An interesting cab ride

At this point can any family members stop reading.

The way cabs work her is that you hail a rickety tin can held together with tape. There maybe other people in it. If there’s not, there probably soon will be. You tell the driver where you’re going and after driving around dropping the previous passangers off, usually driving back past where you picked him (never seen a her taxi driver) up, you finally reach your destination (late) for a princely sum of around 30p.

On this occasion, I picked up a cab with one other passenger. We drove deep into the heart of a barrio – no idea where, dirt tracks (it was daylight I hasten to add) , pulled up and stopped in a “driveway” of someones home. Engine off, the cab driver and passenger jumped out, were joined by someone else and whilst I waited patiently in the back seat, they proceeded to load the boot (trunk) with bales of hay. Once loaded, off we went , round some back streets and to my destination. For those family members still reading, I have to say that at no time did I feel scared or threatened, just amused – it’s just the way things are here.

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finds me updating this whilst watching the Liverpool Man U game.

The last couple of days have had me  pretty much stuck to the computer – keeeping in touch with the UK, purchasing (how am I going to get 36 yoga mats and 12 salt and pepper grinders back from London?!), researching etc. It’s never ending.

2 pretty amazing things have happened in between computer time:

1) Allegedly my other Island is now registered – a phonecall, a meeting, a parting of cash and the papers appeared within a couple of hours – I’m not sure if I quite believe it.

2) Whilst meeting with Sarah who helps with a charity that helps keep kids off the streets and rehabilitates drug addicts / ex cons and runs a workshop where the kids make really cool items from Jicaro that I would like for the hotel, I’m introduced to Dee who mentions an English couple who run a BandB here. I take it on myself to call in to see Beccy and Owen – from North London (damned gooners though). Owen has worked in Camden for years, knows all the pubs I go to, including the Dartmouth that I live next to and believe it or not, we have the same osteopath – hi Claire! It’s a ridiculously small world.

My intentions for the rest of the day is to take in the sun if it’s still out and go out with some friends in the evening (is that a good idea? I’ve been in bed before 10 most nights and I’ve got an early start tomorrow – must not drink too much!).

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and suddenly I’m in Costa Rica

Friday night and Andrea says – wouldn’t it be a good idea for me to go to Costa Rica and see what they had to offer in the way of kitchen /dining purchases. So, I go home after dinner and pack and the next morning am picked up at 8am to do the famous border crossing (I’ve heard many 6 hours at the border stories).

In reality the border isn’t that bad at all. I can see that it could be daunting, especially if you get stuck behind a busload but it probably took us around an hour to get through. 6 hours from leaving my apartment and I’m eating lunch by the beach at Harmony Hotel in Nosara.

Just the sound  and smell of the sea immediately relaxes me and I settle into a pleasurable weekend of RandR along with some PR and a look behind the scenes. Jose and Sylvia look after me very well indeed.

Monday and I fly into San Jose and meet up with Andrea to do some more shopping. Silverware is purchased, counted and packed into a suitcase. Andrea, myself and Karen who is the owner of Lapa Rios go to dinner. It’s really fascinating to speak with Karen -Lapa Rios was the first upscale eco lodge and the inspitation behind many and it has remained true to this day. It makes me realise I have a way to go. It’s late by my (nesw) standards (10.30 pm) when I finally turn in at Finca Rosa Blanca

Rainy cold Tuesday in Costa Rica and I manage to read a book inbetween my two meetings. The best sorts of meetings – interesting enjoyable company over good food! The first with Mike who found me through this very site, who has been through everything I have and more, running a very high end eco hotel in the Bahamas and is now working in Costa Rica – thank you Mike for your stories information and ideas. The next with Wilhelm from Costa Rican Trails – always a pleasure.

Wednesday and a breakfast meeting with Hans and Diedre to talk about PR. Also round the table is the owner of Finca Rosa Blanca who is part of the team running I International conference about sustainable tourism. Looks like I’ll be back next week.

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The English at work

This picture made me smile – the English in their white shirts in the middle of a building site.

Ben and Matthew - The English at work

Ben and Matthew - The English at work

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Cayuga’s Return

I’m up before 6am every day in order to login and catch up on what’s happening in the UK – busy busy – it’s peak season back there with all the headaches that come with the (welcome) influx of work as people get ready for Xmas.

