Building a hotel in Nicaragua — you gotta be ready for anything!

Editor's note: this is the third installment in a series written by a 
Canadian expat and investor who is building a small hotel in the fishing 
village of Las Penitas, León.

If you’ve been following my blog in Nicaragua Dispatch about building a hotel in Nicaragua, you know we’ve already purchased a property, had plans drawn up and approved, and put the shovels in the ground on March 17. Roddy is traveling back and forth from Toronto every few weeks — 3 weeks there, 2 weeks here — and I am running the construction site in Las Peñitas.

The going has been slow, but everything goes slow here. At times it just feels like I’m an ATM. Building material lists are being filled, cement bags and blocks and rebar are being delivered on a weekly basis. Inventory is being taken each night and each morning to insure the supplies are being used as intended (and not pilfered). The last project meeting was held at the site; we compared the project plan to the work on the ground and confirmed that we’re behind, behind, behind.

The project management team consists of a senior engineer, a rorman, my right arm, Efran, and myself. The four of us make a good team. We were confabbing on how to get the project back on track, to get caught up to the project plan. The decision was to go with more labour. This made a marginal improvement in the rate of progress, but we’re still behind.

Then bang! Roddy has a heart attack!!

We are not prepared for this, but who would be? I hold out in Nicaragua for a few days while they try to put a stent in place to open the arteries. This procedure is really quite simple — a small camera is entered though the artery in the arm and pushed up to the blockage and then a stent is pushed in to open the blockage. The procedure works most time, but not for Roddy.

It is at this point that I start to get my ducks in a row, (and this is were relationships come into play). I get my guy Efran to agree to stay at the house and watch the dogs. Next I get Jorge to set up a ride to Managua and arrange for him and his family to stay at the house the following weekend to give Efran a break. There is a great group of expats on the beach at Las Peñitas, and they all offered support and just said, “Go Devry, we can take care of everything here for you.”

I get the call, the procedure cannot be used, the blockage is too severe! It’s Saturday, and I’m on a plane out of Managua on Monday, departing at 6:30 CST AM arrives 4:30 EDT PM…12 hours. Plus the two-plus hour drive from Las Peñitas. I’m tiered when I arrive, head to my buddies’ house to drop off my bags and then grab a cab up to the hospital. It’s now like 7:30 PM, I’m exhausted but I make it.

Stable and waiting

Stable and waiting

Roddy looks good; he’s stable with wires stuck all over his body for monitoring his heart. It makes me scared.

Triple by pass surgery is the prescription…what the F, he’s only 48!

We wait, we wait, we wait. Two conditions need to be meet at the hospital for him to get a table. First, no one in the hospital can be in greater need then him and second, no emergencies that would need space in the O.R.

Finally, on Friday the conditions are met. They take him into the O.R. and 5 hours later he is laying flat with tubes and wires and monitors and gees…if you never have to go through this, consider it a blessing.

As I write this we are trying to figure out how to get Roddy well and keep the project going; for the next week we are in a hotel in Downtown Toronto rehabbing him. Then he goes to Ottawa with his parents for 6-8 weeks and I head back to Las Peñitas and try to keep things going.

I will let you know how things turn out in the next installment. We were building a hotel in Las Peñitas…and it all seemed to be going so well.

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