How do you know when it is time to go? Parenting in Granada through the revolution.

Granada, Nicaragua, Family, Travel, Kids, Central America, Revolution
A new roadblock appeared early morning, June 8th, 2018 on Calle La Libertad at Puente Papa Q, Granada, Nicaragua.

Information. These days in Nicaragua, it seems like there is either too much information coming at us or not enough of it. Either quantity can make it difficult to make confident family decisions going forward.

As each eventful day and night unfolds here in Nicaragua, social media provides a stream of news, texts, and imagery updating the Nicaraguan revolution in real time. Sometimes that influx of information validates our local experience with civil unrest here on the ground. At other times the news fails to capture the lulls, the normalcy, and the positive social interaction that makes it all feel manageable.

One version of events will impulse me to make new plans to get away. But the other moments remind me of what I love about our lives here and will cause me to hesitate, second-guessing the rush to act.

Between the news that is fed to us by media sources, each other, and our own ordinary experiences, I try to make decisions that make sense. Should we stay or should we go? If we go, then for how long? Will we be able to come back, or will we be stuck on the other side? Will we be stuck here on this side? What kind of time frame do we have to choose?

It used to feel luxurious having weeks to sort through our thinking. We have experienced days when we have felt there were only hours left to choose our next steps. Having said that, we have entered a new period of calm in this past week of Granada that swings the pendulum back towards a wait and see approach.

Here is what we know

Nicaragua is now completing its second month of uprising, showing no signs of dissipation but rather all indications of a successful growing campaign to force a change of leadership and early elections. Each day, the movement grows in its own way with more citizens taking personal risk to pressure the Presidential First Family to leave office.

The ingenious keystone to this campaign was the creation of strategic roadblocks throughout the country that turned the logistical weakness of a minimally diversified road system into a revolutionary strength: bottleneck the few highways that run from the north to the south and the national economy grinds to a slow feed.

When hundreds of additional subsidiary roads and barricades were added into the campaign it was clear that the general population was widely behind the movement and capable of forcing the government’s hand to negotiate.

What does that feel like on the ground?

My twelve year old son and I live in Granada, a sizable tourist town about 45 minutes from the capital of Managua. When news of the uprising in Managua and Masaya began to post around the world, so did the tourist cancellations to visit Granada.

We watched as local streets began to gradually empty of visitors throughout the historic center. Later when Granada began to experience first hand conflict within the city, many nearby businesses that relied almost exclusively on international tourism began to close for safety and for lack of a market.

Granada, Nicaragua, Family, Travel, Kids, Central America, Revolution, Calle La Calzada
Normally Calle La Calzada is the heart of Granada’s eateries and nightlife. When I took this picture, not one business was open. The impact of closed doors on local employment is enormous.

The precariousness of relying upon tourism is felt throughout the city. Noticeably, long lines at financial institutions have appeared every morning as residents scurry to secure access to cash.

Now that the roadblocks have proven to effectively slow the national distribution of goods, the public has often moved quickly to fill their homes with necessary survival items. If there is a sense of panic regarding supplies, shopping can be a very lengthy experience with long lines to enter the store and to finish checking out.

Granada, Nicaragua, Family, Travel, Kids, Central America, Revolution, Shortages
Granadinos wait in long lines around the block for emergency banking and to collect wire transfers from abroad (left). Supermarket checkout lines can take hours as locals shore up their household goods (right).

Our city, like many around us, now has limited access to gasoline, at times dwindling from three petrol stations down to one. Texts and posts fly around the city when a fuel tanker pulls into town and a station gets reloaded.

Granada, Nicaragua, Family, Travel, Kids, Central America, Revolution fuel shortages

The tide appears to be changing

Continue reading “How do you know when it is time to go? Parenting in Granada through the revolution.”

