The Different Cultures of My Nicaragua

It has been almost two months since I thought about getting my act together to write my blog.  A variety of fun and work activities have occurred in those past weeks in my life.  Hopefully you will get the drift that prompts the title of this issue as I progress through time.

In July and until mid-August I was living at Carmen Gúzman’s casita in Limón #2.  One of the fun things about living in the Gúzman campo in the village is that I am forced to speak Spanish.  Although I am far from fluent in the language, I receive fewer “deer in the headlights” or “are you crazy” looks from the people with whom I am conversing.  I can also almost be understood on the telephone before being switched to someone who is obviously bilingual who can understand what I am trying to say.  I am ever the optimist and believe that someday, I will hear Spanish first in my mind.

Back to local culture: Hipica, the horse show and parade that occurs usually on a Sunday in various towns.  Over the years I have attended hipicas in Matagalpa, Rivas, Tola, Limón and most recently the BEST event was in the small village of San Ignacio about 5 km from Limón.  I took four adults from my Gúzman family and three under age four children to watch my friend Gail Geerling ride her beautiful Genesis in the San Ignacio hipica.  The part that made this event special was the fact that it was a real display of horsemanship with local campo people.  There was not the rowdy drunken riders and crowds that I have witnessed at the larger town hipicas.  I believe there were at least as many participating horses if not more than in the Rivas or Tola hipicas.  There was an impromptu staging ring set up in the soccer field where the performers were announced by Family and area of the town.  Keep in mind this is a small village surrounded by both small family farms and a few large fincas.  There were some very young kids and one young Down’s Syndrome rider who were excellent showmen with their horses.  My adult group and I were mesmerized while our young fry ran around chasing each other with plastic bottles.  I am attaching a photo of Gail who was given a trophy for her elegance and representation of Rancho Santana.  I am so happy that I decided to attend this event although I wasn’t really looking forward to it given my past experiences of hipica.

Mid August my friend Barbara Tenbusch arrived from FL for two weeks.  We started off with doctor’s general appointments at the Vivian Pellas Clinics.  Yes, we do have great medical teams here in NI.  I was shocked to have tomography (photography of the eye) done at the first visit with an ophthalmologist, perhaps because of my age.  Sometime in the not too distant future, I will have cataract surgery by Dr. Rivers.  After our Clinic appointments and lunch in Managua, Bayron, my friend/son/driver took Barb and I to Pacaya Lodge in Laguna Apopyo for R&R for both of us.  We met our friends Brian Block and Erik Wetz, managers from Rancho Santana at Pacaya Lodge and enjoyed two days of just hanging out with them. No trips to Granada or even the Lago Apoya below us.  Interesting fact that I discovered while there.  Laguna Apoyo is a crater lake from an extinct volcano some 23000 years ago.  It is 175 m deep, and occupies 21 square km. The lake’s drainage basin occupies 38 km2; influx and outflow of underground water plays a major role in the lake’s water balance.

Barb and I were able to move back to the condo in RS where Bayron had taken my car.  It was good to be back home again.  Although that meant I had to get to work with my real estate projects.  My crash course in Nicaragua Real Estate is slowly sinking in and I am happy to report that I have made my first successful sales contract on my own–serious coaching from Gail though.  Fortunately Barbara is a great guest without lots of expectations of what I am doing.  She is also a supportive helper who took over in the kitchen helping prepare meals for the several dinner guests we enjoyed while she was in NI–normal at my house.

For those who may have read about my volunteer gig last year at the Latin American PGA tournament, I had hoped to do the same again this year.  Wrote to the last year event coordinators and didn’t hear back at all.  Sad, and glad since I was up to my eyeballs writing contracts in English and Spanish.  The PGA is finishing today and next year I’ll again be asked to volunteer.  Got the details of the communication glitch from my Granada friends who volunteered with me last year and who tracked down the folks running the PGA Flor de Caña Open this year and were begged to help again.

