Category Archives: Nicaragua

Magical moments among Nicaraguas volcanoes

Nicaragua is the land of volcanoes and lakes so while we enjoyed not doing many touristy things during our stay here, some things are simply unmissable.

Swimming in Laguna de Apoyo – the crater lake

In the centre of the Pacific strip of Nicaraguan territory, along the long volcanic chain that crosses the country from north to south, is a large and extinct crater. In the centre is one of the most beautiful lagoons in Nicaragua, Laguna de Apoyo.

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Ingrid loves swimming and Scott has found a stick as usual

We went to one of a handful of hostels located here for a day pass to their “beach club”. The entrance fee to spend the day is 6.00 dollars per person and 3.00 dollars for children from 6 to 12 years old. We spent the day relaxing in a sun bed overlooking the lake on one of the spacious terraces. We went kayaking, swimming played ping pong and petanque, all which is included in the entrance fee. Getting here is easy from Granada by chicken bus and taxi or shuttle service that takes you all they way there.

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Ingrid paddle boarding
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Me paddle boarding and Ingrid hitching a ride
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Playing games at the Laguna Beach club

Watching bubbling lava at the awesome Masaya volcano

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You can see the lava churning in the crater

We went with Erick tours out of Granada for a night viewing of the volcano. We spent a few hours exploring Massaya town before heading up the actual volcano just before sunset. There is a bit of a wait to get up to the volcano as they only allow 50 people at a time, but our guide, Alberto, was excellent. He spent the waiting time giving us information on  Nicaragua volcanoes & Masaya and the general history of Nicaragua.

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Lava!! at Masaya Volcano

Once at the top, the lava lights up the whole sky in a magical orange glow! Amazing view of the bubbling lava but strong sulphur fumes means you can only stay 15 min at the top. We were all seriously coughing by then and glad to get off the top of the volcano.

Rooftop ride to swim in the cool waters of Aguas Agrias

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Cool mammas on the roof on our way to the lagoon

In the rural community of Aguas Agrias, located south of the Mombacho Volcano , is a stunning natural lagoon where the locals go to cool off.  Together with friends we took a pick up truck there and enjoyed an epic ride on the roof. We spent a few hours swimming in the cool waters watching the monkeys overhead. Simply wonderful!

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Beautiful natural lagoon in the jungle
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Howler monkeys in the canopy while we were swimming
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The locals come here too
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Scott and Gekko having fun
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Me and Scott enjoying the sunshine

Sunset at the Treehouse

On the way from Aguas Argias we went to the Treehouse for an amazing dinner at sunset. The Treehouse is located half an hours drive from Granada, 200m up in the jungle. 

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Canopy bridge with treehouse on the right

Its is a wonderful place to bring he kids, although some  might think its perhaps a bit dangerous for little ones. The actual house is built into the side of volcano Mombacho, surrounded by howler monkeys, complete with a  fire mans pole, some swings and a 60 metre canopy bridge connecting the main house where you eat to a smaller house where you can sleep in hammocks. The kids have never climbed up 200m so fast before in their life. We stayed for drinks, a communal meal and a truly beautiful sunset.

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Sunset at the Treehouse outside Granada
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Sunset from the Treehouse

Other things we enjoyed in Granada

Pottery practice

Pottery class making our own eggcups out of red clay from are area of san Juan de Oriente. We all had a go under the instruction of the watchful eye of the master, Carlos. We were not very successful, but persuaded him to sell us the little creations we made. Eggcups!

Watching the annual parade at the global poetry festival

The International Poetry Festival celebrates poets from around the world (and is also the largest poetry festival in the world).  We didn’t go to any of the poetry readings but enjoyed the many events that took place in Granada’s open plazas, parks, churches, and markets. The highlight for us was the Carneval which made its way trough the centre of Granada stopping at every street corner for a poetry reading.

Our favourite things in Granada

A more local view on Granada

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Granada market

While living in Nicaragua for a month we have enjoyed getting into a more normal routine and not doing a lot of touristy things. In our day to day life here and during the weekends there are many simple things we enjoy doing. We have even made a map of the city centre with all our favourite things on it!

