Happy Anniversary to Us!
Its our year anniversary today! We’ve officially been living in Nicaragua for 1 year. Some of the time has rushed by, and some of the time was like hiking through a mound molasses. We are learning something every day. I am challenged by simple tasks and easily navigate through things that used to be hard.
I was recently asked if I want to come home sooner. The answer is yes & no. We love & miss San Diego and our life “State-Side” tremendously, but I am thankful almost every day that we took this plunge. A year ago we closed our eyes and dropped into the rabbit hole, holding onto our kids tightly as we fell into the unknown. Nicaragua caught us with open arms. The people here are amazingly kind and helpful. It is a culture where the importance of family is number one and long, hard days of work is for the uneducated. This country has already taught me so much about myself & what my priorities are or should be.
I’m not going to lie, some days are overwhelmingly hard. Some nights I go to sleep wishing to wake up in my big comfortable bed, in my own home, in San Diego. Where I can knock on the door next to mine and be welcomed in with a full glass of wine, and supportive, understanding ear. Where I can buy everything I need at one store, or even on the internet without ever having to leave the house. I miss English as a first language, especially when its a drastic situation like my mom in the hospital here or our car broken down. Most of all I miss our friends. I miss the endless events with a growing number of kids parading through. I miss when I’m having an exceptionally bad day, that I have willing girlfriends (my “cats”) ready to go out to take my mind off things. I can’t stand that I have to miss major life events and birthdays of the people I care for the most in this world.
Yesterday I learned a new Spanish saying, and it is appropriate for this day as I look back on the last year and what is to come in the future. “Vale la pena” – It is worth it. Through good times & bad, we took this blind leap as a family and it will forever change us for the better.
Living in Nicaragua – Vacation from Paradise
We just took our first real vacation since moving to Nicaragua over a year ago. We honestly thought we’d do more of this, but then life happens, and *poof* a year goes by. We are only on a tourist VISA in Nicaragua, which means every 90 days we need to exit the country and re-enter to renew our VISA. This time instead of leaving and entering turn-style, we made a vacation out of it It was well worth the wait, Puerto Viejo – Costa Rica was beautiful! A couple things we learned:
1. Bring your nanny
Nicaragua has strong labor laws, so we’d have to pay our house cleaner/nanny her salary while we were away. So, we decided why not bring her? Since we were going to another country we needed to either pay for an 8 day pass or get her a passport. We decided to go with the passport since this was in the best interest of our future vacations. It ended up costing $50 for the passport and $33 for 3 month VISA to Costa Rica. At the borders we also paid for her taxes ($9) and entrance ($2).
It was great having an extra hand to help with the kids. My husband, Kharron and I were able to have conversations over dinner, go swimming together, rent bikes for a self-directed pub crawl, and go to a movie. Kharron worked some while we were on vacation and having Juanita there meant I could enjoy some individual time with one of the kids while the other napped.
2. Pay for a cuiador
We have 2 dogs and a cat who are used to a certain degree of lifestyle which includes sleeping indoors and meals promptly served. Juanita’s husband is not only a trusted friend, but also cheap labor. It cost us $10 for the 5 days were were gone for him to make sure the cat’s bowl had food, that there was water in the bowl outside, feed the dogs breakfast and let them out for the day, then feed them dinner and lock them in the house for the night. One of our dogs needs to take an incontinence pill twice a day and he even administered that for us so we didn’t come back to a home smelling of urine. Our dogs spend most of the day outside anyway, following our community’s gardener around, so I’m sure they were happy with this routine.
3. Rent a car and make sure you print your credit card’s insurance coverage
This is a mistake we made, but we won’t let it happen again. In Costa Rica if you decline the rental company coverage, they need to validate that your credit card will cover, otherwise they will need to take a very large deposit and you have to pay for their coverage. It would have been very simple for us to print the policy out to give to the rental agency. Instead it cost us a lot more money than intended and a lot of fuss before our long drive.
4. Reserve early
If you’re going anywhere during high season, make sure you reserve your hotel early and compare prices at the various reservation websites. Our hotel in San Jose had a deal running on Expedia the week we were there. We ended up having to move hotels while in Puerto Viejo and our options were very limited.
Azalea Turns 4
I created emails for both of my kids when they were born. My first email to each of them is about the day they were born. I also write to them after life changing events (like moving to Nicaragua), and always on their birthday. Here’s my letter to Azalea:
My Spunky Little Girl,
Last night I succumbed to my daughter’s request to “lay with me for a couple minutes”. I had read this article about laying in bed with your toddler the previous day while daddy was away at work and had promised the next night when daddy was home that I would lie with her. I had posted the article on Facebook and the comments were very inspiring, talking about how when my friends take the time to lie in bed with their kids, that’s when they have the best conversations. So after daddy read books I passed Titus off to Kharron and snuggled up close to Azalea in her toddler bed. I asked her about her day and we discussed how the next day we were going to take a load to storage. Looking up, I couldn’t help but think of the task of having to dismantle her never-been-used loft bed that was currently her room’s monkey bars. I told her about how when we move back from Nicaragua that she will be so big, she won’t fit in her bed anymore and that Mommy is going to buy a mattress for the bed above us. I pointed out the ladder I had draped over the unused wood mattress panels and how she would get to climb into bed at night and Mommy could climb up there too. She could fit even more stuffed animals on that bed! I explained how tomorrow we would have to take it apart and put it in storage so it could wait for us to come back. She seemed to take it well and today before pulling it apart, I let her take her maiden voyage up the ladder.