Busy in Nicaragua

I know that in the last blog I said no more excuses and I don’t have any. When people ask, “What do you do all day?” My reply generally remains the same. I am busy everyday, almost all day, with emails, networking mostly for others, and consulting for both medical and business projects.

On February 14th I was the speaker at the El Limón Salon. My topic was What is Love? There were only about 8 people who attended this Salon since we didn’t get the invite flyer early enough. However, those of us who were there had some wonderful discussions about What is Love.

The following Wednesday I had the good fortune of a weeklong visit from good friends Vicki and John Pearse from Pacific Grove, CA. They were enroute home from the Galapagos and then Panama. We spent three days here in the Limón Rancho Santana area seeing all the sights. They stayed at my condo and were able to meet some of my close friends who were still here from their “Winter” vacations. Then I drove us up to Selva Negra, in Matagalpa which is much cooler than our beach area and much more to Vicki’s liking temperature wise. Vicki and John enjoy hiking and did a lot of that while we were at Selva Negra. I enjoyed the peace and quiet there. AND had the opportunity for some very interesting networking. We truly live in a small world. I hired a driver to come from Managua to pick us up and take us to Leon and then on to Managua. (I will not drive in Managua.) I have been helping the driver, Maurice, start his own transportation business out of Managua. The Pearses and I spent the night at my favorite hotel El Camino Real so that they could catch their 7:00 am plane the next morning. Maurice kept my car overnight and came to pick me up later in the morning, took me shopping at PriceSmart and then drove me back to my Wisley House here on the hill in Rancho Santana in time for me put away the groceries and then to host Sylvia Green’s Surprise 70th birthday party at my condo.

Four days later, my friend and homeowner of the house where I live, Barbara Tenbusch, arrived to see what sort of caretaker I have been for the past year. As a homeowner, there are many things that one does differently than someone who is caretaking. Fortunately Barb and I love each other and get along well. We spent the first couple of weeks just sorting and clearing drawers, cabinets, and closets. The house is now officially ready for the future. There were a couple of major projects that we discovered that needed repairs and were able to accomplish those before Barb left on the 3rd of April. My Easter gift from Barb was having space in the garage to park my car. Now I am parked alongside her HiLux—the Toyota that didn’t learn how to swim. Barb and I had many good times while she was here, played Dominos several nights, and watched about 6 movies on Netflix. I miss her already and she has only been gone 24 hours.

In addition to helping Maurice start his “dream” business, I have been working on possibilities for my commercial property in Limón #2. The large project that I had initially envisioned isn’t financially feasible for me so I am looking at more reasonable options. None have been cast in stone as yet since I am still waiting for the property to be registered for taxes which guarantees that the property is mine. I did make and sign a contract to partner ownership of a proper and deep well between Lidieth Alvarez’s lot and mine. This was a plan that we had talked about from the beginning when we both bought our properties. The well is dug, has sufficient water for all four of our lots (my three and her one). We now need to bury a reservoir tank and install a pump that will be housed in a concrete cage over the well. Pump thievery is common here.

Our little rural area is growing rapidly. The block road from Rivas stops about 3 KM from the Rancho Santana gate. This cuts the travel time to Rivas by one hour, and a trip to Managua can be done in 2 hours now. More people from Managua and other Departments of Nicaragua are coming to the beaches here. My condo is being rented more frequently to Nicaraguan residents. There are new homes and businesses popping up every week. The three major NI banks—BAC, LaFise, and Banpro—have all established business offices within a 20-minute drive from my house. This is phenomenal for me.

All of this growth brings problems as well. More idiot drivers of cars, trucks and motorcycles have caused some deadly accidents this past month. In addition, our serious draught and the resulting polvo make it dangerously difficult to see the road and the animals that are searching for food along the sides. I invite rain everyday.

This week an alternative medicine group, Basha Health Clinic, is coming to stay at my condo for 12 days. I am trading their stay for acupuncture sessions for myself and training of three massage therapists from Carmen Spa. I am looking forward to this and hope it will be successful for all of us. Dr. Raman Basha has two clinics in So. CA and has apparently been to Nicaragua four times previously. I have been doing some of the logistics and marketing work for him here.

The Guasacate house is still moving ahead slowly and I am told that the roof will be on by the end of May. I’ll keep you posted.

In the past, April has been my least favorite month because it tends to be hot and humid. So far we are still having Diablo winds. However there is a mist in the mornings overlooking the hills so humidity is not far away. At least I have the pool to jump in and cool down in the afternoon.

