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.

 

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Working on the beach

Cuascoto MemorialIMG_1969For the past four years I have been saying that I live and work at the beach. When I am in residence at my condo that is the case. My condo is almost on the beach. However when my condo is rented, I move around to other homes for periods of time. This past month I am once again working “on the beach”. The friend’s house where I was staying—and paying rent—was a stone’s throw from the ocean. Not a bad life for work and a fantastic office with a view. At this moment I am sitting on my friend’s terrace in Guasacate 30 feet from the sand and surf.

What do I do for work? I consult for both health and business clients. Today, my friend is my client for wound care. I am the logistics coordinator for community projects in our Tola municipality area. Although we have a very kind-hearted and astute mayor of the Tola municipality, my friends and many local folks call me the mayor of Limón. I work within the local systems to get projects initiated and completed, albeit in Nica time. The cooperation that I have encountered so far from the governing officials and professionals for some of the projects has been exemplary.

I am daily amazed by the generosity and helpfulness of my fellow Nica countrymen. The Golden Rule is very evident in my life. People have learned to trust me and to be honest about both the good and the bad that I encounter. One cannot teach responsibility without demonstrating it as well. This takes a lot of time, repetition, and above all patience.

This past month was the completion and Community Event for a Memorial project at the Cuascoto intersection on the main dirt road to Limón from Tola . One year ago there was a horrendous accident at this corner killing four people from Cuascoto who were sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus. A drunk dump truck driver hit the bus stop at a high speed at 10:00 am killing everyone instantly. I had been to the Cuascoto area on the oxcart tour sometime ago and knew the families of the deceased. I drove by the accident shortly after the bodies had been removed and saw the devastation. I felt that we needed some form of memorial to honor their lives and to remind drivers who have no conscience about their speed and damage to the people eating their dirt as the cars and trucks fly by. Hence my idea for planting four crosses on the Cuascoto corner as a visual memorial. The Tola mayor said he would donate the land but I needed to receive permission from the family members for this project. In Nica time the permissions were documented and presented to the Mayor who approved the project. One the one year anniversary of the accident March 21st, we had a Crosses Dedication Event with a Mass by the Tola Catholic priest at the site. There were at least 100 people in attendance and the Community leaders served food after the Mass. I am so grateful to all those who helped me: Mayor Angel Morales, Rancho Santana, Claudia Silva, Claudia Ruiz and Fani, the Cuascoto community leaders, the priest from the Catholic church in Tola, Mi Ranchito, and all the men and women from Cuascoto who provided oxcart transportation and food for the attendees.

My house in Guasacate is progressing too with a tree growing in the kitchen. At the present there is major infrastructure being built for a large strong retaining wall and water reservoir that will exist under the lower terrace at my house. Ron is doing the same thing for his house so they are both being constructed at the same time. Ron is a great civil engineer and comes up with these efficient conservation ideas that make total sense to me. I would rather have super infrastructure first and interior finish later.

Gail and I have projects that are on my “to do” list while she is out of the country for six weeks. The most pressing deadlines are those that I prioritize and the others seem to fall behind farther and farther. Needless to say, I am grateful that there isn’t a time clock to punch or I would be paying the employer for sure.

Several of my friends who either have homes here in RS or used to live here were visiting for a week at a time, staying with me at my rented digs or at the condo whichever place I called home at the moment. Needless to say these visits create multiple opportunities for dinners for friends at my living abode. I am one of the major purchasers of Campo Brew, the local craft beer company. I love their beers and buy them by the case to share with guests and me to drink for sunset with or without guests.

I am sharing a photo taken from my passenger seat in my car while on one of the many trips I had to Managua this month. At major traffic time, the driver of the truck passed us on the shoulder only to find the road ended in a short distance. He then was trying to intimidate our lane of traffic to squeeze back in front of us. Since Bayron, my driver, had been patiently waiting and crawling along for at least ten minutes, I kept my eye on this truck. As he kept inching closer, I took out my phone camera and leaned out the window and took the photo. The guy was somewhat shocked and backed off to creep in behind us. I thought it was a riot and I had had it with these young jerks who think because they have a bigger torn up vehicle they can intimidate anyone. Mind you my poor camionetta is constantly filthy dirty from the dust and bird poop so I’m not a pristine ex-pat. When I am the only grey hair in the car with other Nicas, I’m not sure what others such as this guy are thinking. We all had a good laugh in the car and the truck dutifully followed for at least another 5 km to the next rotondo.

Margaret Satchwell, a nurse from the UK, is staying at her son’s condo one of the new RS Residences. We have become friends and exploring buddies so I am including some photos of new restaurants that we are trying. Construction is booming in the Tola Municipality. I blink my eyes and something—a house or business—pops up in no time. Needless to say there are more jobs for locals and money for them to also become entrepreneurs.

