When we first decided to move to Nicaragua, I had a vision of what our home would be like. That vision was filled with dark wood, open courtyards, hammocks gently waving in the breeze. I.e. a Gringo house, not a Nica house.
Shortly before we moved we received an email from our program director. He described a couple (Nicaraguan) who needed roommates. The monthly charge was only $200 including utilities, and they were happy for us to have our dog live with them. We happily agreed to a three month term, feeling relieved that we didn’t have to immediately start searching for a home.
I knew I was in trouble the minute I walked into the house. The lights were fluorescent. Geckos were on the walls. And oh the paint. It can only be described as sickly green. I was immediately homesick. I won’t go any further, to do so would be insulting to our roommates.
We spent the next week pondering reasons to move (prettier digs), but realized that nice cushy budget wouldn’t exist anymore if we did move. We decided to stay, but started making plans to paint and update the house just slightly. Not enough to lose money, but enough to be comfortable. I’ve lost the before pictures, so you’ll have to make do with the after.
First up, the living room. The HUGE living room. We have two front doors, double sized. Two huge windows and so much space it’s hard to fill up. Our life of dodging furniture is over. I can’t get over the space. These pictures only cover half of the space, it’s that huge.
We only painted and hung curtains in this room. Our roommates have been living in the house for seven months, and I don’t feel comfortable rearranging or buying furniture that we won’t bring back to the States.
Moving on to the kitchen, i.e. the bane of my existence. When we moved in, we had a camptop stove with a propane tank (typical in Nicaragua), no fridge, no cabinets, no oven, no dishwasher. Nothing. Since then we’ve purchased a fridge and our roommates purchased the cabinets. One benefit is that everyone has a housekeeper/cook here. We have a lady named Veronica that comes six days every week to cook lunch and dinner, wash our clothes (by hand) and do light cleaning. I dream of a beautiful kitchen full of appliances, actual appliances, that work beautifully and don’t cost $100 a month in power.
Moving on to the eating area!
We ordered these tables soon after moving in, because we knew big family dinners would be a staple of our life here. Believe it or not, we’ve filled both tables with over fifteen people on more than one occasion. It is amazing to sit down to eat with all of our friends and realize that we are all unified and happy to be where we are in that moment. Community is a wonderful thing.
The next picture shows you the green I spoke of earlier, and our clotheslines–a Nicaraguan staple. We have plans, but no energy, to paint the outside of the house.
The last two places in our house are my favorite. The bedroom, aka my sanctuary, is our little American retreat. We’re still working on little details (staining the remaining furniture, artwork, etc.) but overall we’re really happy with what we’ve done here. I walk in to this bedroom and feel relaxed, organized and myself. There are days when I feel 100% Nicaraguan (usually after visiting the market), but walking into our room lets me feel safe and comfortable. All the literature I’ve read on culture shock says that you need a place like this to get away from the host culture and be yourself.
The mattress was the only item for the first week or so of life here. We painted, custom built the night stands, rocking chair, clothes hook, desk, chair and bookshelf. It’s all made out of cheap pine, but after staining it looks a lot better. We DIY’ed the curtains and lamps (tutorials coming soon), ordered the pillowcases, brought the linens ourselves, painted a cheap lamp we found in the market, and found an assortment of baskets and containers for the bookshelf.
The bookshelf is the perfect display of the difference in our personalities. Notice the left side is organized and precise (my husband) while the right side is shabby and cluttered (my side). We are still adding containers to hold our supplies as we see them around town.
Ok, now for the part that has turned into a great place to build friendships, relax, meditate, have quiet time and jam out. The rancho! This is the view from our bedroom. Gone are the days I spent wishing I could be outside. From sun up to sun down, I have easy access to as much sun as I want.
Before we built this, the yard was sunny. You may think this is a good thing. But with humidity at 500% and temps in the high 90’s on most days, sun isn’t always a good thing. We had this built by two friends and bought supplies from Catarina and Masaya (tours coming soon). At any given moment, you can find our friends out relaxing and enjoying the shade and cool breeze.
I was really really excited to get the hammock and chairs (a birthday present to my husband) and to find basil at a local shop. I’m going back in November for rosemary and other herbs. Yay to crazy fertile soil that can grown anything!
I hope you enjoyed this look into my home. I’ll be on the hammock if you need me.