New News and What’s New

New News and What’s New

If you aren’t already confused, I’ll elaborate for more confusion.  For those of you who know me, you won’t be surprised, I’m certain.  Life for me is always a progression of changes and learning opportunities.

Last blog stated that I work on the beach from my home and yes, I do that too.  However, with our current technology, I can work wherever my computer and an internet connection are available.  The past two months I am working on several projects that require research and travel within Nicaragua.  I find fun wherever I can–and avoid work along the way.

My friend Marg Satchwell and I spent three days in Laguna Apoyo at Pacaya Lodge while I spent time working on the next Basha Health Clinic venue at Pacaya Lodge scheduled for this summer.  Marg and I didn’t fair so well however.  I tripped going upstairs to my loft bedroom and fell backwards down the stairs.  No broken bones for me but really sore sacrum.  Marg in her fervor to help me tripped on the same landing and jammed her arm into the wall creating an impacted fracture of her radius into her wrist bone.  We learned about the hospital in Rivas the next day where Marg had an x-ray and subsequently spent the night.  Keep in mind this was Semana Santa weekend, specifically Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  The hospital doesn’t provide sheets or pillows for the ancient beds so my driver made several trips to my friend’s in Limón to borrow sheets, pillows and he shopped for food and drink for the three of us–Marg, Maurice my driver friend, and me.  Marg was very fortunate to have the ortho doc working on Saturday to be a pleasant capable surgeon who recommended conservative treatment–manipulation and cast fixation of the radius versus surgery.  I was able to bring Marg home with me on Saturday so that she was only staying with the cockroaches one night.  Yes, unfortunately the Rivas Hospital has gone downhill in many areas over the past four years.  Thank Isis, the doctors are still great.  Not sure how they can stand working in a not so great hospital but it is truthfully the better of the two hospitals in Rivas.  Note to self, STAY HEALTHY.

Before our accidents, Marg and I had a great time exploring artist’s shops in San Juan de Oriente and one whole day in Granada.  It has been a year since I spent any time in Granada and I was pleasantly surprised to see many newly painted buildings and visit the completed Museum at the San Francisco Convent.  In the past Granada hasn’t been my favorite place to visit but I’ve changed my mind and would consider more than one day’s exploration in the future.

The best NEWS for me this Spring is that I now have clear title to my condo.  The Fabulous Beach Condo with a View is now posted FOR SALE on several websites with more to follow.  http://www.escapeartist.com and http://www.latincarib.com to begin with.   The condo is already rented through mid August with potential for rental two months in October and November. Hopefully the rentals will be enticing to potential buyers.  When I return to NI on June 4th, I’ll be staying at Carmen Gúzman’s casita in Limón #2 where I lived when I first moved full time to NI.

I am currently working the past two weeks from my daughter Rivka Bent’s home in San Juan Capistrano.  My grand daughter, Esther Roosvelt Bent, graduated on May 6th from Westmont College in Montecito, CA.  It was an exciting weekend although COLD and raining off and on.  Yes, of course, I was freezing unless I had on my three layers of clothes that are kept in the traveling suitcase that is carried between my children’s homes for when I come to visit.  Fortunately someone in my family travels from Northern to Southern CA at least once a month for something and can therefore transport THE MOM suitcase.  I’ll be here in SJC for three weeks then on to Dixon, CA for my last week in the US.  I have two more grand daughters graduating from high school in June in No. CA.   It is hard to believe these grandkids are getting older and I’m not. (Or so I think.)

The rainy season has finally begun on the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua and I hope that it lasts for many months as we desperately need it.  Before I left NI there were a lot of fires caused by dry trees and brush and the increase in smokers who haven’t yet learned what throwing away a lit cigarette can do.  Of course this statement is a judgment.  However in the past years I haven’t seen as many fires along the roads as I have seen this year.  Usually one can see fires up in the hills caused by I’m not sure what.

The Guasacate house project is progressing nicely.  Construction is still focused on the infrastructure a major retaining wall on the ocean side that will also house two rainwater encachment reservoirs and a jacuzzi sized pool.  Ron Urroz, the builder, who is a civil engineer is always coming up with something to enhance the construction.  Now when I get the condo sold, I’ll be able to spend the money on finishing the project.  In the meantime, I am happy with the way the property is coming alive.  I have the beginning of a waterfall in the front entrance side of the house.  The volcanic rock that the house is built on is so hard that it broke the backhoe that was trying to remove rock to level the front.  Ron and I decided to leave the rock and I’ll turn it into a waterfall pond area in the future.  I’ve already been researching ideas.  For those who never saw my house in West Sacramento, I designed a waterfall and small pond that ran 24/7 and held three goldfish that grew to 6 inch specimens and my red-earred slider turtle named Felice.  Time will tell what this water element will end up as.

