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.”

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.”

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!”

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

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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.”

Packing for Water Fun and Safety with Kids in Nicaragua

Family, Recreation, Water Sports, Swimming, kayaking, Life Vests, Overtons youth nylon life vest

Nicaragua is definitively the land of lakes and volcanoes, but it also hosts fantastic mineral watering holes, impressive rivers you can navigate by boat and infinite miles of coastal beaches along the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Unless we are visiting the higher altitudes of a volcano or mountain range, Nicaragua provides constant tropical weather that enables us to submerge in water year round on any given day.

Personally, we primarily recreate during the week in pools and in the healing waters of Laguna de Apoyo, an ancient crater lake 20 minutes out of Granada. But we also swim in the cleaner areas of Lake Cocibolca or in the Pacific Ocean at any number of beaches as far down as Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  For all these activities, I have always had to proactively consider Aiden’s water safety because I can never be sure what safety gear will be available on site when we arrive.

amily, Recreation, Water Sports, Swimming, Life Vests, Overtons youth nylon life vest, kayaking
This practice run at Laguna de Apoyo was near the shoreline but once out in the center of the lake it is a long haul back to the beach.

Kayaking and swimming at Laguna de Apoyo make for a great family day out, but the lagoon has but a few feet of beach entry before it drops into the crater’s deep abyss, the depths of which no one seems to have calculated. Continue reading “Packing for Water Fun and Safety with Kids in Nicaragua”

Taking the kids to a country swimming hole under the shadow of Volcán Mombacho at Aguas Agrias, Nicaragua.

Granada, Family, Recreation, Mombacho, things to do,

Nicaragua is full of unique destinations off the beaten path that you can scope out if you want to avoid the main tourist attractions. When you are ready to head down a dirt road with little to no signage, you will find a very pure side of Nicaragua that is best known only to the Nicaraguans, themselves.

We visited Aguas Agrias located at the base of the south side of Volcán Mombacho to give the kids a chance to cool off in a fresh, mineral spring. I had heard that the spring was very clean and clear which ended up being a very accurate description of the water quality. The water bubbles up from an underground source and calmly pools enough mineral water to create a luxurious swimming hole before slowly running off into an adjoining river. Continue reading “Taking the kids to a country swimming hole under the shadow of Volcán Mombacho at Aguas Agrias, Nicaragua.”

Parasites in Paradise! What to do when your kids get sick traveling in Nicaragua.

What to do when kids have parasites in Nicaragua, family travel, stay healthy (1)

There may come a time during your travels in Nicaragua when you become aware that your child has developed an uncomfortable digestive condition or you merely wonder if he might have picked up parasites somewhere because of all the adventuring that your family has been doing outside of your home country. Continue reading “Parasites in Paradise! What to do when your kids get sick traveling in Nicaragua.”

The easy, encouraging parent tutorial on how to play Pokémon with your kids! You can do this!

Pokémon Tutorial Feature Image

Picture you and your child one-on-one, blocking out the crazy world around you for some quality family time that you get credit for because you are playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game and that means in kid world that YOU CARE.*

If you totally focus and read through this tutorial you can learn how to play Pokémon in less than 15 minutes.

*If you want to know why I feel strongly enough about the Pokémon Trading Card Game to write an online tutorial, start with this post Why I Play Pokémon, but if you are already ready to learn keep reading! Continue reading “The easy, encouraging parent tutorial on how to play Pokémon with your kids! You can do this!”