It’s been a year!

May 11 2017


We made it through our first year… intact! There were a few times I thought OMG what have I done!!!

There were so many new things to learn , and I am not even talking about the language…..and looking back over the months, I am not sure where to start telling you about it , so I guess I will say that we built a house!!

This was no small feat considering we are in a 3rd world country, we had no idea how or what to build, language barriers, who to trust. Also wether the prices were fair and wether our paid for order would ever show up…

We did not know where to buy things, what store sold what??? and WTF is a bisigras?

But I trusted that everything would work out and it did! We have a solid little house, no earth tremors will move it… it faces the right way to protect us from wind and rain, and a roof that has decent isolation properties against the heat, (although I must say that these last 3 weeks have been sooo hot, it is difficult to function during height of the day..)

After our first experience of hiring an American builder, and later having to fire him, we decided on using only Nicaraguan skilled labour, they been building here for hundreds of years so we figured they knew a thing or two…. and we lucked out… Leonardo was our builder, very experienced and had a crew of 4 men who were absolutely the best, talented, friendly, funny guys who spent 5 months doing a great job with virtually no mechanical tools. Literally all they had was a cutter for cutting concrete block and a wheelbarrow, shovels and a hacksaw….they made the ladders and scaffold, mixed all the concrete by hand and dug ( shovel and a bucket) 2 enormous holes for our septic which was then lined with brick.

I am in complete awe of the Nicaraguans, their strength, accuracy, the finished product ! Everything is straight and true, they work all day in the heat and nothing we asked for was too much trouble… no problemo ! We subcontracted a carpenter, Henry, who made all our doors, window shutters and cupboards… beautiful wood, strong and straight! He would make the things off site and then come to install it and it all fit perfectly…… we also had to hire a metal worker who made all our grille work for our doors and windows, Rudolfito, really talented in that we knew if we left him to his own devises he would come up with something creative and attractive….. he also was our car mechanic , who rebuilt our engine after the unfortunate incident earlier this year.. safe to say we have got to know Rudolfo quite well and he has saved us from a number of fixes our car got us into…

some things i have learnt this year

how to start a car by rolling it down a hill

how to change a tire ( many times)

how to check for leaks in the radiator and how to fix a faulty brake line with a piece of thread

how to put a nail in a concrete wall ( secret: no need for plastic plugs, get a stick and put it in the hole, bang in your nail)

how to put a mop on a handle…. builders had to show me how- they had a good laugh at us… actually they laughed at us a lot, what do we first worlders know!! Not a lot it seems.

how to replace your broom handle , when it breaks the first time you use it , with a solid branch

how to use a machete

how to surf – need more practice

how to ride a motorcycle, yes I bought one AND I can now ride it… loving it!

how to burn roots out of the ground,

how to kill scorpions, stomp and drag

how to cook beans…..bake bread

I could go on….

but safe to say this has been a tumultuous year, emotionally,( Ken and I wanted to kill each other sometimes) financially, stressful and sometimes really scary..

But, we are in our house and loving it…. after the builders left, it took some getting used to. We had been renting close to town (san Juan del Sur) and our house is about a 20 minute drive on the most awful road…we can see our neighbours , but it is very quiet out here, just parrots, monkeys and roosters.  We plan our shopping trips and menus so we can avoid town, way too noisy.. lol!

As I sit here looking around, I realize we have no furniture, only a plastic table and 5 plastic chairs, no  light fixtures, no tiles in our kitchen, outside, again I am overwhelmed, the property is a mess, overgrown and weedy, rainy season is here, the push to get new trees and plants in the ground is on. But I know it will all happen in time, just like the house got built!

I also know that I have everything I need to survive…a roof over our heads, fresh water from our well, a gas stove, fridge, fire pit, pots and pans and a safe bed away from the bugs!! oh and  4 crazy dogs and a cat …..

I have also made some friends… nutbar  women, all very quirky but much needed when you are all ex-pats facing the same challenges in a new country.

Most nights we sit out and watch  the sun set, the dogs play , we hear the howler monkeys and then the crazy parrots fly in. The greens get even greener (?) and the sky is pink and orange.The cicadas start and then it is dark and the fireflies and frogs come out…I think I am in my happy place!

If you are reading this you might be thinking , gee Nicaragua sounds great! Let’s visit!

Well lucky for you I am starting my very own tour company. It will cater to travellers over 50 and will show you unique side of Nicaragua focusing on arts and culture, volcanoes and lakes. You will be safe and comfortable offering you the best places to sleep, eat and pee!

Please watch out for the launch of my Facebook page:  A Road Less Travelled.

Hasta Luego