Delays in Nicaragua

Here it is, another holiday in my Nicaragua paradise. For Christians, it is Good Friday. For Nicaraguans beginning with Thursday, it is Semana Santa. Nicaragua has many holidays and this is one of their most important. Many communities from the largest to the smallest have special traditions and rituals that are practiced during this special week.

In Las Salinas, one of the towns in Tola municipality near me, the Catholic church there performs a Passion Procession sometime in the week preceding Semana Santa with men and women dressed in biblical costume. One man is given the privilege of carrying a very large cross made of tree trunks for about two kilometers along the dirt road with others filing before and after him. I saw this parade several years ago and can only say that I was in awe of the dedication to this local tradition.

Last week when returning from Managua on one of our very rural back roads, I witnessed another such procession from a tiny village. However, in this procession four men were carrying a small platform with a 15 inch statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe surrounded by flowers. This procession of ten people was going to walk about 5 kilometers to the nearest church. The group seemed to be having a good time and weren’t concerned that it was beginning to get dark and would soon be somewhat dangerous processing along this road.

Another annual tradition associated with Semana Santa and beginning two weeks prior is the procession of carretas from Managua to a special Catholic church in Potósi, a small town in Rivas Department outside of the city of Rivas. The carrettas begin with oxen carts followed by horse drawn carts. Whole families are packed into their cart and camp alongside the road for the two week trip. The route goes through Granada and proceeds along the Pan American Highway from there. Police are hired to monitor the one way traffic that creates at least a 30 to 40 minute delay to normal travel time. Many towns are represented by their decorated and bannered carts. Each town’s cart processes within their specific group. I discovered, after encountering the carretta procession twice in two weeks on trips to Managua, that each cart has more than one family participating to fulfill the journey. One set will spend one week traveling and camping and be relieved by a second group of participants for the second and final week. Each cart not only carries the people and their camping gear but also has to carry feed and water for the animals. Along the Pan American Highway the carrettas are allowed to travel for two hours in mid-morning and two hours in mid-afternoon. Traffic gets backed up for at least a kilometer if not more. Survivors could take lessons from these carretta participants.

This is a fascinating procession although somewhat frustrating to those travelers trying to get to Managua in a hurry. Thank heaven, I didn’t have scheduled appointments for my two trips to Managua. As I have learned, here one learns patience and then more patience. I am including photos of the carrettas from my two trips—the first ones are along the Granada Highway, the second ones are along the Pan Am with the carrettas and animals camped.

Time seems to fly by each day or else I am slowing down daily, although I don’t think the latter is true. I have had renters in the condo numerous occasions since the Christmas holidays. This, of course, means that I am moving in and out of the condo to various friend’s homes. In between and during the temporary lodging sessions, I am still entertaining the many friends who come to their Nicaragua vacation homes during this beautiful dry season. Thankfully, some of the friends where I stay don’t mind me having dinner parties at their homes. Actually I do this to show off their homes which may produce future renters for them.

Over the past three months, I met several new Rancho Santana homeowners and therefore increased my list of potential couriers to bring me my mail and stuff that I order from the US. People inclined to come here, many of them surfers, are willing participants in the quasi-community that we develop as ex-pats to ferry goods back and forth.  I also met multiple Rancho Santana guests who have incredible stories to share.  A couple of these visitors, the Harveys, have undertaken to sponsor a young classical and jazz violinist to go to the Berklee Conservatory of Music in Boston this July.  Marvin Amador, the young man, is an extraordinary musician reminding me of Stefan Grappelli who I saw in concert several times in the US.  I have helped the Harveys by introducing them to resources that help their endeavor. When Marvin ever gets a YouTube video online, I’ll post the address in a short blog.

There is much construction activity going on in the Tola area these days. New businesses, large and small, and many new homes are being built by the local folks as well as ex-pats from all over the world. I am delighted to see that my favorite local craft beer makers—Campo Brew—have finally moved from their house into a building in Limón #2 and opened a brew pub. The pub is open from 11 to 7 three days a week. Food can be purchased from a food truck that is parked nearby on the property. Entrepreneurship is evident by lots of gringos who are planning on making this their home.

The Great Wall—the retaining wall and reservoir— at my Guasacate house is almost completed and I believe will be ready to receive rain water when the rains finally start. Sadly, I think I will sell my property and the unfinished house, although I am still daily debating this option. Storm Nate in October taught me that I need to have a community of supporters nearby to be safe. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a permanent community in Guasacate at this time and it may be at least five years before such develops. My condo in Rancho Santana, although it doesn’t have the glorious hilltop views and sound of the ocean and surrounding foothills, it does have a small permanent community. Of more importance, however, there is my Nica family in Limón #2 and the many workers at RS who know me and help me in any way if I need help. One day this past month I found myself talking to an older friend in RS, when I was staying at her house, telling her that she needed to be safe. I then realized that I should also be taking my own advice since I am nearly her age. Living alone in Guasacate is not a good idea. Hence the decision to sell.

