New construction at Tierra del Suenos

Hip-E Habitat (aka. Permagreen Compania Limitada) just started construction of a new 2 story, 2 bedroom/2.5 bath, 2000 Square foot home on Lot #1 at Suenos (https://suenosnicaragua.com/lot-map-and-pricing/).  It will feature a clay tile roof, and an open floor plan kitchen/living/dining upstairs with full on surf view of the Bay.  Two air conditioned bedroom and baths will be downstairs leading out to the pool deck.  Should be ready end of this year…

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Casa Amarilla

jacek 2

Casa Amarilla came about when frequent visitors Jacek and Ivona found their piece of land in the area and decided they want too build a house.  They came to see our house and when they left they asked if I could build them one just like it.  I thought they meant a nice solid house of yet-to-be-determined design.  But no, they meany exactly the same.  So, I did, but there ended up being a few modifications.  I have to say after living in our house for over 2 years now, it is a great design.  I adapted it for Nicaragua life from a Frank Lloyd Wright floor plan that I liked (see post on designing our house for details).

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Rancho Supremo

Currently in construction:

Dan and Evan partnered on a small lot close to the beach at Brisas and came to me with a few thoughts about what they wanted to build.  They wanted it to be mainly open-air but still have space that was secure and lockable.  They liked the traditional Nicaraguan Ranchos, large open air pavilions with high palm-thatch roof.  So, I designed a simple open floor plan rancho with modern U-shaped kitchen and bar that flowed into ample space for dining and living; two wings form the bedrooms with a metal roof lined with decorative caña (related to bamboo and looks similar) and bubble foil insulation because they may want to add air conditioning for “our friends’ girlfriends” when they come to visit.

rancho-supremo

We left space next to the entry for a teak deck that leads to an attached pool (phase II).  The bedrooms will have double doors to open onto the common area and the walls along with the kitchen back wall enclose about half the rancho, the rest being open to allow the cooling onshore sea breezes to sweep through.  We are doing this project piece by piece as the lads save up funds.  Its looking good so far. Continue reading

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Designing Hacienda Boom (our house)

Holly and I had talked about how we liked L-shaped or U-shaped houses with courtyards that would allow you to be outside but have privacy.  That’s where my research on floor plans started.  My stepfather, one of the early leading architects in environmental design, took me to see several Frank Lloyd Wright houses and I was captivated, especially by the Fallingwater house.

jacobs house plan

I worked for his design-build company in high school and college and learned a lot from him.  So, when it came time to design our own house my research included revisiting FLW designs and floor plans.  I found this L-shaped plan for the Jacob’s house built in 1936.  We liked the open living/dining/kitchen (which I opened up even more) and the bedroom wing of the house and of course the possibility for a courtyard inside the L shape.  I modified the plan to our needs and ease of building in Nicaragua.   Also I made many modifications to the window placements and roof to adapt it to the tropical climate (see the cool roof post).

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The Butterfly House – A One Bedroom Casita on a Budget

We became friends with Marilyn when she came down for a Surf with Amigas retreat a couple years ago and Kim agreed to design and build a small simple 1 bedroom casita on Marilyn’s sea view lot at Seascape Terrace.  After many iterations  of design and trying to fit it to a tight budget, we settled on this 620 square foot casita with an open floor plan living/dining/kitchen, one bedroom, one bathroom and an 8′ wide front porch with bi-fold doors.  The high ceilings with a triple layer roof and wide front openings and ample openings all around keep the place cool and breezy and its got an amazingly big feel for a small place. Continue reading

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Our House Is Finished

The living room with our indoor hammock.

The living room with our indoor hammock.

This post is a long time coming, but in case you wondering, yes we did finally finish our house. It was mostly complete in time for Luna to be born back in September of 2014. Since then it’s been a work in progress, adding little details along the way. There are still some details we’d like to complete – always projects on the list! But going over this blog lately I realized we never posted pictures of the finished project. So here they are. Continue reading

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Green building in the tropics- thermal mass

When I first started researching green building I found pretty quickly that the vast majority of material, books, websites, etc. are made for people living in the temperate zones of the US and Europe.  There is a ton of material for them.  When you look for green building resources for the tropics though, not so much. Continue reading

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Day In The Life – Living in Nicaragua With a 5 Month Old Baby Girl

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Set a goal, attract what you want, work hard, and live your dream. After loving life as a competitive pro surfer, then a pro free surfer, building a business and relocating full time to Nicaragua, I wanted to have a family. I’m now happily married, living in a house that we built with our two dogs and 5 month old baby girl Luna. Here’s a little sample of daily life on a day off from running my Surf Yoga Retreat business. Life is good!