Must get back to work. Take good care of yourselves one and all.

Cuascoto Memorial March 21, 2017Cuascoto MemorialIMG_1980

Marg Satchwell, Me, Tessa Gunther in my Gusacate House — kitchen with the tree  —  Guasacate House and Road where retaining wall and water reservoir will be constructed

Villa Lupita, my beach house for one month

Me and Marg Satchwell at La Vaca Loca in Guasacate owned by a couple from Sonoma Co. in CA. Restaurant open for bkfst and lunch only. Hostel open with two rooms year round. Very good, cute and fun. Built almost entirely out of recycled materials and found wood.

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Text Box: Truck from my car window

 

March in Nicaragua

March in Nicaragua

If I remember correctly in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar,  the soothsayer said to Caesar, “Beware, the Ides of March”.  Although it isn’t quite the Ides of March, it is a time to beware of here.  Diablo winds are blowing dirt in every direction; the surf is too high and too cold for the older diehard surfers; scorpions abound; and on a positive side many friends are here to make my life interesting and enjoyable.

Let’s start by explaining the posted photo.  This is the dining table at my condo where I can easily seat 12 people, although more comfortably 10.  I have had many dinner parties at this table in between periods of time this past two months when I have had renters and live like a gypsy at other’s homes.  My new favorite meal, besides baked salmon that I purchase at PriceSmart, is India Viejo.  India Viejo is a traditional Nicaraguan stew like meal made with ingredients that are indigenous to the area where it is being prepared.  I love to serve this meal because few of my gringo friends know of it.  It is usually a big hit served with a salad and maybe a dessert.  The dessert truthfully depends upon how much wine and/or beer has been consumed during the sunset drinking time prior to dinner.  OK, so now truth is out.  Sunset gatherings mean watching the beautiful sky and ocean colors while consuming mostly alcoholic drinks with friends.  Sunset is a phenomenon enjoyed by locals and expats alike.  Locals generally omit the beverages.

Everyday is some form of a workday to me or so it seems.  Gail Geerling and I have been working on several projects.  The usual project is Gail training me on her business in the consulting arena that includes business, property management, and real estate.  Gail is also helping me get title to my condo.  The condo project has been a series of learning issues for both of us.  It is helpful to have a cadre of attorneys who are specialists in their fields of choice work.  I am fortunate in that over the years I have been here I met a number of different attorneys who will answer questions and point me in the appropriate direction.  Eventually with a lot of patience and persistence the tasks become less onerous and completed on time–either Nica time or American time, choose one or the other.

The Diablo (my name for it) wind has been horrendous for about two weeks.  Beside tree limbs that require detours around them, there are dirt layers on my skin that I can literally scrape off.  I only feel more sorry for the unfortunate people who live on the ocean side of the dirt roads where the dirt collects heavily since we have offshore winds from Lake Cocibolca.  My sailing friends have said that on some days the winds reach 50 or 60 mph with gusts higher.  I am staying at a friend’s house for a month while the condo is currently rented.  Her house on the ocean is an open design where dirt is a daily/hourly cleaning project.  The winds also bring pica pica.  Wikipedia defines pica pica as “itching powder intentionally used to torment”.  This is very true especially if your skin is already bone dry from the wind.  I am going through Cetaphil moisturizing cream by the jar–a product I used to recommend to my aging patients.  Yes, ME as well.

There are a lot of property owner friends here for the past six weeks.  I hosted a surprise birthday party for one of them at Lori’s Nica Market in Limón #2 where we had almost 20 people show up for a great dinner and camaradarie. Lori and I worked out the menu and cost of the roast chicken dinner including two drinks and two different desserts.  Everyone except the two VERY surprised birthday couple chipped in to share the minimal cost of a wonderful fun party.

Speaking of parties there have been a variety of party events that I attended in the past two weeks.  Two fundraisers that were not only fun but highly financially successful.  Comedy Abroad hosted by FIMRC (https://www.fimrc.org)–where I won four different raffle food related prizes–and CREA (https://www.creanicaragua.org) held here at the Ranch.  I didn’t participate in their auction, although it was fun to watch.

In case some of you may think I miss my favorite activities of past life, I can assure you that I think I died and went to heaven here.  Except for my love of ballet, I found JAZZ in my backyard next to Rancho Santana.  Last Saturday night two friends and I had dinner at SoLost, a new boutique hotel and restaurant within a 5 minute walk–yes, we walked the beach–from RS.  They had two young Nicaraguan jazz musicians playing violin and saxaphone.  Both are classically trained musicians and obviously love what they do.  The venue reminded me of my youthful days visiting the small jazz clubs in San Francisco and hearing jazz greats of the 1950s–Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Modern Jazz Quartet–and then in later years seeing more of Dave Brubeck, Stephan Grappelli and the Marsellas Family.  Can you believe, these young musicians were next door?