With this sad news, I’m ending today’s blog.

Happy Semana Santa to family, friends, and readers near and far.

 

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My Holidays in Nicaragua

Living away from my family at holiday time is normal for me. Our household had many holidays because we practiced both Jewish and Christian traditions for many years. My favorite of all the holidays was and still is Thanksgiving a tradition related to gratefulness and love.

When my children were young we traveled to their grandparents home from our home in southern to northern California for Christmas holidays. Now living in Nicaragua where it is warm and beautiful, I prefer not to travel in the cold and to spend the seasonal holidays here.

Several friends come to their homes in Rancho Santana every year during the cold weather. As a result those of us who live here have developed some traditions of our own.

Thanksgiving, although the US date isn’t the same as the NI date, is a big event. Even Nicaraguense join in to the celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Rancho Santana always has a traditional feast in the restaurant that is excellent and fun. The day before Thanksgiving Day one of my RS permanent resident friends has started the Friendsgiving dinner. There is the traditional turkey feast with guests bringing extra dishes to delight the palate. This year I think there were 50 people of all ages enjoying the dinner and evening. A lot of folks who we know come from other towns to join the fun. Friendsgiving Day is my newest favorite holiday.

This year the Friendsgiving hosts are also having an Italian Christmas Dinner and White Elephant party on Christmas Day. This is a good thing for me because I do miss Christmas morning at the Leah and Tim Smith’s house where the piles of presents are passed out and then opened one after another. My Friendsgiving hosts are Joanne and Kenny Smith. A perfect coincidence Christmas Day for me to attend.

On the 22nd I hosted a Christmas Piñata Fiesta for my Guzmán Family at their campo. We are a group of 53 family members that range in age—me being the oldest—to the youngest of six months. The piñata, that I bought in the store that makes them in Managua, was perfect for my idea of a piñata. No carmelos in this piñata as I dislike the idea of more candy for kids with the little candy wrap papers flying all over. I put 200 coins—5 cordoba—into the piñata. There were 18 children under the age of 10. We paired the older children with one of the little ones as an ayudante (helper). When the piñata finally broke and yesterday it didn’t, it fell from the rope after many beatings, all the kids piled after the coins. The ayudantes were the ultimate collectors for their partner. The coins were counted and put into a piggy bank, called an alcancía, that each child received and had their name written on. The ayudante was also given a bank with their name and the same number of coins was deposited into their alcancía. Although there was much skepticism about this piñata and how it would work, in the end everyone especially the kids, thought it was great fun. There was much noise from bank rattling until the parents told their offspring to take their banks to their homes on sight in the campo. I think the concept of saving money little by little was a new idea for the parents and older children. Hopefully savings will grow as so many other ideas have done in my Nica family.   Afterward we all had Christmas cupcakes and juice—pure juice not the sugar flavored water that prevails. The adults, all 34 of them, received a small wrapped gift for the females or a special Holiday card for the men with some money. This family is as dear to me as my amazing biological family. They both take care of me and I love them all.

For the past six weeks, I’ve had a roommate. Katie Phelan is a three-month pastry consultant at the Rancho Santana restaurant. She has been working 12-hour days so I didn’t see her very much except for the very few breakfasts or dinners we had here at the condo. Katie left today and I’ll be moving the day after Christmas to my friend Gail’s house for a week as the condo is rented. I’ll be back to the condo for one week and then off again for a month for another renter. It will be nice when the condo sells, I can finish building my house, and won’t have to keep moving around with food and office.

The Guasacate house construction has focused the past two months on the Great Wall—retention and water reservoir—on the ocean side of the house. Now as the wall is almost completed, the inside of the house can receive the construction work.

I continue to work editing online courses that is such fun for me and is keeping me busy enough as well. In the beginning of December I taught my Cuidadores de Personas class for two days in Granada. That was stated to be successful for the four attendees. I enjoyed staying at my friend Terry Leary’s home around the corner from she and her sister Nancy Bergman’s hotel Casa San Francisco. The class was held in Terry’s home but I ate all my meals at the hotel restaurant Bocadillos that they lease to a young couple. All these owners are from the SFO area and it feels like home when I am there.

Now it is time to visit with more friends and celebrate the season.

So Happy and Peaceful Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year to you all.

Sent with MUCH LOVE.

