Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Beach Day is Always a Great Day!

Two Saturdays ago we went to the beach for our weekend adventure. We always love the beach!! Before we left we checked the tide tables and unfortunately, the tide was going to be high at our favorite beach, El Transito. The waves get really big at high tide and it's too dangerous for our little swimmers. We decided to go to our least favorite beach instead, Pochomil. The sand and waves there are fine, we really dislike how commercialized it is. The only way to access the beach is through one of the many restaurants. Here's how it happens. When we drive to the access road to the beach there are half a dozen guys at the gate that run up to your car telling you to follow them to their restaurant. They are all basically the same. It is nice that you get free covered parking right there on the beach but you do have to order food that is mediocre at best. We are more of the pack sandwiches and bottled water beach minimalist types. It was a fun day anyway!

The boys out catching some waves

About an hour before sunset we noticed a tent set up on the beach renting 4 wheelers to the beach-goers. We weren't planning on renting one but just thought we would inquire about the price. Mitchell found out it was only $8 for 30 minutes! We couldn't pass that up. Mitchell, Redick, and Audrey took a 15 minute run up the beach and back. Then Reid, Layne, and I took our 15 minute turn. 

Now I know how this boy got SO sandy!

Redick learned how to cross his eyes and can't take a normal picture anymore!

Learning craziness from his big brothers!

Oh it was such a fun day!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

El Hoyo

Mitchell had Thursday and Friday off work so we decided it was time to climb El Hoyo. El Hoyo is a really neat looking volcano in Leon. It last erupted in the 1950s but is not considered active now. The most distinctive feature is a giant perfectly circular sink hole along the slope of the volcano. The first time we drove through the volcano national reserve and saw El Hoyo and its giant hole we knew we wanted to go up there and check it out! It's taken us 21 months to get to it but it was worth the wait!

Here's a nice picture of the hunk in my life! And the sink hole in the background. Hehe.
We made our way to Leon on Wednesday evening so we would be ready to hike bright and early Thursday morning. At 7:00am we met our guides and the rest of the hiking group. We packed our gear and enjoyed a delicious breakfast together. A little after 8:00am we loaded our backpacks and ourselves into a couple of trucks and made way to the volcanoes!

Most of the group chose to go volcano boarding first thing. We decided to opt out since we have done it several times already and we knew the kids would need to be fresh in order to make it on the strenuous 5.5 mile hike up to the sink hole. While we waited for the volcano boarders we ended up discovering a few new fun outdoor games that we will play with the kids on other camping trips for sure! This trip was an overnight hike and we had to carry up all of our water for drinking, cooking, and washing. Each pack was pretty heavy with 8 liters of water per person. Of course our little kids were going to be challenged enough just hiking the trail, there is no way they could carry a heavy pack on top of that. We were able to hire a local rancher and 2 of his horses to carry our gear up and back down the trail. That was invaluable!! Audrey, Redick, and Reid each carried a small backpack with a few snacks and a 1 liter bottle of water that we kept refilled.

Right after lunch we started for the trail. For better or for worse the hardest part of the trail was the first 70 minutes. It was a very steep climb in full sun with no flat breaks. Knowing that we would be joining a group hike tour and that it would likely be a large group since it was spring break I gave the kids a challenge on Wednesday night. The challenge was to not be the weakest hikers in the group. They were totally up for the challenge! Reid charged up the trail along side the guide and earned himself the title of assistant guide! Redick and Audrey climbed strong and steady and even Layne walked a good portion of that uphill challenge! They were amazing. We hiked that day for about 4 hours and none of them were at any time the weakest hikers! 

Getting silly as we started up the steep trail
Our first snack and water break on the trail

Layne walked up most of the hardest part!! He was a champ.
After all of that hard work he was ready for a nap. Our kids can literally sleep anywhere. When Mitchell's back couldn't take it anymore I carried Layne a while and he stayed asleep as we transferred him and rigged up a carrier with Mitchell's belt. Once he woke up he walked about a half a mile until we arrived at camp.

We had a magnificent view of Momotombo in the background!!

Before sundown we arrived at our campsite for the night. We got our tents set up and walked up the trail to discover the hole, or El Hoyo. Then we climbed up to the summit of the volcano to watch the sun set. The view was magnificent! We could see the whole string of volcanoes all the way to San Cristobal!

There we are at the hole!

This was a large fumarole, or steam vent

We were all just as dirty as Reid!

All of those shadowed ridges in the background are volcanoes!! This is such an amazing place!