Monkeying around by lake Nicaragua

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Monkey on the monkey bars

Late afternoon play in the park down by lake Nicaragua. The music is loud, the ground is littered with plastic bags and cups and by the shore are starving horses and cows grazing. We enjoy coming here to climb on the many climbing frames & monkey bars with the local kids.

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Playground by lake Nicaragua where horses and cows also like to hang out
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Lots and lots of colourful swings in the park

Sunday lunch delicacies in the park with the locals

The local have Sundays off and come in busloads and in overfull cars to enjoy a day by the lakeside. Families chill out in hammocks in the shade and eat Vigoron with Chicharron, a delicious plate of food with Yucca, plantain chips and pork crackling, sold at one of the may simple stalls here.

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Vigaron – One of Pauls favourite foods in Nicaragua
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The locals swim in the lake, most other people don’t. Only lake in the world with sharks!
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Trying to negotiate the price

Wander up and down the Calzada to Parque central

Even though this is the tourist bit of Granada its still a nice walk. There are restaurants, shops, hotels and cafes lining the streets. The street is closed from traffic, only horses and bikes are allowed to come down the street.

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Morning walk with view of Mombacho volcano, one of 19 active volcanos in Nicaragua
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The Calzada

Going to school learning Spanish

The only difference to the local kids school is that their school day starts at 7 and ours starts at 8.

Arts, crafts and playing at home in Casa Ranita

Its nice to have enough the space to play without all of us having to do the same thing and just like the locals, we spend much of the day inside avoiding the blazing heat.

Buying fruit, vegetables & meat at the local market

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My favourite fruit stall on the left

Early morning is the best time to go to the market. There is lots of produce to choose from and lots of stalls selling the same things. Different areas in the market typically sell different kinds of things, e.g. meet section, fruit section, clothes, school supplies. I have a few favourite stalls that go to every day.

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This is where I buy vegetables
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Scott looking for the best bananas
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This is where I buy our meet
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Rice and beans
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Paul looking everywhere for a 2nd hand bike.
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You can buy almost anything at the market here

Cooking our own food – and clearing up too!

Eating every meal out, ordering an waiting for your food gets a bit tedious when you are on the road. Ingrid and Scott especially, love eating in and to help with mealtimes.

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Ingrid making pancakes and Scott cutting up fresh pinapple
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Ingrids amazing pancakes
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Scott usually does the washing up, Paul dries and Ingrid puts it away
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Making Swedish meatballs

Watching the many horses wander around in town

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One of many working horses in Granada

Horses play an important role as working animals and transportation here. In the mornings there and many horses out wandering the streets eating out of the bins or grazing down by the lake.

Walks around among the beautiful coloured houses

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Love walking up this street

Pictures that speak a thousand words. Imagine if all these houses were plain grey concrete, life would not be the same. I just love the colours in this town just walking around town puts a smile on your face !

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My favourite colour in all of Granada
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The more contrast the better
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Little coffee shop round the corner
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Another colour I just love

Watching the sunset and sunrise over the mountains

Early morning sunrise or evening sunset it is all so beautiful and we just cant get enough of the crips blue skies and the beautiful colours of the sun.

A ride on the local chicken bus

Everyone packs in and no matter how full, someone will always try to make space for you if you are travelling with a child. Latin music is blaring out of the speakers, the wind is blowing in through the open windows as we slowly make our way towards Masaya. Its great fun, cheap at 10$c per person and very easy to get around.

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Chicken bus to Laguna de Apoyo

All these things makes Granada a great place to stay! I will share our favourite touristy things here in my next post!

 

School for a month in Nicaragua

Swapping expensive Costa Rica for a more affordable stay in Nicaragua

It was only in the last few weeks of our time in Asia that we actually started looking at the next phase of our travel in Central and South America. As we got more into the details of travel blogs and websites we realised that the initial plan of spending a long time in Cost Rica would be difficult for us as the cost of food, accommodation  of and travel is pretty much on par with Western Europe. Too expensive for us!