Piñata with 2 yr. old Sebastián

After the storm called Hurricane Nate

I am currently sitting in the CREA building waiting for folks to come and pick up the mattresses (colchones) that were ordered for them. More later about why I am involved in a mattress project. It is a miracle of dedication and hard work that CREA is open and working as a community library and learning center that is CREA. Four weeks ago this building was 4 feet underwater from one of the several rivers near the property that run through Rancho Santana and the villages of Limón #1 and Limòn #2. Storm Nate—later named Hurricane Nate—damaged CREA severely. CREA opened in August and had hundreds of books, new computers, and workspaces for various ages of children and young adults. Most of the books were damaged and the computers totally gone. After the water receded, CREA was left with almost two feet of mud and silt. So I am sitting at the table of a miraculous recovery.

Hurricane Nate was the Perfect Storm that hasn’t occurred in this area for more than 70 years. We had hurricane force winds, torrential rain, full moon, high tides and humongous waves that lasted for almost three days.   Although it was a bit scary at times, I stayed in the condo. Water was pouring through the small cracks in the window and door sills that resembled spouting fountains. Lidieth Alvarez Guzmán, one of my Limón family members thankfully was staying with me for a week. She and I each took a room and kept stuffing towels in the cracks changing them about every two minutes for a day. Having a washer with a good spin cycle that I used constantly and then tossed the towels in the dryer helped keep me from having a lake in my bedroom and living room.   The last night of the storm Lidieth and I went to the Rancho Santana hotel at the request of the staff because the river was rising next to my condo. There was no electricity in the villages for about a week. We in the Rancho Condos are fortunate to have a generator that ran constantly for a week. Trees were down along the main roads between Rivas and our area that pulled concrete posts and electrical wires with them.

I am a fortunate person to have great friends both in the villages and at Rancho Santana that seem to take care of me. There were not many homeowners or guests at RS during that storm which was a blessing in many ways as only relief crews were going out with high-wheeled trucks to cross the rivers. So many people from the communities and expats pulled together to provide shelter to those families who totally lost their homes or couldn’t go back inside until the knee-deep mud was shoveled out. A loosely organized group was formed named Tola Community Watch (TCW) that took a census of needs in the communities far and wide and a priority list was developed from this list. Many businesses and NGO groups participated in this effort. There were probably some 20 villages that were devastated and most of them were counted by number of people in the village or campo and how severe was their damage. Besides drinking water and some clothing that were distributed almost immediately, the priority of where to spend dollars was developed. Many GoFundMe pages were initiated at the very beginning and funds were coming in for the purchase of food and water and water filters. The Nicaragua government did contribute with supplies at the local level and even sent teams from Managua to distribute food and water.

The first wave of help was shelter with food and water. Next wave was cleaning the homes that were salvageable of the mud—CREA among this group. Shortly thereafter wells were cleaned and pronounced free of contamination. At the same time Rancho Santana road crews were repairing the roads first in RS then in the surrounding communities. The electric company was removing trees, replacing posts and restoring energy to most of the areas. Needless to say I was without phone service or internet for almost a week—at least I had my tools. Many families lost everything but the clothes on their backs. Fortunately as far as we know there were no deaths as a result of this event.

So how did I get involved with mattresses? My Zavala friends, who also had mud in their Guasacate casitas, pitched in immediately with help from Managua. Ana Z made a deal with one of her vendors Casa del Colchón in MGA to sell us mattresses at the vendor cost. The foam mattresses were high quality foam covered with sturdy water resistant canvas with a zipper. I became the organizer of the Zavala Colchón Project, collecting donations, taking orders, paying the vendor as I placed the orders. Yesterday, the first three orders were delivered—103 mattresses to five different drop off spots with a combo of twin, full, and queen that were allocated to families by their donors or in a few cases by people paying for their own. Last night I could have used a good stiff drink but was too tired to think about anything but a bite to eat and a bed. The Project will continue on for probably the next month as more people see what the mattresses look like and wish to order now too. A sidebar plus for me was dusting off my ExCell capability with multiple spreadsheets in several workbooks. Always making lemonade.

My next adventure in a week or so is to participate in a TWC meeting with the Tola Mayor—mayoral elections at the end of next week. A subgroup of TWC requested this meeting to hear what Disaster Plans exist in the Rivas Department and specifically the Tola Municipality. If there aren’t any, how can we help develop something sustainable. The TCW subgroup has experience in living through disasters of flood and drought here in NI. I am anxious to listen then offer my many years of study in community development. We’ll see how that goes, or at this point if we can get an agreed upon date for a meeting.

