Monday, February 25, 2013

Moving House - León to Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua

moving house
Before our visit to Pearl Lagoon in January we started to consider whether we wanted to try living in a different part of Nicaragua. After our trip to Pearl Lagoon our decision was made up - we were moving! Our lease for our house in León was up at the end of February and so the timing was perfect.

Finding a "mover" in Nicaragua isn't as easy as it is back in Halifax. In Halifax all we had to do was open the yellow pages to find a mover or reserve a truck with U-Hall and do it ourselves; but how do you find a mover in Nicaragua? We have found out that finding someone to help you with your move here is more about who you know and who they know rather than finding them on the internet or the "yellow pages". In our case, the father of a young friend of ours is in the business of buying and selling vehicles. He happened to have a truck that could be used for our move and he was willing to make the drive with us - problem solved. However, about a week before we were due to leave the engine on the truck blew - it looked like our planned move would be delayed by a week in order for the truck to be fixed. Fortunately for us, he was able to locate another truck and two drivers to move us to Pearl Lagoon.
loading the truck

As arranged, the truck arrived early on Thursday evening and we had it loaded in no time. Not being professional movers they didn't have any blankets to protect our furniture, and we of course didn't have any either. Everything fit onto the truck and the mattress was put down at the back of the truck for us to lay on as we traveled through the night under the stars. That sounds romantic doesn't it?..... well, it was for a while. We enjoyed the beautiful display of stars and we even saw a shooting star. However, as we traveled through the mountains a definite chill filled the air -in time it became down right cold! We were glad that there wasn't a cloud in the sky and there was no rain!

We made it to El Rama by 4:30 am and were soon on the final stretch - the road to Pearl Lagoon. Originally, we had figured that since the bus takes 5 hours from El Rama to Pearl Lagoon that we would be able to make it in less time - maybe 4 hours. Boy were we wrong! Due to the condition of the road our driver took 6 1/2 LONG hours on one of the bumpiest roads we've ever traveled. There didn't seem to be any signs along the road to tell us where to turn for Pearl Lagoon and we did lose our way once so we were so happy when we saw could smell the ocean - we knew we were getting close.

It was a relief to finally arrive at our destination and to unload the truck. Our poor furniture had taken a beating - many scratches but nothing was broken. If we were to make the trip again we would know to find some cheap, protective blankets for our furniture.
Pancho made the trip with us in the back of the truck

our view as we lay on the matress

the last leg of our journey - the road to Pearl Lagoon
How much did it cost for us to move from León to Pearl Lagoon with two drivers, truck and gas? Only $485.00 CDN!

our house in Pearl Lagoon

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cafetin Don Jacks - León, Nicaragua

Cafetin Don Jacks

A little known gem of a restaurant in León is a place called Cafetin Don Jacks. A friend recommended this place to us as having the best burgers in town - and he was right! You will come for the burgers but you will also enjoy all the other items he has on his menu. Do you like curry made with fresh coconut milk? Then this is the place to come.

delicious burger at Don Jacks

As an expat himself, Jack knows that from time to time you will crave a taste from home - or at least foods you used to eat in your home country. He told us that if there was anything we wanted and it wasn't on the menu to just let him know and he would make it for us - all he needed was a days notice. So, taking him at his word and knowing that he makes an excellent curry, I asked him if he could make Butter Chicken for us and some friends. He needed a couple of days to check on ingredients and to come up with a menu but boy, did he come through for us!

Our group arranged to meet at the restaurant at 6 pm and you could smell the yummy butter chicken all the way up the street - long before we got to the restaurant. For a set price, Jack served us family style the following: an Asian style coleslaw, dal, samosas, Indian rice, Butter Chicken, green salad with dressing and naan bread. For a little extra we could have a piece of coconut ice cream cake. Everything was fantastic.

We loved the whole meal and will always remember it as one of the BEST meals we have had so far in Nicaragua.

If you want to enjoy a great meal at Cafetin Don Jacks, here is how you get there: it is located opposite Clinica Mercedes -  1 1/2 blocks east of La Union grocery store.

