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Photo Journalism Friday: Dog Days of Summer

This photo I shot today in Laguna de Apoyo couldn’t be more perfect for Photo Journalism Friday.  It’s my first day back in Nicaragua – after spending two months in Canada – and it just so happens to be the last day of summer in North America.

Signed,
Elisha in Nica

dog days
noun

1. the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11.

2.  a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.

We’re Moving to San Juan Del Sur!

Since Elisha and I arrived in Nicaragua 8 months ago we’ve managed to live in 5 different towns.  Our Nicaraguan expat adventure began in Poneloya and from there we moved to Leon. The next city we called home was Granada and then we were off to the spend some time at Apoyo Lodge in Laguna de Apoyo.  And finally here I am in San Juan del Sur searching for yet another rental.

A couple of months in each location has allowed us the time needed to see past the tourist scene while figuring out the true flavour of each town. That being said 2 months (or less) in a each place was not nearly enough time for any one place to feel like home.  Eventually we both want to settle down in one place, but for now we’re looking forward to spending some time in Nicaragua’s tourist playground.

– A shot of the bay of San Juan del Sur taken on my morning run

The fact that San Juan del Sur is a tourist hot spot means that there are lots of places to stay, but unfortunately there are few options that actually meet our needs. Most monthly rentals here are vacation homes with rates starting at $100 plus per night or Nica style homes that are quite “rustic” and somewhat undesirable.

With Elisha back in Canada visiting family for a month I’m left to house hunt in San Juan del Sur all on my own. Lucky for me our friends Jon and Quinn have been living in San Juan del Sur for the past three months.  During that time they’ve come to know the little ins & outs of the town and were more than happy to fill me in on all they’ve learned about Nicaragua’s favourite beach town.

– Our friends Quinn & Jon

When I arrived in town Jon & Quinn introduced me to the family that owns Elizabeth’s Guest House.  They helped me get set me up in a private and comfortable room so I could take some time to find an apartment.

– Elizabeth’s Guest House

Just as they had done with Jon & Quinn, Elizabeth and her family took me in like one of their own.  In fact, it was my first night in town when Elizabeth’s husband Orlando decided to get me drunk on rum.

– Elizabeth’s husband Orlando

The next day I woke up feeling a little rough, but fortunately Elizabeth fed me and nursed me back to health.  I’m sure glad she did because I had some work to do – it was time to begin my San Juan De Sur house hunting mission!

Life in the Laguna: Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

For the past 35 days Apoyo Lodge & Camp in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve has been the place Gord and I have called home. To view some photos of Apoyo Lodge and area click here.

Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve consists of a volcanic crater lake and tropical forest that houses an unfathomable number of flora, fauna, bird, butterfly and animal species.

– Bright & beautiful flowers line the road of the reserve

– Monkey sitings are a common occurrence, but capturing a good photo of one is not

In the lake there are six species of fish that are only found here in the waters of the laguna. To catch a glimpse of what they look like check out our video below.

We moved to Laguan de Apoyo because our friend Shamus needed someone to take care of his place (and his pets) while he spent a month in Canada.  Life here has been very different from life in Granada.  For starters we are responsible for 3 dogs, 2 cats and 1 goat.

– Gord, 2 of 3 dogs and the goat

Since all of our food is purchased in Granada meal planning has to happen in advance, instead of one or two hours before we want to eat. When we lived in city we walked everywhere, but with the lodge sitting on the waters edge at the end of a road – that could be described as a trail – we need to drive everywhere. 

Prior to our move we thought we’d be bored in the laguna and to be honest we were a bit apprehensive about living in seclusion. To our pleasant surprise living at Apoyo Lodge has been much, much better than we could have imagined. 

Our kitchen, living room and dining room are open to the outside. We love going to sleep at night with all the doors and windows in our suite open.  Waking up to a view of the laguna and the calls of howler monkeys in the distance has been as great as it sounds. We’ve both enjoyed swimming in the lake and hanging out in the rancho.

We’ve also enjoyed the wide open spaces, especially when it comes to the kitchen. Experimenting with the wood oven has been great fun. Providing rides to local families and school children on our way out of the park has helped us feel, in some small way, part of the community.

– The oven can reach temperatures upwards of 700 degrees

– Our first attempt at pizza & it couldn’t have tasted better

“Living in the Laguna has been a memorable experience that has taught us a lot.”  

We’ve learned how to de-skunk a dog, what to do when a goat cracks its horn, who to call when the power goes down, how to safely remove ticks and how to care for a young parrot. We’ve also learned to live with many different and interesting critters of the Nicaraguan jungle.

– Green Parrot Snake

– The biggest toad I’ve ever seen

Gord has learned where all the major bumps and obstacles are on the road and I’ve learned that I need to start using my macro lens more often.

– Papaya flower shot with my Pentax K7

When we visited Apoyo Lodge for the first time 5 months ago we never imagined we’d be taking care of the place one day. We are so glad that we were able to help our friends out and so very grateful for this time we’ve had experiencing life in the laguna.

To view more photos that capture Life in the Laguna click here.  

In Nica Now Meets Life Out of the Box

As we turned the corner and approached the big yellow church in Granada we spotted them right away.  

Our first impression was,

“Wow! She’s tall”.

