August 11, 2021: Vale Gets a New Camera

Wednesday. Today feels like a really busy one.

This week is really proving to be exhausting. Not bad, just tiring. My day started with client meetings today. That took my till the late morning.

We have the team moving forward on the vent hoods for the kitchen. As far as we know, that is the last roadblock to getting the hotel fully operational and licensed. We have all agreed that we need to just keep this moving and get it over the line so that we can get this hotel fully invested and operational. There is just so much waiting on getting all of the paperwork done. We can’t let small financial squabbles slow it down; which, of course, is what they are counting on happening.

We are heading into León tomorrow, Dominica, Luciana, Liesl, Ivonne, and I. We are going to attempt to renew our visa there instead of going to Managua on Friday. Right now the plan is that we have to spend an entire day on Friday doing it in the capital. But maybe we can get León to let us do it. We really hope so because an hour in León that is only thirty minutes away is so much better than losing absolutely the entire day to go to Managua. But the chances that they will do it are not great, so we are taking a big risk that we will lose a good portion of the day tomorrow and then still losing all of Friday.

After work this evening Valentina bought a used Nikon N75 film camera. This is an SLR from 2003. Similar to my old N5005 but so much newer with so much newer technology. Sometimes I miss film photography, but I never forget how much it costs, how long it takes, how few pictures you get to take, and what a huge pain it is. And in the end, you always digitize everything to make it usable anyway which means you are still doing digital photography, just in an insanely slow and expensive way.

The big restaurant down the street is still closed today. When I took the dogs out for their late walk tonight, the bar across the street was closed, too. Very strange. Town felt extraordinarily quiet and empty tonight. Both big bars totally closed.

Going to bed early tonight so that I can have a busy morning of work before going to León in the late morning.

August 10, 2021: High Stress Day

Tuesday. Up and walked the dogs. It is really the same every day.

The hotel remains pretty busy today. We found out that the restaurant down the street that is closed is closed because they are quarantining because multiple people have come down with COVID there. So that is a worry not only because those people are sick, but also because our staff naturally has a lot of contact with that staff and there is a very high possibility of cross contamination just because everyone knows everyone else and they all hang out together. We have not seen anyone from that restaurant around town really, but apparently the exposure was some time ago. We are not too thrilled about that, especially that they knew that people were sick (we have been told) and they made them work anyway.

My morning was fine and I was just doing normal work until probably early afternoon. But then I was tasked with doing all of the dealing with a dispute about range hoods for the kitchen and it ended up turning into a very stressful and drawn out evening of people yelling about that from early afternoon until quite late at night. I ended up losing my entire night to dealing with that and even when it was done it was all very stressful and there was no way for me to work on my book or on Spanish or whatever. I was not too happy about that.

August 8, 2021: Managua Shopping Trip

Sunday. I got up at a quarter till six and took the doggies out for their morning stroll. We did the loop over to Barca de Oro, down the estuary road, back through the backside of town and down to the main road and up a ways before coming back. Then a leisurely breakfast, today I had an omelette. Dominica got a burrito, again. I think that she’s had nothing but breakfast burritos for an entire week now. She is completely addicted to our new menu item. Of course, she will do this, get tired of it, and go a year without ordering it again. That’s her pattern. She always does the new item until she almost never wants it again.

Leo picked everyone up a little after nine and they were off to Managua. They are going to be gone all day, there is a lot of shopping that needs to be done. We are replacing the Whirlpool washing machine that does not work at all and getting a new washing machine to back it up. Something quality this time.

I am watching the dogs all day today, which they are okay with. They want more time with me anyway.

Getting any work done today was really hard. When no one else is around to watch the dogs, my time gets taken up by how needy they are all of the time. So I mostly gave up on doing real work and did what little things that I could fit in. Liesl and Luciana came down and played video games in the office for a few hours, too.

We got a good rain this afternoon which meant that the dogs were scared and needed a lot of attention, too. I did manage to get some videos done for YouTube, at least.

The shopping in Managua was successful. A replacement Whirlpool was obtained as well as a new LG (which is a vastly superior washing machine, anyway!) And loads of food. And a new razor for me so that I can actually shave my head quickly and easily and not miss loads of hairs as I do it.

It was late, maybe eight, when they returned from Managua. I had already fed the kids. Dominica had ordered ahead from the kitchen and brought me a leftover burrito that she had from a Mexican restaurant in Managua.

Michellez came over for homework help tonight. She takes an English class but they have no teacher so they get assigned random homework that they have to do but there is no one to tell them if they are doing it right or to teach them what to do. It is a mess. To make matters worse, there are no Nicaraguan to English translation apps and in many cases Nicaragua does not speak traditional Spanish. So many common things like a belt or a tuxedo or some common foods have different words here. And it is not uncommon for Nicaraguans to not even be aware of the standard Spanish words for things. So even looking up translations can be really difficult, if not impossible. There are nearly zero English speakers in this village so it is all extremely challenging.

August 9, 2021: A Ray Sting & Photowalk

Monday. One of the big restaurants in town is closed this entire week so we will be getting extra traffic from that. Pretty cool.

Edit: I wrote that when we were told that they were closed for maintenance. We found out on Tuesday that they were actually just covering and they were really closed because they had a continued COVID exposure after having made someone keep working while sick and now it was spreading and they had no choice by to close. So it is pretty crappy.

Walked the dogs this morning. Only about two miles. A pretty light walking morning.