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Quick Tour of a Few Lots Available at Brisas

We were the first to build our home at Brisas, a small community in Northern Nicaragua, and we’re looking for good neighbors! Here’s a quick tour of a few of the lots still available.

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Jacek and Ivona’s House by Hipehabitat

After the seeing the successful outcome and great feel of our L-shaped hacienda home Kim has agreed to build a slightly customized version for a Canadian couple planning to retire in Nicaragua in the next few years. Here, Holly and baby Luna give a tour of the project.

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Settling Into the New House

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It’s been about 3 months and we’re loving our new home at Brisas Del Alma. We’re still very busy settling in, putting finishing touches on the house (building shelves to store all our stuff mostly), and embracing our new lifestyle. It feels so good! Here are a few quick pics I snapped the other day to give you a taste.

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The New Dipping Pool

ecopool waterfallThe house is now mostly finished, and we have an 11 week old baby girl named Luna. Little Luna has occupied most of our time lately, so I’m way behind on blog posts. Eventually I’ll get a chance to take some photos of the finished house (which still does need a lot of detail work – things like bathroom doors, shelves, cabinets, etc.) but for now here’s a look at our newest courtyard feature – the “eco-dipping pool” (aka. pondish-pool, water garden, swimming fountain).  Its a unique design- its part pool, part pond, part fountain, part water garden, all wrapped into one efficient design that Kim came up with.  It also helps cool the house and us.

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Designing the Hacienda at Brisas Del Alma

The design process started with a piece of sketch paper and a discussion of how many bedrooms and other spaces we wanted.  We knew we wanted two bedrooms an open living area/kitchen, an office, and of course a workshop/bodega for brewing, building and fixing surfboards; maybe even a luxurious inside bathroom (big change from where we had been living for the last 3 years!).  Continue reading

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Video Tour of the New House

We are six months into building our new 2 bedroom 2 bath house in Northern Nicaragua at Brisas Del Alma in Aposentillo, and it’s just about done! All we’re missing is a few little details that should be complete within the next couple of weeks, but the good news is that we’ll be moving in over the next few days. Click play for a tour of the house.

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Sneak Peak At our New House

IMG_20140727_150313I can hardly believe it, but the house is nearly complete. Way back in February our contractor promised to have it finished by the end of July, but as anyone who has ever built in Nicaragua (or anywhere else in the world) knows, a better estimate is to take whatever they say and add at least 2-3 months.

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More Monkeys, Better Schools. Investing in Southern Nicaragua

preggo lot coupleLife in Northern Nicaragua is mellow. Thus far there’s been very little development, at least as compared to Southern Nicaragua. Of course, things are changing. In the four years that we’ve been living here the number of hotels in our pocket of the North has doubled. There’s still really just one or two restaurants (depending on how you define restaurant). There’s nowhere you can go for a breakfast burrito or smoothie after a surf. And while the gringo community is growing little by little, it’s still really small. A party where everyone’s invited would not even reach 30 invitees. That’s the main reason we love the area. We like the quiet. We like the empty beaches and roads more populated by cows than 4×4 rentals stacked with surfboards. We don’t mind the midday onshore winds that blow out the surf but cool the afternoon porch-sitting sessions. We’re excited to finally complete our new house and move in (which should happen in the next couple of weeks).

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House in Progress Tour

In Part 2 of our Nesting in Nicaragua series, Holly is one week shy of being six months pregnant and the house has been under construction for five months. The roof is mostly on and you can start to get a feel for what the house will look like. Take a tour of the interior floor plan.

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Cool Roof Design by Kim Obermeyer

Kim Obermeyer of hipEhabitat.com talks about his design for a cool roof – a double layer roof that will prevent heat from the sun from radiating into the living space. The roofing system features pre-painted structural zinc roof panels with 2″x2″ spacers and Plycem cement board bottom layer.