With the arrival of Hans and Andrea things here move up several gears. Day one is spent poring over computers and going through in detail all that needs to be done – staffing, training, purchasing, website, transportation, start date, marketing, importing, and and and… Much achieved.

Day 2 dawns and we meet up with our potential managerial level staff to take them over to the Island.

And my bubble is burst. I knew it would be – Despite the progress which is good compared to last visit (it had to be), it still isn’t as far along as Hans had hoped and imagined from mine and others’ descriptions. The start date is still under debate and remains there.

We return to Granada and separate for an hour (Andrea to speak with candidates, Hans to sort out some administrative issues and me to buy a bike!)

Then it’s meetings with Marie Isabel (an invaluable source of information), Victor, more admin, a meeting with Matt, then Adrienne (yoga retreats) and finally dinner.. Phew..

Day 3 is shopping day, much to the delight of myself, Andrea and Claudia – our first member of staff who starts NOW as an administrative asisstant. Hans isn’t so keen on shopping although he is the first one to buy something personally. We look at silverware and dinnerware (cutlery and crockery to me), Masaya tourist market and much more interestingly Masaya regular market for baskets, bits and bobs, San Juan Del Oriente for pottery. We also manage to have lunch and a look at the rooms in the Hotel Contempo – Managua’s new trendy boutique hotel. (In true the  Nicaragua way, several years behind the trend)

Masaya Market

Masaya Market

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Easing into life

After the initial excitement, the next couple of days are spent shopping, cooking, catching up with friends, and generally settling in. So much for the rainy season – it’s hot and sunny – great news for the construction- not so good for the country. Global warming really is screwing with the world. Last year was the worst rain virtually since records began and this year so far the least. Can’t say I miss the rain though, lack of it led to a delicious Sunday lazing about appreciating the calm before the storm .

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I couldn’t wait and just had to go over to the island as soon as I could. One thing that struck me on the journey in was that I could hardly see any construction – just a glimmer of the roofs through the trees.

What a change(phew!). It’s still a building site but it looks like a luxury hotel trying to get out. What put it into reality was things like the temperature guage on the cold room and the water heating tanks in a store room. The dream is becoming reality.

Cabin on Jicaro

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I’m back!

The last month or so has flown by in a mixture of super busy at Key Production (which can only be a good thing in this day and age), a super busy social life (a bad thing at my age!) and a bit of panic about the progress at Jicaro – no reason for this apart from distance. It’s so hard to have a real idea of progress through emails and generally being so far away and wrapped up in other things.

So, here I am  and here I’ll stay until the hotel is fully finished, open and running like a dream. (Well, I’ll have to pop back to the UK for a week or so but that’s it).

I’m staying in the rather lovely Condominions Xalteva – a luxury apartment with plenty of room for me to store any supplies we have coming in. I decided to get a place on my own as I don’t think I’ll be very pleasant to live with as the end date looms! (Plus, this is what I’ve been used to for so long.)

I’ve also decided I might try to Twitter my progress to help plug the gaps between blogs. I’m new to it so haven’t quite worked it out yet. I’ll be

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More Visitors

My final couple of days and I was back and forwards to the island – firstly with a journalist, during whose visit I amanged to fall down my own construction whilst not concentrating, leaving me with a spectacularly bruised leg, a red face and feeling lucky that I hadn’t dropped 8ft onto concrete. The following day it was firstly with an insurance broker who took me on a spectacular speed boat ride around the peninsular and then with Adrienne who is interested in running yoga retreats on the island. As a celebratory adios to Granada, I managed to drink copious amounts of rum during the Hipica, causing the plane journey back to the UK not to be all that pleasant!

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Hard Work

Cayuga arrived with a full programme for me and them. How we managed to fit  so much work in  less than 3 days amazes me and left me exhausted. I had the whole team over to discuss budgets, logistics, perform interviews with prospective staff, save money, spend money, reorganise the furniture, put my mind at rest and frighten me in equal amounts! The good news is that they all could see the potential of the project and were really excited about its future.The bad news is that we will all have to work exceptionally hard to have it ready by November. It’s time to put on the pressure!

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