So let me start off by saying I was absolutely CRAZY to think that I was going to easily handle moving to another Country with 2 kids, a Dog, 6 large suitcases and 3 carry-ons by MYSELF… I don’t know what I was thinking.
Backstory… My husband and I traveled to Costa Rica and Nicaragua through December and January 2018-2019 to look at potential places to live. Living in Alberta Canada we found that the cost of living was increasing and our quality of life was decreasing. I made a shift to start working remotely and landed myself a few clients that allowed me to work from anywhere. My husband works seasonally in the Alberta Oilpatch as a B Pressure Welder. He typically works 3-4 months in the spring and 2 months in the fall. Living in Alberta we found that when he wasn’t working I needed to work my old job full time in order to make ends meet. So we never saw each other and didn’t get to spend any quality time together. So fast forward to our winter trip. We went to 3 locations… Jaco, CR… San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua… and Uvita area, CR. It was the trip of a lifetime for our family. We’d never taken a family vacation before.
When we were in San Juan Del Sur we absolutely fell in LOVE. With the people, the community, the school, and the lifestyle. None of us particularly like the winter months in Alberta so the idea of living somewhere tropical was too good to not think of. We researched all the countries in Central America before deciding on the 3 we visited. We did extensive research on health care, education, safety, logistics… When it came down to it, on paper San Juan Del Sur checked all our boxes. It has an AMAZING international school for our kids (age 5 & 2), it has a huge Expat community, it has lower cost of living, it has a brand-new hospital… Despite the recent (April 2018) political crisis which was mainly experienced in the larger cities, San Juan Del Sur managed to stay this sleepy little surf town that only experienced a decrease in tourism during that time.
Fastforward… We get back from our vacation and the planning began. We had secured a temporary rental in San Juan Del Sur before we left. Scheduled to come back down for March 15, 2019… That gave us only 2 months after returning from our trip to get organized to go back… Well it obviously wasn’t enough time lol… We ended up postponing our arrival date to April 7th which worked out great for the people we rented the house from. So our plan was set… now the fun… We had to seriously downsize our life (again). We went room by room and either packed it, donated it, or tossed it out. While this was happening I was working from 7am – 1pm building my remote client basis and servicing my current clients, then would work 3pm – 11pm at my JOB with Alberta Health Services. We gave our 2 year old vehicle back to the bank (it wouldn’t make it on some of the northern roads my husband has to drive on) and we kept our older SUV. Then 2 weeks before we are supposed to leave my husband gets called to work.. I mean it was great.. we’d been waiting for the call.. we prepared for this. We knew there was a chance I’d be taking the kids to Nicaragua by myself… And that’s what we planned.
Those 2 weeks before we left I stopped working at my JOB because my husband took our only remaining vehicle up to work. It was good timing though because I was able to focus on the packing and downsizing and my remote business. I managed to get our lives crammed into 9 Large suitcases. 6 of which would be coming down with me and the kids. So here I was.. totally confident in being able to do this on my own… Then, 3 days before we left my mom agrees to fly down with us. So now I’m scrambling to change my youngest one way plane ticket (thankfully I had purchased him his own seat) to a round trip ticket for my mom. Needless to say, I managed to change the flight so she could come with us. I strategically split our travel into 2 days to make it more bearable with the kids and the dog.
Day 1: we were picked up at 5:30am to go to the airport in Edmonton. It took us about 2 hours to get all of the bags checked and through security. We had a double bike stroller, a dog, 2 kids, 4 carry on suitcases and 2 carts with the 6 large suitcases.. How did I think I was going to do that all by myself? I realize now it would have been absolute crazyness! Our very excitable Boxer who was traveling with us was my main concern before leaving. I got him into a very lovely veterinarian who gave us some heavy-duty medication to help him relax for the flights. He was a peach! I mean he was heavily sedated but who cares he did so wonderful. He was great through the airport, he slept the whole flight on the floor by our feet. It was a great experience. So we all make it to Houston, Texas where our overnight layover was.
Now picture this… we get off the plane in Houston… I’m thinking the dog needs to go outside, it’s been 6 hours since he was outside. So I get directed out this set of doors with the dog. My mom takes the kids to the baggage claim. Then when I try to come back in I’m stuck… on the non secure area of the airport. I had to talk to 5 different employees to get to where my mom and kids were. Had an anxiety attack complete with tears and all. Was threatened to be arrested (I wandered into a secure area of the airport where I wasn’t supposed to be) It was crazy! Not the best airport experience that’s for sure. After what seemed like forever I finally found my mom and kids. Then we filled the shuttle to the hotel and off we went. It was an exhausting first day. We got some food and relaxed in the hotel room… except we needed to rearrange some of the suitcases so they were all under 50lbs. (I was not paying the overweight fee a second time). Mom takes an Uber to Walmart to get an extra carry-on bag and a scale. Comes back with both PLUS an array of snacks with the most sugar content she could find I swear lol. We got all the bags organized and it was bed! Our flight wasn’t super early in the morning but we were exhausted.
Day 2: Wake up, load up our 6 suitcases on hotel trolly and head down to the shuttle. Mom took the kids to eat breakfast while I loaded the dog and bags into the shuttle. As we are about to leave the hotel I get an email from United Air telling me our flight was delayed by 10 HOURS!!! I just about threw up… I had already dosed the dog with medication, I didn’t want to have to do that again. Or wait in the airport for 10 hours. So the hotel told us to go to the airport to check our bags in and they would hold our room for us for a couple hours just incase we were actually delayed 10 hours and needed to come back. Now the hotel is 5 minutes from the airport. By the time we got to the airport, unloaded the bags, get ourselves into the line to check in I get another email saying they re-routed another plane and we were only going to be delayed an hour. Thank the heavens! So much better! the second flight went really good. We get into Managua, Nicaragua and I was relieved to see how small the airport was. It wasn’t crazy, it was easy to get to the baggage claim, pick up our bags and head to customs. We go through customs, get our stamp in our passport, pay the $10US entrance fee, head over to the luggage scanner, toss everything on the belt and load them up again. Now I had to go with another airport person to give them my paperwork for the dog and pay the $10 import tax for him. We met our transport driver, loaded up and hit the road to San Juan Del Sur.
About 2 hours later… we arrived… It was a little surreal that we were actually here… Arriving at the end of dry season meant it was so HOT, but we were here. It took all of 5 minutes for our suitcases to explode all over the house while we unpacked. Then our friends came over and picked us up and we took my mom out for her first dinner in Nicaragua!
The adventure has begun!