Monthly Archives: December 2012

Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad

“Reinvented” at 37 and Loving Life in Nicaragua

Gord and I are pleased to share with you our very first publication titled ““Reinvented” at 37 and Loving Life in Nicaragua”.  It’s a two page spread in the Lifestyle section of the January 2013 issue of International Living Magazine.  

To read our article click on the image below.

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We look forward to continuing to work with International Living in 2013 and hope to have more articles to share with you real soon!

To learn more about International Living click here.

A House to Write Home About: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

One month shy of our one year anniversary in Nicaragua we moved into our seventh rental house.

Our new place sits high on a hill in a neighborhood that locals refer to as Barrio Chino. The extra altitude allows us to take advantage of the nearly constant offshore breezes.

Situated three short blocks from the beach and about 130 steps from our best friend’s place the location of our seventh rental couldn’t be better!

A House with a View

– From this high vantage point we have a great view of the city and the day to day activities of our Nica neighbors.

– There is no better place to enjoy a cup of Nicaraguan black gold with my buddy Coco.

The market comes to us daily via the fruit and vegetable trucks that stop in our neighborhood.

Water, pop, juice and beer are delivered to our door from a local distributor.  Our delivery boy  – who comes by almost every day to see if we have an order – is a young man who drives a three-wheel bike with a huge basket on the front. 

We often see an older fellow with a horse drawn buggy delivering milk in the mornings. He transports the milk in large metal canisters and uses a huge ladle to scoop it into into his customers’ pitchers, bowls or buckets.

A House to Write Home About

The monthly rent for this lovely three bedroom, two bathroom casa on the hill is $500 USD per month. High speed Internet and Cable TV are included in our rent.  

Electricity is our only extra cost.

A House to Write Home About

– We have air conditioning in the bedrooms, but due to the high cost of electricity in Nicaragua we use it sparingly.

A House to Write Home About

– After a year of “cool” showers it’s a real treat to have hot water.

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– With San Juan del Sur’s frequent water outages the huge water tanks on our roof come in handy.

The kitchen and living area is open concept, which we love.  A living room with two seating areas, combined with a”bar” in the kitchen makes this house perfect for entertaining.

A House to Write Home About

– Windows wrap around the entire house making it bright and airy.

Rockers

A House to Write Home About

– Our large kitchen makes meal prep easy and enjoyable.

As mentioned in previous posts finding a comfortable and affordable long term rental in San Juan del Sur takes a bit of effort. So as you can imagine we feel quite lucky to have found such a nice place.

For the first time since leaving Canada twelve months ago we finally have a home and it feels great!

We are really enjoying our new digs and San Juan del Sur. For now we’ve committed to six months here, but quite honestly, we don’t foresee moving again until we take the plunge and buy (or build) something of our own.

We’re looking forward to celebrating the Christmas season and ringing in the New Year with our friends and family here in beautiful San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua!

Photo Journalism Friday: An Uninvited House Guest

Photo Journalism Friday

– Gord used our broom to gently escort this uninvited house guest out the door but not before I had an opportunity to grab my camera and get my Photo Journalism Friday shot. Hopefully he doesn’t come back!

 

BPP Preschool Program Wish List

This blog post was updated on December 13, 2012

It has been brought to my attention that some items on the Amazon Wish List are very costly to ship.  In order to maximize everyone’s dollars I’d like to suggest all donations moving forward are made in cash via Email Money Transfer or PayPal.  

My sister has already started purchasing some of the items on the list at Walmart and Toys R Us in Calgary. We definitely want to support the local economy, therefore items we can actually get here, will be purchased here.

We’ve received a a great response so far and look forward to even more donations coming in.  

Thank you so very much for your generosity and support and making a difference in the lives so many special children here in Nicaragua!

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Most North American kids I know have more toys than they know what to do with. Things are a little different here in Nicaragua. Actually…they are a lot different.

One doll, a wooden puzzle, a couple coloring books, some broken crayons and a few books are all that sits on a small shelf at the front of the preschool classroom at Barrio Planta Project.  

BPP Preschool Kids

This isn’t a single child’s bedroom I’m talking about, it’s a classroom for fifteen to twenty children. 

I’d like to change this.

And that’s why I’m reaching out to you – family, friends and In Nica Now fans and followers – to help out this holiday season by purchasing a gift for the Barrio Planta Project Preschool Program.

Because how cool would it be for the kids to be able to sit down and play a game of Snakes & Ladders with their preschool teacher or a volunteer?

Or for a little girl to dress up in a pretty princess dress and have a tea party with her friends. 

BPP Preschool Program

I’d especially love for these kids to have their own glue sticks, scissors and paper to get creative with at Arts & Craft time.

To view our Wish List and purchase a gift click here!

Or if you’d like me to do the shopping you can donate cash via PayPal by clicking here!  (The account email address to use is elishaannemackay@gmail.com)

Cash donations will also be used to cover the baggage fees to get the items to Nicaragua.  

All gifts will be shipped to my sister in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  She will pack everything safely into a suitcase and deliver it to me on December 26th when she arrives.  

