This week was spent just enjoying a leisurely daily routine and music from Jesse Bishop, Radha, and David on Tuesday and Thursday evening. We continued to take our sun walks up and down the beach, laze in the pool, read, visit with other "tourists" who are staying at "our" place, Mango, watching and listen to the Howler Monkeys and Iguanas, but we spent allot of time doing research.
The research part started with our conversations about where we really would like to go and realizing that after the research some of what we want to do isn't going to fit into the budget or the more immediate goal of finding a new home country. So, we've decided to forego the southern and Asian hemispheres for the moment. Will probably put them on a list of "vacations" later.
We definitely made the decision that we HAVE to go back to Nicaragua!! We were truly enamored and won't rest until we explore more. It's truly gotten a very bad reputation from sins of the past that are long gone. The cost of living is below Costa Rica and Panama, it's in its rebuilding stage and has much to offer with regard to good low cost health care.
So our revised itinerary is: Off back to the states (WA, northern CA, southern CA, Chicago, and CT) all in 2 months before we head out on July 6th for Ecuador. We'll kick around Ecuador for 3 months starting out on the southern coast for a month in Salinas. Take a romp up the coast just to see how some of the smaller towns fare against the larger town of Salinas, then up the mountains to see Cuenca, Quito, Vilcabamba, Cotacachi, Otavalo, Baños, and who knows where else. But we do know that the mountains are too cold and wet for us to live in year round. But while we're there, we definitely have to go see them!
We are working on a South American tour through Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, if all works out. Still seeing how much we can get into our budget before committing.
But from there, we are going back to Nicaragua!! We plan to spend 2-3 months there between San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast close to the Costa Rica border, Leon, and Granada. We plan to use Granada as a base and explore Managua and other areas north while there.
The reason for this switch is mainly because of weather. If we went on to Spain in the fall, we would quickly come into a situation of needing heavier, if not full winter, clothing. Not!! We are going to reduce our luggage on this next trek by our one carryon small suitcase each. This means there's no room for anything but one season of clothing for us.
By heading back to the west, we can do Nicaragua and then head up to Mexico for 3 months of winter (Puerto Vallarta, LaPaz, Merida). Yes, we decided we should give Mexico another look/see just to be sure. Spain will be the destination from there next Spring and we can visit Europe by train in good weather. Oh, and as of today, we're looking at taking a Repositioning Cruise to Europe! So many things to figure out and experience!
The other bit of research I did this week was try to see if I could expand my viewing base of my blog. I know the blog has been valuable to many out there either wanting to do what we are or that can't do it but need the experience and knowledge of someone who has to help them focus on just one country that works for them. I know we are doing our exploratory search the most absolute right way!
However, I was in for quite a surprise! I was told that my blog was NOT an expat blog because I'm not writing about THE country we've chosen to live in. And, it doesn't qualify as a Travel Blog because it's not written from a tourist viewpoint but an expat viewpoint!! Catch 22!! So, since I started writing it more for keeping our friends and family updated and for me as a journal so I wouldn't forget things as time passes, I'll just keep on keeping on!
My blog has had 9,767 page views since I began from 16 different countries around the world, in all different hemispheres. Pretty amazed at this!!
On Friday we decided to take the local bus to Brasilito and walk down to Playa Conchal. At the bus stop we met 3 young travelers from Minnesota, 2 of which had decided to see how far around the world they could get working their way across. They are finding it much harder than they expected!
After a half hour bus ride meandering in and out of little villages, we got dropped off by the beach but instead of walking directly to Conchal we decided to have lunch somewhere on the beach in Brasilito. Without walking far we happened upon Restaurante Camaron Dorado. We knew we were in for a treat when the waiter literally "escorted" me arm in arm to the bathroom (baño)!! No joke and then they proceeded to bring us fresh flowers in an ice bowl before and after lunch to wash our hands. And, they even dried our hands for us!! The view was beautiful, service outstanding and the food very good!!
From there we walked down the beach about 1km over a rock point and it opened up to Playa Conchal!! A beautiful white beach from all the white ground sea shells with crystal clear waters. Before deciding just what we wanted to do, we walked down the beach to scope it out. Our young friends had just finished snorkeling. Rental of geer only $4/hr. They saw octopus, fish, eel and many beautiful rock formations.
A bit further down there were many beach side massage tables offering a one hour massage for $20! I had had high hopes for this, as my friend, Linda, had said this is where she had one of her best massages for only $20 and she's the BEST massage therapist I know!! So, I was thrilled to find they were still there.
I got my massage and Mike went back and did his snorkeling. We were both very happy people afterwards!! He even saw a huge Manta Ray within touching distance but no octopus!
We were at the bus stop by 3:30pm but no bus showed up until 4pm only to find out it wasn't going our way. 10 min the driver said. We waited and nope that wasn't the right bus either. So along comes 2 young men, one whose dreads were piled high upon his head but he serenaded us with the most wonderful guitar and Spanish & French songs. It turned out he got on the same bus we did at 4:30pm and serenaded the whole bus all the way to Matapalo. Simply charming!
Since this bus didn't go all the way into Tamarindo, we had to change busses in Huacus. Off and around the corner we went only to have a car that had just picked up a young lady stop and ask if we wanted him to give us a ride to Tamarindo for $1/each. We hopped right in and off we went! Awesome!
Last night we were invited to join Jesse Bishop and his wife, Susan Adams, at the condo of their friends, Z and Ted, who are from the Gulf Coast of Texas. A wonderful time visiting with all of them before going to dinner. Mike & I then had dinner at Patagonia, which we'd been wanting to do since we got here. If you are ever in Tamarindo, this is a must do! On our stroll home, town was hopping, whereas last week on a Saturday night it was pretty quiet. Hearing some live good music, we decided to have a nightcap but there was no more seating at the bar where there was music so we went next door and had a drink there while listening to the music we wanted to hear. A win - win for us!!
We blew the budget this month - but not by much! However, knowing what we know now, we do know that we could live here with a daily routine life within our budget of $1,800-$2,000/month. We were just so tempted with the good food, good drink, boating, Nicaragua day trip ($380 for both of us), etc. Also, we know we can find an apartment within the budget, if we do a long term one year lease. Yes, it's more expensive here but not so much so that you can't still have a very good life within our budget.
Our groceries are dwindling and we are timing everything right now since we depart this gorgeous part of the world on Tuesday to head back for the night by the San Jose airport. Our flight is early Wednesday morning, May 1, to take us back to the states for 2 months. We are both a little anxious to see how we handle this, what our reactions are going to be, how it will feel like being "home" without a home. Many unknown firsts for us.
Just part of the JOURNEY and loving every moment!!