The big event this morning is that one of our guests was out in the ocean and came into contact with a manta ray which stung her foot. Thank goodness it was her foot. Rays are super dangerous and can be lethal at times as they can cause you to go fully into shock. It is very painful. It took a few hours of care at the hotel to get her to be okay. You have to “cook” the stung area to deactivate the poison as heat breaks it down. It is a careful balance between stopping the poison and burning the person who has been stung. And you have to pull out the stinger, as if it was from a giant bee.

No one is traveling to Managua today. But there is another trip on Wednesday to do some shopping for things that are less critical. And then Dominica, the kids, and I are all going to Managua on Friday to go to deal with our visa renewals. In theory that will be easy, just requesting thirty more days. Then we will go to Costa Rica the following month to do our ninety day renewal. Luciana is looking forward to spending time in the big city. She likes cities and city amenities. There is a food park that she wants to explore, so our plan is to check that out while we are there since we have nothing except the visa renewal to do on this trip into the city.

Ivonne went into León to go shopping today, some for groceries, but also to get a bike. She got an aluminum frame Trek! Talk about a nice bike! I am jealous. I’ve always been an aluminum bike guy ever since I bought my Schwinn in 1992. That’s always what I rode.

Work on the new septic system continued in earnest today. There is so much digging to do, it is crazy. They have to go down so far. The guys digging are below the ground level while doing it. They hit big rocks today and discovered that this used to be a leech bed. Not a good one, a poorly constructed one. Probably long ago. So they are digging all of the big lava rocks out now to make room for the new system.

I went out for a walk today with the Nikon D90 and the 18-200mm zoom and did about a hundred and fifty pictures around town. I got a few good ones. The sun was already a bit lower than I would have liked so I did not get nearly as much as I would have wanted.

Just a normal night in at the hotel tonight. There is a crew here working all through the night so it is pretty loud.

August 7, 2021: Pineapple Cake and Doggie Walk

Saturday. We were all super tired this morning. Paul had taken the dogs last night as he was home long before Dominica and I were and the dogs like to go to bed early (like around seven thirty or eight.) Liesl and Luciana had stayed with the dogs down in Dominica and my room while we were out in León, but he took them to bed when he got back hours before we did. So they were super needy this morning and wanted to spend the entire day hanging out with me.

So it was really a “dog day” for me. I pretty much got stuck in my room with the dogs for the entire day. If I did anything else Mia would be mostly okay, but Clive would just whine and look at me sadly until I returned and snuggled him. So I was napping and on my phone for a lot of the day. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Dominica had to bake this morning as there is a birthday at the hotel today and she is making the cakes. That took nearly all of her morning. The kitchen teams wants her to teach them how to bake. Apparently not many people here know how to bake things like cakes.

I did try to go out for a nice walk today to get some exercise and as soon as I made the attempt the dogs demanded that they come with me. So no luck on my plans. I did already have the GoPro set up to take with me, however, so I strapped it on anyway and did a time lapse of walking the dogs. Not a long walk because there were just too many cars and it was exhausting to manage the dogs, traffic, and the camera all in the middle of the day. Not the best footage, but it is interesting and gives something of a view of the area around the hotel.

The caterer for Dominica’s upcoming birthday party gala at the hotel stopped by today. Yes, we are catering an event at our own hotel and restaurant because we are shutting it all down so that all of the staff can attend, along with all of our staff from Managua and Matagalpa. So we are expecting quite a lot of people as most everyone will be bringing spouses and kids. We are setting up the parilla on the beach and Paul will be BBQing. That event is in eleven days, just two days before Allen gets here. Next week is going to be super busy around Las Peñitas.

Luciana and I were talking today and she is really feeling the itch to get traveling again. It was such a big part of her developmental years, the lack of traveling now is really noticeable to her. This is a little weird, of course, because we just traveled all over the US from Dallas to New York to Orlando to Miami and then flew down to Nicaragua and now we are here in Central America where in some ways every day feels like traveling, of course. But we have been here for three months now, and we rarely leave the village and when we do it is only to go to León so Luciana has already developed a very strong feeling of Las Peñitas just being “home” and not qualifying as travel in any sense.

The two places that Luciana has expressed really wanting to go are to Guatemala where she wants to visit some amusement parks (they have big water parks and a big dinosaur park up north) and to return to Spain and Greece both of which we lived in so long ago that she does not remember that much about them.

There is a small waterpark in León that we hope to be able to take the girls to soon. And there is a small dinosaur park near Managua that we need to try out. Luciana is very interested in spending more time back in Managua. In her words she really enjoys “modern cities”. She things that San Salvador, San Jose, and Tegucigalpa look interesting. She is hopeful that for our visa renewal that we will go spend some time in San Jose so that she can explore the city. I am as well, I think that we would enjoy a city break and there should be a number of museums to hit, too.

Right now, our plan is that we will be down there in mid-September.

Pineapple Upside Down Birthday Cake

Tonight we had a mini birthday party for our new head chef. We waited until the restaurant had closed and did singing and cake around nine. Everyone really liked the cake, it is not the kind of thing that you really find here very much.

We went to bed relatively early tonight. Tomorrow Paul, Dominica, Ivonne, and Leo have to go to Managua. We are exchanging the broken washing machine (we have owned it only three months) for one that works (Dominica is pretty annoyed that no one listened to her about not buying a Whirlpool and it broke in weeks and Whirlpool has absolutely no idea how to fix it already) and buying a second (non-Whirlpool) washing machine so that we have extra capacity and a backup unit for when the main one inevitably fails again (in a few weeks, probably.) They will leave around nine in the morning. Tomorrow is Sunday so our busiest day of the week and the hardest day for us to use the restaurant ourselves so a good day for everyone to be gone. I’ll be staying home with the kids and the dogs and getting some writing done.