Living in Nicaragua and loving it!
by Debbie Polden
(Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua)
It's true that Nicaragua isn't for everyone - but for us moving to Nicaragua has been a good decision. Who are we? We are Pat and Debbie Polden, two Canadians that decided to take early retirement and move to Nicaragua where we could live enjoyable lives but on a reduced income.
We had good, comfortable lives back in Canada - our jobs were "stable" and we could expect to finish our work careers in our place of employment at age 65. However, instead of waiting until we were of full-retirement age we wanted to move at a time in our lives when we still had relatively good health and had a desire to explore and help others at the same time.
After much research and a couple of vacations in Nicaragua we determined that León was where we would feel the most comfortable. We felt that the city had good infrastructure and that we would have a fairly easy time adjusting to life in our new home.
León is a busy place with a very "youthful" feel to it; likely because many young Nicaraguans come here to attend one of the many universities in the city. There is also a growing tourism industry that is drawing not just young backpackers but also young families and more "mature" travelers. With its close proximity to the ocean villages of Poneloya and Las Peñitas we were sold!
In March 2012 we settled into a small home in a barrio called Guadalupe. We enjoyed being in the middle of a community but at times found it overwhelming to be there. In short order we found that our pretty little house was next door to the local mill where very early every morning corn would be ground into dough to make tortillas.
It took us a while to get used to all of the noise in the early morning hours. That is one consideration when moving into a neighborhood rather than a gated community. There aren't as many regulations in place in regard to residences and businesses and the subsequent noise that they produce.
We found that at first we were treated as strangers but as the months passed we were treated more like part of the community. Even though we struggled with speaking Spanish everyone was very considerate and seemed to appreciate our efforts. We loved to support our neighbors with any of their endeavors and were frequent "purchasers" when they made food to sell. This also helped us to try many of the local dishes and treats.
Although the climate is very hot in León we found that we could adjust to the heat as long as we had a fan - we didn't use any air conditioner. For us, the hardest time of the year was during the dry, windy season when the dust would coat everything! Just walking around town would be difficult and you would come home covered in dust and feeling grimy.
In January 2013 we took an unexpected trip to the Atlantic Coast - to Pearl Lagoon. Maybe because we had lived our last few years in Canada in Halifax, Nova Scotia (the Atlantic Coast of Canada) we felt an immediate attachment to Pearl Lagoon and decided to make a move. Before our visit to Pearl Lagoon was over we had managed to find a 3 bedroom, two bath home to rent and so we returned to León and started to make arrangements for our move.
We've now been living in Pearl Lagoon for almost 4 months and don't regret the move at all. The climate here is very different - there is far more rain - but we love the breeze off the ocean. We also like the fact that we are surrounded by English speakers.
Living in Nicaragua has really awakened our sense of adventure and we love waking up each morning to see what the day will bring. We have been blogging about our experiences as well as sharing what we have learned during the past year. If you like, you can read about it at www.crazyparentsinnicaragua.blogspot.com.