Navidad in Nicaragua

Many years ago Lennie Wilker, my first husband, and I wrote an annual “Holiday Letter” that updated our friends about the latest happenings in our family.  Sometimes it was sent before the end of December.  Occasionally it wouldn’t get written or sent–yes, in an envelope with a stamp–until later by a couple of months.  I thought it would be nice to update my Blog with a new Holiday Letter.

The Holiday Season beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing until the day after the New Year is a festive time for me.  Here in Nicaragua it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas too.  Now that most of the rural homes have electricity, those families that live above the survival level are decorating their homes with a few lights.  Other families have small cardboard images of Santa Claus and other commercial Christmas figures hung on their doors or stuck on palas (sticks) in their yard.  It is surprising to me to see how fast the commercialism of the US has spread to us here in rural Nicaragua.

Managua is a whole other level of splendor and Holiday paraphernalia.  The rotundas are decorated with gigantic figures of Nativity scenes, Christmas trees–all metallic–and Santa with Elves.  There isn’t enough money in the government treasury to pay for employees but somehow there is funding for these elaborate displays.  OK, that statement is out of line for a cheery holiday spirit.  Needless to say it bugs me though to see this dichotomy of resources.

My tribute to the Holidays is to do a little decorating at Condo 1B.  My roommate/tenant, Sherry, helped me make a wreath with greenery from around the yard and a pine cone that I purchased at Sinsa, the biggest hardware chain in NI.  I also picked up a little wooden stick Christmas tree that has tiny lights.  It is battery operated so we can see the tree and lights from almost everywhere inside and the front terrace.

My biggest event for the season will be a piñata party at my Guzmán Family’s compound in the village.   I got a large white headless angel piñata and will fill it with the carmelos (candies) that are usually expected with a piñata.  I decided that the headless angel was a better idea than beating to death a piñata that looked like a real angel figure.  Last year the circular Santa face piñata that I found was filled with 5 cordoba coins and no candy.  It was truly fun and every child in the compound under 12 years old also got a piggy bank to put in their found coins.  This year isn’t going to be as lavish an event as I made last year.  I can’t afford that extravagance again, however, I did a lot debating before deciding against a repeat performance.  The party will be in the afternoon on Christmas Day.  I know everyone will enjoy the cake and juice and the kids will knock each other over in the scramble for the piñata candy.

I’m spending many hours most days working on the English as a foreign language (EFL) textbooks that I am writing with Kathy Ramirez.  Two books completed five to go before January 11th.  So I’m stopping this blog now and getting back to work.

Happy Holidays to EVERYONE.

Only Love Prevails.  Solo el amor prevalece.

IMG_3379

 

PHOTO-2018-12-19-09-14-27-2

IMG_3381

Advertisements

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.