Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pictures from Nicaragua

If these pictures and posts seem out of order, its because the Picasa/Blogger connection I had been using to post blogs quit working like it used to and I am having to do this the old way by adding one picture at a time. I don't have the thumbnails all laid out in front of me so I can get them organized and in order. This is a shot of the huge Lake Nicaragua with one of the volcanic islands in the background and an old boat in front.
This is the other volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua. There are two of them. The lake is just north of the border with Costa Rica.
We saw quite a few of these bicycle driven taxis on the roads in Nicaragua. We also saw lots of horse drawn carts that were used as taxis.
Here in Costa Rica, soccer is the national pass time. There is a huge soccer stadium in down town San Jose. But in Nicaragua, the popular game is baseball. This is a baseball stadium.
Interesting bus with a load of bananas on top. Just because it looks like a school bus doesn't mean that it is really still a school bus.
This is a procession we passed. There were lots of people out on the road in different groups. I am sure this was some special saint day. I just don't know exactly which one.
Laurie and I with Pres. Porter behind. Behind us is a very large volcanic caldera full of water, a very beautiful setting.
This group of horses saddled and ready to go were near the above lake, I am sure they were there to rent out if people wanted to ride.
This is just the lake.
In this area we saw lots of these little taxis that were built on a motor bike chassis. The tour man said they were manufactured in Italy.
This bus probably used to be a school bus too, but they painted it very colorfully. We went to the city of Masaya, the second of the two printed along the top to name the route the bus takes. It is where we had a very nice lunch.

Scenes from Granada Nicaragua

This was a mosaic in the middle of the main road. I don't know exactly what it represents but it looks like different Nucaraguan people and the different things they would be doing.
Volcanic cone with the large lake in front.
We visited a large volcanic caldera filled with lake water. It was a pretty scene. This is quite a large painting of that lake with some of it's surroundings.
Cute table and chairs, rustic construction painted bright colors, at an outdoor eating establishment.
A painting of the city of Granada Nicaragua. It even has the horse drawn carriage like we rode in. Notice the colorful buildings which is like it really is.
Fountain in the town square in front of the National Cathedral and the Bishop's home.
We took a tour of the city in this little horse drawn carriage. There were lots of them around the city and most were decorated with ribbons. All of them are authentic old carriages that have been restored. This is President and Sister Porter and Laurie and our tour man. The streets are all cobble stoned.
The National Cathedral in Granada Nicaragua, next door to the home of the Bishop
This is the home of the Catholic Bishop in Granada Nicaragua.
This is one of the several Spanish Colonial churches in Granada Nicaragua.

Granada Nicaragua

The temple has been closed for 2 weeks for fixing and cleaning. Since Laurie is the temple engineer, he has to over see all the goings on. But the missionary in charge of the office said he would take charge for a few days so we could get a little break and go somewhere. We had planned to go south almost to the Panamanian border. But Sister Porter called and said they had found a tour to Nicaragua and would like us to go with them. So we decided to go. We went up to the town of Liberia, Costa Rica and stayed over night. Then the tour picked us up early the next morning and we drove to Nicaragua. It was a pretty drive. The border was a hastle but the tour man took charge of it all and got us across. The roads were nice, he said they were paid for by Hugo Chavez with Venezuelan oil money, and there weren't as many cars as there are here. This is a view in Granada from one of the church towers.
We went first to the Spanish Colonial city of Granada. This city was founded in the 1500s and they have tried to keep it in the Spanish Colonial style ever since. We climbed the tower of one of the old churches and had a great view of the whole city. This is one of the other churches. There were several of these huge old cathedrals. They must not have as many earthquakes there as they do here because most of the old Colonial buildings have been destroyed by earthquake.
The streets are narrow and cobbled. The buildings are colorful and all the roofs are very old looking red tile. There aren't as many cars as we are used to in our cities. Here in Costa Rica there are lots of cars and crazy traffic.
Another view from the church tower.
To the right is part of the church where we are. Notice very few cars in the streets.
Roof of the building where we are. The tower steps were very steep and very narrow and I was so glad there was a little rail to hold onto. I was worried that my feet wouldn't fit on the steps.
Stained glass window over one of the side doors.
Interior of the cathedral where we were. I really like the pretty light green with all the white trim.
Vaulted ceiling with lots of partial columns.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another Uninvited Pet

