Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Laguna de Apoyo's endless shades of green

From rim, to vistas, placid waters and quiet siestas, Laguna de Apoyo is simply gorgeous. We love Apoyo's easy accessibility from Granada, less than 20 minutes by car, and worlds away. We hope that the Nicaraguan government continues to do the right thing with this gem and maintains it's protection. As many of the world's special places become caricatures of themselves, glorified theme parks if you will. Laguna de Apoyo is an understated, low key paradise. Best yet, the building moratorium, here, has kept the wild scenery largely intact. We happen to have a friend who has a house on the water's edge which was built prior to the moratorium. Seeing Laguna de Apoyo's endless shades of green while enjoying their hospitality, certainly makes visiting the laguna extra fun.     

Views from restaurant Congo on the western slope of the crater.

Zoe's best friend and her mom hiking on the rim of Apoyo.

Panoramic views of the laguna and Mombacho volcano behind it.

Like a giant green house where everything grows.

We swam with many friends from our kid's school.

Purpose built for fun.

Sitting by the lake and enjoying conversation. 

Elise likes the views of the lake and loves visiting this area.

Lakeside living at it's best.

The outdoor kitchen and living area maximizes the natural experience.

We stayed until the moon was well above us.

Birthday girl

This post was delayed because we have been super busy with school, parties and injuries as of late. Zoe had her birthday a few weeks ago and wanted the celebration to be a small and more intimate affair. She invited her closest friends over for some BBQ, swimming, games, and desserts. The kids had fun and, as parents, we were thrilled to host such a low key event.

Open presents with their "super powers"

Cooling off in the pool was a nice treat.

A fun event for the birthday girl.

Zoe was one happy camper.

These are the best years

Making a wish upon a candle


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Broken bones and uncanny coincidences

My youngest daughter, Zoe, broke her tibia bone at her growth plate just behind her knee cap. She broke it while playing at recess. Because of the severity and nature of the break and that her growth plate was involved, surgery was required. We took Zoe to Hospital Vivian Pellas, in Managua, to their team of skilled pediatric surgeons. Two anxious parents, two experienced surgeons, and two and a half hours of surgery later, Zoe awoke to start her slow recovery. Zoe immediately noticed that she could not do most things without help from others. Her "hip to tip" cast, frustratingly gets in the way of everything. She cried because she wanted to run around and play, but couldn't. She cried because of the constant throbbing in her knee. She cried most, though, when she realized she was the one being left behind. Zoe said, "Daddy, it's easier to be the person leaving than being the person that's left behind." 
   Seeing my daughter in tears, immobile and broken, has stirred up some of my long forgotten memories, as well. I have been where Zoe is on many occasions and know she'll get better but she has to witness this for herself. My worst fracture was when I fell from a roof which left my right ulnar styloid and radius (wrist region) crushed with nearly two dozen fragments. The first physician that I saw, at that time, said that he could not help me and gave me a dire prognosis, I was devastated. That doctor said that I needed to see an Orthopedic specialist but would not say if I would ever be able to use my wrist again. Multiple surgeries later, and I was able to regain the use of my right arm. Incredibly, as if by fate's hand, my injury and Zoe's injury occurred on the exact same day, at nearly the exact same hour, exactly 25 years apart. Yep, I couldn't even make this one up. October 4th, 1992 around 1 o'clock in the afternoon, I got injured. Simply change the year to 2017, leave the rest the same, and that reflects Zoe's injury timeline. This unique coincidence of timing, that we share, has eased Zoe's stress. It calms her to know that she and daddy can share something so special. As she will see, wounds heal, but memories both good and bad, will live on and on.  

That "Moment" a parent finds out how bad things really are for their injured child. 

Pre-op blues as Zoe is readied for surgery.

Recovery room and reflections of what has happened.

First encounters for sisters are filled with love, support, and tenderness.

Adjusting to home, just a little different. Well wishes from classmates adorn the walls.