A Travel Advisory for Families Planning to Visit Nicaragua

May 11, 2018, Protests, Granada, Nicaragua

I have been caught quite off guard this month here in Granada. Overnight, a spark has ignited a grassroots, political movement in the streets of Nicaragua that grows more powerful every day. This widespread campaign now gives voice to not only issues of political discontent, but also to the outrage over the violent, political repression that was orchestrated by the State to attempt to quiet and squash it.

I have wanted to write a post for a few weeks now about what is happening in Nicaragua, but it wasn’t clear to me what exactly was occurring and where it was all heading. For perhaps a decade, Nicaragua’s opposition in any form has been largely subdued and hushed by fear. It was wondered by all of us watching these events if demonstrators would continue to protest daily, or perhaps wait for the national elections in three years to quietly change their political leadership at the ballot box.

May 11, 2018, Protests, Granada, Nicaragua 3

It now seems to me that Nicaragua has reached a tipping point in this movement that will only cease when the presidential couple is forced to leave office. Meaning, this is the real deal. I believe that this is full on democratic activism that will see a popular revolution through until its climatic moment when the ‘powers that were’ are compelled to step down by civil pressure, if not by force.

I could not be happier for Nicaragua. For years, Nicaragua has politically become less free and just, which in its own way detracts from the natural beauty of its land and unique way of life. Although the manifestations have created an immediate stagnation in the economy and in the tourism industry, it seems from talking with locals that many are ready to hunker down to take a hit for the team. They now have a sense of their own growing numbers and personal power as a group and feel that they can utilize this momentum to achieve their objectives.

What does this mean for travelers planning a trip to Nicaragua?

Continue reading “A Travel Advisory for Families Planning to Visit Nicaragua”

What are you going to do with all that free time? Getting fit at your neighborhood gym while living in Granada, Nicaragua.

Gravatar Pinterest Granada Family Living Nicaragua 512 x 512

This post is for all those moms and dads out there that have Granada, Nicaragua on their radar for their dream immersion experience living abroad with family. You may have already noticed how popular Granada has become with families with kids from all over Europe, Australia, and North America. Granada has it all: the bilingual international schools, the beautiful housing, the restaurants and supermarkets, the safest streets in Central America and the most gorgeous natural scenery at its doorstep.

But did you know that Granada is exploding with amazing opportunities to get fit? Yep. You might not see this written about in other blogs but the gym craze is on here in Granada and you are going to want to jump in, too. This is your moment! Think about it. Back home, I know that your family is on the go and you’ve got all kinds of stuff you are heading out to every day. It’s not even just work and all the scheduled activities but you are also planning to spend some time abroad and that takes a lot of effort to organize. I remember all of it!

But fast forward to when you get here (you’re almost there, you’re almost there) and you are going to have more free time to really invest in yourself and your well-being than you have had in a long time. Why not make a commitment to yourself to finally make a fresh new start in a new place by planning to exercise regularly? If not now in paradise with life moving at calmer, healthier pace, then when?

Feels so good, Arm Workout, weights, health and fitness, Granada, Nicaragua, Junior's Gym, March 2018, tricep dips.png

Granada is full of happening gyms for every taste. Continue reading “What are you going to do with all that free time? Getting fit at your neighborhood gym while living in Granada, Nicaragua.”

Top 5 ways to stay cool this March and April around Granada. Learn how to travel with kids during a Nicaraguan summer!

this beautiful life, granada, nicaragua, horesback, summer, kids, family, travel

Nicaragua is a tropical paradise and I adore it year round, but summer months are more challenging for everyone when temperatures shoot up. It’s strange to think that here in Granada, as we now enjoy temperatures between 80 and 90 °F, we are about to enter our region’s hottest summer months in March and April when we are directly positioned closest to the sun.

If you are heading to Central America during those months you are going to want to remember that a tropical summer requires some practical strategies to make it more pleasant and fun, particularly for kids. Hot is hot no matter where you are, but travelling out of a harsh winter in North America or Europe to Granada can make the temperatures seem particularly extreme when they spike above 95 °F, 35 °C.