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Brisas House Progress in Late April

After four months of construction, we have walls completed to roof height, the roof of the bodega is finished, and we’re starting to install the alfajias (rafters) that will hold the roof of the main house. It’s the end of April. The official start of the rainy season in Nicaragua is May 15th, but rain can be expected to begin falling any day now. We’re eager to get the roof completed before the rains come! Here’s a selection of photos to show the progress.
house curb appeal

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Homemade Yogurt from Beach Walking Cows

beach cows

I love yogurt with my granola and fruit in the morning, particularly homemade yogurt made with milk from cows that I pass on the beach every morning and evening. Living in Nicaragua has it’s downsides (a shortage of farmer’s markets selling things like organic veggies), but it also has its perks! We are surrounded by neighbors with herds of grass-fed cattle. The cow herders take their charges on daily walks to grazing pastures and our closest neighbor’s cows happen to make their commute along the beach at sunrise and sunset. It’s hard to imagine a happier cow than one that gets to slosh through the warm shorebreak on it’s way to grass grazing.  Continue reading

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Nesting in Nicaragua

We’d been designing the house for months, but as soon as we found out that we had a baby on the way, we quickly finalized the plan and soon broke ground on what will be our home (scroll to the bottom of this post for a video tour of the house in progress).

For the past three years we’ve been living in a cozy 12’x20′ thatch-roofed cabana with a comfortable shady porch and sleeping loft, located on the grounds of the eco-lodge where we run the majority of our women’s surf and yoga retreats.

cabana Continue reading

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30% off the next two sea view lots sold!

Starting Feb. 1, the owner of Seascape has decided to offer a promotion- 30% off the next two lots sold.

These lots were already a great deal- 1/2 acres with sea view, power and water to the lots already in an established development with good title.  Its impossible to beat.  The land is a short, 7-8 minute walk to the beach at Santa Maria a small fishing village in Northern Nicaragua.  With the 30% discount the last remaining lower lot (#12) is only $21,000 and the upper two rows with great sea views are only $35,000.

First come, first serve for two lucky people who want to start a dream home in Nicaragua.

See http://www.seascapenicaragua.com for details.

looking west seasview from very top

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South Nicaragua for the New Year

mukul right

We live in Northern Nicaragua and don’t make it down to the South very often, so it was exciting to get a chance to cruise down for New Years to live it up in luxury land for a week. Hot water showers, multiple restaurants to choose from, and all-day offshore winds were a nice change from our normal daily life. It was actually technically a work trip, but the clients that we were hosting were a pair of super mellow French brothers who already knew how to surf. We were basically acting as their surf guides and cheering squad. Unfortunately, the waves were super small, but we still found a few fun ones.

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Breaking in the Beach House

It was a long time coming (8 months to be exact), but the beach house is finally finished! Ok, so it’s not totally finished. There are still plenty of details to be addressed. We’ve got trim to put up, painting to do, furniture to make, etc. but the basics are complete. We’ve got walls, a roof, and after long last, a completed wood floor! We chose Christmas eve 2013 as the first night to sleep in our new beach house!

xmas morning surf check Waking up with coffee to stellar view. The waves were small but clean with no one out! Continue reading

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Beach House Progress – Plycem Walls and Bamboo Siding

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We started building the beach house way back in March – or was it February 2013? The point is, it’s been so long that it’s hard to remember. The main delay has been caused by an irresponsible carpenter with a lot of excuses (mostly lies) and a weak work ethic. We had been waiting for the guanacaste wood floor to be installed before closing in the upstairs walls, but we could not wait any longer. Continue reading

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Our Caretaker’s House at Brisas Del Alma

squirrel treat

Ok, I know you can barely see the house in this picture, but it’s just such a classic shot of me telling the dogs that they cannot eat our caretaker’s pet squirrel “Simon” (named for one of the chipmunks). You can see a tiny bit of the house that our caretaker will move into once we finish building the main house. In the meantime, we finally have a place to store surfboards and hang out within walking distance of my favorite surf spot in the world! Continue reading

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Surf Lifestyle in Northern Nicaragua

The waves aren’t perfect every day. Sometimes it’s small and kinda closed out, lumpy, and plagued by riptides. That’s just a part of surfing. But the sunrise is beautiful, the beach is empty, the water is warm. Even if the waves aren’t firing, the surf lifestyle is awesome. On this day, I took my two dogs for a sunrise surf session, caught a few little waves, and just appreciated the moments. Continue reading

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Planting Non-GMO Corn and Beginning to Build at Brisas

We are the proud owners of Lot #22 at Brisas Del Alma in Aposentillo, Northern Nicaragua. Since buying our lot a few months ago we’ve started making some improvements. The fence and some tree planting came first. Now we’ve hooked into the community water, have planted some non GMO corn and have begun building our caretaker’s house. check out the progress!

