so, it was with excitement and trepidation that i visited the island after about a 6 week break. I had been told that there would be 2 cabins up for me – not fully formed but all the same I was expectant after seeing the progress that had been made previously. For some reason when I was in the UK I had a bit of a sense of forboding in my gut, not helped by the figures just not adding up (it’s ok folks -panic over – seemingly I’m the one that can’t add up). I don’t know, I think I was so made up last time, I could almost predict my disappontment. And there it was – no cabins – 2 bases and the wood arriving on a twice daily basis, another team of carpenters arriving, but not what I was expecting at all. This probably clouded what has been achieved – the kitchen is beginning to look like one, the spa is looking great, I have a beach (a baby beach but a beach all the same) and there’d been a lot of planting as well as a plethora of other work. Anyway, I made my feelings very clear and it’s full steam ahead if only the damn rain would hold off. I really need to see a lot of progress for next week when Cayuga get here. We’re on tight budget and time deadlines now so suddenly everything is a lot more serious and real.
Last time I was here, I was really somewhat lazy about reporting on some great advances that we made. The contract for using Dona Maria’s land for back of house was agreed in essence, I met Carlos Augusto Bricena who owns one of the TV stations here and he and his lovely wife came over and visited the Island, seeing the potential and loving it which delighted me. He also reintroduced me to Raoul Lacayo who owns land and hot springs across the lake from me and I spent a gorgeous couple of hours exploring with him. It will be a fantastic trip for my guests. In fact, the tourist board here have just conceived of a number of trips round the volcano and lake that will suit me down to the ground. All this and a beach party at Popoyo – bloody marvellous!
Have a look at the PICS tab on the site – it’s been updated!
And here I am, back for another couple of weeks and whilst we are still on a “break”, things are moving. Yesterday we were approved for Law 306 – rejoice! Tuesday, I went to the workshop to see the progress of the cabins (more like mini houses than cabins). For once in my life, I was struck dumb. They are going to be amazing. The workmanship is superb and the detailing so far excellent. I really am overexcited
March saw a flying visit for me to tie up some loose ends prior to our “break in construction” and to make sure I knew what was needed for Law 306 (I think I started stressing about Law 306 2 years ago, and still no end). I had a few misgivings about the break and a bit of a panic that maybe I should have just continued straight through. Still, the reasons were still there – the economy, we need to get Law 306 through for our tax exhonerations, the dollar to the pound and that I have a lot to focus on in my UK businesses. Anyway, everyone had booked their holidays!!
The next couple of months were spent frustratingly absent, my hair turning greyer as more and more info was asked for. How many screws did we need (good grief). More detailed drawings were required, even of the constructions already completed. What was good enough for the local authority wasn’t good enough for “Intur.” And then there was the case of the disappearing lawyer. He had told me he was going on holiday, not that he was moving to the States!! Nice of him to let me know!! I don’t have luck with lawyers over here. Anyway, it turns out that the documents were handed over to another lawyer who has been asissting admirably with the hellish paperwork
I ‘m really made up that my Dad has decided to visit the project – I wanted him to see that I’m not completely crazy! The first night we met up with Ben and Matt and ate in the best steak /beef place – rivalled only by Argentina. Most excitingly, I have since discovered where I can source the meat (thank you Pablo). I then went to a party with live bands, lovely friends and endless rum .
Then it was off to Morgan’s Rock . I haven’t been for a few months and was interested to see how things were under a new General Manager. Things didn’t start well. I had requested one of the easier access roms for my Dad as he can’t walk very far. We had a confirmation but on arrival were told that it had been given up to someone else. I had to kick up quite a bit of a fuss until a satisfactory solution had been found which consisted of a bumpy 10 minute ride around the back of house route to an alternative room until the room required was vacated. I have to say that the food (a disappointment the other times I have been) was improved but they have had the same menu for 2 years. One thing I realised by having an elderly (sorry Dad) parent is that access routes are important as is good lighting at night and we have to have communication between the rooms – this was much realised when my Dad fell ill. Apart from the rooms and the illness, and the lack of appearance of the manager, the staff were lovely, the setting and, of course the architecture fantastic.
