Monday, May 28, 2012

León, Nicaragua - May 28, 2012

The time came for us to renew our visitor visa here in Nicaragua so last week we went to Costa Rica for a few days relaxing on the beach. We had previously purchased bus tickets through a company called "A Safe Passage" so all we had to do was present our emailed copies of our tickets to the ticket clerk and we were on our way. Travelling on the bus is an easy way to go from one country to another when travelling through Central America. The bus attendants are very helpful and do most of the running around for you. They collect the fees that are required at the border and get your exit stamp from Nicaragua. Once we got to the Costa Rica side all we had to do was go into Immigration to get our passports stamped and answer any questions they had - they didn't have any for us so we were quickly back on the bus.

When researching our trip to Costa Rica we quickly realized that it is more expensive than Nicaragua. We did find reasonably priced accommodations in Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste at a place called Villa Kokomo. We liked the fact that it was at a higher elevation and there was a nice view from the balcony (more on that later). The bus ticket we purchased was from Managua through to San Jose, Costa Rica, but we got off in a town called Liberia. In Liberia it was very simple to get the local bus to Playa Hermosa. Pat was following the instructions that we had received from Dennis, the owner of Villa Kokomo, and so we got off the bus when we passed the REmax Tres Amigos office. This meant that we had to walk back the way we had come on the bus and walk up a big hill to the hotel...... I did mention that it was a higher elevation - well, we knew it was on a hill and that we would have to WALK up that HILL.... and we have walked up many hills in the past - how hard could it be???? Well, this hill was a killer! The last 1/3 km was almost perpendicular! If we had stayed there any longer we would have had "buns of steel" - but the view was worth it.

Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste is a nice little village but at this time of year there isn't very much happening. Most visitors who sleep in Playa Hermosa play in Playa Coco a little town not too far away. The beach was great for walking and had nice gentle waves perfect for swimming. We booked a snorkeling tour with Safari Divers and went out with a small group of divers to a couple of local dive spots. The morning was a little overcast and raining but we loved the time in the water. We found the water here a little murky compared to the snorkeling we have done off Isla Mujeres but we saw lots of fish and the tour company was very competent and there was a nice relaxed atmosphere that everyone enjoyed.

Monkey Crossing Sign

One of the big pleasures we had at Villa Kokomo was the fact that a couple of troops of Howler monkeys would regularly swing by - morning and evening. We enjoyed watching them and got a few great pictures.

Howler Monkeys

Howler Monkey on a wire

All too quickly we were heading back to Nicaragua and we stopped for the night in Granada to visit some friends. We spent a nice evening with Bill and Cindy Rose who are serving in the Granada English Congregation and are from Thorold, Ontario - where we used to live before we moved to Nova Scotia. We are looking forward to seeing them in a couple of weeks when Bill comes to give a talk in our hall.

We were happy to arrive home on Friday. When we entered the dining area we found that a lizard had taken up residence while we were away. He was quickly shown the door! The next morning I heard Pat yelping from the bedroom/bathroom area and thought that something really terrible had happened - like maybe he had stepped on a scorpion or something...... no, not a scorpion.... it appears that a "second" lizard had taken up residence and was found in the shower. Pat thought it was dead and when he picked it up he dropped it and found out it was alive. He picked it up again "by the tail" and the tail broke off. The third time he picked it up the poor thing had had enough of this treatment and bit him! Pat finally got it outside and it hasn't returned (at least we haven't seen it).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

León, Nicaragua - May 19, 2012

The almost unbearable heat has finally given way to cooler temperatures and fresh breezes. That only means that we've had temperatures down to about 26 in the mornings. Today has been the first day that I have been able to sit at the computer and not "need" to have the fan on. 
Storm clouds
It seems that the rainy season has given the ants the idea that they need new accommodations - our house! Either that or there is more for them to clean up - dead flies etc.... I'm sure there is a good reason for these ants - they are voracious little beasts - we just wish they would stop trying to see if we are dead or alive! We are tired of having our feet bitten!
Funeral Passing by the house
A funeral passed by our house yesterday. The usual procedure is that the night before a sound car goes around the neighbourhood and tells people that the person has died and what the arrangements are for the funeral. After the ceremony at the church the casket is loaded onto the back of a truck and is driven through the neighbourhood with family and friends walk beside and behind the truck. The casket is taken to the local cemetery.
Pat's new service bag

I think I have mentioned this before, but since we have moved here Pat and I have been loosing weight. It finally got to the point that Pat had to buy some new clothes because everything was getting too big. We found a really nice second hand store in town and Pat was able to stock up on some dress shirts, ties and a pair of pants. He even found a great new service bag for less than $2.50.  As for me - thank goodness for skirts with elastic waste bands!

While Pat was out in the ministry today he and his partner were doing census. A man noticed them walking by and said "hi" to them - they asked if he spoke English and the fellow said he did. As the conversation progressed the invitation for frijoles was extended. Pat politely refused, well because eating beans produces unwanted results. Enough said! However, his partner had no problem with that, so into the back yard they went. There they sat with the kids and chickens and the noisy rooster. While their hosts prepared the food Nathan continued to talk to the man about the bible and left a magazine with him. The man sent one of the kids to go get some cuajada cheese.  When the kid returned the host did some more preparation and presented to them a really hot tortilla with some cheese on it - delicious The food was appreciated - both the spiritual and the physical.

