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Why Nicaragua?

Many people, including our children have asked the question….why Nicaragua? It took us quite a while to narrow down our list to this country and here are the top ten reasons why.

10. Nicaragua is in the same time zone as Alberta is. This makes it much easier to keep in touch with family back home. We can face time or skype with our Grandson everyday if we wish, although, I think his parents would get quite annoyed with us if we called that often!

We can talk to our Grandson every day!
We can talk to our Grandson every day!
Miles enjoying his second birthday party!
Miles enjoying his second birthday party!

9. It is safe! It is the safest country in Central America and the second safest in Latin America.

8. The cost of living is cheap, cheap, cheap! Where else can you buy a beer for a dollar?

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7. The heat! You have to admit that living in Alberta can be cold! We love the idea of spending time in a country that is warm all year long. We will admit that at times the heat can become a bit overbearing, however, it’s kind of nice to live in shorts and flip flops everyday.

6. The fresh fruit and vegetables! We are vegans and the idea of living in a place where we can constantly get fresh, organic fruit and vegetables is very appealing. Although some of the produce is different than in Canada, we are enjoying trying new food and creating new recipes! More information and recipes will be coming on our new blog page called……Being a Vegan in Nicaragua.

5. The opportunity to learn a second language. Although difficult, everyday we learn a new word or phrase. Maybe it’s never to late to teach two old dogs some new tricks!

4. The beaches and sunsets! You can’t get much better than some of the beaches and sunsets we have seen down here.

One of many of the beautiful beaches around San Juan
One of many of the beautiful beaches around San Juan
Just one of the many sunsets we see on a nightly basis!
Just one of the many sunsets we see on a nightly basis!

3. The opportunity to experience a new culture! We wanted to try something new and the Nicaraguans are extremely friendly and welcoming people. Why not move outside of our comfort zone and see how other parts of the world live.

2. Their manana attitude. If it doesn’t happen today, perhaps it will happen tomorrow or maybe next week!

1. The number one reason we chose Nicaragua. Meet new people! In the two weeks we have been in San Juan Del Sur we already feel we have more friends than we ever did in Alberta!

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San Juan Del Sur

The beautiful beach of San Juan Del Sur
The beautiful beach of San Juan Del Sur

Well here we are in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua! When we initially began considering a three month excursion to Nicaragua, this was the place we thought of coming to. It was on the water, it was full of expats mainly from Canada, the United States and Europe and it was a little cooler than other parts of Nicaragua, with almost constant breezes blowing off the ocean.

It is a quaint little town, with a colorful collection of characters that can’t help to keep you entertained along the way. Our first night here we were invited out to Happy Hour by some fellow Canadians who have lived here for over four years. We had a wonderful time enjoying some great music and meeting several other expats who have decided to make their home here, many of them also raising their young children in this small Nicaraguan community. It was the complete opposite feeling that we had experienced in Granada and we instantly felt welcomed and part of the expat community.

The beach restaurants
The beach restaurants

After some serious house hunting we settled into a small condo about two blocks off the beach with a lovely view of the ocean. We loved the idea of sitting out on our balcony, watching all of the “goings on”, but still being far enough away from the beach where all the noisy partying tends to happen at night. Or so we thought! Our first night of living in our new little home we were awakened by the constant booming of loud music and disco lights flashing off of the water. Wow, how could this sleepy little town have suddenly turned into “Party Central”? Well, I guess the rumors were right….San Juan Del Sur is a party town! It suddenly dawned on us why so many of the expats we have recently met choose to live outside of the main area and head to the quieter hills and beaches surrounding San Juan Del Sur. All I can say is, thankfully we had only committed to one month in our condo, and with that in mind we immediately started looking for other accommodation.