The past week there were two other cultural events that brought joy to me.  The Javier Peréz art opening at the Rancho Santana Galleria was exciting.  Javier completed a painting during the evening.  FYI priced at $5600.  I love the painting but not in my budget.  One of his pieces was sold during the evening, however. A marketing ambassador of Flor de Caña rum gave a mini seminar on rum and Flor de Caña in particular as part of the Art Event.  Lots of fun and lots of really good art at the RS Gallery.  The mini seminar reminded me of the Flor de Caña factory tour my family and I took last year and enjoyed.

Last night was the crowning cultural event for me.  Casa Tres Mundos, an NGO  art and music education program from Granada gave a concert at RS.  Chamber music, choral, and young composer pieces.  For someone–me–who is starved for live performance music, this was akin to miraculous.  The musicians are very talented.  One young man, a baritone, needs to be in an operatic school somewhere.  His voice and operatic presence were outstanding.  Other remarkable young men were a cellist and two violinists.  All of the male performers played more than one instrument and also sang in the choir.  Tears in my eyes and hope to have more of the same here in our rural area.  There is music and theater in Managua.  That means overnight stay since I won’t drive in MGA and have to make overnight arrangements for Bayron too.  Hence music on computer mostly for me.

From rural to classical art forms are in my world here.  I encourage friends to come and see what I see.

Photos included are:  Hengel with his new prosthetic arm and interchangeable hand.         My unique Maldanado San Juan de Oriente pot.   Gail Geerling at the San Ignacio Hipica.  Javier Peréz painting in my friend’s house purchased at the RS Galleria Art Event.  Casa Tres Mundos string chamber group.

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Único ceramic pot - Artist Miguel Maldonado 170630

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Home in Nicaragua

No, I didn’t decide to stay in California when I went to visit my family for the month of May. There were too many work projects that needed my attention upon my return to Nicaragua.

I moved to the original casita at the Gúzman Family compound where I lived when I first moved here full time several years ago. Carmen was kind enough to store my necessary items in the casita while I was in the US. My condo 1B is rented until mid-August.

Living in the village has it pluses and minuses. The first three weeks the water supply to the casita was not consistent. Fortunately I always have a 5 gal. bucket of water in the shower to use for emergencies, of which there were quite a few. Carmen finally got a separate reservoir tank that is perched in the tamarind tree behind the casita with the water flow dedicated to this casita.  I rent the casita part of the building but Carmen’s new law office is attached to the front of the building so she wanted constant water there as well. I can take a cold shower everyday if I drum up the courage. Most days I opt out for putting my whole body under the shower head. Although I must admit, it does feel good when it is hot and sticky as it has been the past week.  Rain is on the way for sure.

Back to chronology, the week after I returned to NI, Raman Basha arrived for the Basha Health Clinic in Nicaragua. We spent one week working at Carmen’s Spa where we worked for the past two Clinics. The second week Basha and I traveled to Pacaya Lodge and Spa at Laguna Apoyo to hold the Clinic there. Both weeks were a financial bust. Almost the whole week in Limón #2, it rained. The few ex-pats who were here wouldn’t travel through the muddy roads from Rancho Santana without a 4×4 vehicle. Basha who is the Energizer Bunny personified treated the locals and Gúzman family members gratis so there was some reward to him for NO surfing and very few paying patients.

The second week at Pacaya was like a vacation. Again, there were only two paying clients in a week. However, we were busy everyday treating Pacaya staff and their family members gratis. It was rewarding for sure since none of these individuals would ever be able to pay for acupuncture treatments, if they knew where to get them in Masaya or Managua. Basha and I enjoyed the wonderful rooms that we had and felt like it was a vacation for a week. Basha and I took the Pacaya shuttle to Granada one day. He took over 300 photos of the architecture. We took one of the horse drawn carriages—first time I have acted like a tourist in Granada—and had a great history lesson from our carriage driver to accompany the photos Basha took.   The next day Basha went back again to Granada without me.  I was waiting for my friend, Jan Lowrey, who came to stay with me at Pacaya for two days enroute back to her home in Mexico City. Jan and I, who love to adventure together, took Basha to San Juan de Oriente where he took another 200 + photos. Basha and Jan both came home with two ceramic pots each made by two published artisans. I paid for the commissioned ceramic pot Miguel Maldonado, one of the published artisans, made for me. Miguel is keeping my piece of art in his studio/store until I have a proper place for display in my new house.

