One of the problems that I faced in my first year of living in Nicaragua was that I acutely felt the loss of not living near a world-class library system. We had brought our own physical library of books but as you know with kids, they consume books like paper towels when they love to read and we found that ordering books from organizations like Better World Books didn’t work for Nicaragua, they were simply stolen from out of the mail.
We began to rely more heavily on our Kindle Paperwhite digital reader for purchasing new titles. Aiden was at that time just starting to read chapter books but he could get through them so quickly! Books were becoming a frequent purchase and there was always a need for more titles- not only for Aiden but for me, too.
LITERARY LIFE HACK # 1: Connect your digital reader to your local library back home.
A year into our move, I remembered a pamphlet I had picked up at the library as we were leaving Charlotte, North Carolina (USA) that mentioned connecting digital readers like Kindle to our Charlotte Public Library account.
So I sat down and read through the directions and minutes later I was selecting books online at the Charlotte Library website and Amazon was delivering the books to my Kindle for free! In fact, I connected each member of our household who held a library card and for each person we could check out 10 e-books or audio books.Good deal!
A year later, when our Charlotte library cards expired, I called a Charlotte library branch from Nicaragua to get the memberships extended. The library requested when I called that we come into one of the branches in person, but they were able to handle the extension over the phone when I explained that we weren’t able to come in (by the way, this is another reason why I love having a Magicjack Go device that gives me a USA phone number just for these kind of calls that do come up when you live abroad).
So know before you go, if you have not joined your local library yet, please do it before you start your world travels!But if you didn’t, there is still hope…
As moms, we prioritize securing all the important articles to pack for the kids to make sure they have everything they need away from home and sometimes we can leave our own necessities to the last minute.
However, because of the limited shopping here in Nicaragua, I encourage you to plan ahead and bring what you will need from home, so that you are also at your best in your new life here in Granada. It is worth it to pay $25-40 for an extra piece of luggage on your flight over to shop for what you need in your own country at leisure, with a greater variety of choices at more competitive prices.
In every season, dry or rainy, Nicaragua faces a plague of mosquitoes that is either merely a nuisance or downright dangerous depending on the mosquito. Most mosquitoes that enter our home might pester us at night or have us searching for the ultimate remedy to relieve the itchiness but these mosquitoes are nothing worse than what we might encounter in Charlotte, North Carolina on a summer night or during a camping expedition.
However in Nicaragua, there are other varieties of mosquitoes that are carriers of serious viruses that can make you very sick. Having had dengue fever twice, I can tell you that it is no war story from your travels with which you will regale your friends lightheartedly. The same could be said of malaria or the Chikungunya virus. On the other hand, both Aiden and I had the Zika virus like most everyone else last year and it was not too terrible: I dread much more having the common flu.
Thankfully, the city of Granada and the Ministry of Health (MINSA) do actively campaign against mosquitoes. Health workers will regularly pass by your house to do an inspection of your yard (you must let them in but you can demand to see identification). They will advise you of areas that may shelter mosquito larva due to standing water and will place sandwich bags of insecticide (these look like small baggies of sand and are called abate) inside those areas in question. Continue reading “How to protect kids and family living with mosquitoes in the tropics”→
Choosing where your kids go to school, whether it be for one week, six months or a year is probably one of the most important decisions you will make about your stay in Granada. It is a universal worry that every parent wants to get right. Honestly, I understand that having a child in tears every morning before an eight o’clock bell is traumatic for the whole family. When the children are happy at school with new friends, everything else in the move flows more easily.
We chose Sacuanjoche International School
My son, Aiden, is a fifth grader at Sacuanjoche International School and I myself have spent a good deal of time volunteering in various areas of the school. I feel that we are very fortunate to have discovered Sacuanjoche in our move to Granada. The bilingual, educational experience has been invaluable and it has also introduced us to a diverse community of families from all over the world that share similar values and goals for our kids.