I will stock the shelves and have everything ready for the kids when classes resume in February. I’ll also be doing a follow up post with photos and video so that you can see first hand the impact you’ve made.

Thank you so much for your support and making a difference in the life of a child in Nicaragua!

Note: With only 15 days left until Christmas it’s important that purchases are made this week. Thanks again!

Volunteering with Barrio Planta Project

Volunteering my time and making a difference in the lives of local children has been on my “Nicaragua To Do List” since arriving here twelve months ago.

Recently I joined forces with Elizabeth Renner of Barrio Planta Project and had the opportunity to do just that. For a month I worked along side Liz as an assistant teacher with the preschool program at Barrio Planta Project (BPP).

Liz has designed a curriculum that focuses on basic English including ABCs, primary numbers, the days of the week, greetings and more.

The children who participate in this free program range in age from three to seven. For most these classes are a supplement to their regular school program.

BPP Preschool Program

On Tuesdays we would walk a few blocks to the library and read books together.

San Juan del Sur Library

– San Juan del Sur Biblioteca

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– Story time with their stuffies

And on Thursdays we enjoyed playing in the park. 

Irsa

Anahy

EJ & the Kids

– Everybody loves EJ!

When we weren’t at the library or playing in park we were dancing, making crafts, reading books, playing games or singing songs.

Dancing

Jack O' Lantern

Reading Books

The kids always enjoyed playing with sidewalk chalk. And they had tons of fun playing memory games on my iPAD.

Valentina

Sidewalk Chalk

Just like any typical preschool program in Canada or the United States we had circle time and enjoyed cookies and juice at snack time.

Snack Time!

As I helped the kids with their English they taught me a few new Spanish words and phrases including en la fila (in a line), cuidado (be careful) and orinando (the direct translation is “I’m peeing”, but this phrase actually means “I need to use the bathroom”).

When I walked through the classroom doors for the first time (and every time there after) Liz always made me feel welcome. The fifteen to twenty students that attend classes twice per week adore their “Profa Liz”.  She really is great at what she does and it was a pleasure to work with her.

Profa Liz

Thank you Liz (and BPP) for allowing me the opportunity to make a difference.

This was my first volunteer experience in Nicaragua, but it definitely won’t be my last. I look forward to working with you all again when classes resume in February.

Me & the Kiddies

To learn more about this non-profit organization and how you can make a difference click here.

Shop Till You Drop: National Artisan Market – Masaya, Nicaragua

A day trip to the National Artisan Market in Masaya is an excursion I always enjoy, especially when it’s with friends and family who are visiting.

Mercado

– The building for the National Artisans Market in Masaya covers an entire city block.

With it’s attractive booths, large breezy walkways and high quality handicrafts this market is Nicaragua’s most famous. It’s located just an hour from the International airport in Managua and is known for having the highest quality handicrafts in the country.

Many vendors speak English and almost all are willing to negotiate on their prices.  

Some of the more standout pieces found at Mercado Artesanias in Masaya are as follows:

Hammocks
The hammock is Nicaragua’s signature craft found.  Hammocks range in price from $10 – $20 for the simple ones and $30 – $60 for the nicer ones.  The density of the weave and quality of materials help determine the hammocks quality.

The Old Market

– The hammocks shown in this photo take 2 – 3 days to assemble.

Gord recently purchased an extra large hammock chair made with cotton-poly fabric and cedar.  After a bit of bargaining the price was $21.

Hammocks

Baskets
Very unique and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in all the countries I’ve visited I love the baskets shown below.

These baskets are made with bundles of wrapped pine needles that are bound in long coils. They come in various shapes and sizes.  My favorite ones are those accented with bright colorful thread.  

When my Mom was visiting in May she purchased a large basket. Without any negotiation she paid $25.

A Basket with Blue

Primitive Paintings
Some Nicaraguan paintings tend to be a little too primitive for my liking, but if you take the time to look around for that perfect piece you’ll most likely find it. 

Primitive Art

– Smaller pieces start at as little as $5.

– Larger pieces average between $50 – $75.

Pottery
From vases, to urns, to bowls if you can’t find a piece of pottery you like at the market in Masaya, you probably won’t be able able to find it anywhere in the country.  

Prices for pottery start at as little as $2 and go up as high as $40 – $50, depending on the amount of detail and the size of the piece.

– To avoid disappointment when you get home you may want to transport these pieces in your carry-on.

Exotic Wood Crafts
It’s important to choose wooden pieces carefully, keeping in mind the type of climate you will be taking your piece back to.  Mahogany is best and less likely to crack in dryer areas. 

The average price for a nice medium size piece – whether it be a bowl or vase – is about $20.

– A spectacular piece may warrant a spectacular price tag.

A couple of other items worth checking out at the market include soapstone carvings and leatherwork. 

And like other artisan markets around the world there is no shortage of trinkets to be found. Keychains, wooden boxes, maracas and slingshots – they have it all!

– A typical trinket shop

A few hours spent at the market in Masaya is always a fun experience and one that I think I will never tire of. 

I look forward to the day when I have a Nicaraguan home of my own so I can decorate it with some of these beautiful works of art.

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