Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our Final Post!

With mixed emotion, we have decided to no longer update our blog. The purpose of keeping the blog was originally to keep family & friends updated as the where we were and to assure them we were fine. We also wanted to share this wonderful experience with any who wished to travel with us in spirit.

We have reached the point here in Nicaragua that life has started to fall into a routine, of sorts. No longer just an experience but our actual life for the time being. As such, keeping the blog feels a little vain. Our day to day is often no different than anyone else's day to day.

We would hope though, to remain in contact with friends & family through e-mail.....that way we get your news and it's not all about us :)

Your friends,

Gary, Joanna & Nikki

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Basura Por Favor.........

Nicaragua is suffering a drought caused by the weather phenomenon El Nino. The UN is in the process of providing emergency funds for food. Here on the ground, the reality of the situation is starting to become evident. Last week on garbage day, we had two separate men ring our bell and ask for our garbage! I leave it locked just inside the gate so that the street dogs don't get into it and then run like a mad woman when I hear the garbage truck coming down the street. These men obviously wanted to go through it to find both food & things that were saleable! We have also four times in the last week had our door bell rung by people begging. This has never happened before....and no matter how bad I feel or how much I want to provide something for them, you can't. You'd have them lined up constantly at your door, needy and greedy alike.

Another indication of the problem becoming more severe is a rise in crime. Nicaragua is said to be the safest country in Latin America but common theft is still a real problem (as we have discovered) and from what we read in the news is increasing. Gary & I were talking to a well dressed young Nicaragua at a restaurant. He started asking for some personal information (this is normal in Nicaragua. Being asked "how much do you earn" or "how much is your rent" is not considered rude) and we explained that we were uncomfortable answering due to a recent break in that had left us a little jaded. An interesting conversation ensued in which he indicated the belief that if someone has a lot and you are in need then stealing it would no longer be wrong! We were gob smacked. Such a huge gap between our basic beliefs and his. No wonder common theft is such an issue here. If they simply don't see it as wrong, then how can you make them stop? And as a foreigner, no matter how little you may have, you are always seen as rich.

Seeing the inside of another culture like this is fascinating.

We have just completed a crazy four days. We had a local Missionary couple for dinner on Sunday. Then Monday we had the Manzanares' (a newly assigned Missionary couple we meet in the States) come mid morning to stay for two days with a friend they had served at Patterson with. We had a delightful time with them, despite losing power half way through a movie we were watching! They took Nikki with them and went on a boat tour of the Isleta's just outside of Granada. She was very sorry to see them go! Half an hour after they left, we had the new C/O and his wife come for lunch. He is American and she is Nicaraguan. We are very excited to have them as the last C/O didn't speak any English so this is a real treat!

The heat is continuing to make life a little more challenging....not heat actually more the intense humidity and lack of air movement. On the upside, the tropical foliage surrounding us, in particular in our courtyard where we can water it, is gorgeous! Service continues to be a delight. Gary had an amazing call, which is now a study, on a lawyer. When he returned he got another young man home instead who is a dentist and also wants to study and when he returned again, got yet another young man (yes all in the same house) who now ALSO wants to study!! Three amazing calls in one house! They all have deep questions and are very serious about finding the answers. The one who is a dentist, Jamie, has also offered to take care of our dental needs for us and the really exciting part of that is that it looks like Gary will finally get some permanent front teeth made up. Then he won't always be losing them or leaving them in weird places for me to find (or sit on). I think he'll actually miss them.

Gary said his first prayer in Spanish last night! We were so proud :)

That's it for now.....oh I could ramble on endlessly but then who would do the laundry????

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Last Night's Visitor.......

Just before we went to bed, Gary noticed this "lovely" fellow in our house, just outside our bedroom. I think he is a Brown Zebra Tarantula......Not a good way to start a peaceful nights sleep. I woke up all through the night feeling like something was crawling on me (active imagination) and checked the bed at least three times with a flashlight.

