Diane and I arrived in Granada, Nicaragua in mid-February, joined by Nathan and Brett two weeks later. The city of Granada is located on the shore of Lake Nicaragua, at the foot of the Mombacho volcano, surrounded by lagoons, an archipelago, and natural reserves. Its population is around 120,000. It is increasingly known as a tourist destination for its colorful architecture, colonial character and friendly people. Granada is developing; ten years ago only a few cars could be seen, now there are many more but you can still cross horse–drawn carriages and delivery donkey carts in the streets.
Unlike the volunteer life we experienced during the previous three months, this time we decided to rent a place and explore the region full-time, with on our minds the question: could Granada be where we’ll want to set up our Sustainable Living Learning Center project? Nicaragua and Granada in general were recommended to us by Carol Gelfer, a long-time Portland friend of Diane’s who had spent time volunteering here many years ago with Joe, her physician husband and their two young children.
The day after we arrived in Granada, we met with a good friend of Carol’s, also named Carol, who was very helpful in providing precious tips and a list of key people to start networking with. Since our arrival we have been exploring the area and meeting lots of people, gathering information about Granada as a place to live and potentially be the site of our project. The four of us started operating as a project team in a way that is reminiscent of our previous professional experiences: mission, goals, budget, brainstorm, data gathering, trade-offs, team meetings etc.… it’s all there!
We are renting a beautiful three-bedroom house located a few blocks from the city center where we are enjoying a taste of luxury we had not experienced in months—or years for some of us. There is room for visitors. Our preferred spot in the house has to be the mirador from which we have a 360° view over the city’s roof tops, which includes a half dozen churches, the nearby volcano, lake and the three pet monkeys living in the neighbor’s tree. All that makes for some fantastic sunrises, sunsets and a sitting area kept cool all day by the lake’s breeze.
Managua, capital of Nicaragua, is located 45 minutes from Granada and is about ten times the size. We went there last week to check on bigger stores and look for bicycles. We found a store which feels like and is for sure owned by Costco, only the name (PriceSmart) is different. Same everything including membership system, American Express-only card, chicken bakes and berry sundaes. We found a Home Depot-like hardware store, just more expensive and with less selection. Nathan, Brett and I bought basic bicycles, which will improve our mobility around town and surroundings. You have to have Resident status to own and operate a motor vehicle. Good thing taxis are 40 cents per person.
Diane is currently in Portland where she went to get her Mom. Yes, Edna is coming to live with us! She is and we are very excited about this new chapter in her life. The logistics involved in making this happen are not trivial but I can’t imagine a better person than Diane to make this happen successfully. They’re scheduled to arrive April 2nd.
Nathan and Brett are currently on a ten day exploratory trip up north checking out other towns and communities (Matagalpa, Jinotepe, Esteli…) in a region known for its coffee-growing. No doubt these two outdoor aficionados will have a great time!
Meanwhile I am home alone, truly enjoying a few days of “me-time”, taking great pleasure writing this blog and getting some project planning work done.