Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Don't Mess With a Woman & Her Credit Card!

Yesterday our kittens went to their forever homes. It was very difficult. The house seems even emptier than before. Intellectually we have no doubt that it was the right decision but emotionally it felt wrong. Finding a good home in Nicaragua for a cat you have come to love is almost impossible. They simply don't view animals the way we do in Canada & the US. Boots (who LOVED food and was a little simple) went to a family in the English Group who have three grown children. Fresca (who is fast, smart and affectionate) went to a local vet who also owns a pet food shop. She will be well fed if nothing else. I can't worry about it now (I keep telling myself).

Our excitement for the week happened on the way to the meeting on Sunday. We had no water in the morning so we were a little frazzled to start with. We had trouble getting a bus and when we finally did, it was full to the brim, standing room only. We soon discovered why as we came up to the baseball stadium. Suddenly the entire bus (or so it seemed) started to push past us to get off. There was a big game at the stadium. We were being pushed by men from all sides even above us as they tried to hold on to the bar above our head. We ducked down and tried to slide into some newly emptied seat. I was holding onto Nikki, my umbrella, my bag with my walking shoes in it and my purse was on my shoulder. We sat down and as my bag swung around I seemed to instinctively look in it and saw that my main little inside bag (that stupidly held all three of our passports, both my credit cards that we have with us & my International drivers licence plus my money as we had been into the city to immigration the day before) was GONE! I jumped up and swung round yelling someone stole my purse (brilliant...like anyone other than my family could understand).
I stood in the way of all the people trying to get off. No one was getting off until I got my purse I couldn't afford to lose it. Again, instinctively I saw a man and I knew it was him. I hit him in the stomach and yelled "Malo, malo". As I hit him, his sweater he was carrying moved and I saw my bag under it. I grabbed it. He scurried off the bus as fast as he could (Gary, who was way at the front of the bus and unable to get back to me through the crowd, yelled at him as he scurried by). The bus driver asked if we wanted to go after him but we said no. I was just SO grateful that somehow we had got it back. It would have been a disaster. I felt so violated! More so then when, the week before, the bus attendant had grabbed my bottom as I got on the bus!
The entire event likely lasted less than a minute but it is indelibly ingrained in my mind. I have learnt a valuable lesson. Never allow ourselves to be that vulnerable on a bus or in a crowd!
We need a car.....working on it (still).
We have arranged security for our house while we are gone next week. A couple from Halifax Nova Scotia will be here when we get back and we are really looking forward to their visit. Plus the goodies from home (like a camping bag shower and a potato masher, hooray) they are bringing us! We plan on going zip lining with them on Mombacho Volcano and are very excited. It is best done with friends so we have been eagerly waiting.
Laundry awaits me so I must go. Funny how the same mundane daily things need to be done here as back home. When your imagining it ahead of time, it's somehow skipped in the dream.....;)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kingdom Hall Kerfuffle

What to do when the light go out?? This particular evening we decided to play a game of dominoes. We don't have a table as we have put a hold on buying anything else until we decided about the house. It was quite a memorable evening and fun.....even though Gary won both games.

Our water issue here is beyond hope so we will be on the move again. We have come to the conclusion after speaking with many other expats here that this is par the course. Finding acceptable accommodation is like the search for the Holy Grail. We are learning to roll with it. Having water only 20% of the time and at no time that you can actually count on (we regularly go 36 hours without any) is not something we can live with. Our priorities are falling into place.
We had a kerfuffle at the Kingdom Hall this week after our Thursday night meeting. I was talking to Spanish Sister when I heard some excitement outside, yelling and running. My immediate thought was "Nikki" so I ran for the door. Outside, as I looked frantically for Nikki, a girl was being attacked & beaten by two guys, her two hysterical friends had come running over to the Kingdom Hall looking for aid. By now others had come running and a group of brothers including Gary started to rush across the street to try and help the girl. A short scuffle ensued, punctuated by a shout, "he has a gun". One guy pulled a gun on the brothers and the other one was holding a knife. I, along with many other sisters then ran back in the hall, where I finally found Nikki happily sat with some other youngsters in the front corner of the hall. I ushered them all into the second school and shut all the windows. The trouble makers eventually ran off, and then girl who had been beaten too. The police weren't answering their phone (apparently there is only one police vehicle in all of Granada, the rest are on foot) and two brother had to go on a motor bike to try and get them to come and help.
It turns out the guys were gang members (we hear that there is not the gang issue here as elsewhere but obviously it still exists) and they had attacked the girls as they were going to a party. The girl who was beaten is from Costa Rica and she refused to file a complaint as the two girls she was with are local and they are afraid for themselves and their families should it get taken any further (I can understand as the police just don't/can't help).

So that was the excitement for the week. The reality is that this sort of thing could happen anywhere (when I lived in England there was a double murder just doors down from our house). It does remind us of the need to use caution when walking in town. Our hall has a security light outside that isn't on most of the time because they can't afford the electricity. We're going to try and do something about that.