Although I enjoy seeing my family and friends here in the US, I truly miss my life in Nicaragua and my families and friends there.  I can’t wait to get HOME even though I’ll be camping again for six weeks.  NI is my home.

Once again, I invite guests to join me in my Paradise on the Emerald Coast ocean in Nicaragua.

Photos in order of appearance:

Esther Bent Graduation with Mother, Rivka doing a mother task of fixing an umbrella for the Grad.  Esther and Dad, Brian Bent playing at the last gig of the Bent Duo at Esther’s work place last night – May 12th.

Rock art on the hike that Marg and I did from Pacaya Lodge.  The chapel display for Semana Santa at the San Francisco Convent Chapel in Granada.

My retaining wall in process.  The reservoirs are in front of Ron and Ana’s house next to mine.  My reservoirs will be similar but divided into three spaces.  The Urroz wall is in front of their pool and BIG jacuzzi.  My wall and reservoirs will be off the apartment below my house terrace.    The mammoth space under my house will be a 700 sq. ft.- 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment that I’ll rent out.

 

Working on the beach

For the past four years I have been saying that I live and work at the beach. When I am in residence at my condo that is the case. My condo is almost on the beach. However when my condo is rented, I move around to other homes for periods of time. This past month I am once again working “on the beach”. The friend’s house where I was staying—and paying rent—was a stone’s throw from the ocean. Not a bad life for work and a fantastic office with a view. At this moment I am sitting on my friend’s terrace in Guasacate 30 feet from the sand and surf.

What do I do for work? I consult for both health and business clients. Today, my friend is my client for wound care. I am the logistics coordinator for community projects in our Tola municipality area. Although we have a very kind-hearted and astute mayor of the Tola municipality, my friends and many local folks call me the mayor of Limón. I work within the local systems to get projects initiated and completed, albeit in Nica time. The cooperation that I have encountered so far from the governing officials and professionals for some of the projects has been exemplary.

I am daily amazed by the generosity and helpfulness of my fellow Nica countrymen. The Golden Rule is very evident in my life. People have learned to trust me and to be honest about both the good and the bad that I encounter. One cannot teach responsibility without demonstrating it as well. This takes a lot of time, repetition, and above all patience.

This past month was the completion and Community Event for a Memorial project at the Cuascoto intersection on the main dirt road to Limón from Tola . One year ago there was a horrendous accident at this corner killing four people from Cuascoto who were sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus. A drunk dump truck driver hit the bus stop at a high speed at 10:00 am killing everyone instantly. I had been to the Cuascoto area on the oxcart tour sometime ago and knew the families of the deceased. I drove by the accident shortly after the bodies had been removed and saw the devastation. I felt that we needed some form of memorial to honor their lives and to remind drivers who have no conscience about their speed and damage to the people eating their dirt as the cars and trucks fly by. Hence my idea for planting four crosses on the Cuascoto corner as a visual memorial. The Tola mayor said he would donate the land but I needed to receive permission from the family members for this project. In Nica time the permissions were documented and presented to the Mayor who approved the project. One the one year anniversary of the accident March 21st, we had a Crosses Dedication Event with a Mass by the Tola Catholic priest at the site. There were at least 100 people in attendance and the Community leaders served food after the Mass. I am so grateful to all those who helped me: Mayor Angel Morales, Rancho Santana, Claudia Silva, Claudia Ruiz and Fani, the Cuascoto community leaders, the priest from the Catholic church in Tola, Mi Ranchito, and all the men and women from Cuascoto who provided oxcart transportation and food for the attendees.

My house in Guasacate is progressing too with a tree growing in the kitchen. At the present there is major infrastructure being built for a large strong retaining wall and water reservoir that will exist under the lower terrace at my house. Ron is doing the same thing for his house so they are both being constructed at the same time. Ron is a great civil engineer and comes up with these efficient conservation ideas that make total sense to me. I would rather have super infrastructure first and interior finish later.