By the time we got back to camp it was fully dark and we were all very happy to find that the other 2 guides had started a camp fire, chopped a huge pot of veggies, and had our dinner of pasta with veggie tomato sauce all ready to eat! We were definitely HUNGRY!! We even roasted some marshmallows and the kids loved that. Some members of the group stayed up a little later but most of the group headed right to bed after dinner. This was no easy hike even for the adults!

We had a very early 5:00am wake up time on Friday so that we could get down off the volcano before the full heat of the day set in. We all got up and broke camp and packed everything up. Our family had arranged for a fresh horse to haul our gear down the second day so we got the horse loaded up and on its way. We didn't see the horse again but they had dropped our gear off at the trucks once we got all the way back from the hike.

We had an incredible view of the hole from our campsite!

The whole group!

The second day was very hot and was a longer trail than the first day. I used my GPS watch on the first day to measure our distance and it was 6 miles to our camp. The second day's hike was even longer so I estimate we hiked 13-14 miles in total!

Enjoying a well deserved rest!
The best part of the second day was visiting this lagoon!! In this photo you can see the shadow of the sink hole on the volcano in the background. That was our starting point that morning, we made it all the way to the lagoon by lunch time and the cool water was so welcome and refreshing! We had a quick swim for about 20 minutes. It wasn't long enough but we were tired and hungry and wanted to get back to the trucks before too late. After we dressed again we ate a delicious lunch of vegetarian burritos and it was back to the trail for us. Fortunately it was only 45 more minutes back to the trucks. Unfortunately, 20 of those minutes were a very steep incline! We were totally bushed.

This hike is one we have been looking forward to since soon after we moved here! It was awesome to finally do it. What fun it is to have strong and adventurous kids who love to join us on these adventures! Of course, it may very well be that they are the adventurous ones that drag us along. Mitchell and I could barely hobble out of bed the two days following his hike but the kids didn't seem phased at all!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spring Break Fun

Earlier this month we had the opportunity, again, to share some love and lunch with the children who live in the garbage dump. 

If there is a tree, they will climb it!

This little guy just wanted love and attention from anyone who would give it to him. Such a cutie!
A visiting opera company performed the opera Rigoletto. Mitchell and I love seeing operas and we have been waiting for years to introduce our kids to this type of performance! Audrey came along this time and she totally loved it! She sat on the edge of her seat watching everything and just loving the orchestra, singers, staging, costumes, everything. Very fun for all of us!

For more of an all audiences performance we took the whole crew to the visiting Russian circus on ice. Yes, ON ICE! In Nicaragua!! Layne was probably the most enchanted at the circus. He waved at the performers and clapped the whole time. He was adorable.

Some friends of ours invited us over for a play date after school last week. They go to a different school than my kids and had come home from school with a huge bag of plastic Easter eggs. The kids wanted to have an egg hunt so Lisa and I filled as many eggs as we could with the coins we had in our purses. The rest of the eggs were empty and we hid a ton of eggs all around. The kids loved the fun of searching and finding eggs. No candy required. Haha!

They also have a few pet parrots. This one perched on Redick's head and we all giggled.

If there is a basketball standard, they will climb it! 

Even Layne can scale the pole! 

Our housekeeper's son's birthday was on Saturday. We all enjoyed a fun afternoon at Magic Park celebrating. There are bumper boats, a train ride, go karts, a giant pillow you can jump into from a tall platform, laser tag, bounce house, remote control cars, a zip line, and more. Everyone definitely had a great time!

Audrey has been diligently practiced cooking this year and is transitioning to be able to read and follow recipes! She is thrilled to be able to cook more! Especially when it's cookies!
Can you tell my kids are half monkey!!? I found them all in this tree one afternoon when I picked them up from school. I love that their school encourages them to try new things and allows them to climb trees if they feel confident.

We are making the most of our spring break this week. Tuesday we visited the zoo. It's been a while since we explored the zoo. There were several enclosures with different varieties of toucans. Most of the cages had multiple birds but one cage just had one. Layne pointed to it and said "Mom! Look! A one-can!" Haha! Our little friend Amelia joined us for the morning and she was a lot of fun!

The One-Can

These parrots talked up a storm to us! Every time we started to walk away they would call out "Hola!" "Buenas Tardes" They knew how to put on a show!

These 2 have been little buddies since we moved here. Amelia was actually born the same day as Layne so they are like little twinners.

On Wednesday I put my cat herding skills to the test and invited 4 extra kids over to dye Easter eggs and have a play date. They made chocolate pudding "dirt" cups, dyed eggs, played with MagnaTiles and made a whole LOT of noise! It was great fun!