One week and we are off to Bluefields and Corn Island. We are so excited!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Political Moods.....

Yesterday was the big celebration in Managua for the Sandinista Government. We watched from our front window as bus after bus of cheering, red flag waving Nicaraguans headed into the city to join in the festivities. No less than 15 buses, with people hanging out the windows and sitting on top, sped past the house singing and shouting slogans. Police & emergency vehicles joined in the procession with their sirens wailing. We were hesitant to leave to catch a bus the other way into the meeting. Yesterday was called "Happy Day" and today is a holiday so government offices are closed.

Today in the news we see that Ortega has announced that he feels, much like the Honduran President, that he should be allowed to stay in power despite the laws in place to stop that from happening. Similar to what already happened in Venezuela. For a country that has had so little peace, this ignites much passion among the people. No doubt interesting days lay ahead......we will keep a close eye on it.

So, updates;

One of Gary's studies is a teacher at the local University. He has asked Gary to come in this week and make a biblical presentation to his class. Very exciting.

We are now up to 10 scorpions that we have found in the house.....and counting.

The water issue continues to be a real drain (no pun intended). Last week from Thursday at 2 pm until Saturday at 6 am we had none! Saturday was on from 6 to 4 but only a trickle and then finally Sunday during the day was okay. Today, we are out again! We will try and talk to the owner's one more time.

We have seen a vehicle that looks like it will work for us. A 2000 Hyundai 4X4 Galloper. A Special Pioneer Couple are selling it at the Branch. We are in the process of trying to get funds from Canada to here. Not as easy as one would think......

We have booked our flights to Bluefields for the Special Assembly Day and then on from there to Corn Island for 4 days of R&R, snorkeling and lobster! July 31 we leave. Can't wait.

Little Kitty Boots was taken to the vets and diagnosed with a bacterial infection so he has had meds and is one the mend....and the diarrhea all over the house (try cleaning that up without water!) is slowing down. He has started to gain weight back again and we think we have found both him & Fresca really good homes. Until they are 100% we will keep them then they go to their forever homes. A heart breaking decision but we are relieved now that it is made.

I think that's it. Appreciate all the e-mails from home and comments on the blog. It helps keep us sane :)


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

San Juan Del Sur & Rivas

Three months to the day that we arrived in Nicaragua and we were able to celebrate with a day trip. Seeing more of Nicaragua is a real delight with each area being so different, offering a great deal of beauty and interesting sights. The topography is constantly changing with the fauna & flora also presenting new offerings everwhere you go.

Heading toward Costa Rica, in fact not far from the border, is Rivas. We found the area mush poorer than Granada, but much friendlier. The open air market was a real delight, especially in comparison to Granada's crowded, dirty one. Wide streets, without vehicles, were lined with tidy market stalls from which smiling vendors curiously stared at us, foreigners being less common here. We had only about an hour to spend here as we were heading for somewhere even better...

San Juan Del Sur! Still maintaining it's fishing village feel, this little town lies between the hills and the glorious Pacific Ocean. It is the more commercial beach in the area....commercial for Nicaragua anyway. Cabana style restaurants line the beach and new developments and luxury home are sprouting up in the hills overlooking the moon shaped beach. Even still, no more than 50 people were on the beach and a meal can still be had, served to you in your beach chair should you wish, for about $4-$5. A beer served to you under your umbrella will put you back about $1.25. Luxury ;)

The waters of the Pacific, which has been a life long desire of mine to see & swim in, were warm but refreshing. Little schools of fish swam cirles around us. I just prayed nothing bigger would be following them (once a mother always a mother)! Nikki was like a fish herself and was not even put off by the Sting Ray her and Gary saw swim by! We collected stones & shells that the tide had washed up, lots of pretty ones that were very different from the ones we had found on the Atlantic Ocean beaches. We even found a live Sand Dollar that we snapped pictures off and then placed gently back in the water. The sun was merciless, giving Nikki and Gary a lobster style tan but the constant gentle breeze and a light afternoon shower made it difficult to know that you were getting so much sun.
We stayed to watch the glorious sunset (which we are told is even more glorious in Nov-Jan due to it's location) and then headed back the 1 or so hour trip in the dark to Granada. It really was a beautiful day. We look forward to exploring some of the other beaches (the vehicle we are looking at currently is 4x4 which will make it possible). Nikki wants to see the turtle egg laying and hatching this fall too!
It was hard to pick some pictures to show you. I added just a few to show the area. Gorgeous!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Scorpion Homestead!

Okay, That's It!!

Today we caught a large scorpion scurrying across our floor. This is number 5!!! And the biggest, nassssstiest looking one!! What a nocturnal hunter was doing out in the middle of day in my living room is beyond me!