Unfortunately I was always too busy to take photos of the damage and the photos that were forwarded aren’t easily put into this blog. The good thing for me is that Ron Urroz, Ana’s husband and builder of our houses, is a fantastic engineer and builder. The Great Wall on the hill in front of our houses didn’t budge an inch while other retaining walls in the many areas either collapsed or are leaning over. Again I am grateful for this. Several families in Guasacate went up to our houses on the hill for shelter and slept in my house on the dirt since it doesn’t have floors, doors, or windows. Ana and Ron’s house next door is finished  and locked so my house was the refuge point. The damage to the oceanfront businesses in Guasacate was very bad. It will take months before some of them will be able to dig out, repair and reopen.

So this is my story for this blog. Hopefully, I’ll have some photos in the next writing and some normalcy back in my routine. So far, that isn’t happening.

 

 

 

Not Bored!

Most people who know me understand when I say that boredom would kill me. Although that may be a somewhat strong statement, the message is true. I am not the person who can sit around doing nothing. My life in Nicaragua gives my multiple opportunities to test my anti-boredom skills.

Since the last blog I have enjoyed several new experiences. I was one of the “public” at the defense of Carmen Guzmán’s thesis for her bar exam. The defense was held at her university in Managua UNICIT in a classroom that represented a courtroom. The defense consisted of 36 slides PowerPoint presentation and a hardbound book of the monologue/thesis to the sitting panel of 2 lawyers and a judge. Carmen and her partner did an amazing job of writing the differences between an older and newly written Codigo of Family Law. The new law was written in 2015 and not well publicized. In their thesis they made recommendations for education and distribution of the law. The experience was fascinating for me. Carmen is now Doctora Miriam del Carmen Guzmán, Abogada. She can now hang her “shingle” out at her new office in Limón #2.

I’ll begin with the lessons of puppy sitting for almost one week at my condo. Caesar, my friends Abby and Felipe’s new puppy needed a home while they went out of the country for week on previously scheduled trips. Puppies are always 1. Under your feet, 2. Chewing on something—including my hands and feet, 3. Peeing everywhere inside and out, 4. Waking multiple times during the night, 5. Entertaining while playing, 6. Fortunately sleeping a lot during the day. I really enjoyed the little guy as he is so smart and CUTE beyond words. Abby and Felipe only got him a week before they had to leave. After the first day we bonded very well, me as his grandmother. I produced some very interesting, to him, toys—an unused chair pillow with buttons and ties all made of a sturdy canvas–, and a twelve oz. empty plastic vinegar bottle with the plastic cap intact. Needless to say the buttons came off the pillow within the first 30 minutes and I had to get them out of his mouth one by one. He loved pulling the pillow around by the ties or picking the whole thing up in his mouth and dragging it around. As for the bottle, I think that was my favorite toy to watch. He would try to pick it up in his mouth and of course it would pop away from him on the tile floors making a popping noise on the tile. He finally grabbed it enough times to almost remove the paper label. I removed the label and Caesar continued to chase it all over the floor jumping after it as it flew across the room bouncing and spinning.

I had visitors from San Juan del Sur for several nights that were originally from Switzerland. Needless to say we toured the area and I introduced them to two of my many Swiss friends here in my area. It is amazing how time flies when one is having fun. My mini-tours with guests offer me opportunities to see my Guasacate house progress and check out new property for sale in the area for my Success Nicaragua business as a real estate representative.

The night after Caesar went back to his parents, I was invited to a new opera in Managua—La Divina, Maria Callas. The invitation came from the family of a young soprano that I had met here a year ago. Deborah Solange Martinez sang the role of the young Maria Callas; the libretto was the story of Maria Callas’s life. It was presented at the National Ruben Darío theater in Managua. Ana Zavala joined me for dinner and the theater. It was such a moving and extremely well done opera. The woman who sang Callas leading roles was a beautiful middle age soprano from Spain. The orchestra was the Nicaragua national orchestra. Good musicians all but not the same quality as the LA, SFO, or other major orchestras in the US. However, the conductor and music were perfect for this opera written in Spanish. The staging was simple and narrated by another Spanish soprano who didn’t sing a word only narrated the story of Callas life with the singing parts following illumination of highlights or changes in Callas’s life. It was definitely worth staying up late and arriving home after midnight. Fortunately Bayron and I always have a lot of things to talk about or me to learn while we are our two-hour trips to and from Managua.

Gail, my friend/business partner, has been gone for several weeks to the US so I have used the time between puppy sitting, tours, and real estate to catch up on reading and a few movies on Netflix.

It has been raining quite a bit. However, we can use a lot more as the rivers are still quite passable in a small car—or maybe there just a lot more foolish drivers now in our area. As October arrives hopefully it will remain true to the myth that “October is the rainiest month and everyone leaves.” I will have more opportunities for reading and listening to Webinars. There is always something new to learn and keep me from being bored.

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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.