My social calendar is busy as usual. Therefore I am learning to be a creative cook with the local fruits and veggies. Spaghetti made out of zuchinni is my latest trick. That Veggeti tool really does work especially with zuchinni. The Tienda (store) here at Rancho Santana has wonderful fresh garden vegetables for good prices and I am taking advantage of them all. Pickled radishes are yummy.

That is all the news from my Nica Life for one night.

Excuses exhausted

I have now exhausted all excuses for not writing this blog sooner. My warm blood froze in both No. and So. CA so I was very happy to return to 80 degrees and finally get thawed out.

Although I arrived back in Managua, NI on January 4th, I have been to Managua three more times in two weeks. All were working trips with positive results. The gentleman sitting next to me on the plane from Houston to Managua is the president of one of the largest distributors of medications and related consumable products in NI. As he found out about my work with Aproquen, he offered to help me and the Roberto Clemente Clinic here is Limón #2 by donating medications from his company’s César Guerrero Foundation—the name of the company started by his father. Paul Guerrero is the president of Dicegsa one of the Guerrero Group companies. I do believe that angels look out for me. If I stick to my motto, “Listen and show up”, good things seem to happen. I am grateful that I sometimes have sense enough to listen and that Paul changed seats to sit next to me. Yes, Paul switched seats so that a couple could sit together which landed him next to me.

In between trips to Managua there were many friends to see before they headed back to their US homes after holiday visits to their RS homes. I was told by several friends that this was the most crowded they have ever seen it here at Rancho Santana during the winter holidays. Now that the road from Tola is getting better everyday as the cement blocks are being laid, more Managua folks are coming to spend time at our beaches along with the gringo owners. RS has received some impressive PR in the NY Times, Forbes, and several travel magazines. There was even a photo of a gal on the RS beach in the United Airlines Hemisphere magazine that I read on the plane.

My condo was rented through the holidays from mid December. Although my friend Nan took great care of the day to day staff details, I needed to handle some repair issues at both the condo and where I live here at the Wisley house. By next week, I think life may get back to normal again—whatever that is for me.

This past Saturday the Roberto Clemente Clinic had its annual Health Fair. Of course, I participated again this year by doing blood glucose checks with a glucometer. The César Guerrero Foundation donated money to purchase 20 glucometers and strips for the Clinic Fair. This year the weather was perfect and the wind didn’t carry off the cabanas set up for the variety of health triage stations. We had six specialty doctors and four internal med docs seeing patients for six hours. Another successful health fair for sure. My connection for the Clinic with the Guerrero Foundation will continue into the future.

The sale of my West Sacramento house was finalized while I was in the US. For this I am grateful. Now my only property is in Nicaragua.

The El Limón Salon is active again after the Holiday break. We had a small group on Jan. 17th. Half of the attendees were Nicaraguan. The topic fit perfectly for all of us. How the ego runs our lives and creates separation. Ego defined as Edging God Out. It was very interesting to have dual participation in the discussion especially since the previous two Salons were on cultural diversity and assimilation of cultures. Those of us gringos probably learned more from this Salon than we could have gained in a semester in school. I am slowly able to understand a lot more spoken Spanish and surprisingly think in Spanish as I listen to conversations such as at the Salon. There is hope for me, although my daughter, Rivka, wouldn’t quite agree yet.

Planes, Sansa and La Costeña Airlines, are now regularly flying from our new local international airport—Costa Esmeralda Intl.—to Managua and Liberia, Costa Rica. This airport is 15 minutes from Rancho Santana. As a result of the airport closeby many more people are coming to our little remote area looking for property particularly beach front and view property. I am grateful to have been here early or I wouldn’t be able to afford my property soon. Beach property is still 50% less than anything similar in the US, however. The NI government is now putting emphasis on tourism to offset the previous reputation of NI as an unstable and warring country. Although everything in life is subject to change, I trust the stability here.

The January “diablo” winds have begun which is drying everything out rapidly.  The polvo “dirt” looks like devil dusts in the desert. The wind is keeping the temperature rather cool for us. My maid told me today that it is cold. I smiled, 75 degrees isn’t cold in my mind.

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Driving in town
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Nurses at the Clinic Health Fair
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Nurse at work, yes, it is me.

It became clearduring my holiday trip that I am needed here in NI more than in the US. My family in CA is functioning very well at present and my friends here–my gringo friends–need both physical and mentoring help. This help I can provide lovingly. Each day is a new adventure in my life. Thank Isis–the goddess–I am healthy and have lots of energy.

My Guasacate house is going up by leaps and bounds now and is very close to having a roof put on. I will keep everyone posted and remember to take some new photos.

I will try to be a better blogger in the future–my New Year’s resolution. No more excuses.

Good News and Sad News

There is much good news to report in this blog.  However, I will begin with the Sad News to get it off my plate and move forward.

