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Fishermen throw their nets out on the lake,

And they soon have their catch.

Women wash laundry on concrete tables set up in the water, 

But the beach is not theirs alone.

Cooling off (and often bathing) is done in the lake,

And friendships are easily made with the locals.

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 Caipirinhas on Ometepe

Finding comfort in Granada

Coffee from the source-Nicaragua

We tried to order a mojito but there was no mint, we were told. We asked if they could make a naranjita, but there was no rum.  A margarita? Nope, no tequila.

“What could you make?” Brian asked.

“We can make a caipirinha,” our waiter said confidently.

It had been a big day. We’d ridden a ferry across one of the largest lakes in all of Central America, Lago Colcibolca, to Ometepe, the island throned with not one, but two volcanos.

We’d wandered the beach

Walked nearby trails

Even found monkeys

And we’d watched the sun set

Dinner was Creole fish and sirloin steaks and pastas, all were fine but unremarkable.

But the caipirinhas? We were fortunate the lodge was out of everything else. The caipirinha became Brian’s cocktail of choice the remainder of the trip. Hailing from Brazil, caipirinhas are made from cachaca, a spirit made from fermented and distilled sugar cane juice, and lime and sugar. If you don’t mind your cocktails strong, you’ll find it especially refreshing in the tropics.

Caipirinha

2 oz. cachaca

4 small key limes

2 tsp. sugar

Cut limes into wedges and place in an old fashioned glass. Sprinkle sugar over wedges and muddle the flavors together. Fill glass with ice and pour in cachaca. Mix well.

Find more travel and food stories at Wanderfood Wednesday!

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Finding comfort in Granada

Coffee from the source-Nicaragua

Part 2, In search of guavas

Ocassionally we find hidden coves along the Washington coast and my mind always drifts toward, “If only we could stay for a spell…”

Usually I envision myself perched on a rock, drawing or painting my surroundings, something I never take time for. At Dead Man’s Cove, I imagined myself taking up poetry writing. Such an ominous name begged for words. 

There’d be so much time, no distractions…

Then hunger called, and the kids remembered we had a yurt waiting for us and we would build a fire.

Goodbye, friend.

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Road trip: dispersed camping & the bed-car

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Islands of all kinds

This was our first taste of the Caribbean. It was 1993 and it was our honeymoon.

 

What enabled us to afford this indulgence at such a tender age was our good fortune of getting bumped from a flight the year before. Truthfully, it was those generous travel vouchers we received that sparked talk about marriage in the first place, We could use those vouchers to get to the Caribbean. That would be an awesome HONEYMOON!

The instant we stepped off the plane, the hot heavy air and scent of spicy flowers and overripe fruit and the salty sea consumed us. It was love at first sight.

Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is far different than Petit Byahaut in some ways but oh so similar in others. Styled in a formal British fashion, Nisbet offers afternoon tea daily and has a dress code for dinner in the plantation house. 

Like Petit Byahaut, Nisbet and the island of Nevis also submerge you into the tropics with all the exoticism of an undeveloped land. And the people who call the island home exude a quiet, formal kindness. 

I wish I could have found the copied menu from one evening of our stay. With a new menu daily, we greatly anticipated the exquisite four course dinners. Brian was chef and manager of an Italian restaurant at the time. The stilton coated in a crispy sugary shell served with preserves, salads made with unfamiliar Caribbean vegetables, the soups: ginger carrot, pumpkin, and cool avocado with a swirl of coconut milk, mahi mahi, tuna, kingfish, all of it was an education for us.

It was hard to say goodbye, but all our hopes and dreams were confirmed. The Caribbean really was as good as we had imagined it to be.

Twelve years ago this week, Brian and I went to Costa Rica.

We were midway through figuring out how to make the dream a truth and we were craving a research trip. We found a piece of paradise at Bosque del Cabo.

Located in the southwest corner of the country, in the rainforest of the Osa Penninsula where land meets the sea, Bosque del Cabo confirmed how sweet it is to live in the midst of nature.

Macaw parrots and toucans sailed through the sky above us. Howler monkeys woke us at dawn with their dinosaur-like bellows. When our luggage failed to arrive with us, we swam in the ocean in the nude—we had the beach completely to ourselves! We shared dinners with well-seasoned travelers from around the world. We drank water from a stream when we found ourselves thirsty while exploring after a campesino showed us how he drank from the stream (without even a visit from Montezuma’s revenge!). We examined the hydropower system in the river, decided cool water showers are lovely in late afternoon, bought freshly dried peppercorns from the owner’s son, and relished the romanticism of using oil lanterns in the evening.

Here is where we showered.

And here is where we relaxed.

We watched the sun set over the ocean and later, stars fill the night sky.

When it came time to go, this dirt landing strip is where we hopped on a plane to our next destination. This was the kind of flying of which I’d dreamed. Our pilot simply laughed when we told him that I too, was a pilot.

I hoped a fuel sample would be taken after refueling to ensure there was no contamination.

 

We then traveled to another part of Costa Rica and sorely regretted leaving Bosque del Cabo. But we enjoyed a visit to a nature reserve where two orphaned baby monkeys had taken up residence. This little guy took a liking to me and wouldn’t leave my arm until we peeled him off when it was time to go.

Our guide joked with us, “What does he know that we don’t?”

Nine months later, our daughter was born. Maybe the monkey did know something we didn’t.

This island dream has filled my thoughts for embarrassingly too many years. 

The funny thing is, once we got to our dream island, I began to conjure up all sorts of new dreams. Ideas that could be combined with our life on the island and ideas that were separate. 

Those ideas are still floating around my head but the past several years I’ve been focusing on writing this book. One thing at a time… 

I’ll post an excerpt from the book soon, and more photos of our life on the island, so keep checking back. And thanks for reading.

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