When I recommend Sacuanjoche International School to newcomers, I do so with the sincere belief that I am recommending a healthy, vibrant, caring atmosphere that has the interests of your child’s well-being and future at heart. But it is more than that. The Sacuanjoche school community also cares and is conscious about the kind of world that all our kids will be living in.Continue reading “Where will the kids go to bilingual school in Granada, Nicaragua?”→
Before our family moved to Granada, we were already living in the north of Nicaragua, well into our third year. We were homeschooling at the time, partly because we always had homeschooled and also because we lacked a viable alternative in that area.
In Granada, I wanted Aiden to have the chance to meet some of the local kids and the experience of going to 5th grade at a bilingual school, but I first scheduled some transitional months in Granada for him to acclimate at his own pace before the school year began.
We arrived to Granada in May and booked a beautiful vacation home with a backyard and a pool on a quiet street. I wanted to create a positive, no pressure first impression. Instead of jumping right into anything, we played tourist to get a feel for what Granada was all about and reconnect as a family.
This vacation time was well spent. We explored, ate out, swam every day for a month and overall felt healthy and reinvigorated building up positive memories to fall back on when we needed them.
In June, we moved to another amazing, colonial vacation home with a pool (keeping up morale!). And for this month, we introduced Aiden to Sacuanjoche International School by enrolling him in their week long summer camps to meet other kids and have a peek inside a local, bilingual school.
Moms and dads are always pondering about what to pack for a long term stay in Granada. It’s hard to know what can be easily picked up when you arrive and what really requires some preplanning to have ready to go in the suitcase.
Most everything can be purchased in Nicaragua in some form or another. However, it is often not at the price you wanted to pay or the quality that you hoped to find. Shopping is also not the enjoyable experience that it is at home and there is no online retail to be had in Nicaragua.
For those reasons, I highly recommend doing any necessary shopping before you leave home and pay the extra luggage costs for additional baggage. Those fees will seem cheap in comparison to the time and money you will fork out if you wait to find it when you arrive to Nicaragua.
Here is my list of helpful items to purchase before you leave home:
No matter how many days you are staying in Nicaragua, please bring some favorite familiar toys for your kids. The same toys they like back home, they will like here, if not more.
When in doubt and it could reasonably go along with you, bring it. Pack your trading cards games, bags of Legos, dolls and action figures, water toys, and anything else that you feel would help them relax and engage playing on their own or with other kids they meet.
This post is for those of you who are pondering a longer stay in Nicaragua past the standard three months tourist visa granted to you upon arrival.
First visa upon arrival
So when you arrive by air or over the border to Nicaragua you will find that obtaining a tourist visa is a remarkably easy and inexpensive task to accomplish for you and your family. You will fill out one brief immigration form for yourself and any family travelling with you. Additionally, you will then pay $10 by air and $12 by land for each visitor in your group to the immigration official who checks your paperwork.
Will they grill me on my assets and intentions?
Most Nicaraguan immigration officials at border entries and airports are extremely relaxed and amiable and respond very kindly to smiles and pleasantries. Tourism is a well-oiled machine that consistently provides Nicaragua with abundant access to dollars and Euros. Entering Nicaragua as a tourist should constitute only a brief encounter with an immigration official. Having said that…Continue reading “Managing multiple visas for your family’s extended stay in Nicaragua.”→
Establishing a home away from home for your family is always a priority. If this is a move you are making with kids, I know that the primary concerns are for safety and comfort. You want them to have a unique experience traveling and yet not so extreme that their lives feel out of whack. When your home in Granada feels right there is a direct positive impact on your families well-being and the success of the trip overall.
Securing your accommodations in Granada is a relatively simple task compared to many areas around the world. Because the city is a tourism hub for travelers, the furnished home rental market took off years ago and has become more abundantly available every year. You can easily rent a beautiful, fully furnished and maintained home that will allow you to focus your energy on your stay and reconnecting with your family.
Considering everyone’s needs
When you fly into Nicaragua and you know that you have a comfortable home to welcome you, anxious members of your family can be reassured that this new adventure thousands of miles from home is going to be okay. This is particularly essential if you have kids that are aware that they are leaving their lives behind for an extended stay or permanently. It is important that the move doesn’t feel like a total downgrade from everything they are leaving behind in their home countries! This seems particularly important for kids over the age of six.Continue reading “House hunters Nicaragua! Finding your ideal home rental for your family in Granada.”→