, so we had to make do with my phone camera. I have included in this post some pictures and video off the internet so you can better see what we were looking at.

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We left Titus with Juanita for the night because we knew he would be unimpressed with the lava we would be getting home late. It was a great little night excursion for us. We left the volcano at around 7:20pm and had a nice dinner before driving home.

Monday Photo Dump – Taking Advantage of Nicaragua has to offer

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Hiring in Nica

Employees in Nicaragua

Hiring someone to clean your home and help care for your children is a common dream for Expat parents living in Nicaragua. It is important to know the labor laws and follow them so that you do not end up in a confusing legal depute with someone you once considered family. 

The Ministry of Labor reports the 2016 minimum wage for a domestic worker is C$4,669.50 per month (or $166.75 at the time of writing this). Standard wage in San Juan del Sur seems to be about C$200-C$250 ($7-$9) per day or C$5,040-C$6,440($180-$230) per month domestic help.

A standard full time work week is 8 hours per day, 6 days a week, with Sundays off. It is common to provide a meal for workers if they do not get that time off. Otherwise one hour lunch break is required and is usually taken from 12-1pm. Since our house cleaner works through lunch time, she usually eats lunch with us, or takes her portion of what we are eating home in some Tupperware. If your domestic worker has to pay a lot of pasaje (bus fare) or taxi fees, then giving some money towards that is common.

One you have a schedule agreed on, always make sure you get a signed written time indeterminate contract. That spells out any areas either party feels can be a bit grey.



Vacation Pay / Annual leave
All workers are entitled to vacation days after 6 months of continuous work with the same employer. An employee is entitled to 15 continuous days of paid annual leave after 6 months of work and 30 days of paid leave after one year of service. It is a duty of the employer to schedule annual leave and inform workers accordingly. If the employment contract expires before a worker uses all vacations days, compensation must be paid in proportion to the number of months and the number of hours worked in a week.
Source: §76-78 Labour Code 1996

Holiday pay
Workers are entitled to pay during public and religious holidays. At this time there are 9: New Year ‘s Day (January 1), Saint Thursday (April 17), Good Friday (April 18), Labor Day (May 1), Festival of Saint Domingo (August 1), Nicaragua Independence Day (September 15), Battle of San Jacinto (September 16), Immaculate Conception (December 8th) and Christmas day (December 25).
Source: §66 of the Labour Code 1996

Weekend/Weekly Rest Day
Workers are entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest per week. The Nicaraguan labor law requires that the weekly day of rest be on Sunday for all employees, but if a worker has to work on Sunday then they are entitled to receive their wages at a premium rate of 200% of normal wages. The worker and the employer may agree to extend daily hours (with a maximum of two hours per day) in order for employee to have an extra day or partial day of off.
Source: §63-65 Labour Code 1996


Bonus/Aguinaldo/The Thirteenth Month

Employees have a constitutional right to get paid one month’s additional salary after a year of continuous work, or the proportionate amount according to period of time worked. It is taken from December 1st of the previous year until November 30th of this year and should be paid within the first 10 days of December every year or no more than 10 days after the end of employment. The bonus is calculated using one month of regular salary (basic salary, plus commissions, incentives, and any other amount usually earned by the worker). If the employee’s salary varies, then the bonus will be the salary of the highest paid month within the previous 6 months. If an employer fails to pay the bonus pay, the fine is 1 day’s pay for each day of past due. For employees who sleep at the home of the employer, the thirteenth month must be paid with an additional 50% monthly regular salary.

Sick Leave

Sick leave is not clearly provided under the Labor Code. However, the Social Security Act allows the payment of sick leave to an insured employee at a rate of 60% of average income in the last eight weeks working for a period of 52 weeks. The employee is entitled to sick leave after eight weeks of contributions to insurance in the previous 22 weeks. Sick leave begins after 3 days of absense, which is waived if employee is hospitalized.
Source: §92-95 Decree No. 974 of the Social Security Act

Job security
An employment contract may be temporarily suspended for the following reasons:

  1. The worker’s impairment as a result of an injury or illness, up to a maximum period of twelve months, until the disability is determined whether it is permanent, total or partial.
  2.  The common illness or accident involving incapacity to work temporarily for a period of twenty-six weeks for twenty-six weeks renewable.