It is a good thing that I had time on my hands at Pacaya because it took me almost four days to get the online application for exit visas for the mother and child who went to NY and Shriner’s Hospital in PHL almost three years ago. Hengel has grown and needs an arm prosthesis change plus he was promised a less primitive version at this visit. Let me tell you trying to do anything online with a government agency is a chore. There is almost more BS and redundancy than I can tolerate, although my goal was a successful appointment at the US Embassy for their exit interview. I finally accomplished the task and we all, Yajaira, Hengel, Bayron–yes this is the spelling–my driver and I went to Managua to the US Embassy for a 7:00 am appointment that meant we left Limón at 4:00 am. The appointment went well, thanks to our prayers, since both parents are supposed to attend and the father couldn’t get there. They got their visas and with only one other MAJOR glitch that required another trip back to Managua to the Nica Immigration office for a stamped visa page on Hengel’s passport. This is required for any child leaving the country under the age of 18. Since I didn’t take Yajaira and Hengel to the airport for their first trip, I wasn’t aware of this rule and Yajaira failed to tell me when we were at the US Embassy. Now I know the rule and next time the process—should I endeavor to undertake it again—will run smoothly. Live and learn, right.  Just received a text from Yajaira, the two of them arrived safely in Newark and are enroute to their dormatory for Hengel’s July 19th appointment at Shriner’s Hospital in PHL.

My consulting work with Gail and Success Nicaragua is progressing. I decided not to pursue property management and stick to helping Gail with real estate (RE) sales as a Buyer’s Representative. The first project is my condo. It is listed with Sotheby’s Nicaragua and is posted on four websites including Sotheby’s. I have a couple of other RE projects that I am working on so everyone cross your fingers for me to consummate some of these deals.

My Guasacate house has the most enormous retaining wall and water retention system that rivels some community projects in the US under construction. When it gets done I should never have to worry about water at my house there. If I can I’ll attach some photos. (My photo library is a mess and impossible to find anything. There are photos all over the place in files and folders.)  Someday, I’ll get help for photo storage. In the meantime, I am surprised when I actually find a photo I want.

It is beautiful here now, so green and trees growing like Jack’s Beanstalk. We need a lot more rain as some of the local rivers are still dry.

Rancho Santana has begun the first steps toward energy independence. There are 13 rows of solar panels being installed very near the Desarollo and condo area. I am thrilled to see this project finally becoming a reality. Next thing is for me to convince Ron Urroz that we need to put solar panels on our houses in Guasacate.  Don’t worry I’ll win on that count.

So much new here, it is impossible to write about it all. So I’ll stop.

Everyone take good care of yourselves, your families, and your surroundings. YOU are the good fairies who accomplish it all.

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In order:  Raman Basha and our sign in the Pacaya Guadabaranca restaurant;  Hengel and I after their first PHL visit–hopefully the new prosthesis will look different–; the front of my terrace, metal is standing where the apartment will be when the house is finished; Ron standing in front of their portion of the Great Wall; Great Wall in front of my terrace;

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.

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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.

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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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 Awesome

 

 

Rain Brings Humido

Yes, in order to be grateful for the wonderful rain, one has to accept the humidity as well.  I can’t honestly say that I like humidity so I turn on all the fans in the house during the day.  If it is really bad, I’ll turn on some AC for 30 minutes or so to dry things out here in the condo.