Just to show it's not all gross creatures (did I mention the scorpion the size of a newborn kitten hiding in Nikki's toys) I have also included a picture of "Fred" our resident iguana who lives in our courtyard and can often be seen on the ground munching mouthfuls of lush green leaves. He is extremely nervous though and moves with incredible speed back up the wall if we move towards him.

We also have a possum but we haven't been able to get a shot out of her yet! So it's not all bad....but come on, a tarantula! You have to freak out a little.........

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

La Boquita Beach

We escaped the heat of Granada for the day at headed to a "new to us" Pacific Ocean beach just over an hour away. Although far less known than San Juan Del Sur it was, we voted, much more beautiful and true to the flavour of Nicaragua.

As we arrived about 6 men came running at our vehicle. That was not bad grammar, they literally ran AT us! The beach is dead mid week so I guess we were treated to the extra attention. They stood in our way and all started madly gesturing, jostling for the closest positions to the car. After getting over the shock and using some Spanglish, we eventually realised that these men were paid to bring customers into the various restaurants on the beach. I use the term "restaurants" loosely as they are basically just open thatched lean to's with sand floors where they will serve you food and allow you to use make use of their shade (and blaring music) for the day.
We settled on one (with the promise of cheap lobster) and agreed to pay some young kids to watch our vehicle. Once in and settled, the price for the lobster went up considerably! After much negotiation and arm flailing, it was brought back down to reasonable price....and let me tell you, it was the best Lobster & Shrimp (which were MASSIVE) that we have ever had (sorry folks back home in Nova Scotia, it's true). It took over an hour for them to prepare it for us. They cook in a little shed over an open fire. The rice tasted like smoke (delicious). The wait was not a problem though as we made good use of the empty beach and the best waves we have ever been in. At one point Nikki & I were rolled under one which really frightened her and bashed up my knee but she was soon back out after a few tears.
The Lobster platters eventually came out. They had been marinated and then cooked with a glorious concoction of garlic, onions, green pepper & celery minced together with a blend of oil and seasonings smothering them. I had 8 shrimp, the size of small lobsters with claws full of meat cooked similarly. Gary had the Lobster & we shared. Debbie & Steve had ordered one platter to share but soon realised it was not enough of this amazing treat and ordered a second one!
We shared the restaurant with a menagerie of animals, including a number of large pigs! It was a riot watching the largest pig dig around in the sand for some scraps and then take herself off down to the Ocean for a roll around in the surf! A family group of Nicaraguan later arrived and were frolicking around in the water, fully dressed in dress pants/skirts and tops! Towards evening a group of surfers arrived providing us with a stunning display of their prowess over the crashing waves.
It was a gloriously sunny, relaxing day. We arrived home in our rented car late in the evening, ready for a week of busy activity. Monday's are our day off and we are making the most of them! We woke up this morning. looked at each other and said tongue in cheek "wonder what the weather will be like today!" Ha. Hot, humid and sunny!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Everyday Life!

Plans are well underway for the Special English Convention coming up in October. Steve & Gary have been asked to care for the attendant dept so that should keep them out of trouble as well as some parts that they are involved with. We are really looking forward to the boost. The speakers are Missionaries, Special Pioneers, Bethelites and Need Greater so the quality of the parts is said to be very high....we are so excited!

