Monthly Archives: June 2012

Loans That Change Lives

Elisha and I just loaned $25 bucks to this dude…

– A restaurant in the central park in Granada, Nicaragua

…and $25 bucks to this chick.

– A shoe store in the central market in Granada, Nicaragua

Sound random?  Well it’s not – it’s a non-profit organization called Kiva.

In many developing countries the average resident can’t just go to the bank to get a loan and almost no one has a credit card. If an individual wants to start or expand a business, build an addition onto their home, fix their roof, etc. they need to the find funds to do so some other way.

In Nicaragua there are organizations like MiCredito, CEPRODEL, Fundacion Leon and AFODENIC that work with residents in need of micro-loans. Some of their funding comes from a Kiva who receives ALL of it’s funding from people like you and I.

What I like about this organization is that it’s not a charity.  Members loan money to individuals who are struggling to better themselves.  These people simply need a helping hand in the form of a little cash. As a lender you are providing a hand up, rather than just a hand out.

The individuals shown in the photos at the beginning of this post had each requested a loan of $500. 

Manuel wants to buy additional tables, chairs and umbrellas to expand his small outdoor restaurant. Julia Justina is looking to secure a large quantity of flip flops to expand her current selection.  

Elisha & I along with 39 other Kiva lenders will pitch in $25 each to fund these loans.  The loans will be repaid monthly over the next 12 months. As Manuel and Julia repay their loans, the portion we lent to them will be deposited back into our kiva account.  We can then choose to withdraw the cash – or better yet – lend it to another entrepreneur.

It was five years ago our good friend Michelle Colford gave us a Kiva gift card  as a Christmas gift.  At first I thought the donation might have been to The Human Fund”, (Seinfeld reference) but once we learned what Kiva was all about we were excited to register and use our gift card for our very 1st Kiva loan.

To date we have lent money to 26 people. All of which have either repaid their loans or are on schedule with their payments. Loaning money through Kiva is one way that we’ve been able to make a small difference in our community.  We have been able to positively impact 26 people with the last two recipients owning businesses that we walk by almost daily.

If you want to learn more about Kiva and find out how you can “empower people around the world with as little as $25″ click here.

Dreaming Nicaragua

DREAMING NICARAGUA is a film about HOPE. It’s about love for the dignity and courage of the human spirit that, even immersed in uttermost tragic conditions, fights for a better life, and in this case, with a friendly SMILE.

from the Director of “Angel’s Fire”
Winner of IDA AWARD 
international documentary association

We learned about this independent film through Life Out of the Box – a blog we are currently following. We totally want to see this movie, but at this point aren’t sure how. 

As soon as we have more information on how or where we can view this film we’ll be sure to let you know!

Granada Nightlife

Where can you go when you have a couple of friends over on a Saturday night and drinks around your pool just isn’t lively enough? You take a walk on down to Encuentros pool of course. Every Saturday Encuentros restaurant converts it’s pool area into a full blown night club with DJ and open bar. C$250 for the hombres and C$150 for the ladies gets you into the party and well lubricated for the festivities.

Club Encuentros

We were a little perplexed at the thought of what to wear. Will people be dressed up to go to a night club or are they prepped to actually go in the pool? Is the pool just there for atmosphere or is it part of the fiesta? Encuentros is a classy restaurant so it’s hard to imagine a total drunken debauchery with scantily clad people jumping in the pool.

Elisha and I paid for our wrist bands and walked in with our friends Paul and Danielle. The bar opens at 10:00 pm and it was busy when we arrived at 10:30. Paul is the single one in our group so we all scanned the room for potential candidates for him as we made our way to the back bar. The club looked upscale and most people were dressed similarly to what you would see in Canada.

The DJ was great and had the house music really pumping and it wasn’t long before we saw people starting to dance around the pool area. The crowd was about 50% Nica and 50% foreigners and everyone was mixing, mingling, dancing and drinking.

Poolside Antics

We scored a perfect high top table poolside to watch all of the action. A 20-year-old girl named Layla dropped by to tell Elisha she was looking to hook up with a tall, athletic, cool, good looking guy and wanted to know if she knew of any that were available. Unfortunately she was much too young for Paul to take a serious look at.

As the night went on the dance floor got more crowded and with copious quantities of Flor de Cana being poured at the bar the inevitable finally happened. A few people had bathing suits on under their clothes and they stripped down and jumped in. Others seeing the folly in their total lack of preparation either jumped in fully clothed or just dropped their clothes on the dance floor and took the plunge in their underwear.

Getting wet & wild!

We noticed that Layla was in the pool with a play friend. I’m not sure how much of her criteria was met but he was tall anyway.  They say if your expectations are low enough you will never be disappointed.

The bar stopped serving at about 1:30 am and that was our queue to move on. We were just about to leave our table when I felt something touch my leg. As I turned around to see what it was I saw Layla’s devilish grin. In a split second I felt the pull on the back of my shorts and there I was over tea kettle into the pool.

Swimming with my “friend” Layla

Luckily I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and my 5 finger shoes with a bit of cash in my pocket. Nica money is plastic so no harm done.

