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:

quality time

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

 

Family Photo with Cascada Blanca in the background

Trip to Matagalpa

Azalea’s school had a “rainy season break” so we decided to make the best of it and took a long weekend trip to see Matagalpa and the famous coffee plantation & hotel, Selva Negra. We invited some new friends who seemed to have like minds, the same slightly twisted sense of humor, and kids with similar ages.

We left San Juan del Sur at 6am on Saturday, hoping to have a full day The 4 1/2 hour drive North was a little long, but breathtakingly beautiful. Rolling green hills and the sight of coffee beans drying.
Rolling green hills  Coffee beans drying

We reached Selva Negra at 11am and decided to see if we could get an early check-in. With no problem at all we paid for our 2 nights upfront and were given 1 key to the 3 bedroom “bungalow” Grethel. We quickly unpacked and headed to the restaurant for lunch and some running around. We were all pleasantly surprised – the food was not only delicious, but also a reasonable price and there was a huge playground next to it that the kids loved!

Azalea loves to swing  Happy Titus in a sweatshirt!

Happy Ice Cream EatersFor dinner we went into the town of Matagalpa and as suggested by a friend, we ate at the restaurant California Happy. It was really delicious! I think I’ll dream of my taco salad for the rest of my time in Nicaragua. We then went to Kiss Me for ice cream dessert. The decorations are insanely cute, but to be honest, we weren’t impressed with the ice cream or the service. Plus, our 4 year olds ordered “chocolate” but we were not told that it was actually chocolate cafe. I realized this only after licking a little off my daughters cone before it melted onto the floor.  Luckily the coffee did not have an affect on our tired travelers and they went to bed with ease.

Horse Riding in the mouthains

The next day both families went on a 30 minute horseback ride through some of the coffee bushes. It was a little scary with the little one’s because the horses loved to trot, but for some reason I couldn’t stop laughing. 30 minutes was the perfect amount of time.

Walking to the swimming areaOnce back we quickly packed to go see Cascada Blanca. I read that there was an on-site restaurant, a cave, and place to swim, so we packed accordingly. Someone with kids had suggested it, and after doing some research it seemed doable with little ones. Feeling how cold the water wasIt was about a 30 minute drive from Selva Negra and was so worth it! We had a great afternoon exploring and could have definitely stayed longer if the toddlers didn’t need naps.

When we got back to Selva Negra we were all in need of a shower, but the water pressure in our bungalow was non existent in the shower. Our friend, Jason went up to the reception to ask if we could use another bungalow’s showers. The offer for us to move to another cabin and after checking out the 5 bedroom, 3 bath kid paradise, we decided it was worth the effort to move. Casa Bosche has a long hallway that the kids loved running up & down.

While moving our car loaded with all our stuff, my husband miscalculated the width of the driveway in the dark and one of the wheels of our car went off the edge. The men try to fix it that night, but decided it was a task better done in the daylight. With the help of a few Selva Negra employees and the winch on Jason’s SUV, our car made it to four wheel on ground safely.

Breakfast ChaosAfter freeing our car and breakfast our friends got on the road to take advantage of their littlest’s nap time. Kharron used the Wifi in the restaurant to get some work done and after we did one last walk around the property to get some of the kids energy out. Selva Negra is truly beautiful and we look forward to another trip to the chilly mountains.

View from breakfast  Gazebo across the pond

Pond View  Titus & Kharron with the Chapel behind them

titus-fresco

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

map-of-san-juan-del-sur

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.

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Monday Photo Dump – Rainy Season Fun

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Monday Photo Dump – Taking Advantage of Nicaragua has to offer

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