This Monday was Independence Day in Nicaragua. It is a national holiday so many Nica's had it off work and joined in the festivities here in Granada which included what appeared to be a drumming competition. I don't know how they could stand the main square, dressed in suits in the sweltering sun and humidity, beating their drums like mad! The crowds were immense! We watched from the comfort of our home on the local television station where we were safe from pick pockets! We could hear it the from our courtyard. Nicaragua's certainly love life!
Speaking of which. We invited a group of the friends over for dinner on Saturday night. We had racked our brains as to what we could do that would over come the language barrier and allow all to have a laugh. We came up with bible charades and we were a little worried how they would react to the idea.....! They put us to shame! They threw themselves into it and it was a loud, hilarious game with fierce but friendly competition between the two teams! At the end one Spanish brother, Armando, asked me to put a CD in so he could play a ended up being "we are the champions" at which point his team joined arms and rubbed in their victory by belting it out in their broken English. It was side splitting fun and I said to Gary afterwards that I hadn't laughed like that in months!
At dinner, they were telling us that they eat rice everyday! Even if they are eating Spaghetti (like I had made) they would serve it with a side of rice. They said they don't feel like it is a complete meal without it, that it is cultural and comes from needing to fill bellies with very little funds. There is so much that I have always taken for granted and so much I am learning. They usually eat beans every day too. Not because they like them, but because it is an inexpensive protein. I can't imagine.....partly because I am married to Gary and feeding him beans everyday....well I just can't imagine :)
I was showing Jessie, a sister close to my age with two young girls, around the house. She saw my washing machine and drooled! Before I explain why, let me say that when we had first met Jessie & Armando, we thought they were well to do Nicaraguan's. They are a very attractive young family, always immaculately turned out (he wears cuff links) and some what sophisticated. He works at the local University as an engineer I think. Anyway, as it turns out she told me (from what I understood from her limited English & my limited Spanish) that she has never had a washing machine. It is something they really want though and have been saving for a long time for. She gets up at 4 am every morning so that she can do all their laundry by hand on her concrete "Pila", most of which she also makes herself. She then gets all her house work done by 6am so that she can get her older daughter ready for school and then she goes in service with her 3 year old. She has 8 studies and is planning on becoming a regular pioneer. They have no car, only a motor bike which all 4 ride on together! When they left our house that night, they all climbed on board, like professionals, looking as beautiful as a family out of a Best Housekeeping article and I thought "Happiness is indeed an attitude, a choice, not anything our circumstances themselves should dictate".
We are in the middle of a heat wave here and due to El Nino we are told, we are just not getting the needed rains, just the unbearable humidity. It's like living in a sauna. You almost forget what it's like to be dry. On the upside, I'm sure it's really good for your pores! I'll keep singing my new little mantra "happy, happy happy...."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Singing "Hot, Hot, Hot"........

Sorry for the lateness of this post. There are a number of contributing factors. My best excuse is that our computer has crashed and we are reduced to begging Nikki for time on hers....and she, we have discovered, she is not good at sharing :/ We thought we had done so well with her....

The pictures are not even particularly fitting for the blog I am writing, we are also down to begging for use of her camera since our good one was among the things stolen...and as I have mentioned, that doesn't work very well for us......One is of the local high school band marching; one is us with Debbie out for the day swimming; one is a common sight here, a horse wandering around looking for something to eat; one of Gary on one of his studies that Nikki took (I think he simply got in the way, she was shooting for the bird in the cage!) one of Gary on our patio; one of Nikki cooling down in the courtyard and finally, one of Gary sick last week in bed (he took his temperature constantly. Nikki & I were killing ourselves laughing, poor guy.)

Another factor has been the over whelming heat that makes you want to do nothing but sit very still and not think too hard. I wonder if it, along with the high humidity, may have contributed to our computer giving up on life. One of the local friends in the group told us at the meeting for service this morning that yesterday was one of the hottest days on record. The rainy season has simply failed to be rainy, so far. Today with the humidex we were at 114 degrees! And it felt it. Without, we were still at 97. The sweat literally runs down your back in streams while you just stand there, so you can imagine the effort it takes to walk in service! I even googled "sweaty upper lip" yesterday as it is the first time in my life that this is happening to me. I notice it on every one. It feels awful and I was hoping to find a way to combat's not a good look for me! Then again, neither is the wet patch on my butt & back!

It feels shameful to complain though as we have this lovely home to come back to and at least have AC in our bedrooms. One of my studies is a school teacher and I noticed this week that her father is a MD as his Diploma was on the wall. Yet they live in a house with no windows, only a front door to let in breeze, no ceiling, only the bare hot tin roof and certainly no AC. In fact I have never even seen a fan. Electricity here is prohibitively expensive and most people can barely afford lights, let alone "luxuries".

