Sunday, January 16, 2005

Across the Border

It's a beautiful Sunday in Nicaragua. Last week went by so quickly. We had dinner at the Pension a few nights. We finally got our internet connection at home on Thursday... yahoo! We were planning to leave for Nicaragua on Friday morning but we weren't able to get on the bus. Ran had gone in three times to buy tickets and kept being told not to worry about it, that there would be space. Well, we got up early on Friday and rushed to Santa Elena with our suitcase to make it to the ticket counter when they openend at 0545. And what do you know, there was just one seat left on the Tica bus! Needeless to say, Ran was livid. I managed to purchase three tickets for the following morning. Since we already had a housesitter, we opted to spend the night at the Pension so we wouldn't have to rush around again the following day.

The trip to Nicaragua took all day. We took the regular bus down from Monteverde (leaving at 0600) to Lagartos. That took about two hours-- to go 35K! Then we waited for the Tica Bus to pick us up. It's a big, fat bus with air conditioning, movies, a bathroom and a vendor selling food and drinks. It was very comfortable and the ride was pretty smooth. I was pleasantly surprised when we got to the border. But then it took a LONG time to get through immigrations at the border. The line was huge and it took about three hours or so to get our busload through. I got put in a special line so I was able to get all three of our passports stamped and then we sat around waiting. There certainly are benefits to being pregnant! Once we got to Nicaragua, we all had to get off with our bags and go through customs. Then we were back on the bus to Granada. By the time we got a taxi to our hotel (the Oasis--- a great place) it was 5:30 in the afternoon. We were tired and gritty and I, for one, was grouchy. Ran took Ryan swimming while I rested, then we ordered a pizza and went to bed.

This morning we got up early. Ryan and I took a quick swim (her favorite thing about Nicaragua so far), then we all sat down for a nice breakfast here at the hotel. We each had pancakes and a plate of fruit (watermelon, orange, pineapple, papaya, banana, cantelope). After breakfast we relaxed. Ryan and I took a nap (gotta love vacation) and then we headed out for a walk around town. Granada is a pretty city. Our camera is on the blink so we'll have to come back to take pictures. We had lunch at an Italian place and on our way back to the hotel (for more swimming with Ryan, of course) we stopped and bought a super-sweet pineapple for 12 cords-- less than a dollar. And here we are. Ryan and I are at side-by-side computer terminals and Ran is talking with some guys. Tonight we're going to check out a Mediterranean restaurant and tomorrow (after pancakes and fruit) we are heading to the open market which I hear is HUGE. We will leave on Tuesday and hopefully it won't take us all day to get back to Costa Rica.

Life is good!

pura vida

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Happy New Year

Happy 2005! Ran and I are celebrating our 14th anniversary next week. Ran, Ryan and I are heading to Nicaragua this weekend (which I hear is beautiful--- I’m excited that I get to find out for myself). Last week we (including Bodi) went to San Jose. We took the bus there (5 hour ride) and Ryan was great. We’re lucky she’s such a terrific traveler. We went to San Jose for two reasons: 1) to go to the doctor and 2) to shop ‘til we drop. We all really like my doctor. She is a Costa Rican woman who did her medical training at Baylor. In case you don’t know why I had to go to the doctor, it’s because I’m 12 weeks pregnant! The baby is due on July 25th. We heard the heartbeat at this visit and next month we will have a sonogram. So far we don’t plan to find out the sex of the baby (just like with Ryan). We’re all looking forward to the newest Smith and Ryan is going to be a terrific big sister.

The shopping in San Jose is great! We went to Hipermas which is kind of like a Super Target, then to the Multiplaza in Escazu (one of the largest malls I have seen--- way bigger than any in Austin) and to PriceSmart which is a membership store like Costco or Sam’s. I certainly got my shopping fix for the month but I will be ready for round two by the time we have to go back. We were able to buy things for the hotel as well as lots of stuff for ourselves… cotton towels, 400 thread count sheets, soy sauce, microwave, toaster oven, Pyrex pan, cream of mushroom soup, shoes for Ryan, dog toys, maternity clothes. Bodi even bought us a Mixmaster as a belated Christmas gift! I didn’t realize how large San Jose is. The population is about 1.5 million and you’ll find fast food restaurants (I ate at McDonald’s twice; maybe next time I’ll hit Subway or Burger King) as well as other corporate chains there (Outback Steakhouse, Office Depot, Osh Kosh B’gosh). We even bought Ryan a Cali Girl Barbie complete with Hang Ten shop as a reward for being so great on our whirlwind shopping trips.

So let’s talk about the pregnancy. Ryan loves looking at “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” to see what the baby looks like at each stage. I am showing more than I was with Ryan (I know that’s hard to believe) but I am still at my pre-pregnancy weight. I guess it’s the healthy lifestyle here. Good thing I don’t live in San Jose because I’d have way more access to junk food. I had nausea and heartburn with this baby which isn’t very fun. But that seems to have passed for the most part and now I can just enjoy having my belly button pop out. I went to the bank the other day (there’s only one in this town). The line was all the way to the door and the security guard asked me if I’m pregnant and moved me to the front of the line! So maybe it’s a good thing to start showing early.

All in all, life is good. We’ve been here for 13 weeks. Being a hotel owner is the ideal job for Ran. Ryan loves being a part of it too. We’re slowly getting work and life in order and it’s another beautiful day in Monteverde. Next week we have our first girls night and I think I will call the Monteverde version of MGGT “Colecta de Coquetas” (gathering of flirts). More to come…

Pura Vida