If you figure out your strategies before you get here and build them into your stay, you won’t be caught off guard if your kids remind you for the 100th time: I’m, hoooot.

So to help you plan your trip and navigate the summer months, here are my top 5 ways of staying cool in a Nicaraguan heatwave: Continue reading “Top 5 ways to stay cool this March and April around Granada. Learn how to travel with kids during a Nicaraguan summer!”

Take a peek at life on ‘Normal Street’. What is it really like to live in Granada, Nicaragua?

Life on Normal Street, Granada, Nicaragua, Family Travel, Header GFL

What is it like to live in Granada, Nicaragua? I am pretty confident that if you are interested in that answer or are even reading this blog, you are currently entertaining a case of persistent wanderlust that has you scoping out family-friendly venues abroad for your itchy, adventurous feet.

I am very familiar with that unrelenting desire and challenge to find the right exotic destination to satisfy the impulse for change. But as you probably know as a mom or dad planning a major trek abroad with kids, there is a whole other layer of parental responsibility to your voyaging deep into the unknown that will have to be addressed, as well.

(And yet, I messed up).

Admittedly, I have made some bad calls in that regard. I started this journey in an area of Northern Nicaragua that wasn’t right for my son, Aiden or me. It was too different for a long-term stay and we excessively struggled with our surroundings. We stayed much too long and although we both can definitely say that yes, we can survive a hardship post (for years!), it’s not the bragging rights that a twelve-year-old yearns to exercise among his peers or across his resume (not applying for a foreign service position, yet).

It has taken me some time to win back his trust in that regard. Aiden had left everything behind in Charlotte, North Carolina: his childhood home, neighborhood, and friends that he had known since he was two years old. Kids don’t really have a choice in these big moves, they come along with parents who are questing, and they are trusting that we are going to make the right choices. And sometimes, although we mean well, we make mistakes. We blow it. And then the next choice, well, it had better be good because getting it wrong the second time around could be even worse, right?

Oh, gosh. It might be just another fruitless quest, but I want to try Granada.

Continue reading “Take a peek at life on ‘Normal Street’. What is it really like to live in Granada, Nicaragua?”

Touring Nicaragua is easy and fun: check out wild turtles laying their eggs and hatching to life on a kids beach trip to Playa El Coco and Playa La Flor!

Granada, Nicaragua, Beaches, day trips, kids, family, travel, turtles, reserve, nature

It’s no secret that I love living in Granada, Nicaragua. We are surrounded by beautiful, tropical nature and there are so many fun and easy excursions to do with kids with Granada as your home base. Aiden and I just had an amazing weekend adventure a few hours south at La Flor Beach Wildlife Refuge where kids can get up close and personal with wild turtles in their natural habitat and at nearby Playa El Coco which is a beautiful beach perfect for families. This trip was a breeze and I wholeheartedly recommend that you add these two popular family destinations to your Nicaragua trip planner because your kids are going to rave about the experience. 

Laying out the trip

The La Flor Wildlife Refuge (Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor), where you can interact with wild turtles in their natural habitat, is located at Playa La Flor. You could camp at the refuge overnight, but more formal accommodations can be found right on the beach at nearby Playa el Coco which is 2 km away (or Playa Hermosa, Playa Escameca, Playa El Yanke, etc). If you are wondering if you could also stay at mega-popular, party beach town San Juan del Sur, yes, you could, but just know that it is 30 km each way on a partially dirt road (while probably driving in the dark for best turtle hours). If you are travelling with kids like we were, you might prefer the nearness and the totally laid back, family-friendly atmosphere of the local beaches next to the refuge.

Turtles by the thousands vs turtles by the dozens

Refugio de Silvestre La Flor Turtles Nicaragua 3

Continue reading “Touring Nicaragua is easy and fun: check out wild turtles laying their eggs and hatching to life on a kids beach trip to Playa El Coco and Playa La Flor!”