Our English group is growing and was described recently by the Branch as "stable" which is very satisfying for all of us here. Our Sunday meetings have almost doubled in attendance over the last couple of months with about 1/3 of the attendance usually being Bible Studies. Being in a group presents some unique challenges and we are learning so much and being challenged in ways we never imagined. It's been a tremendous learning curve for us as a family.

We rented a car for a number of jobs we had to do in the city over the weekend and it was heaven. It made us feel human for a couple of days. It was our first time really driving here and it went well. We now have our Missionary Visas (Cedulas) which are valid for a year...and to be honest at this point that is what we are shooting for. A year. Then we will re-evaluate. We are watching carefully how everything affects Nikki.

We started back to our home school schedule this week which felt really good. We really do enjoy it and I learn so much (who knew there were 5 kingdoms for all life to fit into??) so it brings us really close and we have a laugh. Gary was really sick last week with a high fever but he seems to be much better this week, it was a discouraging start to his year of pioneering though.

Boring stuff this Even the glue sniffing garbage pickers have been missing in action this week no doubt due to the heat. Bring on the rain!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Laguna De Apoyo...Finally!

We finally made it for a swim in the incredible Laguna De Apoyo, a sleeping imploaded volcano heated with thermal vents.

Located about 15 minutes from Granada, the scenery as you wind your way up the volcano and then as you take the sharp dip down into the rim, is gorgeous, with distant views of the colourful buildings of Granada in the far distance. We arrived to the sounds of monkeys and soon were able to view them high in the canopy, a family of three Black Howler Monkeys. The baby was adorable and very curious about us, from the safety of his mothers back. The Dad yelled at us the entire time.

We enjoyed the Laguna using the facilities of a rustic resort. The waters were warm and clear and due to the high mineral content, left our hair and skin feeling incredibly soft. You have about 7-10 feet of rocky shore and then the bottom dramatically falls away and slopes down to darkness. The bottom of the Laguna has only recently been reached showing a depth of 200 meters, the lowest spot in all of Nicaragua.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day of relaxation and swimming. Escaping the heat of Granada was a treat, we were actually chilly at the restaurant overlooking the Laguna where we stopped on the way home for a bite. Nikki enjoyed playing with the resident 7 month old parrot. A beer here is 75 cents. Gary & I shared a jug for $1.50! After all, swimming is hard work :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Busy, Satisfying Week!

 get just what you need.

We've had a chaotic, exciting week. We're exhausted (in fact today I'm still sitting in my room with the air conditioning going trying to catch up on correspondence, then laundry...gulp!) but feeling better about things.

I gave my first talk in Spanish last week and was well coached by Cindy, the Spanish Sister who was my Householder. She helped me work on my pronunciation and accent. It went off without a hitch and am told that it came across well. I simply felt relieved and had a measure of pleasure in having accomplished it and not given up despite the break in the week before.

The Sunday following this, we had a speaker come for the talk from Jinotepe congregation (where we originally thought we were being sent). An English Couple in their early 30's. They came with another couple here from England who are in Diriamba and a Visiting English Sister who has been in Malaysia for 3 years! Well, five Brits around our age, Gary was in heaven! He invited them all back for lunch (along with the Mosca's so we had 10) and then, as they wanted to do a little sight seeing, we invited them all to spend the night. It was a fabulous time (once all the beds were set up and made!). The following day we went for breakfast together at Kathy's Waffle House, popular with foreigners and then came back and chatted. They left around 1.30. It was chaos but a great deal of fun. So nice to hear all their stories (they'd also been to China) and feel normal for awhile.

This week, the Spanish Congregation is hosting the C/O & D/O for their circuit assembly. We were down to have them for dinner on Tuesday. They speak only Spanish! We invited them and the other foreigners in our group (again, it was 10 of us) for an early dinner before the meeting. I made Chicken Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread and Debbie brought a glorious chocolate cake for dessert. This may sound like a normal meal, but let me tell you, it was no small accomplishment! Finding ingredients here like trying to build a sand castle in the North Pole (okay it's not quite that bad, exaggeration for emphasis :D). They'd never had this kind of a meal before and from the speed they ate and from their comments, we think they really enjoyed it! We were able to communicate with great effort and many charades! It was a real laugh.

