Friday, May 31, 2013

A rescue in the Lagoon!

Municipal Wharf - Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua
This morning started out like a typical end of the month with a trip into Bluefields to grab some cash, pay our rent and pick up some stuff from the Snider Mini Mart.  We were grateful to see that it was a clear day with no rain on the horizon - it should be smooth sailing!

Everything went according to plan - we had reserved a spot on the 6:30 a.m. panga and since everyone arrived on time we were off to Bluefields without delay. Our Captain cruised at a nice speed all the way to town so it was possible to enjoy the scenery.

We were finished with our errands about 11:30 a.m. There was a panga that was leaving right away and was heading past Pearl Lagoon so we didn't have to wait 3 hours for the next one. We anticipated that we should be home by 1:00 p.m. - just in time for lunch. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out that way. About 40 minutes into the ride the panga came to a slow stop. Surprisingly, nobody got upset or asked what was going on, the Captain didn't say anything to the passengers - we all just looked at him and each other trying to figure out why he had stopped in the middle of nowhere. Finally, we all realized that he had run out of gas...... Imagine - a dead boat filled with 20 passengers in crocodile infested waters.... Ok, I didn't actually see any crocodiles in the water but I hear they are in the waterways - I didn't dare dabble my fingers... With the sun beating down on our heads we were glad to have our trusty umbrellas. Our Captain made a quick call - presumably to his boss - to inform him that we were stranded somewhere before Kukra Hill - Could someone please bring us some gas??? Well, we don't know what he was told, but he took out the oar and started paddling so we figured there wasn't any help nearby.

After some time we heard the sound of a boat engine and sure enough there was a boat coming to our rescue. But, wait a minute - why did it pass us by? Didn't they wonder why a boat, filled to the brim with passengers, was just sitting there? With a huge, collective sigh of relief we watched as the boat turned around and asked the Captain what was the problem. Generously he poured out about a gallon of gas from his tank and gave it to our Captain. In no time at all we were back on our way. We were surprised to find out that we had only been about 3 minutes short of the gas station in Kukra Hill! It took about 15 minutes to have the gas tanks filled and to our delight we did finally make it home - a little later than expected, but safe and sound!

 Today reminded us that when you are traveling in Nicaragua you should always expect the unexpected!

Filling the tanks in Kukra Hill

Monday, May 27, 2013

The versatile flour tortilla

Flour tortilla
Striving to keep to a budget can be challenging no matter where you live. However, we have found that one way you can usually save money is by preparing your food at home. Last year, when we were living in León, there was a lady close by our house who made tortillas at a price you can't beat even if you made them yourself - they were only 1 cordoba each. Now that we are living in Pearl Lagoon we have found very few ladies who make tortillas for a living. One time there was a little girl who came by the house selling tortillas for 5 cordobas each - a crazy price compared to León - certainly not a bargain!  Since we love eating tortillas we have started to make our own. We came across a very basic, easy to make flour tortilla that we have used in a variety of ways - for tacos, enchiladas, tortilla with refried beans, cheese, onion and tomato, and for flat-bread style pizza. The dough is very forgiving when you roll it out and although the tortillas usually aren't very circular they always taste great.

Here is the recipe we use:

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4-6 tbsp oil  (we use coconut oil)
1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the oil and water to the dry ingredients and mix well. Roll out on a floured surface and make a log shape. Cut off about 1 inch of dough and form into a circle. Roll out on floured surface. Cook in a non-stick pan over medium heat about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Remove and keep warm. Yield is approx. 18 tortillas.

Roll out the tortillas on floured surface

Cook in non-stick fry pan about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes each side

Use in your favorite recipe:

Tortillas, refried beans, cheese, onion and tomato

Chicken Enchiladas made with homemade tortillas

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Map of Pearl Lagoon Tourist Services & Attractions

Many have wondered how the village of Pearl Lagoon is laid out. This map gives a fairly good idea with the main roads marked in light green, sidewalks are noted in orange and footpaths are in dark green. The main roads are wide enough for cars to travel along but may not be paved. You will find homes along all roads, sidewalks and footpaths. You will also find more houses tucked in behind the ones that are directly along the pathways sometimes 2 or 3 deep. Many little shops for groceries and clothing are found all throughout the village - usually in the front part of peoples homes and are not noted on the map. There is no main grocery store - not even a little Palí - so you now you are supporting the families of Pearl Lagoon when you go shopping.

Photo of a map located in the Queen Lobster Restaurant - Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Las Galerías Mall - Managua, Nicaragua

When we were in Managua earlier this month we had a few hours to kill until the 9 pm bus to El Rama. We decided that we were in need of a few things and rather than visit the Metrocentro Mall we thought we would check out another shopping center in Managua that we had heard about - Las Galerías Mall.

Las Galerías is a modern, two-level shopping center with almost every store imaginable - or at least so it seemed to those of us who haven't seen a mall in months. There is also a nice selection of restaurants besides the fast food options found in the food court. Outside of the mall but on the same property is a very large La Colonia grocery store which was a big hit with us since we don't even have a small Palí in Pearl Lagoon.

View from the upper level - Las Galerías Mall

Second level kiosk - Las Galerías Mall
Scattered throughout the Mall were a number of sitting areas where you can relax and read a book while you are waiting for your companions to finish shopping or to just sit and chat with some friends.