Back in Granada and Pablo kindly drove us and Kathy who lives in the apartment above me to a local restaurant with the most stunning view over Laguna Apoyo where we ate delicious lake fish. Later we met with Matthew for yet more food at the Medittaraneo, run by my friend Nuria who sold me the other (still not registered) island.
Our penultimate day ws an island day – I met with Matthew, Ben and Matt early in the morning for a lenghthy trip to talk over the way forward. Then it was back to lunch (my life revolves around food!) followed by an afternoon trip with my Dad. How exciting – they had started to fill up the pool. It is going to look fabulous.
The day ended with a meal at my favourite “Jardin del Orion” with Dad Kathy and Pablo, followed by karaoke and partying (minus my Dad!) with too little sleep before having to leave for the plane. It was all too short….
Since New Year I have spent some time with Amanda, Mitch and Pablo. Amanda and Mitch are also building a hotel with a spa in the centre of Granada and hope to have it ready “next week” Pablo is their manager -and full of useful information and contacts. I took them to see the island – it had been several months since they’s last visited and they were satisfyingly impressed! I feel like a proud mother when I show people around! We also went for a visit to the other side of the lake where there are hot springs, via cacao and plantain plantations and up to an amazing view – one way over Mombacho and one overlooking the islands. What an amazing day trip that would be for my guests. On our way back down we drank sweet cups of coffee that had been picked and dried right there.
One evening we all went to a “Canatour” event where not only did the lovely Marie Isabel win an award (and quite deservedly!), but Pablo did the honour of introducing me to everyone he knew which turns out to be quite a number of interesting and important people, including (drumroll please) the Vice President of Nicaragua. That was an evening not to be forgotten.
…and a decision that I made back in the UK before the frenzy of xmas has to be voiced. I decided that the project needs to go on hold for a number of reasons:
- There’s a deal that I need to put together in the UK that I need to be around for
- The dollar to pound rate has gone from 2 to 1 to 1.4 to 1, so the money I originally needed has increased somewhat.
- At the rate we are going, we would open in July – whilsy July and August are busy, Sept and October are wet and I’d prefer to open when I have a few guaranteed good months.
Whilst this is not ideal, Matthew and Ben understand my reasonings. So, the new plan is to set ourselves targets for the first week of April, hold construction for a couple of months before continuing on. Hopefully the pound and general world economic meltdown may have recovered a bit by then. Luckily I have finally found a bank that will support me through the project so at least things are looking up in that direction!
What did I do on New Year?? What didn’t I do! It started with a party at the Karaoke bar, then a party in a beautiful house (filled with Matthew’s designs and furniture) where another Brit – Melanie was staying. Melanie is developing an amazing house in Granada and has set up a charity that provides computers to schools. She had a whole bunch of lovely friends over from New York (one of whom it turns out knows a load of my frinds in NYC – small world). Anyway, great party, and then onto clubbing Nica style down by the lake. Phew!! Later on New Years day we went to Laguna de Apoyo to chill out and swim in the clear clear waters.
…and what a joy to hit the sunshine and heat. A double joy is that the UK shuts down over Xmas and New Year, so I had a couple of weeks of not having to rise at 6am and was able to relax and enjoy my double life. Xmas consisted of Xmas dinner on Xmas Eve and then a trip to the beach on Xmas day. Boxing day and I picked up my cousin’s partner from San Juan Del Sur and gave him a whirlwind tor of Granada, the Island and the surrounding countryside. Mathhew the architect got married on the 28th – with no electricity and a freak rainstorm and the BEST party! Allegedly the bride had to ride back to the hotel in the back of a pick-up – unfortunately there’s no photographic evidence. The following day, an old friend of a friend arrived with her friend for a holiday in Nicaragua, so there was another show-off trip to the island which gathered many others on the way. What a great way to spend the Xmas break – a bit of light relief after a gruelling end of year at work in London.