A Bittersweet Good-Bye


It’s hard to sum up two years of exploration in one blog but I’ll try my best.

It’s been a place we had only heard of before arriving. A place we learned a new language, a place our dog lived her best life, a place we made some of our fondest memories to date. It’s a place we called home.

For nearly two years, we’d been living and thriving in Nicaragua. We learned to scuba dive, the boys took daily Spanish lessons, Kaden and I learned to surf. We helped our friends at Nica Worldschool realize their dream of starting their Worldschool. We immersed ourselves in the culture, donated our time and efforts to the community, we immersed ourselves in the lifestyle that is everything Nica.

We explored the land, all that is accessible to us. We learned so much about the culture, the people. Like anywhere else, everyone is just trying their best to live, to survive. But the things we found here that we hadn’t experienced in such magnitude are the slower pace of life, the overall feeling of happiness of the people (even though most are poor and have nothing to give) and their generosity and kindness. Even when they’ve lost everything they’re appreciative of anything you can give them, including time and a good conversation.

Nicaragua is the poorest nation in all of Central America, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it by traveling through. The buildings in the cities are pretty well kept. Most Nica homes are by US standards, just a shack. But, they’re usually very clean, inside and out. People take pride in their property. There is less litter on the streets here in Nicaragua than anywhere else we’ve seen in Central America, including Costa Rica (Panama’s a close second). There isn’t an overwhelming homeless population. In the town we’ve called home for almost 2 years, we found 4 homeless people. They don’t bother anyone, they don’t beg for money. They appreciate anything they get when they don’t have to dig through the garbage can.

We do run out of water, pretty regularly, the internet is often crappy and the power goes out almost everyday. But what it lacks, it makes up for in nature. It has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, the biggest freshwater lake in all of Central America, volcanoes, waterfalls,  jungles and tons of wildlife to behold with prices so cheap it’s unimaginable. But due to it’s cheap prices, there’s no real tax revenue so it lacks the infrastructure of a developed nation.

This country has been very good to us. So good, that we decided to take up permanent residency. I know it sounds crazy. Why would we ever want to live in a country run by a dictator? The short of it is, it’s allowed us to feel the most free we’ve ever been. We aren’t governed by all the laws that are made for us under the guise of “health, safety and security.” There are laws to follow, and they’re enforced, but rarely. I can choose to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, most often nobody is going to care. The cops *might* fine you. You can choose to wear a seat belt or not, you’re not getting pulled over for it. You can ride on the side of a vehicle, in the open back of a truck bed, whatever. Nobody really cares. Of course safety isn’t as much of an issue when we rarely drive over 35 mph.

We could take our dog anywhere. She went to every restaurant, even the fancy ones that kids weren’t allowed at. She went to every beach. She was never required to be on a leash. She went Canyoneering with us and swam in the rivers of a slot canyon. Whenever we asked someone if we could do something, no matter what it was, the answer was always “yes.” You do so at your own risk. There is no suing people or the government for the stupid things you choose to do. They recognize that those are the CHOICES you’ve made, and either you learn or you don’t, but they don’t bother the justice system with all the same stupid things that we do in the US. The police don’t pursue you here. The only thing we’ve been told we can’t do is talk politics about their government. If that’s the only rule that you have for me to abide by and I can go on living my best life, then so be it. I won’t say a word about the politics in Nicaragua.


At first, when we arrived, we didn’t understand how the police stops worked here. They set up road blocks and they pick and choose which cars to pull over. Not knowing what this was or what to do, it was very confusing at first. We had no idea what they meant when they asked for the circulación, come to find out, it’s the registration. We had been stopped so many times, it was irritating. But, after a few months, it just became normal. All they’re checking is to make sure you have your current documents for the vehicle (registration, smog and mechanics inspection if not a foreign vehicle and insurance. TIP if it’s a foreign vehicle.) and that your license is current. Now, when we get pulled over, we hand them our documents, they take a look and send us on our way. The entire process takes less than 2 minutes, unless we’ve actually broken the law and they saw it. Then we’ll get a fine. Ok, we deserve it.

