Saturday, June 29, 2013

Who left the school gate open?

Horse leaving the classroom
If you have been following our Facebook page you will know that we have taken pictures of horses that we have found around town.  There is at least one if not two herds of these horses that roam around town. You will find them almost anywhere and anytime. From what I understand, it is illegal for these horses to be roaming free in this manner and the owners (if they can be identified) can be fined and made to tie the horse up on their property or to send them to the family farm.

Today, a friend and I were walking past the public school and were admiring a dog that had been tied up in the yard. Suddenly, my companion started laughing and said that the horses were in one of the classrooms - "Too bad I don't have my camera", she said.

Ahh, but I had mine..... can you count how many are inside?

When they knew they had been busted they made a quick getaway!

So, all in all, there were 5 horses that had been holed up in the classroom. Fortunately, they didn't leave any of the students "presents" to find on Monday morning. Later in the afternoon this same herd were happily chomping the grass on someone's  front lawn waiting to be able to sneak back into the schoolyard for the night.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Early Retirement and collecting CPP

There are many milestones in a persons life - getting your drivers license, finishing school, getting your first job, buying your first car - and the list goes on. Eventually, as you get older, the list changes - you start looking forward to retirement and benefiting from that pension that you have paid into for so many years.

Since we finished work in February 2012 we have been counting down the months, and then days, until Pat hit one of those milestones - qualifying to start collecting his CPP (Canada Pension Plan). This is a Pension Plan that Canadian workers pay into throughout their employment (through an employer or self employed). Generally speaking, you would start collecting this pension when you turn 65 years of age. However, there is a provision for you to start collecting your CPP at age 60 - the only catch is that the pension is paid out at a lower rate.

When we were calculating how we could retire early we decided that Pat would start collecting his CPP early and so 6 months before his 60th birthday we applied for this benefit. We mailed in the application while we were still in León and hoped that the package would make it's way to Canada and then on to Service Canada. It is possible to file the application electronically, however you are still required to print, sign and mail in a copy of your signature. We figured we might as well send in the whole application together.

After not hearing from Service Canada for some months we were beginning to wonder if Pat's application had been received, and then one day we received notification that his application had been approved. The letter indicated that the final monthly payment would be calculated the first month after the month that he turned 60 and that we would be notified of how much the payments will be. With direct deposit we have no worries about not receiving the payment.

Are you looking for information about collecting your CPP? Here is the link to the Service Canada website: CPP Info

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pancho, our chocoyo, getting ready for bed.

We've had a number of people express how "intelligent" they think Pancho is. Well, of course, we think he's pretty smart too - but we might be a bit biased. Tonight, we set out to capture Pancho's bedtime routine. He always follows the same pattern. He jumps down from his daytime cage, walks across the floor to the bookcase where his "nighty-night" cage is, climbs the towel up to the cage and then slips under the covers and climbs onto his perch - all tucked in for the night.

Tonight should have been no exception - however, it turns out that our little bird is a little camera shy and he didn't like the "paparazzi" following him. Take a look at what happened earlier in the taping of this movie:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Buying meat in Pearl Lagoon - Part 2

Do you like to eat pork? We do - it was always on the table at least once a week when we lived in Halifax. But to be honest with you, we haven't bought it since we left Canada. I guess I've been worried about how fresh it is and whether or not it was safe to eat. You can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that right down the street from us we can buy freshly butchered pork every Thursday. I'm shocked to think that we have been living here for 4 months and we are only just finding this out!

So Ron, the owner of a small pulperia, brings a pig in from the farm every week and butchers it early on Thursday morning. By the time I showed up at the shop (7:30 a.m.) all the messy part of butchering was done with and Ron was busy cutting up different cuts of meat. I was able to get 2 lbs of the freshest pork I've ever had. I opted for some of the loin (or steak as they call it) which they sell for only 40 cordobas  ($1.70 CDN) a pound. All of the rest of the meat is sold for 35 cordobas ($1.49 CDN) a pound.

If you get there early enough you can have your choice of cut - roast, ribs, loin etc. Once Ron is finished butchering the meat he makes Chicharrón from the skin - a favorite Nicaraguan treat. The skin is chopped and deep fried and then sprinkled with salt. It is sold for 80 cordobas ($3.40 CDN) a pound.

Where can you find Ron's shop? From the basketball court 1 block north (across from the Seventh Day Adventist Church). Be sure to get there early because they sell out fast!

Ron butchering the fresh pork

Fresh pork - what cut do you want?

Weighing the fresh pork
Ron's shop where you can buy pork on Thursday's

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Have you missed us on Facebook?