Then the next day, yesterday, we met at Bethel at 8 am to go into Managua to have our pictures taken for our residency. As is typical of Nicaragua, we are late getting them because immigrations camera was broken (!!) and then when we went yesterday, the camera was working but now the printer is broken! So we are technically residents but don't yet have our papers. The really great thing was that we were able to meet up with the two sets of Missionaries who were just sent here (they are in the latest picture in the mag) the Manzanares' who we were able to meet in the States before we arrived and the Titmas'. That was really nice, especially hearing how they are settling in and finding their assignments. Ajah had also had her purse taken on a bus and their missionary home has had a recent break in. Theft is simply a real problem here. Lucianna arrived not knowing any Spanish so she too is struggling with language. And no one can pronounce their names either :)

So today, laundry, dishes and a little R&R. Time to catch our breath and clean up. The heat is still scorching as the rainy season is dry (can you still call it a rainy season). We are taking life day by day! Really, what else can you do?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pictures of the New House

A million thanks for all the e-mails and support we have received.

Here are a few pictures of the new place. It is a step up that's for sure but under the current circumstances we are really grateful that we made the leap. I didn't take a picture of it from the road as I didn't want to go outside and flash Nikki's camera around. It is bright yellow with a little garden at the front, a space for a car and a 10 ft fence with spikes on the top followed by razor wire. We are feeling less vulnerable with each passing day. There are a number of foreign owned homes on the block and collectively they hire a security guard for the street during the day. That also provides peace of mind.

Funny this morning, as I was putting out the garbage, two glue sniffers walked by. One made a u turn and then sat on the road and proceeded to go through the smelly (very smelly, old chicken scraps were inside) contents. I had locked the gate and yelled out "Senior, No!" to which he simply cast me a cursory glance & continued collecting things. The lady across the street smiled at me and gestured that he is a glue sniffer then shrugged. I stood for a few minutes watching him and then went inside. It felt weird having someone go through your garbage. I kept checking back as I was sure I would have a mess to clean up when he was done, but surprisingly enough, he was a tidy garbage picker as when he was done he put all the stuff not worth taking (as opposed to the treasure trove of plastic bags & pop bottles???) back in the bag and tied it back up!! Weird!
So that was the excitement this morning. We are loving having air conditioning again as well as the convenience of being back in town, not to mention the luxury of round the clock water. The picture of the back building is where the three bedrooms are, the master one being on the top floor. They all include large bathrooms, air conditioning as well as walk in closets...we are feeling very spoiled. We are currently all sleeping in the same room until we regain some confidence.
I give my first talk in Spanish tonight. It's a cheat really as one of the local sisters helped me in writing it. I understand everything I say although the pronunciation will prove to be challenging. I'm very nervous. Gary did an excellent job of his reading last week.
More to come........

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Homestead has Been Violated.....

Sad to say, the day before we moved out of our waterless, scorpion homestead, we were broken into. There is a very long story to it. I will keep it brief. Sorry I won't be including photos...they got the camera :(

We had found a new home in town and had arranged for Nikki to spend the night with friends so that we could take her room apart. We were very excited! Gary & I went into town to pay the deposit, sign the legal papers and then treated ourselves to a lovely late lunch with wine & delicious food. We picked up the rental truck and headed home. I was busy trying to talk Gary into going for a drive, we were childless and with vehicle, I wanted to enjoy a few minutes. Let me back track a little to say that we had been a little nervous as when we were away someone had cut the wires to our security lights and the landlord hadn't fixed them. We had some concern that we were being set up for a break in. We were moving our within the week of this. Back to the present, thankfully Gary over rode me on slipping off for a little fun and we went straight home.