My dear friend and occasional traveling partner Carol Dorsett sold her casita and moved back to the US mid-November.  Carol’s family encouraged her to spend more time with them in person than virtually via social media.  Carol received a good price for her home and car and took with her multiple suitcases of her favorite toys.  I have four boxes of her
“things” stored under my desk here.  She reassures me that she will be back soon to get these items.

Another pair of my friends, the first ones I met in 2004, Dennis and Sylvia Green are moving back to NH close to family for health reasons.  They are selling both their beautiful Beach House Cafe on the ocean and their ten acre Ranchette here in Rancho Santana.  This is very sad for both Sylvia and me.  Dennis is more relieved of the constant care that they put forth since 2003 than Syl who loved the beach.  Dennis will not be coming back to NI and Sylvia will be traveling back and forth until the houses are sold.  She has had an ongoing “garage sale” for the past month.  Many of my Guzmán family members and I have benefited from the extremely low prices of the Green’s high quality items for sale.

The saddest of all news is that my friend Elmer Wisley died at his home in FL November 15th.  Elmer and Barb lived here in Rancho full time for eight years.  I have been living in their beautiful house since March taking care of it for them and as I said before I love every minute of being here on the hill in Bella Vista.  Barb will eventually come back to NI I think.

Now Good News.  I met several new friends, some short time visitors who came to find out what Rancho Santana was all about, and a few couples who moved here and intend to stay.

Some new friends are a great pair of physicians from Managua.  Dr. Fidel Morales is a plastic surgeon interested in having a consulting clinic out in our beautiful beach area.  His intention is to do pre and post-op here and perform surgeries at the Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua.  His wife is Dra. Lissette Castillo, a pediatrician and dermatologist.  Together they have the Clínica Beauté in a nice area of Managua.  I talked to them about being the “boots on the ground” caregiving supervisor and wound manager.  We’ll see how this develops in the future.  Anyone wanting plastic surgery let me know.  It costs one tenth of the US price for any surgery here and the surgeons are as good if not better than some in the US.  These two physicians take care of elite Nicas but also do a lot of free surgeries for the poor.  Dr. Morales’ father is a renowned Nica plastic surgeon well known for his charitable work.

Another great piece of news is that my “commercial” property in Limón #2 is finally legally mine.  It only took two years to get proper title to the three lots that I purchased in 2013.  Now we’ll see what direction this property will take.  At the moment it needs to have the weeds cleared.  The little rain that we had for about two weeks made everything get more than three feet tall.  Workers should be showing up this week to cut the brush using machetes and then trim with weed wacker around the edges.

The Guasacate house is underway with walls about up to the roof line.  I think there may be a roof this coming year.  Progress is slow for my “pay as you go” house project.  It is a good thing that the builder is also my neighbor and good friend.  We will have twin houses on the hill in Guasacate.

Since I listed my RS condo on Airbnb, I have had quite a few inquiries and have rentals scheduled through mid-January and in March.  I am very grateful to Lorna Abunga, my friend from Kenya, for helping me get the condo listed.  I also have it listed with Trip Advisor but so far no inquiries from that posting.

One of the unexpected Good News events was dinner at Mukul, the Pellas resort at Guacalito.  Two gentlemen from FL who came to RS to check out property were introduced to me the day they arrived.  I became their unofficial tour guide. I took them to several of the surrounding towns and developments and in to Rivas to show them where we shop. To thank me and Nan Zinn, my business partner, for showing them around they took us to Mukul.  What a gorgeous place at night.  Dinner cost a fortune I am sure and the men were happy to treat us.

On the way home from Rivas, the guys and I stopped by the new Costa de Esmeralda airport and picked up info on the flights to Costa Rica and Managua.  Wow, I plan on using these airlines in the near future.  The prices are reasonable when you compare them to paying a driver who uses my car to take me on the two hour trip to Managua airport, plus the cost of gas and a hotel stay if the flight leaves early in the morning.  Sansa Air flies to Costa Rica and La Costeña flies to Managua.  The airport is small, customs and immigration ready and  nice.  The employees all speak English.  For the first time since moving to NI, I can hear planes other than copters flying somewhere in the area.  Civilization is creeping up on us rapidly.

There are so many new homes and businesses being built both in the larger gated communities and in the local villages.  I expect that this growth will continue to expand.  The newest wave of people coming to the area are those seeking permanent residences and are entrepreneurs wanting to integrate into the Nica communities.  I love this new phase of growth.  Many more Nicas are also coming and building their vacation homes.