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Catedral de Granada one of many beautiful churches here

Searching for ways to make or time cheaper we started looking at Nicaragua as a potentially cheaper option.  In the end, we decided we would go either to Costa Rica or Nicaragua as long as we could find a self catering place to stay in close to somewhere all 4 of us could learn Spanish. We had always planned to do a Spanish course at the beginning of our 6 months in Central and South America, to help us get around more easily, to fully enjoy our time in this part of the world and to be able to talk to people beyond Hello and Thank you.

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Leaving our house for school

Finding a school for Ingrid and Scott

The 2 weeks of rest in Koh Chang was invaluable for us in researching Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I spent many hours trawling through blogs and FB groups to find some contacts that could help us with affordable AirBnB or other self catering place where we could settle in and lay low for a few weeks. How hard can it be to find an appropriate school that can take the kids in for month and to help them learn Spanish. VERY!!

Ingrid and Scott are too little to benefit form 1-1 classes in Spanish and just throwing them into a local school for a few weeks is simply not giving them the time to learn enough Spanish to make friends and understand anything the teachers say.

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Ingrid and Scott in Koh Chang – still so little!

I contacted lots of bi-lingual schools (English & Spanish) in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and eventually got some leads through a closed FB group for travelling families and some closed Expat groups for people living in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I contacted one of the schools recommended and finally found a little school willing to accept both children, for 1-2 months at a cost. As luck would have it, the school was located in the heart of Granada, the first town we were planning to go to in Nicaragua.

Preparing for school in Granada

We arrived in Granada on Friday night and Ingrid and Scott would spend their first day in school on the following Tuesday. A quick visit to the school on Monday to see Miss Beth, the Head mistress and director who helped me getting the children into the school via FB and email, to get all the paper work sorted. Ingrid and Scott also got a chance to see some of the children who go there, helping them mentally prepare for the official school start the following day.

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Beautiful colours on our way to see the school in Granada

Sancuanjoche is a small but perfectly shaped school with class rooms on 2 levels around a shaded courtyard where the children have lunch and hang out during recess.

The pre-school where Scott is going is spacious and creative with 4 classrooms set up for the different ages and needs. It also has a big open room for  play during break time and a little park just across the road for a run around when the weather is not too hot.

Completely bilingual school and curriculum

The school has about 80 students in classes 1-7 from the age of 6 and up and the adjacent pre-school  run groups with children aged 3 to 6. Classes have a maximum of 16 students with a great mix of native English and Spanish speakers and all teachers are bilingual too.

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Happy to be back in school again

English, Maths, Science and Social studies are taught in English and Spanish. All students have Spanish class every day and in addition, English or Spanish as a second language depending on which native language they speak. The school day runs from 8 till 3, an hour longer than school in the Uk.

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Ingrids school day is full of Spanish – exciting!

In pre-school all classes are also bilingual but with more focus more on learning through play and social interaction. Here there is also Spanish class for the English speakers and vice versa every day. Scott’s school day is slightly shorter than Ingrids and finishes at 1 .

Miss Beth and her staff were super friendly and welcoming. Ingrid and Scott were both excited and nervous about starting school the following day.

First day in Nicaraguan school – one month to go

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Looking for school uniforms at the local market

I picked up the school uniforms at the local market after visiting the school. When I saw the kids putting them on the next morning, getting excited my heart simply melt and filled with pride at their ability to take it all in a stride. Scotts nervousness made him worried and upset he wasn’t looking cool enough and Ingrid was very quiet…..Pancakes for breakfast much earlier than we’re used to and then we were ready to go.

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First walk to school

After a 20 min walk in the warm sunshine we arrived at school. At the sight of his teacher, Lauren, who reminded him very much of Miss Lavander, his first teacher back in England, he happily went in and waved good bye.

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Scott happily heading into school
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First piece of writing in Spanish

As we approached Ingrids school round the corner she went all serious, looked at us and said, ” You are not coming in. I am not related to you!”. This was the first but definitely not the last time she was worried about her parents embarrassing her!

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Ingrid heading off -too cool for mum and dad these days

Im excited to find out at the end of the week what school is really like and how the kids get on. Im sure their Spanish will be better than mine and Pauls by the time we leave Nicaragua!

 

 

 

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