Very clean 3.5 inch incision with two puncture marks is all that was left by the physicians. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sea turtle life cycle on display at Playa la Flor, Nicaragua

It's no secret, for our blog regulars, that my family and I wanted to see an arribada of turtles, on a sandy beach, somewhere in the world. Well, that moment, finally, and unexpectedly, arrived last weekend when one of my friends updated her FaceBook account showing that an arribada occurred the night before near our favorite beach. The only thing that wasn't well-timed, was that our oldest daughter was at her friend's house, for a birthday sleepover, and missed the spectacle. We will definitely try to make it out there again in the months ahead so she can witness mother nature's beauty in real time and up close. During the peak of the arribada (which occurred hours before our arrival) many hundreds if not thousands of olive ridley sea turtles came ashore. While we were there, we saw roughly 70 adult sea turtles in various stages of egg laying process. We saw many baby turtles as well and will get into that a little later. Something that was unexpected was the smell of the ocean on the beach. The sand smelled like a pier or a fish cleaning station. The heavy aroma, most likely, a combination of the turtles dragging and exfoliating their bellies along the sand and the many exposed turtle eggs was intense.    
   Worldwide, there aren't that many beaches that experience arribadas, or large turtle arrivals, anymore. This rarity is why Playa la Flor was designated a nature preserve by the Nicaraguan government. Though the park has staff and is guarded by soldiers during the egg laying season, a combination of dogs, vultures and poachers still wreak havoc on the nests. We have heard estimates that 50,000 plus adult females come ashore, on Playa la Flor each year, to lay their precious cargo. It would not be unheard of if more than 5,000,000 eggs are laid on this beach during each season. Additionally, the park staff does collect eggs to hatch and then release the baby turtles directly into the water. Still, it is hard to see the endless amounts of egg shells strewn along the beach and the hundreds of holes dug by dogs and surrounded by vultures. I just have to believe nature produces enough abundance to accommodate for such loss. Along Nicaragua's Pacific coast, it is estimated that nearly 100,000,000 sea turtle eggs are laid each year.
    Seeing a sight that has been around since the time of the dinosaurs is pretty amazing. Turtles, for all their clumsiness, seem to be tenacious survivors and hopefully will continue to spread their quirky charm for many others to admire, for years to come.      

A couple females returning to the ocean after their tiring ordeal.

Digging the nests is done exclusively with their back flippers.

We arrived at 5 in the morning at the tail end of the arribada.

The many turtle tracks show how many mothers came ashore.
Zoe just loved the nature of it all.

A life long dream to see this.
We were on the beach with 6 other tourists and 4 soldiers. It felt as if we were alone. 

Hearing the ocean and nothing else is breathtaking.

Sometimes females jettison their eggs if they get scared or too tired for the beaching.

Though slow moving on land, these gals swim fast once they get back in the water.

More turtles than people.

Timeless reflections. 

The moms get exhausted digging their holes.

Predatory birds searching for baby turtles to swoop down on.

There are so many eggs on the beach that Zoe accidentally stepped on one and she cried so much.

We held baby turtles that were collected by a park employee.

Mother turtles laying eggs accidentally unearth eggs from earlier nests.
One of the many dog holes with vulture footprints around a former nest.

These babies are said to have a 1 in a thousand chance of surviving to adulthood.

Turtle tracks span as far as the beach is long.

These 7 babies are running as fast as they can to the water. 

Locals who were poaching eggs and raiding nests as soon as the military walked away.

Hunger knows no bounds, even with endangered animals. 

Poachers use the sticks as probes to find soft spots to dig up eggs.

These people frantically searched for eggs between guard patrols. The spotter using a radio was able to provide cover for the poachers. Though this was sad to see, it is also reality.

A park employee collecting babies, but I wasn't sure about this, as he acted as a spotter with his radio to allow the poachers to dig eggs. 

Sadly, we are not sure what happened to these little guys.
Victim to dogs, birds, etc.

This poor mother died trying to give life to others. Her journey, her exhaustion, was too much.

The vultures and their season of plenty 

Elise noticed something strange about this turtle and investigated. Sure enough the mother turtle was stuck in the sand and sinking. Elise held her head above the water so she could breathe. I went over and lifted the turtle out, which was firmly stuck in the sand, so she could fight another day. 

The turtle was so tired after we rescued her that she needed a rest before going back into the ocean.

After the turtle adventure we went to San Juan del Sur for breakfast.