Since Sept. 28th I have been back at my condo and will remain here off and on in between  renters.  The new owners of Barbara’s house where I had been living for two years finally were able to move in on Oct. 1st.  It is good to be living in my own place for a number or reasons.  I am able to see what needs repair or replacement on a daily basis.  The condo is almost seven years old and has had its share of renters–some good, some not so careful.  All in all, Loamy Guzmán and his maintenance crew have made all the changes I requested and repaired the dings in concrete, wood, and paint.  In Nicaragua, as in the US or anywhere when you own a rental property, there are always maintenance issues that create choices to repair, replace, or ignore.  I like my homes to be pristine whether or not I live there.

I have had company in October.  Barbara, who was homeless when her house sold, became my roommate for three weeks.  We had a great time, sorting, repacking, and discussing what I need to store and what I would need to use here at the condo.  It was amazing how many things I had moved up to Barbara’s house that then came back to the condo with me. Thank Isis my personal closet at the condo is able to handle six crates of items that will eventually move into the new Guasacate house.  My children brought many of the crates that were stored in my daughter’s garage in CA when they came to visit this summer.  I had forgotten about what I had left in CA–out of sight, out of mind.  Barbara, with her previous packing wisdom, offered to inventory every item as it went into a crate for storage.  Each crate has a number and a separate inventory sheet.  I can now decide in the future if my stuff is relevant to whatever the lifestyle becomes.  Careful inventory lists are not only useful but I recommend they are mandatory.  It is interesting that I had always done the crate inventory lists when I was bringing supplies for the Clinic.  I could whip out the lists from my computer, send the lists to MENSA and then show them to customs at the airport.  This saved me many a headache upon arrival in Managua.  I won’t have to report my stuff to MENSA when I move again, however our lists will be prioritized for unpacking in the new home.

We had a visitor for a week here at the condo.  My friend, Joan Livingston from Salina, KS, finally came to visit after six years.  I met Joan in the Houston airport in 2004 when I was returning from my first NI trip.  Joan was on her way to Rancho Santana to look at property.  We sat next to each other at a coffee shop in the airport and started talking.  I gave Joan all the info about the lot that I had just bought and shared my love of the area.  Joan did buy a lot not too far from my original property in Rosada area of Rancho Santana.  She, however, sold her piece six years ago and hadn’t been back to NI since.  You can imagine the fun that Barbara and I had taking Joan to all the places both inside and outside of RS that were new to her.  We spent everyday, rain or shine, exploring.  Then we rushed back to the condo made dinner and played Dominoes–or tried to learn to play Cribbage.  We made up a new game but never did figure out the rules for Cribbage; had much laughter though.

The three of us had the privilege of invitations to a Fundación Fenix feria and the following evening the 1st year birthday party–a grand event–for Sebastian Morales Guzmán.  Sebastian is my friend/family Carmen Guzmán’s son.  That family/campo has grown from 32 people when I lived there three years ago to 50 members now.  It is so encouraging to see how the family interacts with each other.  The love that is shared among them at all times is elevating.  There is no hierarchy apparent.  Everyone receives respect or correction/instruction as appropriate.  I am fascinated and grateful to be a part of this family.

Fútbol is a big sport in our area.  Three of my Guzmán family chicos play on the RS Limón team so I have been attending the Saturday afternoon games when they are played at Fun Limón field.  The last two games were a dangerous sport because the field was a relative lake.  Players were sliding all over each other in singles and piles.  I honestly don’t know how they played but I guess the water from being down on the ground kept them cool.  It made it hard to run and kick though.  The games are fun to watch although sometimes a little sad too when the opposing team only has half the players and the RS team is in full force.  We tend to support our own in this community and one way is getting them to their games.  I like sitting behind the goal, although this is a little scary sitting at the picnic tables there.  Generally others at the table protect me from flying soccer balls.  I can yell as loud as anyone at the goals and at the referee when it isn’t the only woman ref I have ever seen at a men’s game.  The chica ref reminds me of my son, Aaron, how she calls serious infractions and talks to the players about other stuff.  She is especially good on the very wet field calls.  The last male ref was a real gestapo and nearly caused a riot from both team’s sideline spectators.