Maternity Leave

Employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of maternity leave (4 weeks prenatal and 8 weeks postnatal) with full pay. A note from a doctor with expected date of delivery is expected. Maternity leave is can be extended to 14 weeks in the case of multiple births. In the case of miscarriage, stillbirth or other abnormal confinement, the worker is entitled to paid leave in accordance with the requirements a doctor’s note.
Maternity leave is paid in full after 16 weeks of contributions to insurance in the 39 weeks before the expected date of birth. The employer pays 40% of the maternity leave and the remaining 60% is paid through the Social Security system. If a worker is not insured, 100% of the benefit of maternity leave is paid by the employer.
Source: §141 of the Labour Code 1996, § 95-96 of Decree Law No. 974 Social Security, § 95 of the Law on Social Security Decree No. 974



Whether an employee is let go, fired, or quits, they are entitled to 1 month (30 days) pay for every year worked for the first 1-3 years and 2/3 month (20 days) pay for every year worked from 4-5 years. The max owed ever owed is 5 months pay. Also you must pay any unused vacation time and percentage of 13th month in portion of how many months into the year work is terminated.

This is something we just recently learned about. Our house cleaner is aware that we are planning on moving back to the US in another year and a half and she asked for her “indemnización” now so that she could use the money to finish constructing a room in her house for renting. After much research we decided to go ahead. This meant the original contract with her would be terminated and we’d write a new contract. We felt like this was to our benefit because at the end of our time living here, we won’t owe as much on our exit.


Social Security – Seguridad Social & Insurance – Seguro – INSS

INSS is paid based on minimum wage, see chart on The most common insurance is Integral, where employer pays 16% and withholds 6.25% from paycheck to pay to INSS office. When living in San Juan del Sur, you can register at the INSS office in Rivas, then they send bill to pay at bank.

For more information, please refer to

Kharron in line at Costa Rica's customs

Renewing Our Nicaraguan Tourist VISA

Boarder Run

We realized last week that our 90 day tourist VISA’s had expired. The penalty is only $2 per day, but with a family of 4, that can start adding up quickly. We decided the best thing to do was to go early on Monday morning and get Azalea to school a little late. Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I didn’t want to go over the weekend.

We left the house around 6:20am on Monday. The kids usually wake up around 5:30am anyway, so it wasn’t like we were getting up early to go. We were ready to pay the penalty with extra cash and photo copies of passports and stamped slip.

We parked the car in a dirt lot close to the boarder where we weren’t harassed to pay for someone to “watch” our car. In the past I haven’t had much luck with these people.

Dirt parking lot we leave our car in.
Dirt parking lot we leave our car in.

I usually come back to find someone else is “watching” my car and that person wanting to get paid a disproportionate amount to their services. I also find parking closer to the boarder there are less people pestering you to hire them to fill out the paper work and walk you through the process.

Kharron getting the stroller out of the car, ready for the adventure.
Kharron getting the stroller out of the car, ready for the adventure.

These men also have been known to demand a $40 tip after services rendered. I did use them once when it was just me & the kids. I paid them the equivalent of $4 and was yelled at while shuffling my kids in my car.



Conveniently placed building for making copies
Conveniently placed building for making copies

Once at the counter we were quickly told that the copies we made were incorrect and were pointed to a building where we could pay to have correct copies made.

This is the layout they want the copy to be for overdue VISAs.
This is the layout they want the copy to be for overdue VISAs. 






This was surprisingly easy and we were soon able to reenter.

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After the long walk in between the two countries or what most call “no man’s land” we finally reached Costa Rica’s customs.

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A quick walk back to our car and then to drop Azalea off at school at 10:00am!

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