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Another Publication with International Living

We recently had another article published with International Living and are excited to share it with you!  Click anywhere on the image or text below to see what it’s all about.

Another Publication with International Living

You can learn more about Nicaragua and other countries in International Living’s daily postcard e-letter. Sign up for free daily postcards and they’ll send you a FREE REPORT- Start a New Life on the Beach in Nicaragua.

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.

Cinco Aniversario

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Elisha and I were married on Playa Ocotal in Costa Rica on January 8th, which just happens to be five years ago, so it was time to celebrate! We decided to celebrate our anniversary the same way we would in Canada, with a great meal and a nice bottle of wine.

Having lived in Calgary for 10 years we had a list of favourite places we liked to go, many of which were through recommendations from friends.  In Nicaragua it happens to be a bit of a different story. First of all, we have no dining out experience and secondly, we have only one local friend to rely on for recommendations. Although Carlos from Hostel El Pulpo is a wealth of knowledge, romantic dinners out aren’t really his specialty, so onto Trip Advisor I went. Meson Real (a Spanish influenced tapas bar) turned up as the number one rated restaurant in Leon and appeared to be “right up our alley” so the plan was agreed upon – Meson Real it was!

Maybe I have a little Nica blood in me because I didn’t even realize our travel plans were a little odd until Elisha pointed out the fact that this was the first time that we had ever hitch-hiked to a date. Wearing a button up shirt for the first time since being here is what I was noticing, much more so than our mode of transportation. Thankfully a nice Nica/Russian guy with his daughter and grandson picked us up and dropped us off within a few blocks of the restaurant.

This was our first time in Leon at night and it turned out to be just as lively at night as it is during the day. There were many more food stands around and people were making their way to social commitments instead of work. It being Sunday evening all of the churches were in full swing. On one street Elisha and I thought a band was playing live music at a club until we noticed all the lights on. When we peaked in the window it ended up being evangelical church rocking it out.

We made our way to Meson Real and to our surprise it is only one block away from the house we are moving to later this week and unfortunately to our disappointment it was closed. I guess our next purchase should be a cell phone so that we can avoid this in the future. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get a car after that? But lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. With no way to check for the next best ranked restaurant on Trip Advisor we chose a place that is right beside our future home. After taking a quick look at the menu we decided that Mediterraneo-Terraza would be just fine.

Once seated I immediately flipped to the wine list to see what kind of night we were going to have. If you’ve been to Nicaragua you will know that 90% of the wines here come from Chile or Argentina. I have found that these wines range in category from very drinkable to gasoline. Nicas don’t have a big wine culture, so it seems like they will import whatever is the best price which makes the gasoline easiest to find. To my delight there was a nice Italian Valpolicella on the menu for $417 cordobas ($18.29 USD). That made the next decision to order up a couple of steaks more than natural.

We enjoyed a great dinner with two appies, two steaks with all the fixings, a very nice bottle of wine and dessert for a whopping $1069 cordobas ($46.89 USD). This by far has been our most expensive dinner in Nica.  No complaints here though – the food, the wine and more importantly the company were excellent.

After dinner we walked hand in hand around some of parks and huge Catholic churches. Due to the fact that it was Sunday night we were unable to find any live music. We did, however find out that Barbaro doesn’t slow down on a Sunday though. This pub we’d previously visited was full and “just a rocking'” to a DJ playing crazy Spanish music videos.

We stayed for one drink and then hopped in a cab and headed back to our quiet little town of Poneloya. On the way home we decided to have a date night like this monthly. Maybe we can go to Meson Real next.

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