There are so many opportunities in NI now.  Alex Cuadra, the general manager for the new Costa Esmeralda International airport 15 minutes from me, spoke at the October El Limón Salon.  He not only discussed the ease of coming in to NI through Liberia, Costa Rica and ECI, he talked about the growing number of opportunities for development in this rural area of Rivas Department.  It seems as though if you blink your eyes too many times, there is a new building in front of you that didn’t exist prior.  In November the El Limón Salon speaker will be Juan Cadera, the president of ANID–Association of Nicaragua Independent Development.  I am very anxious to hear Juan again.  It has been a year since I last heard him speak about development in Managua.  Now with the airport in Rivas, I want to hear what he sees for our area.

Everyday brings a new possibility for me.  I have been showing new people the properties that are for sale. No I haven’t added real estate broker to my Bio, but maybe I should.  It is fun for me and I learn new things too.  There are so many pieces to the puzzle of my life; I enjoy fitting a new piece into place.

Although I haven’t taught my Cuidadores de Personas classes for over two years, there is interest now to begin teaching the course again through the NGO Fides Camina.  A definite need for caregivers exists in NI.  The hospitals especially would benefit from using nursing assistants for the caregiving tasks.  Dras. Chamorrow, who run Fides Camina, are very interested in the possibilities for the defined caregiving program that I developed.  We are slowly working on details of execution for the program.

This brings me to discuss work with Dr. Basha’s Clinic that he will be doing again here in the Limón area this month.  Although we are planning a large Basha Clinic for January in the Granada/Laguna de Apoyo area, Basha can’t resist coming here again to work.  Did I mention that he also likes to surf early in the morning and then work all day.  Basha is such a good Chinese Medicine doctor and acupuncturist; we are privileged that he wants to come here to work.  Of course, I’ll be doing his logistics again.  Unfortunately, my condo is rented while he is here so I’ll have to find another place for him to stay.  There are many options for places to stay close to the surf and to work.  The Spas at RS and Carmen’s Spa are perfect venues for Basha’s work.

Although I have been bragging for years about my great dental health, this week I will get to experience the excellent work of the NI dentists.  I developed a cavity under my gold bridge that served me and lasted 50 years.  The bridge was removed last week.  This week, I will have the affected tooth removed, two posts placed for a new bridge in two months that will hold both the new tooth and a false tooth that replaced the one in the original bridge with new white crowns on the supporting teeth.  And by the way this whole process will cost me less than $3000 at the Vivian Pellas Odontological Clinic, the most modern facility easily comparable to the best dental practices in the US.  I am very happy with the four dentists I have already seen–the regular dentist who cleans my teeth, Dra. Cynthia Watson; Dr. Ramon Hernandez, the prosthedontist; Dra. (can’t remember her name) endodontist; and Dra. Alvarado, the peridontist who will begin her magic this week.  All of these dentists speak fair English and all but Dra. Watson have had specialty training outside of NI although their initial dental school training was at the university in Leon.  Dr. Hernandez was recently accepted at Loma Linda U. in So. CA for a second Master’s Degree in Prosthedontics–a three year course.   It would pay to come to NI to have major dental work done.  Medical tourism isn’t a joke here especially if you have a local advocate.  Maybe this could be a new business for me too.  Never retire is my motto.

November is the beginning of homeowner’s returning to RS and the general area.  There will be many gatherings and catching up with news.  Hopefully I will be able to keep all the activity lined up and not double book myself–which I have done and had to apologize for the error.

Please continue to pray for rain for us here in NI and ignore my complaint about the humido.

Solo el amor prevalece.

Sebastián Birthday Party Kid’s tables  —  Barbara, Me, Joan (Adult tables)

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Sebastián with his proud Dad, Warren.  Birthday tradition someone always puts a finger in the frosting and then puts it on the celebrant’s cheek.  Sebastián had a great time with this.