Pat enjoying the breeze while practicing a talk

Monday, May 14, 2012

León, Nicaragua - May 14, 2012

It's surprising how settled we are and our weeks are becoming very routine. A new thing to get used to now that it is "rainy" season are the bugs - no, I'm not talking about mosquitoes. There are these bugs that I've heard called "chichas" but you may know them as "cicadas". They seem to be attracted to lights so as soon as it gets dark and the lights are turned on you get a couple of them flying in for a visit. Now, these have to be some of the dumbest (but kinda big) bugs I have ever seen. They will come into the room and fall onto the ground - usually on their backs. They will lie on the ground, madly flapping their wings to try and get back up all the while making a huge racket. Pat can easily remove these critters by grabbing it by the wings and throwing it outside.  It is surprising how loud they are especially when they decide to investigate the Kingdom Hall during a meeting - very distracting trying to make sure it doesn't land in your hair or lap...yuck! There also some rather large beetles that are taking a liking to our little house.... they get removed pretty quickly too but I'm left to wonder what critters come into the house at night when I am sleeping or while we are out gadding around???? Humm, probably better not to think to hard on this one....
Pat & Frank loading the truck

Our neighbours, Frank, Karin and Maria Fernanda, have moved to a new house - so you could say that the apron strings have been cut and we are now left to fend for ourselves. Frank really was a great help in helping us get settled and we will miss our daily chats. They haven't moved too far - in fact we will pass their house every time that we go to the Kingdom Hall - so I'm sure that we will continue to see quite a bit of them. Also, they are eager to continue their studies, so that is good.

We continue to head over to the UCC to use their swimming pool. More and more of our friends are joining us for a swim and if we don't let everyone know in advance that we are going we get a scolding for not telling them so that they can join us! I think from now on we will be sending out a mass email to let everyone know when swim time is.

We are looking forward to the return of Brad and Lydia Ramirez later this week. They have been in the US for about a month taking care of business. It will be nice to have them back.

Pollo Asado
Every Sunday for the last couple of months some of the neighbourhood ladies have been getting together and putting on a lunch "Fritanga". Yesterday we decided to have a closer "look" or should I say taste. Their menu usually consists of three different types of meat dishes and a soup of the day. On the menu yesterday was: Carne Baho, Pollo Asado and Lengua en Salsa. Everything looked delicious - even the Lengua (which is tongue!) We took two heaping plates of Pollo Asado back home to enjoy - you can be sure that we will be back.

Pat - Chairman

Raining cats & dogs!

1/2 hour later brilliant sunshine

Monday, May 7, 2012

León, Nicaragua - May 7, 2012

We are officially in the rainy season or Winter here in Nicaragua (imagine Winter when it is still 30 plus degrees!) It's not unusual to wake up during the night and realize that it is raining. Not necessarily a huge thunder and lightning event but a steady down pour that lasts for a couple of hours. When you wake up in the morning the air seems fresh. However, when it rains during the daytime it only seems to increase the heat and humidity..... I prefer when it rains at night.

With the rainy season there is a noticeable decline in my dryers effectiveness. When we first moved here I would take a load out of the washing machine and hang it on the line and by the time the next load was washed my laundry on the line was dry. Now it takes about two hours for the laundry to dry on the line, plus you have to be vigilant in case it starts to rain. So far we haven't had to resort to hanging the laundry inside put we are prepared just in case.

Saturday was the wedding of our good friends Jonathan and Jessica ... We wish them much happiness in their new life together!

Yesterday we spent the afternoon in Managua with Nathan, Ashlee and their baby Liliana. First we went to the Metrocentro Mall which was a real treat. I haven't been to a mall like that since we left Halifax so it was fun to do something "normal". Although we didn't check out all the stores on this trip I'm sure we will be back. We did however check out the Gelato - simply to die for. So, if you come to visit us, a trip to the Metrocentro Mall will definitely be on the agenda!

PriceSmart, Managua
When we left the Mall we went to the home of a Missionary couple who will be leaving Nicaragua and are moving to Guadalajara, Mexico. They have been asked to relocate there to help with the Business territory. This is much different than the business territory that most congregations work at. This couple ONLY preach to the top officials with the companies. Most of these high ranking officers live in very secure gated communities and can only be contacted at their place of work. This couple dress in "professional business attire" and with only a small portfolio visit the large corporate offices in the territory. They have had great success in Managua and look forward to their new assignment in Mexico. We spent a good 1/2 hour checking out the items that they had for sale and managed to get a large backpack that we can use on our upcoming trip to Costa Rica.

Once we left the Missionary Home we went to the local PriceSmart. This is similar to a Costco in Canada. Although Pat and I were "only looking" we still managed to pick up a few items. I doubt that we will get a membership here since it is quite a distance from León, but we wouldn't hesitate to tag along if we get invited again.

Fresh Guacamole
Avocados are in season which means that fresh Guacamole is on the menu. Pictured here is the type of Guacamole that we customarily had in Mexico - we enjoyed it with tortilla chips for lunch.   However, I've learned that they make it a little differently here in Nicaragua. Here they add cooked eggs to the avocados. Here is a link to a YouTube video on how to make it: Nicaraguan Guacamole . Enjoy it in a fresh tortilla for lunch.