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.






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.


Text Box: Truck from my car window


Living in the Season of Gripe (Gripé in Espańol)

Just because I am highly familiar with the seasonal disease of gripé doesn’t mean that I have it or want it for that matter.  However, the Clinic has many patients that can afford to go to see the doctor.  And I give my nursey advice to the family members who can’t afford doctors in my compound.  If their fever is high for more than a day with acetaminophen, I take or send them to the Clinic.  I don’t want to be thought of as the replacement for the doctor.  

Gripé has fascinated me since my very first trip to Nicaragua and work at the Clinic.  It is definitely a seasonal disease, like the flu, and is more dangerous to the very young and very old, like the flu.  Since it is such a common occurrence down here, I am not sure if it is a viral or bacterial infection.  From the information I get from the doctors at the Clinic, I don’t think they know the etiology either, what is the root cause of the disease.

Enough of gripé.  The past four weeks have been a major study in acquiring patience, a subject that I seem to learn over, and over, and over some more.  My Mom used to play Solitaire a lot and I believe it was not so much out of boredom as it was a study in patience.  AARP games is about to run out of forms of Solitaire that I haven’t tried and when I win a game twice I go on to another form of the game.  I suppose I could read some of the many nursing journals that I brought down with me, but reading takes a modicum of concentration.  Maybe reading would be better for acquiring patience.

In case you may be wondering why the need for patience now, let me count the ways.  First on the list is my application for Nicaraguan residency as an investor.  I want to continue to work and receive an income of some sort here.  As a retired resident, you are not allowed to receive an income.  My attorney in Managua had me come to his office three weeks ago to fill out the paper for the Ministry of Finance (MIFIC).  That was an interesting exercise and the first step to be certified by MIFIC as an investor.  I do qualify as an investor under the law since I have spent more that the $50K required in the country.  Remember, I am buying a condo that has rented full time for the past three years.  My investment more than meets the requirement.   The commercial property that I purchased and want to build a project–lavandería, auto storage for longterm parking, auto wash, cyber cafe, and office for rent. is more in line with what the NI government wants for an investor.  Questions on the form were related to, “How many people would the project employ?  And what is the goal of the project?”  My attorney also wanted me to put down the Cuidadores de Personas program on the form, although I certainly don’t have an income from that project and doubt that I ever will.  However, maybe if I am patient long enough that program will also become a success.  Caregiving certainly is a successful business in the US.  As a result of this application, I had to go to Managua last week to bring two MIFIC employees out to see my projects. Remember Nicaragua is a poor country and the government can’t afford boondoggles outside of the office.  So the applicant has to provide transportation.  I could pay for a taxi.  For me going to Managua means having a driver who will negotiate the Managua madness of traffic.  I like the three hour drive as it is beautiful and Managua is certainly a lot cleaner now than it was in the past, even though it is a chaotic city. There are two men who I like as drivers, Byron Vasquez lives in Limón Uno, and Edwin Chavez, lives here in Limón Dos. Both of these men are drivers for Rancho Santana and I have known them for years.  Neither of them speak English because they are too shy and afraid to do so, however, they understand English VERY WELL.  Byron particularly is fun to have as a driver.  When we start the trip, I describe the mission.  Byron then accompanies me to all the venues that require Spanish speaking only.  He listens carefully to the instructions then repeats for me the jist of the conversation.  When I start speaking my Spanish and he senses that I am going down the wrong road with my words, he jumps in and sets me back on the straight path of the conversation/interrogation. Byron has now been with me on two trips to the Ministry of Extranjeros, to MIFIC, and to MINSA–Ministry of Health for my Cuidadores de Personas project.  The most recent trip to MIFIC required two trips to Managua to pick up and return the two women employees.  They apparently thought my application was verifiable and said they would ok my Certificate. 

Here is where the patience comes in though.  Now I have to wait for my attorney to finish the papers for formation of a corporation for the commercial project.  As in the US, a corporation only needs two people at the beginning to be a legal entity.  My attorney, who is fluent in English because he lived in So. CA during the wars here, is the other person at present in the corporation besides me.  The corporation is called Dos Hermanas–Two Sisters.  I thought my friend was going to be my partner and we call each other sisters.  Dos Hermanas is a more friendly name than Dos Amigos in this culture, at least from my perspective.  So Jaime Hernandez, the attorney, is registering the corporation as Dos Hermanas in Limón Dos.

Second on the list of patience propagating elements is the wait for quotes on building the commercial project. I play Solitaire rather than do something constructive. 

I honestly do more than play Solitaire.  This week, I made juice from two new, to me, fruits–granadillo and calala.  I love calala–passion fruit.  The granadillo was too thick and rather tasteless until I added a bit of the concoction I make of boiled ginger root and lemonade that I use to mix with jimaica–hibiscus–tea.  There are a lot of us Julia Child like individuals down here.  Fortunately we are all willing to experiment and share–the good, and the bad concoctions.

News from my compound is that we will have two more babies here within the next six months.  I need to get busy making hooded towels again.  This was my ALWAYS gift for new babies in my family.  I think that some of my older grandchildren still have their towels that I made when they were born.  Good terry cloth lasts forever.  I’ll have to see what I can buy here when I go to Managua again as the selection of items is tenfold greater in Managua then in Rivas.  Did I mention that there is a PriceMart in Managua? PriceMart was started by Sam Price who started Price Club in the US and then sold to Costco.  PriceMart looks like Costco.  Of course, I got a membership.  Where else could I get salmon to bake and mushrooms?  I almost cried when I went to the frozen fish section and saw the salmon in several forms.  One thing I found interesting at PriceMart is that there are the sample stations AND they give out samples of Flor de Cańa rum and Chilean wines for tasting.  Can you believe tasting wine or rum–ron in Espańol–before noon?  No, I didn’t sample the ron but I did sample the wine before I bought a box of Chilean cabernet.  I said I wasn’t driving.

Hopefully, I’ll have some interesting Thanksgiving stories for the next blog.  There is usually a big feast at the restaurant at Rancho Santana and several other places as well.  I’m going to RS for the feast.

Photos for this issue:   Stickball in the road in front of the house,  The Guzmán cows–vacas–escaping from the backyard,  Fresh pasta project at Dixie’s kitchen (the pump wasn’t working so no water for this event–welcome in our world),  Mombacho Volcano from Pan American Highway outside of Nandaime enroute from Managua.