Some favorites are in the food court - Las Galerías Mall - Managua

TVs and wifi is available in the food court - Las Galerías Mall, Managua

One of the hits with us was a large kitchenware store called Alke Tiendas - it has everything you could ever want for your kitchen and excellent quality too!

Alke Tiendas

Las Galerías Mall - Managua Nicaragua

Do you have the kids with you? Well there is plenty of distraction for them too including this train that is driven around the lower level.

The bigger kids can enjoy the Cafe Flor de Caña where you can have a virtual tour from your seat.

The most enjoyable part of the day was spending a couple of hours in the modern cinemas watching a movie. The theatre was virtually empty with comfy chairs and cool temperatures and the show was shown in English. You will find the Cinemas on the upper level near all the restaurants (it suggests dinner and a movie for a nice evening out).

We ended our day at Las Galerías Mall with dinner at Buffalo Wings Restaurant with some yummy hand cut chicken fingers with sauce and fries - oh, and of course a Toña to wash it down.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Living in a community where there is no vet.

Pancho's injured head
Almost all my life I've had pets. I can think of only a few times when there wasn't some cat or dog to step over and to take care of.  When we moved to Nicaragua we didn't have a pet to care for until Pancho came into our lives - keeping birds was a totally foreign idea to me. Who knew that birds had such personalities! He has quite grown on us and we are trying to take care of him the best we can.

It was very upsetting for us to come home and find out that he had experienced some kind of accident - he has lost part of his scalp along with the feathers. It is a total mystery how this came about and he isn't able to tell us what happened. If we were back in Canada, or even still living in León we would have rushed him to the vet to be taken care of - or at least to be advised what we should do for him. However, here in Pearl Lagoon, there are no vets to check him out. Instead, we have had to rely on advice from friends who have had experience in looking after all kinds of different situations with animals. Most people here "doctor" their own animals to the best of their ability.

A local dog with what looks like mange
In Pearl Lagoon you will notice many dogs, cats, horses as well as other livestock roaming around the streets. It is very obvious which ones are well cared for as well as those that aren't. Many animals are left to fend for themselves in the food department and so you see many undernourished animals. Also, many of the dogs down by the waterfront seem to have mange and it's best not to pet them. We've been told that there are some vets that visit Pearl Lagoon about once a year to care for the animals and to give shots etc. - obviously not often enough for this community. We have seen one dog that some time in the past broke it's leg and the bone was never set. It's uncomfortable to watch it walk around with the bone wobbling about in the skin. However, the pain seems to be long gone and the dog trots along unconcerned.

Having a pet in Pearl Lagoon can be a real challenge.  However, it is still as enjoyable as when we lived in Canada. As for Pancho and his "bald" head - we continue to watch him closely. He seems to have recovered from whatever happened to him, although we doubt he will ever have feathers on his head again.

Our neighbours dogs that are well looked after

Puppy - Pearl Lagoon

Pig - Pearl Lagoon

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New wiring and graded roads for Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua

The past few weeks have been a challenge living here in Pearl Lagoon. There have been very frequent power and water outages. It has been hard to get even some of the most basic things done - especially laundry. Power and water outages seem to go hand in hand - if the lights go out you know that the water will go out shortly afterwards. The laundry could be done in the pila but I've never learned to do laundry by hand and so we wait for the power and water to come back on. Sometimes it takes a whole day just for one load to go through the whole cycle....

The upside of the situation is that they are in the process of updating all the electrical wires and when they are finished we are supposed to have better service with less outages.

Men working on the electrical wiring - Pearl Lagoon

Completed installation of the meters - Pearl Lagoon

Road maintenance is also in progress right now with large graders working on the waterfront road down by the Police Station towards the cemetery. We aren't sure at this point whether or not they are planning on paving or stoning the road but hope that the finished project is an improvement from the previous dirt road.

Graders on Front Street near the Police Station - Pearl Lagoon

Roadworks on Front Street - Pearl Lagoon

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A trip to the Health Clinic in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua

Well, it finally happened. After a year of life here in Nicaragua one of us had to take a trip to see the doctor. Pat developed a "rash" that wouldn't go away and after suffering with it for a few weeks he finally decided to see a doctor. There are no private facilities to see a doctor here in Pearl Lagoon - only what is known as "The Clinic". The Clinic is a large green building that offers general medical care as well as overnight and simple emergency services. If you have a "major" problem you are sent to Bluefields or another facility that has the ability to assist you with your problem.

Rash that sent Pat to the doctors

Front entrance to the Clinic

Pat arrived at the Clinic about 3 pm and signed in with a lady who we assume was the "receptionist". She asked a few questions (in English) but seemed to be disinterested - we assume she might have been on a break. A short while later the nurse arrived and asked some more questions about the rash, took down particulars about age, where he lives and examined the "rash" (the nurse only spoke Spanish).

Inside the "Clinic"
In no time at all the Nurse was back followed by an English speaking Doctor. They brought along a couple of tubes of cream, some anti-histamine pills as well as a vial of anti-histamine that they administered intravenously. Pat was told to wait for 10 minutes to make sure that he didn't have a reaction to the medicine and then he was sent on his way. How much did this trip to the doctor cost??? Absolutely nothing - not even for the medicine.