Sunday evening I was a bit startled to find a little gecko hanging around close to the ceiling in our bedroom. The main problem was that he was right over my side of the bed!
But we were still in the living room and had several hours before bed time so I wasn't too worried. And Laurie said to leave him alone to do his thing as he would eat the mosquitoes. We have had a few mosquitoes in the house. They don't usually bother me I think because I take a lot of B vitamins and curcuma so they don't like me. But they bite Laurie. We have gotten a bug zapper and are more careful to keep the doors closed. Laurie even taped some of the window screens where there were gaps.
But he stayed there for a long time. Each time I went back into the bedroom, I expected he would be gone, but he just moved back and forth and sometimes would be on the ceiling. I was relieved when he went over to Laurie's side of the bed.
He appears to have very large eyes for the size of the rest of him and he moved really fast when he decided to move. He was really quite small even though he appears larger in the pictures. I guess I shouldn't worry about him. I actually hope he found lots of bugs to eat.
He didn't seem to mind my taking pictures of him. But the last time I went in there and thought I would take another picture, he just suddenly disappeared. I was pretty suspicious of that sudden move and started moving pillows on the bed. Sure enough he had dropped to the bed right on my side. But quickly he scurried across to Laurie's side and disappeared down behind the bed. Hope he will stay there and eat bugs.
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Monday, August 6, 2012

New Juicer

This is part of Friday's haul from the local Farmer's Market. Every Friday we seem to buy a lot of stuff there. There are 2 other missionary couples who are our neighbors and they usually come with us and everybody loads up on the fresh fruits and vegetables. Don't you agree that they look great? They are.
A couple of days before this last trip to the Farmer's Market, we bought this juicer. I tried it out by juicing all the old apples, oranges, celery, carrots, etc. that were in the fridge. Now we can have some more made with the fresh stuff. It all tastes great and is great for you. Hope it has a Jack LeLane effect on us!
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Casa Nueve, Villas Margot