As we approached the house, we noticed that the gate was open. We thought perhaps the landlord had opened it, then as I jumped back in the truck after closing them, I noticed a carving knife on the driveway....weird, I jumped back out to pick it up, it was one of ours! We then noticed my lipstick a little further up, then my heart stop as the realization set in, we had been broken in to in the middle of the day (it was about 5 pm). Thankfully this all took about 5 minutes, likely helping us to avoid a confrontation. We raced up the driveway in the truck (it's a long one) and saw ALL the gates around the house were open. We could then see through to the house, all the doors, all 3 were broken open and the front window screen was destroyed and the bars damaged from a crow bar. At this point we realised that our lives were worth more than anything in the house so we quickly locked all the doors and lay on the horn.

We called anyone we knew who knew English and some who spoke Spanish too so they could call the police & house owners. We waited until the first group of friends arrived (with Nikki as it was them she was staying with) before we entered the house. It was an awful experience. So violating. We had obviously disturbed them in the act as one of them, who had been sitting on our couch going through a suitcase, left his motor bike helmet as well as his sun glasses. We searched and discovered about $2000 worth of good had been taken (camera, ALL my jewelry, large screen TV, DVD player, IPod etc) they had been sitting on my bed, on my pillow sorting through our files, missing the lap top that I had hidden underneath. Thank goodness....that was the thing I worried most would be taken.

The police eventually arrived and were surprisingly quite good, they even finger printed the helmet and back door which had been rammed in with brute force despite the locks and bolts in place. We hired a security guard for the night as after much discussion it was decided it would be impossible to move early with a major festival in town shutting down the roads. It was also unsafe for us to stay there, the thieves had seen to that. EVERY door and lock on the house and surrounding fence had been destroyed. We finally fell to sleep late that night, grateful guests at our friends house who graciously set up air mattresses for us on their living room floor.

Opinion is that it was organized criminals with some money behind them who were likely planning on taking everything but we had returned home too soon. Our moving may have moved them to action early. We had obviously been being watched....creepy! Gary called one of his studies who is a really great guy with a rough background to ask him to keep an eye out for our things on the street. We'd be willing to buy them back. It kills us that our nice stuff will sell for next to nothing. Some of it is simply sentimental.

So we are in the new house, but feeling very vulnerable. Thing have not been going well for us.....we feel like Job :) We are not going to make any decisions for the next little while until we are no longer feeling emotional. We don't want to leave and we really don't feel like there is any danger to us physically and we will certainly be more on guard now. We are going to take it one day at a time. It just hurts very much to have lost so much of what little we had here with us. And to know that someone was evil enough to be watching us in order to violate us!

So that is the story this week. Gary begins Regular Pioneering September 1st (all well) which has been a goal of our family for so long, it will be a real sense of joy! Nikki and I start home schooling then too and my plan is to regular aux until we get a feel for how much I can take on at once. I'm spinning a little right now :)

I will post pictures of the new house once I find Nikki's camera and borrow it. She had it with her (thank goodness).


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zip Lining.......

When anyone comes for a visit, a zip lining canopy tour of Mombacho is at the top of our must do list. What an incredible experience. Even the journey there on the worst excuse for a road we have ever seen, was a real rush. The slow winding climb up the volcano through thick gorgeous jungle is alone worth the money. The zip lining was the icing on the cake. I was concerned that Nikki wouldn't be able to do it. It proved to be both physically & mentally challenging. But she was better than me (when am I going to get used to this) and swung through the trees like Tarzan....

Pat & Debbie, visiting from Canada, were great companions and we had a hoot. We heard (but sadly failed to see) the howls from the 10,000's of Howler Monkeys that make this jungle their home. We saw an incredible array of colourful butterflies and some fruits and foliage that we have never seen or heard of before (we even tasted some). Gary was unimpressed with my technique (after I hit a couple trees)....but I can't blame him as after two lines on my own of which I failed to brake and rammed into the poor guy on the other end, Freddie, the poor guy trying to catch me suggested for the next couple of lines I ride with him. Riding on his lap was much more comfortable :) The hardest part for me, and perhaps the rest, was the 65 ft drop off the last platform that we had to repel down. It was such a great experience and I cannot even begin to do justice to a description of the views!