We asked before we moved in and were assured that they were not likely in the immediate area, we've asked endless amounts of other people who say that they don't have them, "haven't even seen them here". Yet....we are blessed with them in abundance....everywhere we go!! Even in Nikki's bed this week! I use a flash light now when I go to the bathroom at night (there are some place you REALLY don't want to be stung!) What to do????

We are going to be pro active and work on spraying the perimeter of the house and sealing off any areas they may be able to enter. We are also training our "killer cats"! Water is still a big issue in this house (so far we only seem to have a good supply of water about 20% of the time) so we will try and get the landlord to deal with this issue (emergency water supply tank) and if they won't we may have to look around....again....for something suitable. I can't believe I'm saying that and really hope it won't come to that. We are going to try and work with this house as much as we can. It really is beautiful!! Our heads are spinning!

On the WAY up side, we went up San Marcos yesterday. What a beautiful paradise! In the hills so it is cooler and much lusher vegetation. The towns are small and it is a little more rural than I would like, but it really is gorgeous. The brothers and sisters that we had lunch with there (from both Canada & USA) were lovely. It was an awesome day! One town we drove through on the 40 minute drive (Masatepe) is the furniture capital of the country and the sides of the roads are chalk full of small shops showcasing all the solid wood offerings of handcrafted furniture for crazy prices! We look forward to going back and doing some shopping once we have a vehicle. We had gone up to view a Toyota Hilux Surf that was for sale. We have since discovered that although the owner swears that it is a 1994 (he won't hear that it isn't) it is actually a 1989. Without a doubt! Only in Nicaragua! We are negotiating as it really is in good shape and the perfect vehicle for Central America (4x4, Diesel).
Nikki is sick with a high fever as of last night. We are keeping a close eye on her. There is so much it could be! If it's not down and back to normal by tomorrow we may take her into the private hospital in Managua. She is in good spirits though so I think she will bounce back! We received word last week that our Missionary Visa's will be ready for the 17 of this month so that is very exciting! Typically, our tourist visa expires on the 13th so we will have to pay a penalty for the days it is over but it won't amount to too much! On the other hand, if we are deported for the couple days difference we may be looking for a place to live.....in Canada....;)
Love to all!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Perspective Adjustments!

Notice Gary's tiny Ironing Board....it drives him crazy, especially when the kitties try to help!

This morning at the meeting, we had no sound as the Spanish Brother who brings the "system" with him was ill and arrived late. Gary was Chairman and after he introduced the song, realised he had to start us singing too. With a lopsided grin he started singing, in completely the wrong note, but the group quickly joined him and we muddled through. There is so very very much here that makes you appreciate the need to stand on your own two feet and not rely on external factors to make things "okay", "proper" or "acceptable". The Speaker was a Brother from Washington State, around 25, who has been serving here for the last 3.5 years and has since been assigned as a special pioneer to the newly formed Managua English Congregation. He drove all the way here, despite not being very well, to give the group of about 15 of us an excellent talk. The quality of our talks has been surprisingly high due to to a large extent, to us being in English. All our Public speakers are either bethelites, missionaries, special pioneers or need greaters.
After the meeting, as we walked to catch the bus, I trudged along feeling sorry for myself, being on a budget and not being able to go for lunch out. Then a little lad, about Nikki's age approached us, dressed in rags and obviously very hungry, begging for a cord (5 cents). Gary dug out a couple, we no longer felt denied. Earlier in the week some work had been being done around our house. Another little lad about Nikki's age was out in the heat all day, working along side his Dad, doing hard physical labour. I feel bad if Nikki runs out of peanut butter! These people can't leave, they have no immediate hope for a better life. They are trapped. It puts things in perspective.
Talking about perspective, we had an "event" this week with Nikki's hair. I took her in to the city to a high end salon in Managua for a long over due trim. The local hair dressers have little or no training. This salon charges about $9 for a cut, which for here is alot. For us in Canada, very little. I explained in my poor Spanish what we wanted and then settled down at the other end of the salon for a pedicure (a real treat, only $10, one of the best I've had!) as my feet are in very rough shape from walking and dirt. The stylist either didn't understand me or felt Nikki's hair was so dry it needed some serious cutting, but she started really cutting it, and layering it. Nikki was unable to say anything, she felt helpless. She came over to me in tears when it was finished. It looked lovely, in my opinion, but it was seriously shorter. At least 4 inches. She spent the rest of the day crying on and off and even stuck a piece of paper on her head that said "I have a dumb hair cut"! Poor kid, I had no idea how much her long, bohemian hair meant to her. She now looks much older and quite sophisticated, but not for long....she's growing it out!
We go to look at a vehicle tomorrow. We are still having issues with water in this house. We only seem to have it a third of the time. We are still waiting to see if it improves as the owner of the house says this is not normal. The weather is now awesome as the rainy season has begun. Most of the time hot & sunny during the day and beautiful and breezy in the evenings and nights. Perhaps it is simply that we have adjusted. Likely a combination of both.
We are loving the service.
I think that's it for now. More to come.........