The paved (block) road from Tola to Rancho is progressing too.  Of course, it reaches the airport now and the Guacalito turnoff.  Soon it will be complete to Iguana–the development next to Rancho–and then out our way.  In the meantime we still deal with herds of cattle and pigs on the road.  You have to be more than a defensive driver here as motorcyclists and even cars will pull out from a dirt road without looking in either direction.  I almost hit a moto last week that pulled directly straight into the road.  The guy didn’t turn his head one way or the other.  He was shocked to see me swerve, brake, and honk.  Fortunately for both of us, there wasn’t anyone or animal on the other side of the narrow road.  I thank God and my angels daily for keeping me safe on the roads.

This past month I have kept very busy coordinating property, people, and projects.  At the moment I am helping Sylvia clean out cabinets, garages, and her two homes for sale and eventual move.  On Dec. 14th I will leave for CA to be with my family for the holidays.  I will return home here on Jan. 3rd.  My friend, Nan, is staying at the Wisley House for me and will manage staff both here and the condo while I am gone.

Sorry, no photos this time.  I can’t figure out how to restore photos from the new Apple OS software.

Happy Holidays to  ALL who read this blog.  Remember the Joy that is promised from the Christmas Birth and the hope and prospects of a New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graditude and Celebration

Giving daily expression of gratitude is easy for me here in Nicaragua.  For more than 20 years I had a photo of a house on the beach magneted to my fridge.  The house looked like a cottage and the water was big but non descript.  Now I can say that my house on the beach exists.  It doesn’t look like the place or the water in the picture, however, here I am living in a house with the most beautiful ocean view in a country that is tranquillo, warm and beautiful.  You notice I speak the word “warm”. Temperature average of 82 degrees suits me just fine.

I am also grateful for my wonderful family and friends both in the US and here in NI.  My circles of friends are supportive and encouraging for the nutty life that I have created and lead.

This month was especially interesting and deserved a bundle of gratitude.  One of my Barnes School of Nursing friends, Carole Manners, nominated me for the new Barnes Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award and I received it as the  Barnes Graduate at the College Homecoming Event October 9th.  Now, just in case you may be thinking that this is a big deal and it is, the Jewish School of Nursing Alumni, Olive (Ollie) Coe is 92 and graduated from Jewish in 1944.  She is beautiful and fun.  Carole Manners and I flew to St. Louis for the day long Event where Ollie and I were given our awards.  We had a great time for two days enjoying the Barnes Jewish Foundation dinner on Thursday night and then the lectures, etc. on Friday.  Thursday night was also the unveiling of a commissioned sculpture for the BJC Goldfarb School of Nursing.  Carole and I were both highly impressed with the growth of the College since we attended the Homecoming Event in 2009.  At that Event we walked with the second graduating class from the new Barnes Jewish College Goldfarb School which coincided with our 50th year anniversary as graduates of the Barnes School of Nursing in 1959.  It is interesting to note how the school is organized program wise.  Students without a bachelor’s degree in another area who are just beginning their nursing college experience are in a five year program.  Students with a previous bachelor’s degree are in an “excellerated” program and graduate in two years.  These students are then put into mentoring programs in the field of their nursing choice.

I have to say that I was given the 2015 award mostly for the work I have done in Nicaragua, although the Lord knows my work is eclectic, diverse and continuous.  I am grooming my maid right now to enter a nursing program in Rivas from a private college.  Melvin Lopez, the young man I sent through nursing school graduated with his diploma from a public university in Rivas.  Melvin, incidentally, will continue his studies next month to receive his nursing licensure.

Before I flew to St. Louis, I flew from Managua to Chicago and then drove to Indiana to see my cousins from the northern Indiana area where I was born.  Out of 32 first cousins, there are only nine of us left.  My three brothers and I are four of those nine.  I had a great time being shown around the farmlands that I used to know.  However, so much has changed with new superhighways and subdivisions, that without my wonderful tourguide cousins Dorothy and Clayton Hoevet, I would have been hopelessly lost.  We had a ball though and didn’t eat dinner at home one night of the four nights I was there.  We were “on the road again” as the song goes.  Five of the IN cousins all met for lunch one day, thanks to Don Kotrba for the treat.  We laughed and stayed in the restaurant until their dinner clientele were beginning to arrive.  So many fond memories for which I am grateful.

My Nica family has grown in the past week.  My friend and former landlord, Carmen Guzmán had a baby boy a week ago.  Sebastian is beautiful and Carmen is amazing.  She continued law school up until the week of the birth via an emergency c-section for baby stress.  Now she is trying to see how she can take the final exam, one week after the birth.  Carmen is also the mover and shaker of the Guzmán family. She opened her Spa where I used to park my car.  And now the little Guzmán Pulpería that was next to the casita where I lived is tripled in size to a mini-store.  I am so very proud of this family.  They are wonderful role models in the Limón #2 community.