Gail and I have projects that are on my “to do” list while she is out of the country for six weeks. The most pressing deadlines are those that I prioritize and the others seem to fall behind farther and farther. Needless to say, I am grateful that there isn’t a time clock to punch or I would be paying the employer for sure.

Several of my friends who either have homes here in RS or used to live here were visiting for a week at a time, staying with me at my rented digs or at the condo whichever place I called home at the moment. Needless to say these visits create multiple opportunities for dinners for friends at my living abode. I am one of the major purchasers of Campo Brew, the local craft beer company. I love their beers and buy them by the case to share with guests and me to drink for sunset with or without guests.

I am sharing a photo taken from my passenger seat in my car while on one of the many trips I had to Managua this month. At major traffic time, the driver of the truck passed us on the shoulder only to find the road ended in a short distance. He then was trying to intimidate our lane of traffic to squeeze back in front of us. Since Bayron, my driver, had been patiently waiting and crawling along for at least ten minutes, I kept my eye on this truck. As he kept inching closer, I took out my phone camera and leaned out the window and took the photo. The guy was somewhat shocked and backed off to creep in behind us. I thought it was a riot and I had had it with these young jerks who think because they have a bigger torn up vehicle they can intimidate anyone. Mind you my poor camionetta is constantly filthy dirty from the dust and bird poop so I’m not a pristine ex-pat. When I am the only grey hair in the car with other Nicas, I’m not sure what others such as this guy are thinking. We all had a good laugh in the car and the truck dutifully followed for at least another 5 km to the next rotondo.

Margaret Satchwell, a nurse from the UK, is staying at her son’s condo one of the new RS Residences. We have become friends and exploring buddies so I am including some photos of new restaurants that we are trying. Construction is booming in the Tola Municipality. I blink my eyes and something—a house or business—pops up in no time. Needless to say there are more jobs for locals and money for them to also become entrepreneurs.

Must get back to work. Take good care of yourselves one and all.

Cuascoto Memorial — March 21, 2017

Guasacate House with road in front.  Retaining wall in front of the road.  Water reservoir will be under the house terrace.  Marg Satchwell, Me, and Tessa Gunther in my future kitchen that is now growing a tree.  Think tree will have to move though.

La Vaca Loca in Guasacate.  Built with mostly recycled materials.  Open for bkfst. and lunch.  Hostel has two upstairs rooms.  Owned by a couple from Sonoma Co., CA.  Cute and great food.

IMG_1964

Truck from my car front seat passenger window.  Close eh?

Working on the beach

Cuascoto MemorialIMG_1969For the past four years I have been saying that I live and work at the beach. When I am in residence at my condo that is the case. My condo is almost on the beach. However when my condo is rented, I move around to other homes for periods of time. This past month I am once again working “on the beach”. The friend’s house where I was staying—and paying rent—was a stone’s throw from the ocean. Not a bad life for work and a fantastic office with a view. At this moment I am sitting on my friend’s terrace in Guasacate 30 feet from the sand and surf.

What do I do for work? I consult for both health and business clients. Today, my friend is my client for wound care. I am the logistics coordinator for community projects in our Tola municipality area. Although we have a very kind-hearted and astute mayor of the Tola municipality, my friends and many local folks call me the mayor of Limón. I work within the local systems to get projects initiated and completed, albeit in Nica time. The cooperation that I have encountered so far from the governing officials and professionals for some of the projects has been exemplary.

I am daily amazed by the generosity and helpfulness of my fellow Nica countrymen. The Golden Rule is very evident in my life. People have learned to trust me and to be honest about both the good and the bad that I encounter. One cannot teach responsibility without demonstrating it as well. This takes a lot of time, repetition, and above all patience.

