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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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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Busy in Nicaragua

It feels like yesterday that I wrote my last essay/blog.  As I have mentioned in the past, retired I am not.  It is hard to state whether my busyness keeps me out of or gets me into more trouble.  All my activities seem to have a positive flow that still gives me time to relax and watch the beautiful colors of the fields, ocean, and the amazing sunsets.

In August I had a very interesting guest at the condo for one week, Patricia Layton, who spoke at the August El Limón Salon.  Patricia lives in Matagalpa Department and is a certified Food Over Medicine Instructor and Health Coach.  She showed us how to use the trees and plants we have locally for better health.  While she was staying at the condo, she  made me a special green smoothie everyday.  I hated to see her leave as we had such a good time getting to know and learning from each other.

From August 30 to September 4, I had a fun time volunteering at the PGA Latin America first Nicaragua tour held at the 18 hole course at Guacalito de la Isla (GDI).  The last three days were over 12 hours at the event.  I was a live scorer at the 9th hole the last two days as well as the on-call nurse/medic.  Fortunately the on site ambulance was parked a stone’s throw from the 9th hole where I stationed myself under the trees.  Although we didn’t get to associate with any of the pros, I met a lot of really nice folks who were also volunteering.  We were a family unto ourselves for the week.  Supposedly Guacalito has a three year contract for the PGA.  If so, I would definitely volunteer again.

The past two weeks I have been dog sitting–a chihuahua–for friends who will be the new owners of Barbara’s house.  One of the reasons for me taking care of Drifter was for him to get used to his future home.  Unfortunately, he had to stay inside for those long days of my volunteering.   Although I didn’t find any pee spots, he did leave me some brown packages.  The first three days I couldn’t let him out of the house unless he was on the leash that I made by braiding string.  He would head up the road to go to home and I couldn’t chase him up the hill.  I was surprised that it only took him four days to stop the escape behavior.

The past two months kept me running back and forth to Rivas for items at the new Sinsa hardware store for repair parts and paint for both the condo and Barbara’s house.  I feel fortunate that our little area is no longer isolated from items that we used to have to get only in Managua.

Three days in a row I made the Rivas trip to the Provincial Clinic/Hospital for Melvin, my young friend who I sent to nursing school and who now works at the Roberto Clemente Santa Ana Clinic.  He was hit while on his motorcycle by a “taxi” and fractured both the ulna and radius of his left arm just above his wrist.  I was concerned because his repair surgery couldn’t be scheduled for over two weeks due to a genetic blood coagulation problem that he hadn’t been aware of.  I rallied friends and some of his Clinic co-workers  to help bring him green smoothies and get him on iron tabs.  Bless Melvin’s wife Adriana, a nursing student, who came daily with food and support.  Both of these young people are still going to university as well as working and now this interruption.  Fortunately both of their professors took heart and sent their school work via Adriana so that they could study for their exams which are coming up at the end of this month.  Melvin had his surgery finally last Wednesday and was sent home Thursday–in pain but a very happy camper.  I am so fortunate to have good friends who help me help others.  This past week, five days post-op, Melvin was promoted in a Community Leadership program that offers massage and physical therapy to the poorest folks in the villages of our area.

We have had some really good rain storms this past month.  Two days it stopped the PGA play for several hours.  Although the area is beautifully green, we can use a lot more rain.  The rivers are still dry in most places where there should be running water.

I made a big decision this past month to sell my Condo 1B at Rancho Santana.  I am not listing it with a realtor, although I will give the normal finder’s fee of 2%.  The decision was made because I want to finish the Guasacate house and move to a final parking place.  Guasacate is growing everyday, a community is building there so I won’t be isolated.  I love Rancho Santana and all my friends here.  However, most of my RS resident friends have sold and left the area for the US.  The condo has tenants through mid-January and I am not in a fire sale rush to sell.  I will continue to rent the condo and offer my management service if the buyer is interested.

Work on the Basha Health Clinic in Nicaragua has been postponed until early January.  With the Nicaragua elections coming up mid November, there are frequent  demonstrations that create havoc for transportation in many areas.  Government agencies are slow to make official determinations and customs is preventing many items to be imported at the moment.  Since Basha wants to bring his thermography equipment, I feel it is safer to wait until after the election and holidays for a successful clinic.

Time to go outside with Drifter.  Take care of yourselves wherever you are.

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Melvin’s promotion one week post surgery

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Garden wall between the two Guasacate houses
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My house in process taken from the ClubCar driven through the front door area
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Where I sat while waiting for players at Hole #9  Background large tent is where all the volunteers gathered
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Hole #9 at Guacalito de la Isla – Not a bad gig for work

I Am Grateful

Celebrations for me are small treats not grand events. However, this June for my 80th birthday I had a GRAND Event. All four of my children made the trip for their first time to Nicaragua. Rivka and Aaron, my youngest two had planned their one-week trip to be here for my birthdate. The night before they were leaving CA, my oldest son, Greg, got a ticket and met the younger two in Houston. Three out of four on my birthday was pretty exciting, knowing that my oldest daughter and her family were arriving two weeks later. Greg, Aaron, Rivka and I stayed at my condo and had a great time mostly tranquillo. I was able to tour them around our area and introduced them to many of my friends and of course my two Nicaragua families—Guzmán, and Urroz Zavala. We had two dinner parties with friends at the condo and had a blast with both groups. The last two days of their stay the four of us traveled to Granada for one day and night and then to Managua for a day and night. I saw things in Granada and Managua for the first time as a tourist—the inside of the cathedrals in Granada, and Salvadore Allende Park and the museums there in Managua. The Ruben Darío museum was particularly interesting since the speaker at the El Limón Salon two days earlier featured Ruben Darío, his life’s work and influence on the people of Nicaragua. Aaron, who came to the Salon with me, and I were quite impressed with the museum and the knowledge that we had received from the Salon.

