Tag Archives: Expat in Nicaragua

Lucy Tuesday, take six: The Naturalist

9 Oct

Lucy and I have both been under the weather this week – me with a cold, and Lucy with her umbrella.  She, quite literally, loves to be “under the weather” – any opportunity to break out her ladybug umbrella.  So when I awoke to a torrential downpour earlier this week, a puddle stomping morning for Lucy Tuesday seemed appropriate.  Plus, we were down a car and it seemed a good day to stick close to home.

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Lucy had her rain boots on before I could say puddle and we were off to explore the hood to see what new creatures came with the rains.  We barely made it off of the front porch when Lucy noticed a beetle that had flipped upside down and was struggling to turn over.  I wrote him off for dead, but Lucy insisted that if we helped to turn him “right up side” (her version of right side up), perhaps he could walk again.  And so we began our day by rescuing Mr. Beetle by placing him sunny side up.  Less than five steps later, and still on the porch, we discovered a frog nesting in one of our flowerpots, soaking in the cool, damp soil.  After a brief conversation with La Rana, whom Lucy insisted was a girl, we finally made it onto the driveway.  By then, the rain had stopped and the sun was blazing, but we carried on in search of muddy puddles.

Thanks to heavy rains, puddles were abundant.  Lucy wondered allowed if any fish lived in the puddles.  When I explained that it was unlikely because they would need to travel from a lake or an ocean or a river to get to the puddles, she pointed out that crabs accomplished this feat daily.  And so we decided to check each and every puddle just in case there might be a fish (or a dolphin) because maybe, well, you just never know.  When the puddles came up empty, Lucy began taking notice of how much water filled each hole and wanted to know why one boot was covered in puddles more than the other.  I threw the question back at her and she surmised that it must be because one boot wasn’t as good of a swimmer as the other and therefore needed to stay in shallower water.  I decided to forego the opportunity to teach about depth and rolled with the possibility that perhaps one boot just needed some swim lessons.

In between puddles, we scaled giant rocks and crossed rushing rivers and happened upon some friends that looked strikingly like us:

And so we danced with our shadows for a bit, waving hello and finally goodbye and set off in search of more “natures.”  Lucy pointed out the billowing trees and questioned why they were moving.  We determined that the howler monkeys were not close enough to swing in these branches and therefore, the movement must have been caused by either the zanate or the uraca (both birds common to Nicaragua).  And then we happened upon this beauty roosting in the lush green leaves.

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As the puddles dried in the scorching sun, we made our way back home, but not before Lucy identified some letters on the sign to our entrance and said hello to the neighbor’s dog.

Once home, Lucy was quick to shed her boots and requested an “art project,” a favorite pastime for us both.  But I was beginning to run out of creative ideas (and materials) and so I did a quick Google search for preschooler art projects and found this recipe for homemade goop.  It seemed perfect, as I even had a little bit of leftover food coloring.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize, until it was too late, that cornstarch and corn flour are not the same thing.  We’d already begun to mix the mess and so I let Lucy roll with it because really, goop is fun, no matter the recipe.  Instead of watching the properties shift from liquid to solid, as promised by the original recipe, we explored color mixing and watched blues and reds transform into none other but…purple!  We made handprints and drew our names and shapes in the goop, too.  Lucy delighted in the mess for far longer than I expected and even managed to keep the walls goop-free.

By the time we were done playing and cleaned up, it was time for lunch and so we ate gallo pinto and pollo with stained hands and headed up for nap.

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Lucy Tuesday, take three: The Farmer

19 Sep

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After Lucy’s great time out at Rancho Chilamate, I decided another farm experience needed to be in our future.  Plus, I just learned that the teachers at her school were planning an entire unit devoted to farm life, so the timing seemed ideal.

Since Morgan’s Rock was financially prohibitive (read ridiculous), I decided to ask around.  I contacted our friends up at Finca las Nubes, an organic farm located on the outskirts of town, about a possible visit. Though the farm itself is not open to the general public, Natalie was kind enough to arrange a visit for Lucy and me, along with a couple of other friends. Please visit their website to learn more about their mission, their commitment to permaculture principles, as well as their clinic, skate park, woodshop, accommodations, and more.

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A little uncertain of exactly what to expect, we were pleasantly greeted at the gate and given directions to meet Giovanni at the chicken coop.  The tour could have ended here and the kids would have gone home very happy campers.  All 4 kids (ages 18 months – 4 years old) had a ball feeding hens, finding eggs, and imitating chicken struts and clucks.  We had to peel the kids away in order to continue on with our adventure, but not before we took note of the three beehives cultivating honey just above our heads.

Giovanni then took us to the farm’s organic vegetable garden.  He showed the kids cucumber, basil, tomato and zucchini plants, as well as calala (passion fruit) trees and more.  The kids enjoyed a game of hide ‘n seek among the plants and tall grass.

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From there, we headed up to find the cows, only to learn that they were out to pasture.  And while we didn’t get to experience milking the cows, the older kids enjoyed searching for the vacas along the verdant paths and found just as much joy in collecting sticks and identifying flowers.

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We parted ways with Giovanni at this point and drove ourselves up to the main house where the kids were able to see deer (venado in Spanish), as well as the resident capuchin monkey, Juanito.  Juanito put on a great show of swinging from the tree branches, hopping on the back of the deer, and happily eating bananas. The kids were equal parts fascinated and terrified and our buddy, Liam, even got up the courage to share his graham crackers with energetic Juanito.  Sadly, my camera battery died just as we met dear Juanito, so not many pics here, but I reminded myself that the experience was far more important than the photo.

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We wrapped up the morning by taking in the stunning views of the San Juan Bay and the lush valley below (and taking a turn on the rocking chairs and horses handmade in the on-site woodshop).

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Spending a gorgeous morning outdoors, beneath the shade of the beautifully forested farm was enough to call the day a complete and total success.  The experience also provided a wonderful opportunity to talk with our kids about the origins of the food on our plates.  And the impromptu Spanish lesson on plants and animals was pure icing on the cake.  But above all, I found great joy in listening to Lucy recount her adventures of the day to Justin over dinner that evening.

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Wordless Wednesday

16 May


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