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Culture Shock in Canada

1 small bottle of water – $3
18 bottles of beer – $40
Haircut, color & brow wax – $170
Sushi – $40
A few groceries – $57

Cha-ching…cha-ching…cha-ching!  

It was day 4 of my 1st trip home to Calgary when I officially started to freak out about how much money I was going to spend during my 5 week stay. If I continued at this pace the MasterCard was in for a serious beating.

After spending 8 months in Nicaragua it didn’t take me long to figure out what I had missed most in Canada.

1.  My Nephew Aiden – How sweet it was to be reunited with my adorable 11 month old nephew Aiden. From camping, to going for walks, to seeing Aiden through his 10 & 11 month birthdays, to reading Llama, Llama Wakey Wake over and over again and being there as he learned to crawl the time I spent with him was definitely the highlight of my trip.

– Day 2 in Calgary with Aiden

Moyie Lake, British Columbia - Canada

– Hangin’ in the Hammock Swing – Moyie Lake, British Columbia

– A rocking chair & a shirt from Nica for Aiden

2.  My Girlfriends (especially my sister) – Getting together with my special gang of girlfriends and being able to pick up right where we left off was a great feeling.  Heart to heart talks with my sis was something I think we both needed.

– Good Times with Girlfriends @ Melrose Bar & Cafe

Canmore, Alberta - Canada

– My sister Sally & I  – Canmore, Alberta

3.  Shopping I know my stores and I know my sizes. I know where to find the best deals on my favorite products and I love a good sale. Planning my visit at the end of the summer season was a good move – EVERYTHING was on sale. I so miss being able to get good quality clothing and the products I love at great prices.

– Aiden was such a good little shopper!

4.  The Food – $40 on sushi (for one sitting) was a bit expensive, but I gotta tell ya, it was worth every penny. Strawberries, blueberries and Activia yogurt were part of my daily diet.  And although not technically classified as food, I couldn’t seem to get enough 5 cent candy from Mac’s.

Joey Crowfoot - Calgary, AB

– Mmm! Tuna Sashimi Salad

5.  My Hairstylist – Cassidy from Ca Va Bien rocks! After 8 months without a real haircut it felt great to have my hair cut & colored by a professional I trust. Now if only I could convince her to move to Nicaragua.

6.  TV – Specifically the Slice channel. I have to admit I watched quite a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and What Not to Wear and even caught a couple of episodes of Intervention Canada while I was home.  Hey – don’t judge me! 

As we pulled into the driveway at my sister’s house on July 26th I felt like I had never left. Aside from Aiden, not much had changed.  

But after spending two months in Calgary – 10 months after departing on a Nicaraguan adventure with nothing but a couple of suitcases, and my husband Gord – I realized I’ve changed.

I’m thrifty now. I’m more laid back. I’m less concerned or caught up in the minor details of day to day and I’ve realized not everything has to be perfect. I don’t need a fancy house, or a designer handbag to make me happy. More importantly, I realized just how special time spent with family, friends and loved ones is and how much it means to me.

My cousin Nicole & I – Canmore, Alberta

– Chowin’ down on hot dogs! – Eau Claire Campground – Kananaskis, AB

Unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end.  

– Almost packed & ready to go!

– Just minutes after this photo was taken tears started to flow.

Saying goodbye sucks, but as the plane left the runway in Calgary – 285 days after my Nicaraguan adventure began – I was more excited than sad. This time I wasn’t leaving home – I was going home.  

Nica Fashionista

When I shopped for clothing in Canada I looked for quality so that my clothes would last.  In Nica my wardrobe consists mainly of t-shirts and shorts. In a t-shirt quality used to mean a nice thick, heavy weight cotton jersey.  With Leon’s toasty hot weather I find myself wearing the thinnest, lightest clothing that I brought with me.  I’ve been wanting to augment my hot weather clothing, but didn’t really care to buy into the local knockoff trends of Hollister, Aeropostale or Abercrombie & Fitch.

If you ever wonder where your summer clothing donations go to when they are out of season in Canada, well I can tell you.  They are donated to countries like Nicaragua and then bought in lots by retailers and then sold to the locals. To kill some time one night Elisha and I went into one of these stores in Esteli. They had some of the most random clothing that you could imagine.  Everything from high-end dress shirts to promotional giveaway t-shirts from fundraiser walks.

Shopping at the Nica Goodwill was super entertaining and something that I want to do again. In fact I think this is my new shopping venue.  I found a super “cool” t- shirt.  After doing some internet research I found out it is from a K-8 school in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.  It’s a Maple Grove Griffins team shirt that must have been worn by a rather large chubby 8th grader because it fits me like a glove. It’s a little short in the sleeves which shows off the guns.

Claro vs. Movistar

So we became a little more Nica today.  We decided to invest in our first Nicaraguan cell phone.  I say our first because to really be Nica you need two cell phones.  There is actually some good logic behind this dual phone principal.  Calls within your own service provider are nearly free but to call someone using the other provider it is the same price as calling Canada.  When someone gives you their number here they always write down their provider as well so you know which one of your phones to call them from.

Since we are slowly working toward being Nica we decided to start with one phone.  So which provider to go with.  We have Claro internet but the Movistar prepaid plans look better.  In the end we decided to go with Movistar because that is the main line that Carlos uses and he will be the one that we call the most, so off to a Movistar dealer we go.  

On  the way to the cell phone store we stopped at the bank to change some USD to cords.  And yes this picture is actually how it is done.  Not in the bank, but on the street in front of the bank.  There are no lineups here so we are back on our way in no time at all.  The only thing left to do was choose a phone.  

I know that in Canada most of you are IPhone snobs and think that Blackberry is so three years ago.  Well, here in a developing country Nokia is still king and I haven’t even seen an IPhone.  We didn’t need anything high tech, but we didn’t want the cheapest piece of no name junk on the shelf either. There were about 50 phones on the wall and someone who only speaks Spanish, who is more than willing to tell me about all of them.  I don’t understand much but pretend that I do and then just point at one.

I know all of the techno geeks reading will need to know the exact model or your curiosity would eat you alive, so as to not disappoint here you are – Nokia 1616.  The phone plus SIM card, plus enough minutes for the month, plus tax rang in at a staggering $580 cordobas.  Divide that by 22.8 and you have $25.44 USD all in.  There is also a bonus of having one Movistar friend to call free for the first month.  Since we only have a handful of Nica friends our minutes should last a long time.

Sweet!  A text just came from Movistar.  If we buy $50 cord in minutes today they will multiple that by 5 for free.  I have no idea how many minutes that even gets me but it sure sounds like a bunch.  I’m on way down to the store to jump on this deal faster than a fat kid on a Smartie.

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