Rain has finally begun so that the flora are turning green again.  The weeds in the yard are growing “like weeds” and I can’t complain.  As I look out over the hills to the ocean at least it is green again, another cause of gratitude.

I am happy to report that the new Costa Esmeralda International Airport had its grand opening last week.  Now for a healthy sum people can cut their driving time from Managua, NI or Liberia, Costa Rica by 1 1/2 hours to Rancho Santana.  The paved road is inching its way toward us and the airport which is scheduled to have regular flights in November.  I look forward to the day when the road finally gets out to the Limóns, although I am grateful for the amount of block road that is already completed.

Yesterday and today I had the opportunity to watch them create that road as I was headed to Rivas to the attorney.  The paver blocks look like a square jigsaw piece.  After the concrete road edge is laid and initial string line is placed, the blocks are stood on their side edge in a row like you would line up Dominoes.  Then they are laid down like puzzle pieces one after another.  Line by line no cement.  It helps to have a lot of workers who are now VERY familiar with this process.  It is fascinating to watch, however.  In between the two days that I made the trip past this paving area, I think they laid more than a football field length of road.  They lay one way first diverting the traffic to the dirt on the other side and holding traffic for turns in use of the only part remaining.  Today, we actually drove on a part of road that was being laid yesterday.  Progress in NI for sure.

Nothing major or urgent going on this past month in Nica for me.  However, I have become a consultant to many locals as well as expats.  In case anyone needs consulting information, I am currently a person for Business Plans, Land Sales, Wound Care, Health Triage, Area Guide, and Business Referral.  You can see I am not sitting around eating sweets all day.

The condo has renters for a few weeks in November and December.  I am grateful for this gift.  The condo is beautiful and comfortable.  My maid works four days at the condo keeping it open, aired and clean.  She works two days for me at the Wisley house up here on the hill where I am living.  All is well.  Life is good in Nicaragua.

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Waterford crystal vase with plaque “Margie Fincham, RN, MSN, GCNS Distinguished Alumni Award 2015”

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Guest lecturer at BJC Event via his robot.  Henry Evans is a 50 yr. old man, totally paralyzed except for head movement.  His wife speaks for him as he reads a letter board and blinks his eyes.  He developed the system of robotic software whereby he virtually attends lectures, museums etc. throughout the world where a robot can be acquired.  (The red dangling piece is his “tie”.)  I couldn’t resist talking to him after the lecture and asking to be photographed with him.

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Carole Manners and I with Agenda for the Event.  Me, Carol Luckey, and Carole Manners 1959 Grads.  Full Sails Sculpture at BJC Goldfarb School of Nursing.  Bricks at the base are from the torn down Barnes and Jewish Schools of Nursing dorms.

Living on the hill in Bella Vista at Rancho Santana

Yes, I must admit that I am probably part gypsy and love the life. Since March of this year 2015, I have been living and caretaking my friend’s house on the hill in Bella Vista in Rancho Santana. It is a hard life up here. Many of my friends don’t have a car that can make it up this hill. Too bad for them, although I do go down the hill and pick them up on occasions. You will see in the photos why I love it up here. And why this view prompts me to get my house in Guasacate built before I am too old to enjoy it.

The busy life that took place in July took several weeks to wind down. Aproquen’s Burn Prevention Campaign was, as usual, an inspiring success. We visited five schools—three in Granada area, and two in Nandaime. Over 650 pre-school, kindergarten, first and second graders, plus their teachers and some parents, received the information, coloring books about what is fire, crayons, drinks, cookies and a sweet. The older children enjoyed a giant piñata and both sections played the ticket game to see who got the Aproquen heart which meant that they won a backpack (mochilla) stuffed with school supplies. Honestly, I don’t know who has more fun at the Burn Prevention Programs, the kids or we the team.

The last day of the campaign is the 8 hour seminar for doctors and nurses. This time we added the fire fighter team from Benemerite Grupo de Bomberos to the attendee list. Although there was a rather large blip in the logistics for the seminar—the room, I thought we had arranged for the day at the Hotel Granada was cancelled due to a misunderstanding between me and the convention coordinator—we were given another suitable room the day before the event. This blip was a good lesson for me to make sure I confirm every last detail the week before the event.

Minor blips cannot alter my enthusiasm for what the team does at the seminar. I was emphatic with the seminar participants when I delivered their textbooks that they needed to study the book if they wanted to pass the exam and receive their certificate. Maybe it was their enthusiasm to learn something new, almost 90% of the group passed the exam, including the six bomberos who sat in the front row and paid the closest attention. I was more than thrilled when Dra. Icaza gave me the results and later the certificates to deliver to the participants.  Those that didn’t pass were assistants in hospitals and didn’t have much academic background.