Your Central American World Schooling Solution: Granada International School in Nicaragua offers outdoor, bilingual immersion education in tropical paradise.

Granada International School, Nicaragua, Bilingual Education

I remember well the year I was searching for the perfect destination for our family to live abroad. We were already living in northern Nicaragua, but we were on the hunt for mid-size city with a town-and-country feel that offered access to the normal amenities and critical services that would help us to feel at home. Our careful search yielded fruit when we landed in the beautiful, colonial city of Granada, Nicaragua where we found not only all the familiar services that make our lives comfortable, but also a first-rate, international, bilingual school for my son, Aiden. While great real estate, restaurants and groceries stores matter, it was really discovering the right school that was the essential, final piece to solving the puzzle of where we could realistically live abroad in Nicaragua long-term. Continue reading “Your Central American World Schooling Solution: Granada International School in Nicaragua offers outdoor, bilingual immersion education in tropical paradise.”

Best overnight beach trips with kids from Granada, Nicaragua: Playa Marsella vs Playa Masachapa

Nicaragua Beach Hideaways With Kids Nicaragua.png

One of the great perks of living in Granada, Nicaragua is being able to effortlessly head out to a beautiful, family beach for the day (or more luxuriously for the entire weekend) without going out of your way to do so. When volcanoes and their swimming holes just won’t do and you need fresh seafood, beachcombing and surfable waves, in a few hours drive Granadinos can be entertaining the family all day long in the warm, healing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Most travelers will want to head to San Juan del Sur at least once to see why it is always at the top of the tourist billboard. San Juan is known for its brilliant, blue bay with fantastic eclectic restaurants, all manner of hotels and spectacular beach home rentals. I also have loved San Juan de Sur for those very same reasons through the years, but there is a lot more out there to see along the Pacific coast that can provide a more intimate, Nicaraguan immersion experience for families in the water.

Playa Marsella

Continue reading “Best overnight beach trips with kids from Granada, Nicaragua: Playa Marsella vs Playa Masachapa”

My dearest Granadinos, you have my heart completely.

Iglesia La Merced

When I first arrived to Granada, I would take early exploring walks through my neighborhood before the summer heat would begin to hover heavily over the day’s movements. On one such morning, I fell into one of those easy spontaneous exchanges, that Nicaraguans so freely initiate throughout their day, with an older man (in his third age, as they kindly say here) sitting on his porch. He saw me admiring his pretty street and eagerly wanted to know what I thought of his city. I did’t have to embellish the truth.

Granada is surely the most beautiful city in Nicaragua, I said.

He shook his head and smiled at me almost paternally. No, he calmly corrected me. Granada is the most beautiful city in Central America.

Ahh, there it was. That wonderfully compelling Granadino pride. Continue reading “My dearest Granadinos, you have my heart completely.”

Let’s ready our Granada homes and families for an emergency (because you live here now)

Disaster Prepping, Granada, Nicaragua, Water

Granada Family Living Disaster Prepping Series: Part 1, Prepping for Clean Water Access.

This article is the first in a series that will be published over the next few months to bring attention to the steps that households can take to better prepare themselves for disasters and emergencies. Comments, suggestions and sharing will improve these articles as a community resource and are very much welcomed.

This week, in light of the hurricanes that had been taking place up north, I wanted to put my attention towards thinking about our own vulnerability in Nicaragua to any number of natural disasters that could happen here or really anywhere in the world: in paradise, on or off vacation, any country, at any time.

By the way, I don’t worry about disasters much at all; I prefer to have certain basic response systems in place so that I don’t have to worry about them. I like the freedom in the feeling of readiness. It alleviates anxious energy so I can enjoy what I really want to be doing. But this week, when I personally took time out to assess our family’s level of readiness, I was dismayed to find that I had been ignoring some basic precautionary steps that would greatly increase our chance of survival here in Granada. Continue reading “Let’s ready our Granada homes and families for an emergency (because you live here now)”