There are signs posted that tell you “do at your own risk” and nobody to monitor the stupid things people are doing. Nobody cares. Everyone minds their own business and doesn’t interfere with your choices. Nobody to tell me where I can go, what I can do and when I can do it. No burn restrictions, no water shortage (except for the one we always have because the town can’t figure out where the water line is broken today). Get vaccinated or don’t. Nobody cares. Wear a mask or don’t. Nobody cares and nobody is out to “preach” why you should or should not wear a mask. Nobody is screaming for attention because they have better things to worry about.

Nicaragua is special. The beaches are beautiful, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of beaches around the world. The micro-climate of year round offshore wind combined with remote secluded coves all down the coast line create the best surfing locations we have ever seen. Comparatively, in my opinion, the ones in Costa Rica were dirty and overrun with tourists no matter the time of year. Nicaragua has an abundance of sea life, but no sharks off the pacific coast. We received our Open Water Scuba Diving Certification at the beach in Ostional on the pacific side and went to the Corn Islands in the Caribbean to go diving. We swam with a pod of dolphins, saw nurse sharks, manta rays, eel, starfish…the list goes on. The reefs were beautiful with an abundance of colors and beautiful corals. The Pacific side water is significantly colder than the Caribbean side, but it rarely gets *cold.*

We explored the northeastern part of Nicaragua which is a huge rainforest. The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve is the second largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere only second to the Amazon in Brazil, and covers 15% of the total land mass of Nicaragua. It is home to the red-eyed tree frog and it’s amphibian (frog) cousins. There are sloths, waterfalls, swimming holes and coffee farms. The weather is much cooler and the region is mountainous.

The cities are cities. Congested at rush hour, buzzing with night life, museums and cultural activities. Managua, the capital city has an enormous skate park, olympic size public swimming pool and a huge amphitheater right in the heart of the city. Parking is hard to come by and at the stop lights, you’ll find street entertainers who put on a short show for you while you’re stopped at a light. They work off tips and will go around to collect any change you want to throw their way. You’ll also find vendors selling food, drinks and knickknacks. Buy them or not, just try not to make everyone behind you miss their light. At least there are a couple midsize cities like Leon and Granada that still retained their charm from the Spanish Architecture.

Nicaragua has a wet season and a dry season and honestly, sometimes the wet season is hotter because when the sun comes up after the rain, it heats all the water up and it’s like being in an outdoor sauna that you just can’t escape from. The dry season is hot, but not nearly as humid. Both seasons have their pluses and minuses. Neither is better than the other, but hurricane season is my favorite because there is WIND!!! February and March wind is really hot and dusty while November receives cool and refreshing wind that cools the house enough to avoid air conditioning which is very expensive here.

We’ve been living in the southern region which  is also home to Central America’s largest lake, Lake Cocibolca also known as Lake Nicaragua. It is a fresh water lake, and is also home to some bull sharks. It’s the 19th largest lake in the WORLD and is home to over 300 islands. The largest island, Ometepe, consists of two volcanoes protruding from the lake with multiple towns surrounding the base of the volcanoes. They are so tall that most of the time clouds surround the calderas. It’s very surreal driving around the island, you almost forget that you’re on one. Another fun fact is that Pirates used to enter the lake from the river that flows from the lake to the sea.

Some of our best memories were made here and some of our best lessons were learned here. But, we also experienced some of our darkest days and saddest moments here, mainly as our dog and numerous family back in the US passed away. So as we say good-bye to this beautiful country and its people, we will hold fondly the way this country has shaped us, the lessons in resilience it taught us and the friendships we created during our time living here. However, it’s is a big world out there, the clock is ticking and it’s time to move on.

Dale pues!





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