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…
Have you ever had that feeling like you are missing your child even though they are right there under the same roof? That time was slipping through your fingers and with it a thousand chances to reconnect with your family? Sometimes we can bridge the divide in a moment, a shared joke, game or activity and sometimes you want to do something drastic and just grab a chance to get away from it all.
Even here in Nicaragua where life moves more slowly for many and there should be more time to spend with our kids, it’s easy to slip into old distances. Projects, work, school, social networks; you can fill up a schedule anywhere if you are inclined to doing it. And let’s face it, I know that for us, we’re kind of trained to design our lives that way.
Even here in Granada, you might sense after awhile the busyness creeping back into your lifestyle, that habit of pushing out to the edges of your daily itinerary. The rush and the stress that you wanted to leave behind can get recreated in the land of lakes and volcanoes, too.
Sports programs in Granada, Nicaragua are a great way for young newcomers to meet other kids and have a Spanish language immersion experience. The experience of playing sports is somewhat universal, but it’s also bound to be different based on geography, culture and economics. Granada supports mostly youth soccer and baseball teams, but there is a growing interest in organizing a basketball league for tween boys, as well.
Aiden has started to train with a small but dedicated group of boys ages 10-12 who are interested in an intensive workout experience under the guidance of Michael Campbell, an excellent coach and a former professional basketball player for the Masaya selection here in Nicaragua. The boys are very friendly and supportive and about half are bilingual and from other countries. It’s an awesomely diverse group where everyone fits in if they want to play ball.
Timing is everything with kids.
One year ago, Aiden was not interest in the team when I asked him if he wanted to play and I know that then he wouldn’t have taken to the boot camp style drills that Coach Micheal runs for the whole training session three times a week. But now Aiden is very interested in exercise and strength training, loves the hardcore workout, and even comes home and does more.
Touring the islands of Granada, Nicaragua is a fun adventure that is easy and inexpensive to do on any given day. Enjoy the fresh breezes that blow over Lake Cocibolca as you remember how awesome it is to live in the land of lakes and volcanoes.
Put your feet up while you motor through the 365 tropical islands (one for each day of the year they quip) that were born thousands of years ago out of the last eruption from the ever vigilant Mombacho Volcano that gives grandeur to Granada’s skyline.
Check out a quick video to see what it is like to tour the islands!
I write about weather a lot, but when you live in Granada weather is something that you will notice and you will have to form your strategies of how to keep your family comfortable and entertained despite extreme heat or a rainy day.
Many homes in Granada do not have air conditioning or residents are hesitant to use air conditioners because of exorbitant electricity costs in Nicaragua. There are also very few businesses in Granada that use air conditioning for the same reason.
So trust me, we know each business that does keep the air flowing and on a sweltering day, I can make up a good excuse to head to one of them.
When Semana Santa (otherwise known as Spring Break) hit Granada, Nicaragua this year, I decided we needed a plan to give ourselves a rest from the constant heat. Ironically, this led us to visit a volcano. Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve was a great solution for getting outside and recreating in nature without feeling the burn.
When you arrive to the top of Mombacho Volcano which has several craters you will appreciate that you are now in a cool, breezy, cloud forest full of tropical canopy and exotic critters. It’s like someone has suddenly turned on the air conditioning. This leads to a boost of physical productivity! Watch your kids take off down the trail….
Check out more fun on the Mombacho trail in this quick video. We did this trek with Martha and Sam of Nicaragua Immersion Tours and the boys did great hiking together the whole 1 1/2 hours around one of the craters.
Visiting families that reside inside the city of Granada often seek a recreational green space similar to something on offer at a public park back home. Publicly in Granada, the Cocibolca lakefront area called the Malecón is the most similar to that sort of recreational environment, although it really is only a strip of land that follows the lake with no wide open lawn area. The Malecón includes playground equipment, restaurants and some basketball courts. It is safe to use during the day and the city is doing a lot to make it a more attractive, maintained destination. On Sundays, it is a very popular hangout for Nicaraguan families.
These months are hard on both parents and kids. You’ll find that the heat limits outdoor physical activities and can raise stress levels. However, if you are planning on coming this April or are already here, you are going to need some savvy local ways to stay cool during the Nicaraguan summer.
A fun thing for kids to do in Granada is spend an hour and a half making chocolate at Chocomuseo that they actually get to eat at the end. This is a fun class for families and kids and a great venue for play dates.
Aiden had a blast with his good buddy and although the taste of the cacao toasted over fire produced a chocolate that wasn’t what he was used to, he obviously still ate it.