This is the view of the Temple looking from the entry way to our gatred neighborhood looking north to the Temple in the Background. There is only one long block between our neighborhood and the Temple.
This is the guard gate to the Villas Margot gated community. The developer split the neighborhood into about 50 lots, about 25 on each side of the street that runs through this little community. All of the houses have high fences in the back so with the guard at the front entryway, it is very secure. This is the only entry/exit to the community so anyone entering or leaving has to go pass the guard.
The community has a little park with trees, picnic tables and benches in the park. We pay an $80 a month HOA fee that pays for the guard and the upkeep of the community facilities. There is also a large covered patio/barbeque area that can be reserved by residents for parties.
More of the park with one of the concrete picnic tables shown. It is a pleasant little park about 75 yards long. The neighborhood is realatively quite although there are young children who play in this area and most of the neighbors have dogs. The Costa Ricans are very fond of their house pets.
This is Casa #9 where you will be living. It has a double car garage that opens onto the front patio. There is an automatic garage door opener. The house fronts on the north end of the little park that bisects the community.
This picture is taken from the front door of the house looking out at the patio. The patio is mostly covered. We have made an attempt with considerable success to raise flowers, peppers, tomatoes and herbs in this patio area. There is a hose bib and plenty of sunshine. This picture is taken from the front door looking into the home. There is a TV and DVD player. We have cable TV and wireless internet. We bought a router here for about $50. We brought a large laptop and an ipad with us and they work well. The living room has a four cushion couch, a two cushion matching corner piece, a homemade coffee table, a plastic chair with some cushions, a computer desk and office chair, bookcase, and the dining room has a nice wooden table with six upholstered chairs. I bought an Epson printer/copier/skanner/fax for my computer here that I think I paid less than $100 for. There is a nice lamp beside the computer desk. This is perhaps the largest place in all of the missionary housing for gathering of the six missionary couples connected with the Temple. Each month we have a pot luck family home evening and take turns hosting it.
This picture is taken from the sliding glass door looking back through the living room/dining room area. There are much higher ceilings in this house than in the Church owned property and there is usually a nice breeze. As you can see there is also a large fan for when mother nature does not provide the breeze.
This is our back yard. It runs the length of the back of the house and has a 12 foot high wall, and then with about a ten foot space, topped by another 12 foot wall. We share a backyard fence with neighbors about 20 feet above us, but because their wall is equally high, they cannot see into our yard. There are houses on either side of us with about a ten foot wall between our respective back yards. Although there is no space between our house and the houses on either side of us, you do not hear anything from the neighbors through these walls - it is a double thick concrete block wall that divides us on each side.
This is the kitchen. It has an electric range with four burners, a frige/freezer (about 20 foot I think) but no ice maker, a nice microwave, and all of the small appliances you would normally expect. This kitchen has hot water from an electric tankless hot water heater and so you can have as much hot water as you like, and it gets really hot. The floors are tile throughout and are in good shape. The home was completely remodeled and repainted when we moved into it last December. There are adequate dishes, sliverware, pots and pans and cooking utensils to set up housekeeping. The kitchen opens onto the laundry room in the back. There are three windows between the kitchen and the living room/dining room area that are always open and give the home a very open feel.
This is the laundry area. For whatever reason, they did not put a spiggot on the hotwater tap in this area. We have gotten used to washing with cold water but it would be a realatively easy fix to add a spiggot and provide hot water to the automatic washer. All of the appliances belong to the Church.
This is the master bedroom. It has a king size bed, two bedside tables, two lamps, a folding chair, a folding table and a large built in armoir shown below. We rented it when it was in the process of being remodeled and we asked them to install a ceiling fan. We were told that we really would not need AC, but we had not been here long when we decided that it would really add to our sleeping comfort if we had AC in the bedroom. We approached the landlord and he agreed that he would install AC if we would pay half of the $800 cost which we readily agreed to. We do not run the AC all of the time but usually run it for a half hour to an hour before retiring for the evening and it makes for much more comfortable sleeping conditions. The bed is king size. We found it a little too firm for our liking and after looking hard for a couple of months found a place that sold memory foam toppers for king size beds - very difficult to find here in Costa Rica. It really improved the quality of the bed and we have been very happy with it since adding the topper. The Church has indicated that they will be installing a new mattress in the Temple President's condo as we move into it and if that is the case, the memory foam topper will stay in this residence.
Each of the three bedrooms have these kinds of built in armoirs with adequate space for hanging clothes and shelves for non-hanging clothing. I recently convinced Church Physical Facilities to outfit all of the missionary housing with smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
There are two bathrooms, each with a shower but no bath tub in either. The showers are good sized and all the hot water you could want. They are both very nicely tiled with new cabinets and decent fixtures.
This is the guest/hall bath. The way Pam and I have worked it, this has become my bathroom (it is located int he hall just outside the master bed room, and Pam has used the master bath). This has worked well since the master bathroom does not have double sinks.
This is the shower in the hall bathroom. It has a nice shower head and works well.
This is one of the guest bedrooms. It currently has a double bed in it. There are three missionary houses in this area and they all have three bedrooms with only the master bedroom furnished. This one has a double bed with a decent mattress and our arrangement has been that whoever has family visiting, we move this bed so that it can be used by the visitors. Between the three couples, we also have three inflateable queen size mattresses that get shared. We own one and the Smiths own two. When we had a daughter, son, son-in-law and three teenage grand kids come visit us we used all of that and it worked very nicely to sleep 8 of us here in our home.
This is the other guest bedroom that is mostly a storage room for us. Notice the inflateable queen size bed in its bag int he corner. It is also a place where we sometime iron. We have been very pleased with the home and after adding to furnishings, are very comfortable here. We think that the Kleins will really enjoy it. It has more space than the Temple President Condo and in many ways we like the neighborhood better but the Temple President's condo is more nicely furnished and we are sure we will be comfortable there as well. This house is a lot closer to the Temple than the President's condo, but the President's condo is only about 6 blocks form the Temple so that is not going to be a problem.
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