A busy year at Finca ViVerde

By Diane

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…

Centro demolition before

Demolition of old wall – The BEFORE

New kitchen

New kitchen walls

G getting stairs right

Gerard getting the stairs right

Centro early construction

New addition starts to take shape

Bottom level kitchen and dining room, top level multi-purpose space. Almost finished!

Bottom level kitchen and dining room, top level multi-purpose space. Almost finished!

Brett and I gave this sink a facelift with a colored concrete design

Brett and I gave this sink a facelift with a colored concrete design

John Dripps and Bess

John and Bess, the perfect people to put together these complicated Thai light covers

Tyler McRae and Justin Barth plan their table construction project with Gerard

Tyler and Justin spent 3 weeks with us, here they plan their table construction project with Gerard

Sister in law Laurie with nephew Adam, Edna, and caregiver Maria

Sister-in-law Laurie, nephew Adam, my mom Edna (when she was still walking), caregiver Maria, and Dulci

Stamblers and us

Barrett, Bobbie, Jamey, Sivan, and Dillon (not pictured) visited over spring break

Niece Danielle and Sarah in Granada

Niece Danielle and friend Sarah in Granada

Carol and Eliana returning after eleven years (we are in Granada based on Carol's recommendation)

Carol and Eliana returning after eleven years (we are in Granada based on Carol’s recommendation)

Diane in vivero

Diane in her element: propagating plants is so easy here in this warm weather

Beginnings of a growing garden

Beginnings of a growing garden

Dulci and baby Mario

March 2, 2015 ~ Mario’s first day on the farm!


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn Moseler
    Sep 30, 2015 @ 10:31:06

    So very good to hear from you all! You have been on my mind a lot this past couple weeks, and Edna for most of the summer; lifting you all in prayer.

    What great work you’ve done and the pics show so much. Beautiful addition!

    And I Know Ur a blessing to Ur employees and visitors!

    Missing you all, Kathryn


  2. Jan Schatz
    Sep 30, 2015 @ 11:00:57

    Diane and Gerard,
    What an amazing year you have had! The pictures are wonderful to see, you have made amazing progress. The addtion to the house is so beautiful. It looks like you have had some visitors throughout the process as well. I am always happy to see how well you are doing.


  3. Karen Campbell
    Oct 03, 2015 @ 16:39:25

    Dear Diane and Gerard, So happy to hear from you! We think of you often and it looks like you have had an amazing year, with much progress (and much hard work). We always marvel at your courage and abilities. So sorry to hear the Edna is not doing well. Please give her my love. Dulci and baby boxer are adorable. We are traveling, now spending the night in Las Cruses, NM on our way to Tucson. We’ve been to Kansas for a school reunion and are making a long loop back home, visiting friends and family along the way. We missed you so bad at Lost Lake. It wasn’t the same without you there. Much love and hugs to you all, Karen and Glen


  4. elaine ledbetter
    Oct 03, 2015 @ 22:13:28

    Diane, it’s so good to hear from you! What a wonderful year of growth for all of you. Say hi to all and give Edna a hug from Mom (Lillian) and I. Hopefully I will get motivated to write more soon. We miss you and Gerard but excited that you are making your vision become reality. Via con Dios mi amiga, Elaine Hope my meager Spanish is correct.

    Sent from my iPad



  5. Olivier Rémondière
    Oct 14, 2015 @ 13:26:59

    Chers Diane et Gérard,
    Quel plaisir de voir de vos nouvelles ! je vous croyais au Belize. J’ai dû rater quelques étapes. Apparemment, vous avez été bien occupés ! Que de nouvelles réalisations… vous êtes des constructeurs ! De notre côté, nous avons eu des occupations similaires avec la rénovation de notre maison. Nous arrivons au bout maintenant et c’est plus calme. Quelles sont les nouvelles d’Amélie ? A bientôt au moins par écrit. Jana et Olivier


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