For me it is the little things that make a huge difference. The week after the Aproquen Burn Campaign I drove again to Managua to have Hengel, the little boy who received an arm prosthesis, and his mother interviewed for La Prensa, the major Nicaragua newspaper. Dra. Icaza talked with the interviewer about the cooporation between Aproquen and the Global Medical Relief Foundation (GMRF) in the US that sponsored Hengel’s trip and medical attention. Aproquen is following up Hengel’s physical therapy needs so that his muscles will become strong and hopefully next year he will be able to receive a more sophisticated and prettier arm. At this moment Hengel is all smiles and using his new arm and its limited hand mobility.

That same week after Aproquen, I acquired a consulting job for a wound care patient in Nandaime. This was an exciting opportunity for me because I not only helped the patient and her family but I also went to her Clinic appointment at the Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua. The Clinic ortho doctor was interested in my recommendations for the patient and appreciative of my interest in working with the family to supervise daily wound care in her home. Now I just stop by the house in Nandaime –1 hour from where I live—when I am passing the area for other trips to Granada or Managua. So far so good in the wound department, progress is being made. Thanks to my friends who sell me Bio2 Cosmeceutical AminoPlex in the US at a price I can afford.  I had the patient using AminoPlex with the daily wound care.  The ortho doc is impressed.

Now back to living on the hill in Bella Vista. There is a pair of turkey vultures that come almost everyday and either sit on the pool deck or cavort on the lawn around the pool. My friend, Barb who owns this house, named the pair Henry and Henrietta a long time ago. I think they have an offspring that comes with them so there are the three, no so attractive birds, which entertain me in the mid-afternoon. They are not in the least bit afraid of me and cock their heads as if they are listening to me talk to them. Oh, you may as well know that I have always talked to insects, animals, and plants. Doesn’t everyone?

Another perk of living on the hill is that the sunsets from here are even more spectacular than down at the condo. (If this is possible.) Everyone who has ventured up here for sunset seems to think the same. Sunset with friends and without always consists of watching the sun and clouds with a drink in hand. Drinks are not always alcoholic either. Whenever we want to socialize, we invite someone to “sunset”. This is a wonderful ritual that has seemed to develop over the ten years that I have been coming and living here in Nicaragua. We had a similar ritual when sailing. I love it. Everything else stops for sunset up here.

An idea that has become an accomplishment of the past three months is the organization of the El Limón Salons. http://www.limonsalons.wordpress.com/. Several friends and I had been talking about a need for this type of community for quite a while—years to be exact. Now we have come together on a monthly basis, getting better at the logistics each month.  We had our fourth Salon with 16 people in attendance on August 30th. What a thrill to meet some new folks each time, enjoy the speaker and their topic, and have fun. We are on a roll and will continue. My years attending The Inside Edge in Orange County were a great assistance to help get this group off the ground and running—at least walking for now.

Yes, this has been a good month. A cousin of mine, Terry Little, who lives in Nairobi, Kenya connected me with his friend whose daughter was volunteering for two months in northern Nicaragua, Ocotal, Nueva Segovia. Lorna and Ajuma Abungu came to visit me for two nights up here on the hill. We had a wonderful time enjoying the peacefulness up here and comparing the many similarities between living in Kenya and Nicaragua. Nairobi is a thriving metropolis in an advanced country and Managua is a “becoming” city in a third world country. Interesting social and political similarities however.

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Yes, I do work as a team member with Aproquen.

Lots more I could write now, and I’ll save that for the next blog adventure.

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Bombero at work in the Aproquen Burn Prevention Program

Hengel at his La Prensa interview
Hengel at his La Prensa interview
Another outstanding sunset
Another outstanding sunset
Aproquen and Coci Nica are joining to prevent burns and create more efficient cooking in the home.
Aproquen and Coci Nica are joining to prevent burns and create more efficient cooking in the home.

Retired in Nicaragua

Retired?  Not me, at least not in the true sense of the word.  In a previous post I spoke about organizing the Burn Prevention Program in schools. In April Aproquen presented the programs in the Department of Rivas.  Next week the Aproquen team will present in the Department of Granada.  Although I am not an official member of the teaching team, I am the front person that prepares the way for the three days of events.  I find places for the team to spend the night, find donors for box lunches to have between the school presentations, find a proper conference room for the clinical seminar for 40 to 50 doctors and nurses, and in some cases also help find rural schools that would most benefit from a Burn Prevention program for their youngest students.