This past month was the completion and Community Event for a Memorial project at the Cuascoto intersection on the main dirt road to Limón from Tola . One year ago there was a horrendous accident at this corner killing four people from Cuascoto who were sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus. A drunk dump truck driver hit the bus stop at a high speed at 10:00 am killing everyone instantly. I had been to the Cuascoto area on the oxcart tour sometime ago and knew the families of the deceased. I drove by the accident shortly after the bodies had been removed and saw the devastation. I felt that we needed some form of memorial to honor their lives and to remind drivers who have no conscience about their speed and damage to the people eating their dirt as the cars and trucks fly by. Hence my idea for planting four crosses on the Cuascoto corner as a visual memorial. The Tola mayor said he would donate the land but I needed to receive permission from the family members for this project. In Nica time the permissions were documented and presented to the Mayor who approved the project. One the one year anniversary of the accident March 21st, we had a Crosses Dedication Event with a Mass by the Tola Catholic priest at the site. There were at least 100 people in attendance and the Community leaders served food after the Mass. I am so grateful to all those who helped me: Mayor Angel Morales, Rancho Santana, Claudia Silva, Claudia Ruiz and Fani, the Cuascoto community leaders, the priest from the Catholic church in Tola, Mi Ranchito, and all the men and women from Cuascoto who provided oxcart transportation and food for the attendees.

My house in Guasacate is progressing too with a tree growing in the kitchen. At the present there is major infrastructure being built for a large strong retaining wall and water reservoir that will exist under the lower terrace at my house. Ron is doing the same thing for his house so they are both being constructed at the same time. Ron is a great civil engineer and comes up with these efficient conservation ideas that make total sense to me. I would rather have super infrastructure first and interior finish later.

Gail and I have projects that are on my “to do” list while she is out of the country for six weeks. The most pressing deadlines are those that I prioritize and the others seem to fall behind farther and farther. Needless to say, I am grateful that there isn’t a time clock to punch or I would be paying the employer for sure.

Several of my friends who either have homes here in RS or used to live here were visiting for a week at a time, staying with me at my rented digs or at the condo whichever place I called home at the moment. Needless to say these visits create multiple opportunities for dinners for friends at my living abode. I am one of the major purchasers of Campo Brew, the local craft beer company. I love their beers and buy them by the case to share with guests and me to drink for sunset with or without guests.

I am sharing a photo taken from my passenger seat in my car while on one of the many trips I had to Managua this month. At major traffic time, the driver of the truck passed us on the shoulder only to find the road ended in a short distance. He then was trying to intimidate our lane of traffic to squeeze back in front of us. Since Bayron, my driver, had been patiently waiting and crawling along for at least ten minutes, I kept my eye on this truck. As he kept inching closer, I took out my phone camera and leaned out the window and took the photo. The guy was somewhat shocked and backed off to creep in behind us. I thought it was a riot and I had had it with these young jerks who think because they have a bigger torn up vehicle they can intimidate anyone. Mind you my poor camionetta is constantly filthy dirty from the dust and bird poop so I’m not a pristine ex-pat. When I am the only grey hair in the car with other Nicas, I’m not sure what others such as this guy are thinking. We all had a good laugh in the car and the truck dutifully followed for at least another 5 km to the next rotondo.

Margaret Satchwell, a nurse from the UK, is staying at her son’s condo one of the new RS Residences. We have become friends and exploring buddies so I am including some photos of new restaurants that we are trying. Construction is booming in the Tola Municipality. I blink my eyes and something—a house or business—pops up in no time. Needless to say there are more jobs for locals and money for them to also become entrepreneurs.

Must get back to work. Take good care of yourselves one and all.

Cuascoto Memorial March 21, 2017Cuascoto MemorialIMG_1980

Marg Satchwell, Me, Tessa Gunther in my Gusacate House — kitchen with the tree  —  Guasacate House and Road where retaining wall and water reservoir will be constructed

Villa Lupita, my beach house for one month

Me and Marg Satchwell at La Vaca Loca in Guasacate owned by a couple from Sonoma Co. in CA. Restaurant open for bkfst and lunch only. Hostel open with two rooms year round. Very good, cute and fun. Built almost entirely out of recycled materials and found wood.

IMG_1964

Text Box: Truck from my car window

 

March in Nicaragua

March in Nicaragua

If I remember correctly in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar,  the soothsayer said to Caesar, “Beware, the Ides of March”.  Although it isn’t quite the Ides of March, it is a time to beware of here.  Diablo winds are blowing dirt in every direction; the surf is too high and too cold for the older diehard surfers; scorpions abound; and on a positive side many friends are here to make my life interesting and enjoyable.

