She's a woman that's always had wanderlust, so it was only natural for her to move abroad in 2007...
23 November 2015| Last updated on 25 October 2017
Meet Brooke Rundle, a woman who hopped from a life in California in the United States, all the way to San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. We had the chance to ask her a few questions about expatriate life, and how she manages to keep in the festive spirit around the holidays!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, Brooke?
In my first life I was an all-American collegiate volleyball player and agent for professional players internationally. In my second life I was a commercial real estate broker for a Fortune 300 company. It was in Nicaragua that I found my true passion for travel writing, volunteering with people with disabilities and of course – surfing.
How long have you lived in Nicaragua?
Have you always wanted to live and/or work abroad?
I’ve always had wanderlust. I love exploring the world, meeting new people and learning about different cultures.
Why did you move?
I moved to Nicaragua in 2007 in search of a new lifestyle filled with travel, freedom and community service.
Why do you like living in Nicaragua?
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua is a town that inspires adventure, creativity and service. I originally came seeking surf and adventure. I’ve stayed all these years because of the people. My favorite thing to do is volunteer with my non-profit. We provide English classes and scholarships for underprivileged students in need. We also run a cooperative for adults with disabilities to make and sell handmade tote bags from re-purposed rice bags.
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What are the accommodation options available?
In San Juan del Sur there’s a wide range of accommodation. The town offers everything from off-the-grid ranch style dwellings to modern villas and luxury homes with dramatic ocean views. Prices to rent or purchase homes in the area vary drastically depending on the amenities. Generally speaking, the quality of housing and life is drastically less expensive than living in the U.S.
Do you celebrate Christmas?
Is Christmas celebrated in your host country?
Yes, in the States, the Christmas consumerism reminders arrive in stores promptly the day after Halloween on October 31st.
What are some of the traditions associated with Christmas where you live now?
The Christmas season in Nicaragua is kicked off with a holiday named La Purísima, meaning the Celebration of The Virgin Mary. Early morning marching bands call devotees to a 5am special mass held in the Catholic church. Decorated statues of the Virgin Mary, prepared by different neighborhoods, are paraded in the streets. Some families decorate their homes with Madroño flowers from Nicaragua’s national tree. Lines form from house to house as families share candy, juice, sugar cane and sweet lemons.
What are the traditions in your home country, and how do they differ?
Children make Christmas wish lists and send them to the North Pole in the hope that Santa Claus will deliver presents on December 25th if they behave well. The age-old fairytale is mirrored by a season of gift giving and remembrance of Christ’s birth.
How are you spending Christmas this year?
We’ll be hosting holiday parties for the children in our educational programs. Piñatas will be filled with treats and school supplies for the kids in our school. Loud music and dancing will inevitably follow.
What do you wish you'd known before you moved?
I wish I had been less stressed during the period leading up to my move to a new country. It’s impossible to figure out every aspect of your new life before you’ve arrived, so there’s no point in wasting time trying. Instead I would have spent more time with loved ones because once you hit the road, you never know how things might change. Chances are your original “home” will never quite be the same again. Or at the very least, your travel experiences will have changed you therefore it will feel different when you return.
Is there anywhere you would like to live that you have not explored?
I’ve never been to Cuba. I’m enamored by the timelessness of it and love the Latin musical traditions.
What's the best thing about being an expatriate?
The best thing about being an expat for me is the freedom to reinvent your life and dedicate time to your passions. In my old life, I always felt like I never had the time to pursue things like travel writing or volunteering in my community. Now I can do both!
How do you keep a little bit of home with you as an expat?
I always celebrate both sets of holidays. From living so many years abroad, I’ve learned it’s important for me to stay emotional connected to my loved ones where my roots are, while embarrassing the new cultural traditions of my adopted country residence. I love hosting Thanksgiving dinners and 4th of July BBQ’s for expats in Nicaragua sharing American traditions with my foreign friends.