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Aqua Gardens Use Less Water and Produce Amazing Lettuce

A family farm in beautiful Mendocino County, Aqua Gardens Family Farm specializes in the sustainable production of organic, “living” bouquets of gourmet mixed salad greens, fresh strawberries, other popular vegetables, herbs, organic fish and compost products.

lettuce

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Gluten-Free Coconut Cacao Almond Flour Cake with Spicy Blackberry Compote

rasberry compote

My husband Kim is an amazing cook. I used to do all the cooking but now that he’s around, I do a lot less and focus on “ooohing” and “aaahing” over the amazing things he makes, plus doing the prep work (i’m a great veggie chopper) and washing the dishes afterwards. I’m much more of a computer nerd and am in charge of keeping our websites updated, answering emails from prospective Amigas, and keeping up to date on social happenings on facebook. Fortunately, I’ve got an awesome husband to make breakfast while I slog it out in front of the computer screen. Continue reading

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Finding Fallen Wood

Our wood dramas continue….

If you’ve been reading about the progress of our beach house construction you’ll see a repeated theme – we’ve been delayed by the local carpenter again and again. Now, the house is pretty much finished – concrete work is done, custom window bars are installed, floor is nice and colorful, etc. – but we’re still waiting on the wood for the floor for the second story.

beach house window barsbeach house dogs on floor Continue reading

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Beach House Roof Construction

beachhouse roof on
The next step in the saga to build a beach house in Northern Nicaragua is complete. We’ve got a roof! When building anything in this country, you’ve gotta have patience. Lots of patience! Continue reading

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Beach House Progress – Slow and Steady

beach house june 15

The whole process has been really slow, but at least it’s been steady. We bought a beachfront concession lot back in April of 2012. It wasn’t easy and you can read the full story here. Since then we’ve been working to improve the lot little by little. We hired a caretaker. We dug a well in the sand (story here). We planted coconut palms. Finally, in early March 2013 we broke ground on what we’re calling the Beach House. Continue reading

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Drilling a Deep Well in Nicaragua


We’re in the process of installing infrastructure for a small 16 lot housing development in northern nicaragua called Tierra Del Sueno. In order to provide water for the development we decided to drill a community well at the top of the hill. Unfortunately even at 300′ deep we did not find enough water for all 16 lots and will have to drill a second well down low. Check out the video to see what the process looked like.

For the full story and more photos see the post on Suenosnicaragua.com

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HipEhabitat Honeymooners in the Philippines

Holly and Kim Obermeyer took a break from their life in Nicaragua to cruise over to the Philippine Island of Siargao for a relaxing honeymoon. They stayed at the Kawayan Resort which only has two really private very comfortable cabanas with excellent food. Continue reading

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Holly and Kim Get Married in Nicaragua

Hipehabitat founders Holly and Kim Obermeyer hosted a raging group of friends and family members to a week of fun and adventure in Nicaragua that concluded in an intimate wedding ceremony at the La Bahia Beach Hotel. Continue reading

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Bodega Progress

We are nearly finished with building our teak and concrete block bodega up on the ridge at Tierra Del Suenos. We’ll use it as a garage, storage unit, and workshop. Right now we’re finishing up the details – painting and varnishing. We’ve also begun construction on our lot down on the beach. Continue reading

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Digging a Well in the Sand

well

If you happened to notice our post from a couple of months ago, we bought a beachfront concession lot in North Nicaragua. To catch up on that dramatic story, click here.

After finalizing the purchase, the next step was to find water. The lot is located right on the beach, with an estuary that goes behind it, so I wasn’t even thinking we would find any sweet water until the caretaker for the lot next door informed me that he has a well and would happily dig one for me too. Continue reading

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Beautiful Girls on Longboards at the Bay

Afternoon light, a friendly paddle, one 9’2″ longboard with GoPro mounted on the nose, trading off, smiling, laughing, toes on the nose, crouching for speed, cross-stepping into the later afternoon. All part of the life, living the dream.

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Marvelous Managua

managua cuba park

Up until now we had avoided Managua at all costs. It was just the place where the airport is located, a necessary pass-through on our way to the beach. Friends who had lived in Managua for a couple of years (something I could not even fathom) told us it has nice areas and that they much prefer Managua over Washington DC (where they live now). Other friends who live in beach communities in Nica told stories of going to Managua for a weekend getaway, to eat sushi in the movie theater, go shopping, etc. None of this seemed like anything I wanted any part of, until now. Now I get it. Continue reading

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Building a Bodega on the Ridge at Suenos – Part 2

bodega sideIn part 2 of the bodega construction process the floor is poured and the roof is on. If you want to refresh your memory with the purpose of this building and our strategy for building it, click here to read the blog post of Part 1. Continue reading

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The Struggle to Buy a Beachfront Concession Lot in Nicaragua

najaulapa lot

It was not easy, but after 10 months of trying we finally did it! We bought and registered a beachfront concession lot in the city of El Viejo in Northern Nicaragua!!!