Let’s start by explaining the posted photo.  This is the dining table at my condo where I can easily seat 12 people, although more comfortably 10.  I have had many dinner parties at this table in between periods of time this past two months when I have had renters and live like a gypsy at other’s homes.  My new favorite meal, besides baked salmon that I purchase at PriceSmart, is India Viejo.  India Viejo is a traditional Nicaraguan stew like meal made with ingredients that are indigenous to the area where it is being prepared.  I love to serve this meal because few of my gringo friends know of it.  It is usually a big hit served with a salad and maybe a dessert.  The dessert truthfully depends upon how much wine and/or beer has been consumed during the sunset drinking time prior to dinner.  OK, so now truth is out.  Sunset gatherings mean watching the beautiful sky and ocean colors while consuming mostly alcoholic drinks with friends.  Sunset is a phenomenon enjoyed by locals and expats alike.  Locals generally omit the beverages.

Everyday is some form of a workday to me or so it seems.  Gail Geerling and I have been working on several projects.  The usual project is Gail training me on her business in the consulting arena that includes business, property management, and real estate.  Gail is also helping me get title to my condo.  The condo project has been a series of learning issues for both of us.  It is helpful to have a cadre of attorneys who are specialists in their fields of choice work.  I am fortunate in that over the years I have been here I met a number of different attorneys who will answer questions and point me in the appropriate direction.  Eventually with a lot of patience and persistence the tasks become less onerous and completed on time–either Nica time or American time, choose one or the other.

The Diablo (my name for it) wind has been horrendous for about two weeks.  Beside tree limbs that require detours around them, there are dirt layers on my skin that I can literally scrape off.  I only feel more sorry for the unfortunate people who live on the ocean side of the dirt roads where the dirt collects heavily since we have offshore winds from Lake Cocibolca.  My sailing friends have said that on some days the winds reach 50 or 60 mph with gusts higher.  I am staying at a friend’s house for a month while the condo is currently rented.  Her house on the ocean is an open design where dirt is a daily/hourly cleaning project.  The winds also bring pica pica.  Wikipedia defines pica pica as “itching powder intentionally used to torment”.  This is very true especially if your skin is already bone dry from the wind.  I am going through Cetaphil moisturizing cream by the jar–a product I used to recommend to my aging patients.  Yes, ME as well.

There are a lot of property owner friends here for the past six weeks.  I hosted a surprise birthday party for one of them at Lori’s Nica Market in Limón #2 where we had almost 20 people show up for a great dinner and camaradarie. Lori and I worked out the menu and cost of the roast chicken dinner including two drinks and two different desserts.  Everyone except the two VERY surprised birthday couple chipped in to share the minimal cost of a wonderful fun party.

Speaking of parties there have been a variety of party events that I attended in the past two weeks.  Two fundraisers that were not only fun but highly financially successful.  Comedy Abroad hosted by FIMRC (https://www.fimrc.org)–where I won four different raffle food related prizes–and CREA (https://www.creanicaragua.org) held here at the Ranch.  I didn’t participate in their auction, although it was fun to watch.

In case some of you may think I miss my favorite activities of past life, I can assure you that I think I died and went to heaven here.  Except for my love of ballet, I found JAZZ in my backyard next to Rancho Santana.  Last Saturday night two friends and I had dinner at SoLost, a new boutique hotel and restaurant within a 5 minute walk–yes, we walked the beach–from RS.  They had two young Nicaraguan jazz musicians playing violin and saxaphone.  Both are classically trained musicians and obviously love what they do.  The venue reminded me of my youthful days visiting the small jazz clubs in San Francisco and hearing jazz greats of the 1950s–Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Modern Jazz Quartet–and then in later years seeing more of Dave Brubeck, Stephan Grappelli and the Marsellas Family.  Can you believe, these young musicians were next door?

Before the power goes out again and this doesn’t get sent, I’m going to stop here and figure out how to add some pertinent photos–don’t bet on this one though.

Ok, I can’t get photos without at least two hours of research.  Next blog may be a photo display.

 

New Year – 2017 in Nicaragua

Another wonderful New Year to look forward to for me in Nicaragua.  I honestly cannot be thankful often enough for following my gut and moving to Nicaragua.  This is a beautiful and eye-opening place to learn and share my life.

Some people stay up to watch the ball drop at Times Square in NYC.  New Year’s Eve I stayed up to watch the fireworks displays at three beaches from the friend’s house where I was staying for 12 days.  It was an amazing  display in the sky.  One of the venues lasted for almost 10 minutes.

