Okay, it has been a while since you heard from us, way too long. If you know us, though, you know we have been busy, so busy. Since the beginning of this year, Gerard and I both filed for and received our Nicaraguan residency, registered our business, ViVerde SA (Sociedad Anonima) in Granada, almost completed a large renovation and addition to the existing main house with hundreds of design details, and we developed an assisted living program for my mom, Edna with all of the necessary staff and protocols to provide for her medical and daily needs (she is suffering from Parkinson’s and pretty severe dementia) from 7:30 in the morning until 8pm at night. And all of this in Spanish!
Obviously, we couldn’t have launched into all this if Gerard hadn’t already spoken pretty fluent Spanish (remember that he is French and they have to have not one but two foreign languages). I am speaking Spanish too, badly, but I do communicate with staff all day long . My French does help, it is so similar, but now the Spanish has pushed the French out of my head.
Our daughter Brett earned her permaculture design certification in Costa Rica and unlike most of her classmates, she actually had her own farm project to design right away. She measured and mapped the topography of the property, plotted buildings and trees, where the water runs and the sun hits, and then drew beautiful maps of what we have and what we want to add. Then we got to digging and planting. This rainy season, we put in over 40 new fruit trees!
Our daytime staff, both named Juan, are so valuable, such hard workers; this job gives them the opportunity to learn a wide variety of things besides digging (which they are SO good at). They have now done plumbing and electrical, rock wall building, concrete masonry, composting, planning and transplanting. We could not move ahead without them.
In January we started our construction project. When you speak Spanish you have a wider choice than the builders customarily working for expats and we took advantage of this. We have experience building in the US, but here it it so different, mostly concrete, with ceilings covered with cane, metal roofs covered with clay tiles, and when it rains, it pours, so gutters need to be custom engineered to handle the water. We have learned so much! And every day, we had to stay ahead of the contractors in design details or we could have easily ended up with something we would not have chosen. We purchased the materials ourselves to stay in control of that process. People work six days here, Saturday being a bit shorter, so crews were around most of the time and there was plenty of noise all day long. We knew it would be stressful and it was, but we did it, we stayed on top of things and we are thrilled with the results.
We have had a string of visitors and volunteers. Our dogs, female rottweiler Dulci and male boxer Mario, are an endless source of delight. Let’s let photos tell the rest.
Posts later about our mandala garden, major earthworks and rainwater harvesting project, and more…