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
They say it takes a village and San Juan del Sur Day School is part of ours. This week Titus started going to the same amazing school as his sister, for two days a week. I love how Nicaraguan families live and raise their kids together, its a practice that disperses the responsibility of a family outside of the North American norm of just mom & dad. This allows their children to be cared for by the family members who are not working. Younger siblings help cook and clean, and grandparents grow old and are cared for in the same home they were born in. Even with my envy of these strong family values, I am thankful that my family can afford to send our preschoolers to a formal school where the goals of education, growth, and independence can be nurtured.
On the first day of school for Titus we took the bus from our normal spot by the park. It was fun riding the bus with all the crazy kids and singing “The Wheels on the Bus” as we made our way up the hill to school.
Titus & Azalea were excited about going to the same school together and we made sure Azalea knew that as a big sister she needed to be a good role model and show Titus how to be a good student.
It was hard to leave him the first day, when I said goodbye and walked away I could hear him crying and pleading, “Mama…” I know that this is what is best for him and his growth to independence. I ran the 6km back to my car by the park, which I think I’ll make my weekly routine.
Titus’ wonderful teacher sent me pictures of him throughout the morning enjoying his first day at school.
The second day of his first week I parked at the bottom of the organic farm where the school is located and we road up to school on the bus from there. He was a little more hesitant when we got to school and didn’t want me to put him down. I finally coerced him to the floor by playing with an animal puzzle. As soon as he seemed more comfortable I said goodbye and gave him a kiss. Again, I walked away to the heartbreaking sounds of his cries. Again I had to tell myself that this was what was best for him and reminded myself that on the first day he only cried for a few minutes after I left. I had a nice leisurely walk down to my car and then enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Barrio Cafe with some friends!
Titus had a blast at school the first week. He arrived off the bus very sleepy. I am so glad that San Juan del Sur Day School is part of our tribe. I look forward to watching him grow and now get to participate in all the fun school events.
This was our second St Patrick’s Day while living in Nicaragua. The first landed only a couple weeks after we landed in this country. As awesome it was, the true beauty of celebrating this holiday in a foreign country that we are used to rejoicing in the United States, was not as deeply appreciated as it was this year.
Azalea’s school, San Juan del Sur Day School, organizes an ox cart ride around town for the students every year. Last year Azalea was only 3 and too young to be able to ride in the cart, but this year she was able to be part of the parade instead of just a spectator. She was all smiles as she passed by with her class and teacher.
Later in the day those same ox carts are used to in an annual pub crawl that is coordinated by one of our local Irishmen, John Crilly (also the co founder & husband of the school’s Director). To read more about this pub crawl and see pictures from past years, please read In Nica Now’s blog entry on this topic. As a parent, it is hard to take part in this event, so I must give photo credits to DanCesar.com and Elisha MacKay from In Nica Now.
When I first moved to Nicaragua I felt myself getting frustrated easily. I’d put my hands up & mumble obscenities to myself when the the drivers around me did something “stupid”. I’d rush around people strolling aimlessly in the streets and wonder how people could be so self-centered to not notice that someone behind them wanted to walk at a normal pace. I would get impatient with waiters, secretly calculating their low tip in my head. I’d rush my kids through their daily routines, hurry to start the next game, or rush out the gate after dropping off my daughter at school. My husband even told me I seemed angry a lot. Of course I was mad, why was everyone moving so damn slow?!
It hit me one day as I drove my daughter Azalea to school, passing fields of horses and sheep and hearing her shout out “Caballo!” with glee. Why was I in such a hurry?? Did I really need to be anywhere at a certain time? The drop off at San Juan del Sur Day School is anywhere from 8am-9am, this leaves me plenty of time to go at the natural pace of each morning.
Its taken some mental forcing to change my American mindset from the go-go-go of the North to the more chill pace of Nicaragua. I had to take some deep breaths at times and remind myself that 99% of the time in reality, I am in no hurry. There are only a few times a week that I need to be somewhere at an exact time and that includes the twice a week I volunteer at Barrio La Planta Project. Even there, class usually starts late because the parents of the students are not in a rush.
So now when I drive Azalea to school I enjoy the drive. We sing about the day of the week or practice Spanish words for the animals we pass. I play the songs she requests and listen to her sweet voice stumbling over the lyrics. When I drop her off I stay awhile. I have causal chats with the teachers or other parents. I go for a pleasureful run on the beach before leisurely doing my grocery shopping, knowing I have plenty of time to visit the many shops needed to complete a meal. If my 9 month old, Titus is still asleep when I get home I do some yoga…or not. I read, prepare lunch, or sit on the floor with my baby and savor his delicious giggle. I talk to our house cleaner, Juanita, my Spanish lesson for the day.
If Titus cries when I put him down to sleep, I don’t mind picking him back up. What’s another five minutes? In Nicaragua, I have five more minutes. Five more minutes to hold my precious boy who is growing up so fast. Five more minutes to imprint his puffy baby cheeks, soft lips, and ridiculously long lashes into the memory of my eyes. Five more minutes for deep breaths of baby skin. I get in bed with Azalea every night and read her 3 books. I switch off the light and we discuss our favorite things that happened that day. I ask her when she felt sad or frustrated. She opens up to me in ways she never expressed before. I scratch her back, massage her legs, run my fingers through her hair. I cuddle with my ever-in-motion 3 year old, devouring the sensation.
After the kids are asleep I’m usually tired, but we don’t have a TV so the urge to force myself to stay up late isn’t there. I got to bed early and wake up very early. I spend time with my husband over breakfast, lunch, & dinner every day instead of blanking out in front of a TV at night and calling that quality time. With domestic help we are also able to enjoy a date night almost every week.
Exorcising the American mindset did take some time, which means unfortunately, those who visit on a vacation will not enjoy this benefit of living in Nicaragua. To those I say, please do not honk at me when I forget to turn on my blinker because I am in the middle of an epic version of “Let It Go” and be patient when you encounter me aimlessly walking in town. I live in paradise now, where demons go to chill.
Join us next Thursday, July 9 at 6 p.m. at Big Wave Dave’s for a great cause! San Juan del Sur Day School is raising money to purchase a school bus to transport students to the new school campus at Finca Las Nubes! Come out for a drink, some cards, great prizes and more!
If you don’t play poker, then come and bid on some awesome auction items
including a half day sail with Pelican Eyes Hotel and Resort, a yoga 10 pack with Zen Yoga Nicaragua, handmade pillows courtesy of Isabel Sophia, a massage at the Elixir Center, overnight for 2 at BuenaVista SurfClub, rappelling with Aracne Rappelling Tours and zip line with Da’ Flying Frog Adventures, an overnight stay at Rancho Chilamate – Nica Horseback Adventures, gift certificates from BRUSH YOUR HAIR Barbalon by Justin Bobby Brescia – Natasha Lazdins, dinner at El Jardin – 4 hours of babysitting included AND MORE!
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!
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.
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.