As I mentioned  in my previous blog, I have been somewhat of a gypsy since Thanksgiving.  Fortunately my condo has been rented.  However, when the condo is rented, I have to move out.  This presents new opportunities to organize stuff in the “personal closet” so that everything that needs to be put away will fit into a VERY small lockable space.  A challenge, and enlightening.  I am finding it interesting to realize what “stuff” is really important.  The moving exercise is also fascinating as I learn  my friends life’s routines.  Once again, I ponder on how and why does one put value on stuff.

Living in this rural area in an upscale community versus the village communities surrounding Rancho Santana is enlightening to say the least.  Although the stark contrasts of the early years of my life here versus the contrasts of today have diminished, stark contrasts still exist.

The villages of Limón # 1 and Limón #2 have three times as many new brick or block homes with concrete floors and painted exteriors.  This has occurred because more of the people can afford to buy the materials to slowly build their homes.  (That sounds like me with my Guasacate house building project–the slowly part.)  There are still pigs with the triangular orcetas around their necks roaming in and crossing the roads without a care of cars, buses, or motorcycles.  Horses wander where they please and cows are herded in the road from property to property.  I somehow have accepted these phenomena as normal and surprise myself about this at times.  Then I sit on my terrace and watch the most spectacular skies at sunset and am so grateful once again.

Life updates:  I have embarked on another exciting work adventure.  I am working with a Rancho Santana friend, Gail Geerling, who has a business called Success Nicaragua.  We are starting a property management segment of her business and will soon have a website for the world to see.  For the past two weeks I have been busy relearning Excel spreadsheet formatting and writing property management documents that can be used as “plug & play” templates.  Relearning something that changed since first learned is challenging.  I guess I should say unlearning old habits is challenging.  I’m not perfect at the tasks yet, but certainly farther ahead than I was two weeks ago.  Gail teaches time management, therefore she is trying to get me to perform laptop operations in the most expedient way.  Gail has been a patient mentor for sure.  I love what I/we are doing and it keeps me out of trouble and off the streets.

Many of my RS friends are returning to the Ranch this past week.  Last year many of them were here for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and vowed not to come again at that time because it was so crowded.  As a result this year the Christmas “crowd” here was minimal at best.  Almost all the condos were empty except for mine and three or four other condos whose owners live here full time or are owners from Managua.  My renters  were Managua residents who brought their Santa paraphenalia with them for their young children.  I had to laugh because the five year old told her parents that Santa was “very skinny”.  Santa was the mother’s brother  visiting with them from CA over Christmas and is indeed tall and thin.  Everyone at my condo had a good time.

I have been to the new Esmeralda Coast International airport (ECI) twice in the past two weeks picking up clients and neighbors in the condos.  Since it is only a 15 minute trip, it is a piece of cake drive for me.  And of course, you have to know that I have been an airplane/airport buff since I was a very young child.  So seeing how our little ECI runs is a pleasure for me.

The Guasacate house has had more infra structure on the ground around the buildings to accommodate a road on the ocean side of the houses which required three big pieces of earth moving equipment onsite for about six hours one afternoon and night.  The end result will make the driveway on the ocean side as solid as the rock the houses were built upon.

This coming week is the annual Roberto Clemente Clinic Board Meeting and Health Fair.  Of course, I will be in attendance at the Meeting and working at the Fair. My Spanish has improved immensely over the past year as  I have learned to listen in Spanish versus trying to interpret between Spanish and English as I hear words.  This is not such an easy task for a visual learner–me.  I hope to be more useful to the Fair attendees as a result of the improved language skills.

There is always something new and interesting to do here.  So I look forward to see month by month what 2017 has in store for me.

Buen Salud y Prospero Año Nuevo to all those who follow my Life in Nicaragua.

Earth moving from my Guasacate terraces–downstairs on the left, upstairs on the lower right.

Christmas Holiday in Nicaragua

This is the first year that I haven’t traveled back to California for the many December birthdays and the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  Since this is my home now and all of my children came to Nicaragua this summer, I felt like I needed to stay here and share the festivities with my friends and families in Nicaragua.  Like in the US, the Christmas decorations began appearing in the stores in October even before the Day of the Dead decorations were presented for sale.  Marketing is endemic.

We are currently enjoying cool days, nights, and rain which is late for this season.  Although we have had good rain, we are still not up to the past ten year average.  It looks like mud for Christmas around Rancho Santana with slippery roads even with 4WD.  The tires fill with mud and tend to slide unless going very slow.  Driving in mud is one of the pleasures of rural living. (I’ll take mud over snow any day.)   I keep a pair of outside sandals at the door.  Think next year I’ll invest in a pair of garden/mud boots.