This may sound like not such a big deal.  However, Aproquen is a not for profit hospital that provides free care to burn victims and houses the family while the child is in the hospital–like the Shriners Children’s Hospitals and Ronald McDonald house.  Since care is provided for free, I find donors for everything.  This July session is particularily interesting because the Beremerite Grupo de Bomberos donated their dormatory room for the school teaching team that consists of seven physical therapy students and their instructors and five Bomberos/firemen who come from the Department of Chinandega at least three hours from Granada.  I am especially happy to have this accommodation of a dormatory for the team since I have been looking for a Grupo de Bomberos who would be interested in learning the bombero portion of the program so that there can be other trained bomberos closer to Managua and our more rural areas.  Only hitch to this donated dorm is that there is the space without beds.  Why should a little issue like this stop a good intention?  Within three days I found generous donors who presented $600 for the Beds for Bomberos project.  My friend Ana Zavala found a company in Managua who makes metal bunk beds and that had 12 beds on hand for the Comandante de Bomberos to buy.  Comandante is sending a truck to pick up the beds on Tuesday.  They will be in use Thursday night.  This addition to the Estación Beremerite Grupo de Bomberos will also give them an opportunity to invite firemen from other countries to come to teach fire fighting techniques. Now they have a place to stay rather than spending money at the Granada hotels.  A win win situation for me/Aproquen and for the Comandante.  I cannot thank enough the folks who generously opened their wallets for me and the Grupo de Bomberos.  I only have met two of these generous people.

Choosing the schools for the programs wasn’t a challenge in the Granada area.  Dra. Icaza, the Aproquen Administrator who is the team leader, choose four schools in the area that had had a burn patient treated at Aproquen, the Children’s Burn Center in Managua.  You can read about this extraordinary program at www.Aproquen.org.

The challenge for me in Granada was finding a conference room appropriate for an 8 hour clinical seminar for free.  Granada was the first capital of Nicaragua and is a historical colonial city on the largest lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua/Lago Cocibolca.  Granada has a large expat population and tourists from all over the world.  Finding a free hotel took much footwork, letters of “begging”, and coordiation with Dra. Icaza.  So far we have a wonderful seminar room at the Hotel Granada and drinks for two coffee breaks but no free lunch for the participants as yet.  I have invited and trust that a donor will show up for the $1000 bill that would feed 55 people lunch on Saturday.

Another major portion of my “job” is finding doctors and nurses who want to learn “How to treat a burn patient within the first 24 hours”.  This requires studying the textbook or you can’t pass the exam at the end of the seminar.  Believe me, I know this since I studied many hours for the seminar when I took it in 2014–my first adventure as the Aproquen front person.  Yes, I passed the exam by the hair on my chinny chin chin.  Out of 42 seminarians only 11 of us passed the test.  Three of us were US trained nurses which indicates our willingness to study for new things related to our profession.  In Nicaragua there aren’t many opportunities for advanced study that are free.  Doctors and nurses make VERY little money and work six days a week so their higher education chances are limited.  There is also a considerable amount of arrogance on the part of some professionals who think they know it all.

Back to the Granada seminar.  I visited the two Granada hospitals and had lots of interest from the Blue Cross private hospital–16 signups.  The public hospital couldn’t get their act together before I had to leave Granada so they didn’t receive textbooks. Yesterday, I received an email with 15 attendee’s names from the Sub Director of the Salud Hospital.  Now I need to get more textbooks from Aproquen.  Why is getting textbooks a big issue?  Each textbook has to have a signed up attendee to qualify for the donation of textbooks by the Consulate of Luxenbourge.  In April, due to political rivalry between the health department in Rivas and the Director of the Rivas Hospital where we had scheduled the seminar, the seminar was cancelled the day before the event.  I had the onerous task of recovering 42 textbooks, some of them already had names written in them.  So finding a proper seminar room in a private venue and then getting physical names, email addresses, and phone numbers of participants on the form that we use qualifies as work for me.

Although I think Granada is an interesting city, I wouldn’t want to live there.  Too many people and no ocean.  However Lago Cocibolca does look like an ocean since you can’t see across it.  I am truly a farm girl at heart.

Last Friday two of my Rancho Santana friends and I attended an art show and circus at a hostel in Granada.  The circus was on the style of Cirque de Solēil.  The theme was Alice in Wonderland.  The performing acrobats were young friends from Rancho Santana.  These young women and some men are very talented and quite professional.  It was great to see how many local Nicas came to see the circus with their children.  The performance was free although a donation basket was passed among us.  All in all we had a good time.  Earlier that day I had meetings in Managua at Aproquen so I traveled from Managua to Granada, made some doctor stops, and sent my car back to Rancho with my friend/driver.  I rode home in a hired car with my RS friends.  We got home at 12:15 am, the latest that I have been out in years.

