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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.

Check out more travel photos on Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday!

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 Caipirinhas on Ometepe

Finding comfort in Granada

Coffee from the source-Nicaragua

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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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Part 2, In search of guavas

Comic books and graphic novels are the favorite reading material of Remy and Simon these days so they circulate through our house by the armful. Our latest find is artist, Kazu Kibuishi, cartoonist extraordinaire. We can’t wait for the third book in his Amulet series to be published, but this Copper cartoon actually inspired me to create my own cartoon. 

But how in the world will I draw it? I wondered. I tried to convince Remy to help me out but she ditched me. So here it is. Try to look beyond the poor quality of the drawings. If nothing else, it was fun.

Here’s the real life photo that should be inserted between the seventh and eighth panels.

Life can be so complicated.

The day we landed on St. Vincent happened to be Remy’s fifth birthday. I don’t remember my daughter having much interest in flowers before we moved to Petit Byahaut, but once there, she became obsessed with them.

   

 

I couldn’t blame her. We were surrounded by a myriad of amazing tropical flowers. She would watch with envy as Mary changed the floral displays on the restaurant tables with each meal setting. Remy often got her turn to do the flower arranging.   

Occasionally, Remy would get to choose and clip the bougainvillea branch we’d place on the bed of newly arriving guests.

 

When we walked thru the rainforest, she collected all the fallen fig flowers she could carry.

And the gorgeous peach-colored hibiscus growing next the bathtub was impossible to resist.

When we left St. Vincent, she didn’t leave her new love of flowers behind. It has remained firmly a part of who she is.

 

When she’s got a camera in hand, this is what she photographs:

   

     

So Remy is 11 now and her interests are in fact, broader than flowers. Do you want a peek into her room? I snapped this photo today (she said she didn’t mind if I shared it).

 

It pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? The spindly plant with the red petals in the back is the poinsettia she bought at Christmas and can’t bare to part with. 

I often wonder if Remy would love flowers as much as she does if we had never moved to the island. We’ll never know.

Summer 1992, Lopez Island, Washington

During a week long family reunion spent kayaking, playing volleyball, hiking and hanging out around the bonfire, Brian and I decided, with flight vouchers in hand, “Let’s get married!”

We also decided that if, for some reason, things didn’t work out for us in the Caribbean, we would be pretty content living here.

So things didn’t work out for us in the Caribbean and we don’t live here but I’m not complaining. From Seattle, Lopez Island is just a short drive and ferry ride away.

 

This is one of our favorite places to escape for a few days and we got to do it again this week.  

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned.

That’s when you alter your course, create new dreams, remember old joys.

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.

Mostly, the books I read are travel memoirs. Offer me the latest bestselling novel or a true story of adventure in a foreign land, there’s no question which book I’ll take.

Recently, I came across The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse Esarey. The Seattle author and her brand new husband sailed off into the wild blue yonder on a two year sailing trip across the Pacific. Her subtitle, 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife gives you an idea of the comedic ups and downs she shares of their new life together.  

Sailing around the world has been on my to-do list for some years now, even though I don’t know how to sail. While we lived at Petit Byahaut, we shared our bay with yachties from around the world. How fortunate were we to get a glimpse into the live aboard sailing world without actually doing it?

Some of our most memorable friendships were made with live aboard sailors. Jeremy on Fortitude sometimes felt like our sole comrade radioing as he sailed by with clients heading for St. Lucia; the Norwegian trio of blond boys who sailed across the Atlantic on 26’ Makai, returning to share a bottle of Acquavit with Brian on his birthday; the Dutch family on their gorgeous teak 65 footer–their five year old son proposing marriage to our five year old daughter so he could be the chef and she could be the gardener of Petit Byahaut when they grow up; the ex-ecoresort owners from Martinique who sailed clients for a living aboard their yacht, sharing South African wine and their woes of resort operating.

If you’ve thought about traveling the world aboard a sailboat, I can’t help but say, “Do it!” If the thought of spending 24 hours a day with your sailing partner is what’s holding you back, read Janna Cawrse Esarey’s The Motion of the Ocean.

 

Have you ever, in the dead of winter, on a day when everything goes wrong, fantasized about running off to the tropics?

You imagine what your life could be. Swimming everyday in a warm sea, sleeping in a hammock strung between two palms, maybe you’ll finally become an artist, or open a beachside burger stand.

But then your children flash into your mind, bringing you back to reality. How would they turn out, growing up so removed from the modern world?

Well, it’s true. They could start acting uncivilized.

        

I’ve been deliberating over which excerpt to post from the book. Deciding on just the right peek into our life at Petit Byahaut has been challenging.

But I think I’ve chosen. For now, I won’t divulge all the details about when Brian almost sunk the big wooden pirogue full of elderly guests, or the time a group of nudists showed up–half of them experienced and half inexperienced, or the splendidly fabulous evening sharing wine and savoring intelligent conversation with a famous Californian winemaker and his friends.

Instead, you’ll find one moment in one average day at Petit Byahaut. Most days we went through the motions of what needed to be done, only to find the rollercoaster taking a sudden unexpected turn.

 Read the Excerpt.

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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