Did you know that we set up a Facebook page for Crazy Parents in Nicaragua? If you haven't been stopping by the page then you have missed out on daily pictures that we have posted. Here are some you may like:

Why don't you visit us today? - and don't forget to like us! Crazy Parents in Nicaragua Facebook

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is there internet in Pearl Lagoon?

Internet stick
Many people today like to stay connected through the internet even when they are on vacation. We've had a number of questions as to whether or not we have internet available here in Pearl Lagoon and if we do - how reliable is it, how fast, how much does it cost etc.?

We are happy to report that YES internet is available. While on vacation many folks like the handy, portable modem that is offered through Claro. It's small and you can easily add more time (recarga) through your local pulperia - no standing in long lines at the Claro office. You have to buy the modem for about $25.00 and it comes with 7 days worth of connectivity. We find that the modem is reliable here in Pearl Lagoon because even when the power goes out you still are able to connect to the internet (at least as long as your battery on your computer lasts). You can find the information about Claro Internet Móvil listed here: prepago (just click on the prepago tab).

Taylor's Cyber
For those of you that left your computer at home you can still be connected with your loved ones by using one of our two Cybers.

Taylor's Cyber is located on Front street just 30 meters north of the Municipal Dock. They have 8 terminals available to use and the cost is only 10 cordobas for a 1/2 hour.  At Taylor's Cyber you can also make international phone calls, scan documents, photocopy and get your computer fixed if needed. For those of you that are looking for a better option than the Claro modem, Taylor's Cyber can set you up in your house with unlimited internet by use of a canopy - just talk with Rodney and he will make arrangements for the installation. You can contact Rodney by calling: (505) 8859-5432 or email:

The second cyber in Pearl Lagoon is located on the Main Street (the street the bus comes into town on) just beside M&T Moto Rental. They have 6 terminals and also charge 10 cordobas per 1/2 hour. They provide a number of other services too such as photocopying, scanning documents, printing and burning CD's - see their price list below.

Cyber JN&DKERR.COM price list

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Awww, the pleasure of a HOT shower!

Lorenzetti Electric Shower
You don't know how wonderful it is to feel the warm spray from a shower head until you have spent months of mornings under a cold water stream! When we lived in León we honestly didn't mind not having hot water in the shower - the water never seemed to be too cold. However, when we moved to Pearl Lagoon that opinion changed - the water is really cold at 6 am.

On our first trip to Nicaragua we had stayed at a bed and breakfast in Granada called Casa Silas. It was here that we were introduced to what is affectionately called a suicide shower (not by the manufacturer of course). The water is heated up as it runs through the electric shower head. We were warned not to change the settings while the shower was running - you could get a "shock". There are three settings - cold, lukewarm and hot. After experiencing a "cold spell" in Pearl Lagoon we decided that we wanted the luxury of hot water showers in the morning - so the search was on for a suicide shower head!

We were told that the Lorenzetti brand was the best and that it could easily be purchased in El Rama or Managua. So, on our last trip to Managua we visited a local Ferreteria (hardware store) and found one in stock. Once we got home to Pearl Lagoon we wasted no time in getting it installed. Pat is happy to report that no longer are there shrieks coming from the bathroom at 6 am - unless of course some bug decides to make an entrance!

Our installed Lorenzetti Shower Head

Monday, June 3, 2013

Buying meat in Pearl Lagoon

Preparing to weigh the meat
Our habits haven't changed since we have moved to Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua - we like to have some meat with our meals. There is no butcher, meat market or supermarket where you can buy fresh, refrigerated meat - but that doesn't mean that fresh meat isn't available.

Quite frequently one of the residents with butcher a cow. When this happens the news spreads fairly quickly. Sometimes they hire our local "announcer" to go through the town letting people know that "a fresh, young cow was slaughtered today and you can get some meat at so-and-so's house". On other occasions the meat is put into a wheelbarrow and wheeled around the various barrios for people to buy - just like what you see in the picture. The vendors of the meat bring along a hand-held scale and measure out the requested amount of meat. The turtle meat pictured was sold for 20 cordobas or less than $1 per lb. The meat is usually sold out quite quickly - before the heat of the day has a chance to spoil it.

Fresh Turtle meat for sale

Frozen ground meat (ground beef) is trucked into town about once a week. There are quite a few little shops that sell it - usually for 35 cordobas (less than $1.50 CDN) per package of 1 lb. The shops can also buy frozen Tip Top chicken in the same way. A package of chicken breast sells for 32 cordobas (approx. $1.35 CDN). A word of caution: most of these little shops do not have a generator. Therefore, when there is a long power outage some of the meat may spoil. We have been unfortunate as to buy spoiled ground meat - happily, the shop owner did replace the rotten meat.

Frozen ground beef (ground meat as they call it here)