I guess if you’re going to a pool party you might as well jump in with both feet. Literally and figuratively. Our night at Encuentros turned out to be highly entertaining – an evening that we will definitely repeat sometime in the near future.

Mixed Martial Arts Event: Managua, Nicaragua

When I heard that there was going to be an MMA fight in Managua I was cautiously excited. I say cautious because you never know what level of fighters will be at these types of events. With VIP tickets going for $20 USD I figured it was worth the risk.  Elisha & I hooked up with some friends who also wanted to go to the fights. With some trepidation we drove to Managua for the big event. Our fingers were crossed as we hoped for a good tilt.

Moods Night Club

The MMA event was being held at Moods – a high end night club in the Galerias mall – in Managua.  The ring looked a little out of place in the middle of the club, in the area that must have normally been the dance floor. We made or way upstairs to the VIP section that overlooked the ring.  The tables that were placed around the railing were reserved (or already taken) which meant we didn’t have anywhere to sit or stand where we would be able to comfortably see the fight.

Lets get it on! …… The fight that is.

Luckily we spotted our friend Johnny G – at this point we knew we were all good.  As with most things the best way to get what you want is not to pay for it, but to know “a guy”. Johnny G has his hands in a little bit of everything in Nicaragua. Nica Life Realty, SanJuanSurf, Adelante Express and about five other things (that I don’t have all the details on) and MMA.

Two minutes after spotting Johnny we were seated in a private section of the club where we had concierge service for the open bar.  We were so close to the ring that we could reach out and touch the corner post from where we were seated. “Our guy” had hooked us up with some amazing seats.  We were stoked!

Johnny G, Shamus and Gord hamming it up for Elisha

Gord, Danielle and Paul soaking up the amenities.

This fight was a televised event.  It was during a break an hour or so into the event when a reporter and camera man approached our group.  They were looking for a chele (white boy) they could interview in English so Elisha volunteered me.

The reporter asked me what my thoughts were regarding the talent level of these Central American fighters. They were as good as any of the “King of the Cage” fights that I have been to in Canada.  The venue was far classier than anywhere I’ve been to watch a fight – especially after our upgrade from the VIP section to the elite box. Thank you Johnny G – you are the man!

Interview with the token white boy

The only way to get closer to the action is to be the ref.

This has been one of our most fun nights out in Nicaragua. We will definitely be waiting and watching for the next big event so we can do it all again!

Attending a Cock Fight: Granada, Nicaragua

– A winning participant shows us his collection of razors

* This post contains graphic content that may be offensive to some.  Reader discretion is advised.

Curiosity finally got the best of me.  I recently attended a cockfight.

As we drove up the dark and bumpy dirt road towards the cockfighting arena I had mixed emotions. What was I doing? Did I really want to see this? Roosters pecking and clawing at one another fighting to their possible death? 

We entered the gates and  grabbed a couple of cold Tonas and headed towards the arena. As we found a spot in the stands I was not prepared for what I saw. It was near the end of an intense battle between two cocks. The crowd was going wild!  The roosters’ heads, necks and feathers were covered with bright red blood. The energy was intense.

The referee rang the bell and both galleros – folks who raise and fight roosters – began finger pointing and shouting at him. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through their veins. One trainer grabbed his rooster and wiped him down with a bloodied rag he pulled out of his pocket. The other placed his lips and mouth on his rooster’s neck. With my jaw clenched I continuted to watch as he spat out a mouthful of chicken blood onto the ground. While I was somewhat shocked and slightly disgusted, no one else in the crowd even batted an eye. The trainer was sucking the blood out of the neck of his rooster to keep it from drowning so it could fight another round. 

It wasn’t until after the first fight ended that I dug my camera out of my back pack. The air was still and thick, I was dripping with sweat and mosquitoes were feasting on my ankles. Beside me stood the winning gallero from that had just ended. His buddy encouraged us to take his photo.

– A rooster gets prepped for a fight

To my left a couple of guys prepared their rooster for the next fight. As the bird lay still in the arms of his gallero a razor like hook was being fastened to his foot with string and black electrical tape. He blinked his beady little eyes at me and I wondered if he knew that it was his turn to head into the ring next.  

I could hear roosters crowing from their wooden crates as men rushed around the perimeter of the ring trying to secure bets so they could be the next one to step into the ring.

As the primarily male crowd headed back to their seats around the ring and in the bleachers I inched my way in closer to the ring where I’d be able to get some photos. The men seated around the arena were happy to let me in and even offered me a seat ringside. As I peered through my camera lens I felt somewhat removed from this raw and brutal activity that was taking a place just a few feet from me. I felt like I was watching a movie. A gruesome flick – one that I wasn’t enjoying.

I made my way back to where Gord stood in the bleachers and told him I was ready to go. I had seen enough.

Part of my reasoning for attending the cockfight was to get some interesting blog material. Ironically I hesitated to write this post in fear of the reaction I would get.

Although cockfighting is banned in many countries it’s still a very popular sport in Nicaragua and sadly, it’s a part of Nicaraguan culture. An event that men, women and even children participate in. 

One my reasons for moving to Nicaragua was to experience culture – good and bad – and that’s what I view this experience as.  

Do I regret going? No.  

Will I attend another cockfight? Definitely not!

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