Before the power goes out again and this doesn’t get sent, I’m going to stop here and figure out how to add some pertinent photos–don’t bet on this one though.

Ok, I can’t get photos without at least two hours of research.  Next blog may be a photo display.

 

New Year – 2017 in Nicaragua

Another wonderful New Year to look forward to for me in Nicaragua.  I honestly cannot be thankful often enough for following my gut and moving to Nicaragua.  This is a beautiful and eye-opening place to learn and share my life.

Some people stay up to watch the ball drop at Times Square in NYC.  New Year’s Eve I stayed up to watch the fireworks displays at three beaches from the friend’s house where I was staying for 12 days.  It was an amazing  display in the sky.  One of the venues lasted for almost 10 minutes.

As I mentioned  in my previous blog, I have been somewhat of a gypsy since Thanksgiving.  Fortunately my condo has been rented.  However, when the condo is rented, I have to move out.  This presents new opportunities to organize stuff in the “personal closet” so that everything that needs to be put away will fit into a VERY small lockable space.  A challenge, and enlightening.  I am finding it interesting to realize what “stuff” is really important.  The moving exercise is also fascinating as I learn  my friends life’s routines.  Once again, I ponder on how and why does one put value on stuff.

Living in this rural area in an upscale community versus the village communities surrounding Rancho Santana is enlightening to say the least.  Although the stark contrasts of the early years of my life here versus the contrasts of today have diminished, stark contrasts still exist.

The villages of Limón # 1 and Limón #2 have three times as many new brick or block homes with concrete floors and painted exteriors.  This has occurred because more of the people can afford to buy the materials to slowly build their homes.  (That sounds like me with my Guasacate house building project–the slowly part.)  There are still pigs with the triangular orcetas around their necks roaming in and crossing the roads without a care of cars, buses, or motorcycles.  Horses wander where they please and cows are herded in the road from property to property.  I somehow have accepted these phenomena as normal and surprise myself about this at times.  Then I sit on my terrace and watch the most spectacular skies at sunset and am so grateful once again.

Life updates:  I have embarked on another exciting work adventure.  I am working with a Rancho Santana friend, Gail Geerling, who has a business called Success Nicaragua.  We are starting a property management segment of her business and will soon have a website for the world to see.  For the past two weeks I have been busy relearning Excel spreadsheet formatting and writing property management documents that can be used as “plug & play” templates.  Relearning something that changed since first learned is challenging.  I guess I should say unlearning old habits is challenging.  I’m not perfect at the tasks yet, but certainly farther ahead than I was two weeks ago.  Gail teaches time management, therefore she is trying to get me to perform laptop operations in the most expedient way.  Gail has been a patient mentor for sure.  I love what I/we are doing and it keeps me out of trouble and off the streets.

Many of my RS friends are returning to the Ranch this past week.  Last year many of them were here for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and vowed not to come again at that time because it was so crowded.  As a result this year the Christmas “crowd” here was minimal at best.  Almost all the condos were empty except for mine and three or four other condos whose owners live here full time or are owners from Managua.  My renters  were Managua residents who brought their Santa paraphenalia with them for their young children.  I had to laugh because the five year old told her parents that Santa was “very skinny”.  Santa was the mother’s brother  visiting with them from CA over Christmas and is indeed tall and thin.  Everyone at my condo had a good time.

I have been to the new Esmeralda Coast International airport (ECI) twice in the past two weeks picking up clients and neighbors in the condos.  Since it is only a 15 minute trip, it is a piece of cake drive for me.  And of course, you have to know that I have been an airplane/airport buff since I was a very young child.  So seeing how our little ECI runs is a pleasure for me.

The Guasacate house has had more infra structure on the ground around the buildings to accommodate a road on the ocean side of the houses which required three big pieces of earth moving equipment onsite for about six hours one afternoon and night.  The end result will make the driveway on the ocean side as solid as the rock the houses were built upon.

This coming week is the annual Roberto Clemente Clinic Board Meeting and Health Fair.  Of course, I will be in attendance at the Meeting and working at the Fair. My Spanish has improved immensely over the past year as  I have learned to listen in Spanish versus trying to interpret between Spanish and English as I hear words.  This is not such an easy task for a visual learner–me.  I hope to be more useful to the Fair attendees as a result of the improved language skills.

There is always something new and interesting to do here.  So I look forward to see month by month what 2017 has in store for me.

Buen Salud y Prospero Año Nuevo to all those who follow my Life in Nicaragua.

Earth moving from my Guasacate terraces–downstairs on the left, upstairs on the lower right.

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.