Elisha waved and smiled as I looked for a shady spot to park the Galloper.  We hopped out of the truck and walked over to meet Jon and Quinn, aka “Life Out of the Box”.  We shook hands and introduced ourselves and headed towards the Calzada.

Elisha and I have a list of expat blogs that we currently follow.  One of our favorites is Life Out of the Box.  Life Out of the Box blog was created by a couple from California that moved to Nicaragua three months ago.   They are both 25.  Their names? Jonathan Button and Quinn Elise. 

JB & Quinn currently live in San Juan del Sur and are experiencing many of the same things we did when we arrived in Nica 8 months ago.  They have a great outlook on life and the country that they have chosen to call home. They are immersing themselves into the local culture and cuisine to a greater extent than we have – which is great to see!

Our epic meeting that took place a little over a week ago, came about after we read an article Jon had written and published on their blog. It was titled  Shopping in Rivas, Nicaragua and partly centered around the challenges him and Quinn were having in their search to find locally made products.

It just so happens that Elisha and I are currently living in Laguna de Apoyo – just below the Pueblos Blancos – the place where most of the country’s handicrafts are made.  It only seemed right that we invite them for a visit.  After all, we did have 5 extra bedrooms.

Their response to our invitation was,

“How about tomorrow?”

Mercado Artesanias in Masaya, Nicaragua

It’s quite surreal meeting someone who already knows you and it’s pretty awesome meeting someone you already know well.  There are no surprises when it comes to who they are as people and there’s no pretending to be someone you’re not. Although Quinn and Jon are younger than us we’ve discovered we have very similar core values, goals and outlooks on life. Their blog is an excellent representation of who they are.  Keeping it real is what they do.

We’ve drank a few beers and enjoyed some meals together and shared a lot of laughs. We’ve also shared stories covering some pretty deep topics, including our personal definitions of happiness, which for the time being for Elisha and Quinn seems to be Season 8 of The Bachelorette.

Nice work on the breakfast pizza, Jon. A great looking pie, indeed!

Elisha used the words “friendship on fast forward” to describe this experience. Typically when meeting someone new you know very little about them. In the beginning you tend to see them sporadically.  What’s cool about our friendship with Jon and Quinn is we understood who they were before we met.  And once we did meet we spent a few days living (and working) together.

Hard at work on blogs (while enjoying bevvies)!

Who’s got two feet and a heartbeat? Jon does!

We already know and understand this couple the way you would with friends that you’ve had for years and to be honest with the amount of deep questions Jon posed over the last couple of days we actually feel like we now know ourselves a little better.

It feels good to have close friends in Nicaragua – the place we now call home.

Our Nicaraguan besties

Apoyo Lodge & Camp: Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

To celebrate my 37th birthday Gord and I decided to take a vacation from our vacation.  We packed our bags, hopped on the micro bus and made our way to Laguna de Apoyo.  

Rated #1 on Trip Advisor for Specialty Lodging in the area we opted to stay at Apoyo Lodge & Camp.  As soon as we put our bags down and got settled into our room I knew we made the right choice for accommodations.  Our room was spacious, airy and super clean.  

Sleeping with the windows and doors open all night was the best!  We had our own private balcony that overlooked the laguna.  

We unpacked our things and freshened up a bit before I helped myself to a cold Tona from the fridge and took a seat in one of the hammock chairs. 

Apoyo Lodge’s refreshment station works on an honor system.  Basically you help yourself to whatever beverage you want and then mark it down on your tab.  Whether you’re in the mood for a mojito or champagne they have it all!  Non-alcoholic drinks are also available.

Although we brought some of our own food we opted to have Sasha cook lunch for us. After all, we were on vacation!  The Cabbage Ginger Wraps with Peanut Sauce were slightly spicy, a bit crunchy and extremely tasty!  The Almond Cranberry Feta Salad that came with our wraps offered the ever so good sweet and bitter combo.  This healthy, vegetarian lunch was a welcomed change from the typical Nicaraguan food we’ve been eating for the last two months.  Before we were even finished our meal we knew we wouldn’t be doing any of our own cooking for the remainder of our stay because it would be better left to the professionals.

In the morning we woke up to the sound of the howler monkeys and tropical birds and the best continental breakfast ever.  All you can eat fresh fruit, whole grain toast and coffee, good coffee that is, was included in our nightly room rate. The display you see below was prepared by Shamus.

In addition to the the clean, clear refreshing waters of the laguna amenities at Apoyo Lodge include a floating dock…

…a Hookah Lounge and…

…a private rancho with kitchen for guests to use.  

Apoyo Lodge also has a BBQ, a skate park, inner tubes, paddle boards, a paddle boat and a sailboat and hammocks for guests to use.

The moment we arrived at Apoyo Lodge we felt comfortable and at ease with our hosts Shamus & Sasha.  Over the course of the weekend we enjoyed great conversation and shared lots of laughs. We look forward to hanging out with this fellow Canadian couple again later this month when they’ll be in our neck of the woods. In addition to Shamus & Sasha’s company we also enjoyed the time we spent with Apoyo Lodge’s furry friends Do, Kongo and Maude.

My birthday weekend at Apoyo Lodge was an all-around awesome one.  We can’t wait to go back!  

To view more photos of our weekend at Apoyo Lodge and Laguna de Apoyo click here.

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