Indian rice - Cafetin Don Jacks

Butter Chicken served family style - Cafetin Don Jacks

Samosas with a cucumber raita - Cafetin Don Jacks

fresh Coconut ice cream cake - Cafetin Don Jacks
Once you have finished your delicious meal stay a while and enjoy a relaxing game of pool.
pool table - Cafetin Don Jacks

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do you need your shoes repaired?

Since we've moved to Nicaragua, we have literally put miles on our feet! We walk everywhere. This has definitely been a good change from our stationery life in Canada. Physically we are more fit. The only down side has been that our shoes have been wearing out.

 In Canada, we would have thrown our old shoes out, but here in León that would be viewed as being very wasteful. There is a solution! Everywhere - or at least just about every street - you will see a sign that reads "Se reparan zapatos". Many of these "shoe repairs" are completed in the family home. They will take shoes that look like this

shoes before being repaired

and transform them to look like this...

shoes after being repaired
These shoes had a new sole sewn on as well as a new insole. Although they aren't pretty they are very comfy and will stand up to the rugged roads we walk on. How much did this cost? Only C$150 - or $6.20 CDN - far less than buying a brand new pair. All they need is a little polish and they are almost as good as new!

So the next time you notice that your shoes are showing some wear and tear, don't throw them out - get them repaired. Not only will you receive them back in excellent condition you will also be helping your neighbor provide for his family!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Yum - Avocado Season

I don't know about you, but I love avocados! I loved them even when we lived in Canada and they had to be transported long distances and they arrived as hard as rocks. I would love to make fresh guacamole when they ripened. Now that we live in Nicaragua I love avocados even more. They are coming back into season and are slowly becoming more and more available. The prices are still on the high side, but they will come down. The large avocado pictured below cost 30 cordobas - which is pretty high. However, it was absolutely delicious to eat.  We bought it from a street vendor and she had two sizes - the large ones pictured below and some slightly smaller for only 15 cords.

Fresh avocado - Leon, Nicaragua

We have discovered that avocados are for much more than guacamole. For instance, they make an attractive and tasty decoration to a meal. Also, as pictured below you can easily add avocado slices into your wrap. We bought some fresh tortillas from our "tortilla lady" on the corner, added some refried beans, fresh cheese (a local cheese called cuajada is delicious) and a couple slices of avocado and we had a quick and delicious lunch.

Tortilla with refried beans, cheese and avocado

Check out Avocado Central  for more avocado recipe ideas.

Friday, February 1, 2013

We're not quite farmers but getting close!

Papaya - Leon, Nicaragua
Last April we got the great idea that maybe we could grow some of our own fruits and vegetables. With that thought in mind we bought a cheap shovel and started to breakup a small area of ground in our front yard. The dirt didn't seem to be very "rich" looking - all dry and dusty - so we started to throw in vegetable peelings etc. to "compost" and enrich the soil.

After a short period of time we realized that there were some seedlings growing and decided to baby them along to see what was sprouting. Lo and behold we found out that there were some tomatoes, peppers, cilantro,  papayas and limes growing. The tomatoes and peppers really didn't amount to much so we ended up digging the plants in and concentrating on the other seedlings.

After consulting with some friends we realized that there were far too many papayas and limes for the space they were growing in so we chose the strongest looking plants and kept one of each, gave some away and pulled the rest. We relocated the lime tree to the center of the garden where it is continuing to grow. We don't expect it to produce for a long time.

more blossoms at the top of the tree
The Papaya tree grows rapidly and produces within months. So, here we are in February and we have already reaped some fruit from the tree and there is a lot more fruit that will be ready in the next little while. I must admit that I was disappointed that we were growing a Papaya tree because it really isn't my favorite fruit. However, the one we just ate was quite sweet and we hope all the rest will be too.

 At the base of the tree the cilantro (a broad leaf Nicaraguan variety) is multiplying like crazy. It is a nice addition to some fresh salsa or in a marinade. It's also delicious in Gallo Pinto a favorite Nicaraguan dish.

Papayas that will ripen in the weeks to come

Our first papaya from our tree