There are two types of land available in Nicaragua to both nationals and foreigners: freehold titled land, which you can buy, own, re-sell etc. and concession “leased” land that the city owns, allowing you to buy and sell the rights to the yearly lease but only with their approval. We had always shied away from leasehold land. Why lease when you can buy? But, if you want beachfront property that is not inside of a development, for the most part it’s lease or nothing. Continue reading

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Belgian IPA homebrew “Belguraguan”

belgian ale

OK, here’s the brew I’ve been waiting for, wanting to try for months, yearning for – a home-brewed Belgian IPA made right here in Nicaragua.  I’m thinking of throwing a packet of dried Belgian yeast into our palm-thatch roof so it can just be there, growing, hanging out, ready to bring yeasty goodness to any fermentation that happens.  That’s how the Belgian monks create their amazing brews (that, and a life long vow of celibacy I suppose- not ready for that)- the yeast is specific to each abbey.  The only reason I won’t do that is I don’t want our other types of brews to always have Belgian yeast floating into them. Continue reading

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Almond Flour Banana Granola Pancakes

pancakeWe’ve been going gluten-free these days. After a week’s experimentation I realized that I had more energy and just generally felt better. I’m not perfect though. It’s easy to switch out rice for pasta, but much harder to turn down a couple slices of homemade bread spread with butter and garlic.

In the US, there are plenty of gluten-free flours available but down here in Nicaragua it’s only cornmeal or good old-fashioned wheat. As a result, we’ve been making a lot of cornbread. But with my youngest sister Hayla coming down the week before Christmas we put in an order for a few things we can’t get down here like blue agave sweetener, tahini, and almond flour. Continue reading

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Offshore Tubes in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is one of those places where you can get barreled every day. That’s only one of the reason why I live here, but it was the primary force that attracted me to the country! With lots of great beach break and plenty of offshore winds, it’s totally tubular on a regular basis. Click play for a few really nice days at my favorite beach in the world.

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Teak Post and Concrete Block Bodega


We have begun building up on the ridge! First project – a place to store our tools, saddles, surfboards, wheelbarrow, and the building supplies that we’ll need to collect when we’re ready to start building the actual house. The name for this sort of building is a bodega. Continue reading

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The New Living Fence on our Lot in Tierra Del Sueno


We bought an awesome lot in the new eco-friendly community in Northern Nicaragua called Tierra Del Sueno and are starting to make some improvements. The first step was installing a fence around the perimeter so we can more clearly see the lot the boundaries and also keep the horses and cows from munching on whatever young trees we would plant. Continue reading

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Phase 1 Roads at Tierra Del Sueno

It’s been a year or more in the planning stages but we have finally broken ground on the new roads that will service lots in Tierra Del Sueno. We had been waiting to finalize the lot lines before figuring out how to create the roads that would service them. All that is finished finally, so we started looking into road options. Continue reading

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How to Make a Stubborn Passionfruit Vine Flower – Nicaraguan Folk Wisdom

We love passion fruit! Called calala or maracuya in Nicaragua, delicious passion fruit is awesome mixed with plain yogurt, granola, and a drizzle of honey. We buy them a dozen at a time and have been eagerly awaiting for the flowering of our passion fruit vine. We planted it last August and have watched it grow to become an enormous entity. It’s crawling up the roof, into nearby trees, and trying to latch onto anything it can wrap around to reach new heights. Sadly, with all this crazy growth it had yet to produce a single flower.

I asked a few local guys if there was anything I could do. Fertilizer? More sun? Less sun? Some different watering strategy? What’s the deal? Continue reading

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Testing the Rusty Dozer, 4F, and Jokerr Surfboards in Nicaragua

We love surfboards. My current favorite models are the Dozer, 4F, and the Jokerr. I ride them at 5’5″, 5’7″ and 5’9″ respectively. It’s surprising to me that a 5’9″ now feels like a big board. Granted I don’t surf big open water waves much, preferring hollow beach breaks where it’s nice to have a shorter outline to fit into the curve of the wave. With these three boards, I can surf anything that I want to surf. Check them out at the Rusty website and order yours! Rusty.com

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