For the past month I have been staying up on the Bella Vista hill in RS at my friend’s the Wisley’s house while my condo is rented for six weeks.  I am actually house sitting to keep their place up and manage the gardener and maid a couple times a week.  This is a hard job.  I’ll attach photos of my view.  I can see my house in Guasacate from here, a little silver sliver on the hill.  Block walls are slowly growing at my house.  Who knows it may be done within ten years.  In the meantime, I am going to continue to stay up here on the hill and rent my condo as much as possible.  This is a good deal for my friends and for me.

The week after next with termination of the Aproquen events, I will be helping once again the Dentistas Sin Frontera for a week long dental clinic that is held at FunLimón just across from Rancho.  I worked with this group for the past two years and think that they are amazing dentists willing to work in the heat and wind in places that most professionals would shun.

As you can read, I love my “work” here.  My next project will be to find more customers for Nan’s and my biodegradable bag business.  More on that later.

For now, enjoy everyday and don’t work too hard yourselves.

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View across to my Guasacate property, the little silver dot to the left on the very far hill.  View from the Wisley pool

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Poco a poco my house

Back Home in Tola, Rivas

I have only been gone to the US for four weeks and had an interesting and wonderful time with family and friends.  However, as I was sitting on my condo patio this morning enjoying my latte and the different songs of the Ant Birds that visit me in the bouganvilla a few feet away, it was clear to me that I am a very grateful and happy here.

Two of my grandchildren graduated–Hannah Smith from Chico State and Isaiah Smith from Dixon High–which prompted my visit to the US.  In between the two events, I was the chauffeur for Gloria and JW Williams–the Smith’s other grandmother and husband.  They rented a Mazda 5 sedan and I drove us to Oregon where we stayed with a longtime nursing school friend and her spouse, Carole and Gary Manners.  From OR we traveled north to Seattle where the Williams stayed with Gloria’s  oldest son and I housesat for a friend who teaches in SEA, Joyce Murakami.  Joyce and her partner, John Diles, were on their way to Hawaii where they were being married.  Joyce and I took scuba classes and were buddies many years ago.  I am Joyce’s nursing consultant for her elder family in Sacramento.

The primary focus of the Seattle trip for me was to visit my stewardess days roommate, Ellie Parker, who moved to Seattle from San Francisco a long time ago.  Ellie and I have always shared a love for art and music. We spent almost everyday enjoying or talking about art and music.  People watching is another of our special common interests.  We had fun people watching at the Ballard Locks in Seattle, near where I was staying.  The five day visit in Seattle was great for all of us.  Seattle’s weather could not have been better.  Surprisingly, I didn’t freeze the whole time I was there.

After leaving Seattle we drove down the WA and OR coast enjoying the beautiful forests, historical places on the Lewis and Clark trail, and of course the gorgeous blue ocean.  We arrived back in Dixon, CA in time to help prepare the Smith house for the BIG graduation party the day of Isaiah’s graduation on June 6th.  Hannah had planned almost everything for months ahead–it was six months at least of planning.  There many of us worker bees staying in the area with assigned tasks–grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins of Hannah and Isaiah.  We, all 150+ of us, had fun eating, drinking, and enjoying each other.  I got to see all of my immediate family and a lot of nieces, nephews, and friends that I hadn’t seen in years.  The weather was perfect for such a noteworthy day.  Miles driven on this trip by me = 2700.  It is a good thing I like to drive.

While I was in the US the wheels of my projects here in NI were still turning.  The next Aproquen event plan is taking shape for three days in Granada in July.  Hengel got to his doctor visit at Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia with help from my friends.  I am including a photo of him on that day with the therapist.  What an accomplishment for this little boy and his family.  Nan Zinn, my business partner, took charge of delivering a custom bag order amid her crazy schedule working in her booth at the International Surfing Association (ISA) contest event that was held on our beach at Popoyo.

The rains have started and are so welcome.  The beautiful green fields are beginning to appear and trees that appeared to be dead have revived and are covering the bald spots on the hills.

I will only be here in my condo for ten days before I move to my friend’s house on the hill while my condo is rented for five weeks.  It is somewhat of a challenge to move while the condo is rented.  If I were just going away, it would be easier, but I will be living in the area too.  Therefore, I need to move survival items–printer, files, bag inventory, plus food and clothes.  More about this experience in the next blog.

Photos:   Hengel at first visit for prosthesis;   Hannah and Isaiah at the Party;   Ellie at Asian Art Museum with pinhole image of the Seattle Space Needle in the middle of the sculpture;  Russian River Brewery with Darlene, Cousins Larry and Jim, & Pam enjoying great craft beer;

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