The past two months brought lots of work to me.  Dr. Raman Basha came to the Tola area for his fourth Basha Health Clinic which we held at Carmen’s Spa in Limón #2 for ten days.  Basha brought with him an assistant, Rebecca Gitana Torres, from NYC. We worked a lot everyday in the morning.  Dr. Basha did acupuncture and after dark we did Thermography–total body scanning.  We did have some beer breaks in between.  All in all the Clinics were very successful.  The local folks who came were treated gratis.  Surprisingly we even had a group of people who came all the way from Rivas to be treated. Rivas is one hour away; one family came two days in a row.  As a result of the success, Dr. Basha and I decided that he would return to the Limón #2 area every 90 days in 2017.  It makes sense for us to have the Clinics here in our area, although we had previously thought Dr. Basha would have the next Clinic in the Laguna de Apoyo area.

While Dr. Basha was here, I had the condo rented for a week so we all had to move out.  Dr. Basha and Rebecca stayed at a great hotel in Guasacate–Hotel Popoyo and El Toro restaurant, while I moved up to Rancho Santana friends Abby & Felipe’s house.  Lots of excitement during this week away as well.  One day I received a call while we were working at Carmen Spa that there was a tsunami alert that was FOR REAL.  Since Basha and Rebecca’s domicile was very near the beach and on flat land, Rebecca was anxious to get over to Guasacate and collect their things.  We had a flurry of activity for about an hour, retrieved their precious things and headed up to a higher ground restaurant in Las Salinas.  Many of the local folks in Guasacate were enroute up my house on the hill above El Toro.  After one hour, the alert was called off, the waves never got above three feet.  At the same time on the Caribbean Coast Hurricane Michael hit Bluefields and Corn Island.  Rivas was on alert for hurricane damage as well but it turned south before it hit land and calmed down.  We didn’t even get much rain out of all the commotion at that time.

In early November I was a guest at the wedding of one of my friend’s son.  I rented my condo to the family at a very reduced rate so moved out during that time too.  The wedding was small 35 guests but beautiful and so much fun for three days.  Dinners at La Taqueria here at Los Perros beach and the wedding and dinner at La Boqueta at the Rosada beach.  It was fun to see some of the NY ladies walking in the wet sand–yes, it rained that morning–in their stiletto heels.  Needless to say, I have a pair of sandals that are sort of fancy and work for me on sand.  (Dress Up for me is putting on earrings.)   The group of young folks who were part of the wedding party and their friends were such a delight to get to know.  It was very obvious that everyone cared a great deal about each other and their relationships with the wedding couple.  There was the choreographed wedding party dance and the groom throwing the bride’s garter over his shoulder into the pool where the guys all ended up in their wedding suits–minus their jackets.  Father of the groom knew the score, came with his swimsuit on under his clothes and stripped to the swimsuit at the appropriate time of the dunking.  I can’t remember when I ever enjoyed a wedding that was so much fun for three days.  Maybe the fun part is that of being a guest and watching it all happen rather than being a participant in the event.

Last week I had a first time experiencing sunset from my Guasacate house that is under construction.  All I can say is WOW.  Now more than ever I can’t wait to get that house finished and move up there.  It was one of those clear and cloudy days.  You could see Costa Rica during the day from the property and at sundown, the clouds were scattered and like sheep puffs that reflected the colors of the setting sun on the sky and ocean, a spectacular sight.

Almost everyday in December I have a birthday person in the US to call and sing to on their special day.  It certainly is a lot cheaper to make a Magic Jack phone call then to pay for a plane ticket to the US.  I will be going back in May and June  2017 for three of my grand daughter’s graduations–Esther from college, Robyn and Jessica from high school.  It is hard to believe that my grandchildren are getting to be adults already.  Yikes!  As for birthdays, I like my mother’s quote, “It is only a number on a piece of paper.”

Time to sign off here, look for some candles to put in the menorah on the table, and dig out the Christmas table runner.  Yes, I still maintain some favorite traditions for myself.  Not sure what the tenants who are here for Christmas week will think of their schizophrenic host’s decorations.  Home is always where my heart is.  I invite friends and family to come visit in 2017 especially after June.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Joyful Peaceful Holidays.

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