The view from our condo in San Juan Del Sur
The view from our condo in San Juan Del Sur

As of now, I am happy to report that we have found a nice little apartment about a 20 minute walk to the town center. It is up on a hill, far from the noise of the nightlife in San Juan and we think it’s actually nicer than the condo we have now. It has a great kitchen, a nice little deck, where we can still gaze at the ocean and a pool. We are still not committing for more than one month but I think we will be much happier there. Will we still visit San Juan? Of course we will but definitely not late at night……I think we’d rather be sleeping!

A very peaceful beach during the day!
A very peaceful beach during the day!
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Lake Nicaragua

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Lake Nicaragua is surrounded by volcanoes, lush vegetation and colorful boats. It is the largest fresh water lake in Central America and the 9th largest in the world. Life on the many islands of the lake is rustic and consists mainly of small families or small communities who make their living mainly by fishing. It was fascinating to watch the children transporting themselves in small canoes to school or to one of the other islands. Once again we noticed the extremes of this country, as several of the other islands boasted large hotels or luxurious homes where the rich Nicaraguans or foreigners come to vacation. We enjoyed our time in Granada but we knew that it was time to move on. This was not the city where we wanted to settle for three months or maybe longer. It is a charming place and the the local Nicaraguans are friendly and accommodating, however, we were looking for something else….

We couldn’t post this without mentioning some of the wonderful restaurants and pubs we experienced in the short time we were in Granada. For those of us who don’t know us we are vegan (and also foodies) so getting great food at restaurants, especially in Central America can be a challenge at times. We would definitely recommend Pita Pita, which had wonderful vegan options, includings shawarma, falafal and Hummus, as well as, a fantastic selection of Italian wines. Our other favorites were¬†Garden Cafe and Kathy’s waffle house.

We also found a couple of great pubs in the town center. The Road House, which has great cold beer, unfortunately no vegan food but a great atmosphere and friendly staff. Another favorite was O’Shea’s Nicaragua. Mario is very accommodating and although not a lot on their menu for vegans he will do his best to get you something that you want. I wasn’t disappointed!

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Super Mario at  O'Shea's Pub in Granada
Super Mario at O’Shea’s Pub in Granada
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More of Granada

Granada, to us, was a stepping stone to other parts of Nicaragua. Although we enjoyed the city we felt claustrophobic in a sense. We are land locked in Alberta, so this should not have bothered us but in Granada the heat is stifling and your time is spent mainly in or around the two or three square blocks surrounding the town center. It is a city of extremes. You can be enjoying a nice cup of coffee or tea in the town center, surrounded by beautiful architecture one minute and then a five minute walk will take you to some of the poorest areas of the city where people are living in nothing more than one room tin shanty’s. However, what amazed us the most was how happy, generous and kind they all seem to be.

Beautiful gardens around the center of town in Granada
Beautiful gardens around the center of town in Granada
View of Lake Nicaragua
View of Lake Nicaragua
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Granada

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We arrived in Granada on June 3rd, approximately 11:00 pm. We were exhausted, excited and apprehensive at the same time. It had been a long day and an even longer week. Saying goodbye to our family had been extremely difficult, especially our little Grandson, Miles. I think it has surprised both Edgar and I how much we have fallen in love with this little guy. It’s a defining moment in your life when you become a Grandparent. Instantly your world is turned upside down by this tiny human being who grabs at your heartstrings. He is the son of our youngest son Tim and his beautiful wife Danielle and we can’t get enough of him.

We were picked up at the airport by a wonderful woman named Dora and her son who safely delivered us to the door of what was to be our home for the next week. The next day was full of exploring the town center of Granada. We loved the cobblestone streets, the horse drawn carriages and the friendly Nicaraguan people. We immediately felt welcomed into this city and accepted by the people. The Nica’s don’t have much but they are willing to give you the shirt off their back. Somehow we were able to communicate with them and they were with us. It was a fascinating week full of surprises and some disappointments. Unfortunately, when a country is so poor the desperation of the people can become quite overwhelming. You can never let your guard down, as people will always take advantage of a nice Canadian couple. But all in all, I think we did pretty good in this charming city.

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