After the Wilkers left, three of my expat friend groups arrived for short visits to Rancho Santana. This gave me more chances to show them progress at my Guasacate house and check out for myself the daily changes. Enjoyed the opportunity to catch up on the lives of my coming and going friends.

On June 27th Leah, Tim, and Isaiah Smith, Isaiah’s friend Ricky Guzmán, and my cousin Suzi Taylor came for one week. Since I couldn’t fit all of us in my car at one time, we rented a van and driver to be with us for the 7 days they were here. My friends Dolores and Bill Watson gifted me use of their beautiful big house in Los Perros as a birthday present. This family was a lot more active and wanted to “do stuff”. I sent the group with the driver to go “quading” in San Juan del Sur. Maurice, my friend the driver, took them to a high point nature reserve on the ATVs. Spots that I didn’t know existed. We had several awesome meals at the Watson’s house but no outsiders for dinners there. We were a tribe unto ourselves for three days.

The last two days we went to Selva Negra in Matagalpa which is a lot cooler. There we toured the coffee farm and finca areas. It rained the whole time we were there, although this didn’t stop Tim, Isaiah and Rickey from a very long hike in the foothills.  We decided to leave Selva Negra early and go to Chichigalpa to tour the Flor de Caña plant. That was a spectacular tour, although I am not so sure I would recommend rum for breakfast at 9:00 am. The rum was excellent quality though and not such a bad breakfast after all. From Chichigalpa we went down to Leon, had lunch and a quick tour through town. Maurice knows where everything is and an efficient and fun guide. We checked into my favorite hotel in Managua the Camino Real near the airport for two nights. Again Maurice toured us through Managua, shopped at Wimbus Market, and then kept the van at his house for the following day’s adventure. Maurice took the group to the Volcan Masaya for a zipline that Tim proclaimed to be the best he had done including HI. I stayed at the hotel enjoyed learning about and reading on my new Kindle while sitting around the pool with occasional dips in the water–not rum. We had dinner at the hotel that last night with Ron Urroz and Ana Zavala. Leah and family got to meet almost all my friends and Nica families too. It was sad to have them all leave and I have tears in my eyes again at the thought of how blessed I was to have all my children here to see my Nica world. Each of my children told me before they left that they now understand my life here a lot better and know that I am safe and loved here. Leah’s family left on the early UA flight on July 4th. My friend Barbara Tenbusch Wisley, owner of the house where I live, came in from FL at 7:00 pm so I waited for her to travel back to Rancho Santana with me. Byron Vasquez, my usual driver/friend, brought my car earlier in the afternoon from RS so that we could do the shopping before Barb arrived. Long and enjoyable day spent reading and planning at the hotel.

It is interesting to me that so many of the Hotel Camino Real staff remember me from all the times I have stayed there over the years. Many of them know that I am a nurse. This time as I was sitting at the pool area, several of the staff came and asked me for medical advice. I felt honored to know that I am considered helpful to them. I always preface my advice with, “I am not a doctor. I can only give you my opinion.”

Barbara was here for almost two weeks and outdid herself getting more cleaning and sorting for the sale of the house. Efforts paid off, she received a deposit for the house the day before she left. I had shown the buyers the house almost two years ago and kept bringing them back up for dinners to see what a fantastic place this is. Now I will have to find another place to live probably sometime around October. I have several options outside of the condo. Since the condo is my main source of income outside of Social Security, I want to keep that rented. Little by little I am evaluating possibilities.

The weather has been absolutely spectacular here the past month. Rain a little now and then, nice cool breezes mixed with hotter than hell before it rains. Everything is so beautiful and green. I have watermelon (sandia), cantaloupe, and squash growing out of my compost pile at the house. The trees that I thought were absolutely dead six months ago have green leaves slowly coming out. That is tenacity for sure.

To keep me “off the streets” I have embarked on a couple of projects this past week. I will start teaching the Cuidadora de Personas classes again. I keep getting requests for caregivers and then can’t find one. (Same problem as the US.) Instead of having a four-hour class five days a week, I will hold a Saturday 6 hour class for three weeks. I believe that I can impart all the info needed for a caregiver in this timeframe. I spoke to Carmen Guzmán about using a massage room at her spa in Limón #2 for the bed portion of the classes. I will redo some of my info for the longer sessions and hold the first class in the beginning of September.

I told Dr. Basha that I would research doing another Basha Health Clinic in Nicaragua. This time we want to offer the Managua and Granada people acupuncture and thermography. I made a trip to the newly opened Pacaya Lodge and Spa outside of Granada at Laguna Apoyo. The place is beautiful and perfect for the high-end clientele that Basha would like to reach. I am waiting to have a meeting with the Pacaya owner. Once again, I am on the road. It is good that I love to drive and that Granada isn’t the chaotic horror that Managua is for drivers. This week I made two trips to Granada—one to Pacaya and the second to Clinica Apoyo to introduce the leaders of Roberto Clemente Clinic (www.nicaclinic.org) in Limón to Dra. Reyna Cordero at Clinica Apoyo. (www.comarcasapoyo.org)

The condo is pretty consistently rented until the end of the year. Not rented everyday but enough to break even monthly.   Now I am concentrating on plans for the commercial property and whether or not to build the apartment on the bottom terrace level at Guasacate before completing the upper house where I ultimately plan to live, be cared for, and die. If the apartment could be finished when I need to move from the Wisley House, that would be my first choice of new quarters.

It seems like I am always juggling multiple small projects that keep me occupied—wound care patient consulting, legal research, writing or consulting for business plans for friends both Nica and expat. My life here is fulfilling and I love it.

Remember there is always room for guests where I live. The invitation is open.

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.