I have been in Nicaragua for 1 week now and starting to settle into a rhythm.  One of the things I really like about living down here is we have a caretaker who takes care of cleaning the house and doing our laundry, it is really nice not having to do that myself and it also gives me a lot more free time.  While a great deal of this is spent on the beach or in our pool I am also trying to master cooking in Nicaragua.  The first couple of times we came down everything I made turned out horrible.  Having never used a gas stove and working with fruits and vegetables I had never seen before made for some “memorable” dinners but not in a good way.  Also trying to make a lot of the same things I did in the states was frustrating because of the lack of available ingredients, does anyone know where to get goat cheese???  I have now made friends with the stove and some online research and experimentation with local ingredients, along with advice from our caretaker’s wife have lead to some fairly good meals.  Now instead of dreading having to cook and how it is going to turn out I am actually enjoying my time in the kitchen.  I still haven’t given up on adapting some of my favorite recipes from the states to Nica friendly versions but the new stuff I am coming up with is really good too.  Samuel, the caretaker’s 6 year old son told me I am no longer a bad cook so I think I am headed in the right direction.

Mike and Mark’s great central american adventure

Well the Honda is packed and the guys are ready to go but tragedy struck.  At around 8:00 pm the night before they are leaving Mark’s passport is missing, he is sure he put it in the glove box but it is no longer in there.  We take everything out, go thru it one piece at the time but no passport.  It’s not in the glove box, the center console, the side door console or under the seat, it is time to panic.  Mark is sure he put it in the glove box so one last check with a flashlight and we can see it solidly wedged behind the glove box and about 3 inches out of reach.  After several minutes that seemed like hours Mike was able to get his hand behind the glove box from the bottom and pull it out.  Yea!! the trip is back on schedule.

The next morning the guys set out on the two-day drive to the first border crossing.  They arrive at the Mexican border on Sunday morning, yes we have read to try to hit them on week days but Macy’s (the dog) paperwork didn’t arrive soon enough to make that happen.  Mike thought they would still be able to cross but it would just be slower.  This was not the case.  They got across the border but one of the checkpoints they had to go thru to get the paperwork for the vehicle was closed, not slow but completely closed.  So it is back across the border to spend the day in lovely Brownsville TX and try again the next day which is a Monday.

It turns out that waiting until Monday turned out to be a godsend.  Mike & Mark met a couple traveling all the way to South America with a dog who have already done this several times and speak fluent Spanish and are nice enough to let the guys follow along.  Mike has documented their adventure at the following link http://www.nicaliving.com/node/20226.

We are all here in Nicaragua now and settling into life in Central America.  No internet at the house yet because you have to have residency to sign a contract and Claro requires a contract for internet.

Packed and ready to go!!!

ImageImageIt took 3 days to load the SUV but it is now ready to go.  We had to leave some room for Macy, our dog, but every other square inch is full.  I have made detailed lists and taken pictures of everything so I hope Mike won’t have to unload the vehicle at every border crossing.  Has anyone out there had any experience with this?  Any advice is appreciated.

The only thing we are waiting on now is the paperwork from the USDA for Macy, hopefully it will arrive today and we can leave tomorrow morning.  Mike & his friend Mark headed south and me to North Carolina to visit family for a few weeks.  They hope to make it down in about 8 days if everything goes as planned so I am allowing two weeks because I’m sure things won’t go as planned :).

Kodak

This entry really has nothing to do with Nicaragua, living on the beach or moving but I wanted to write it anyway.  Kodak, Mike’s flat coated retriever,  passed away yesterday morning.  We had taken her to the vet on Friday because she wasn’t eating.  The doctor found a 2 1/2 lb. tumor on her spleen that had ruptured and she was bleeding internally.  He said he could remove it and she had about a 50% chance of surviving the surgery and about a 75% chance that the tumor would be malignant.  We immediately agreed to the surgery and hoped for the best.  Kodak spent Friday & Saturday in the animal hospital and was able to come home Sunday for Mike’s birthday but she absolutely refused to eat anything no matter what we tried to bribe her with, not even peanut butter.  Monday we took her back to the hospital for the day and they put her on an IV to give her fluids but explained to us if she didn’t start eating now we would have to discuss “other options”.  That night at home at about 2:30 in the morning she made a strange barking noise & woke up Mike.  I think she wanted to let us know it was time for her to go and we were able to be with her as she passed.  I know a lot of people would say, “oh, I would never spend thousands of dollars to try to save a dog, that is just nuts” and I used to be one of those people.  Until you are in that situation  and the only thing standing between your dog possibly living or definitely dying is a piece of plastic you really don’t know.  Even though she didn’t make it I know we did everything possible to give her the chance and we got to spend a few more days with her.  This is the first time I have ever been through this and I have to tell you, I had no idea how much she had worked her way into my heart and how much I miss her.  It is amazing how attached we can get to our pets and how attached they can get to each other.  Our Rotti, Macy laid on the couch last night making these really sad chirping noises and wouldn’t come in the bedroom with us.  I swear I think she was crying and waiting on Kodak to come home.  She will now be making the journey to Nicaragua without her buddy but there are two dogs at our house that belong to our caretaker so hopefully she will be able to make some new friends, even if she doesn’t bark spanish.