It was a gorgeous day. It comes for us in the middle of a very busy week as tomorrow we are off to finally purchase the Hyundai Galloper that we have been hanging our nose over. Yesterday we also settled on terms for a new home in Granada. We upped our budget and the place we found is gorgeous and safe. It offers tons of room for company....this time with 24 hour water and even air conditioning. It is right in the heart of Granada which allows for a great night life and perfect for pioneering. We move (again) Saturday. Very excited...but exhausted at the thought :/

Life is good in Nicaragua and we have enjoyed seeing friends from home....and the goodies they brought us (Nikki once again has shorts to fit her!) The weather continues to improve as the heat abates and the rain and breeze pick up. We had lunch the other week at the Missionary Home which was not only delicious but also extremely encouraging. We received some much needed hints and tips on making life in a third world country work for us. We have begun to see that difficulties that don't kill certainly help to improve you. And we can certainly use that :)


Friday, August 7, 2009

Ahhhhh.....Corn Island! Paradise Found! (Part 3 of 3)

Okay, now I'm going to need to shut up and just let the pictures show you. Absolutely heavenly! We honestly did very little except relax, swim and a little snorkeling. To be honest, there is not much more you can do on this tiny island in the middle of the ocean. Not even eat (again, no grocery store. There isn't even any little stores to wander through. And the food was not particularly tasty...except perhaps the lobster & shrimp).

Again, we had found a hotel on line that looked really good and had good write ups...but turned out to be a horrid mouldy dump. We spent an hour or so doing a circle of the Island (a good way to see everything) on the only road they have and checking out all the hotels as we have now learnt that you just can't go by the hand book. Again, the only decent place to stay, which was also the most expensive was an incredible place called Casa Canada....owners from guess where?? It was beyond beautiful and is of itself a reason to visit this Island. Anywhere else it would be hundreds of dollars a night but here and with a little negotiating on Gary's part we got it for under a $100.

I can only say look at the pictures to see what it offered. It consists of 21 or so cabins right on the ocean with views like nothing I have ever seen before!

Gary, Nikki & Steve spent a lot of time down at the little beach area in front of the hotel looking for beach glass and stones. They came home with a treasure trove of goodies, refusing to leave any behind. The pool is called an infinity pool and is designed to look like you are swimming right in the ocean and it really does. Surrounding you are palms trees swaying in the constant breeze and 180 degrees of water view from up high. The grounds are manicured with fountains and greenery and the sound of the crashing waves is a constant reminder of where you are. It was the perfect place to relax and regroup.

Okay I didn't do a good job of shutting up....but I could have said so much more.

After 4 glorious days we were ready to leave. Unfortunately the tiny plane (the picture of us getting on) we were on going home was filled to the brim and they waited with the doors shut and no air on in the stifling humid heat on the runway for a few minutes too long....and I had a panic attack....claustrophobia that I usually manage to control. It was awful. The first one I have EVER had. I yelled for them to stop, when blinding panic over took my control, as they began to head down the runway, which they did. They turned to take me back but I told them not to because, then what? I knew I had to get off the Island and this was the only way.
My friends and a little Nikki hand came to the rescue. Debbie gave me a pill (which took about 1/2 hour to kick in) and Steve offered me his head phones. I sang kingdom songs in my head as we took off....but still had horrid panic rising in my chest & throat threatening to overtake my tenuous control. It was awful. I thought I was going to start screaming and that they would have to do an emergency landing...where I don't know. It was one of the hardest thing I have ever had to battle in my life. I didn't think I was going to get it under control. But after about 1/2 hour the little pill kicked in which took the edge off and I did accounting in my head with my eyes closed. It was the longest journey of my life. My poor family and friends were so concerned, as was the pilot (poor guy) who kept turning around to look at me at which time I would smile and give him the thumbs up (faker). So now I am looking for ways to deal with that if it ever happens again. I think once it happens to you, just the fear of it could make it happen again in a tight space like that. I need to learn to control it better. Even writing about it now is bringing it back to the fore.

So anyway, we are home and rested. What a wonderful trip. We are now off today to look at another house. We know that moving again is not an option, it is a necessity. Being away helped clear our heads. You can't live without water like this. Not if we want to last here. So the search is underway.......