Sitting on the terrace IN THE RAIN

What else can I do when I am so grateful to have this blissful rainy day and the ability to sit here on the Wisley House terrace and listen to classical music from my Sacramento station streaming from capradio.org!  Yes, I could succumb to my addiction of playing Candy Crush Soda Saga but alas, I’ve decided to share the latest and greatest news.

The hills are now very green and the flowers are blooming profusely around the house.  The terrace where I am sitting smells of the multiple gardenia blossoms on the bushes surrounding one part of the terrace.  I planted a gardenia bush under the office window in my CA house because I love the smell and I am once again blessed with this aroma.

This is also bird nesting season and I have been battling two pair of jarracas who want to build a nest in a funny lamp on the terrace next to where I sit.  They have tried to start a nest in the back of the sofa where I sit.  I talk to these birds and again they don’t listen with their “bird brains”.  On the other hand I do listen to their beautiful voices and generally that is how I know that they are on the terrace when I am not sitting here myself.

The past week we have had rain almost every day during the day and night with and without thunder and lightening storms.  It reminds me of my first year in Nicaragua, 2004, when we had LOTS of rain with rivers overflowing the roads and lakes across the road that were too deep to pass.  We didn’t have “chicken buses” then that go through almost unbelievable depths of rushing waters.  (I think either the drivers are nuts or they have such a heavy load, 4WD and tough engines.)  This past week I was in a line waiting to cross a very fast running deep river and watched as the bus drove through with water up to a little above the back door.  Needless to say, I along with several others in the line decided to turn around and go back to whence we came.  I know the water stops rushing if it stops raining in a few hours. You still have to drive through the river but you won’t be flipped sideways or hit by a tree or animal as the river races on course.  I made my same attempt about two hours later successfully, slowly in 4WD.  It is a riot because the village kids think this rushing water is a fun place to jump in and play.  I think it is their form of “chicken dare”.  Scary since few of these kids know how to swim and in 2004 and 2005 we had three deaths at the very river I am talking about, one was someone who was in an SUV and flipped sideways down the rushing water and the other two were trying to cross on horseback.  Things that NGO volunteers are teaching kids are swimming in the ocean as well as surfing.

Dr. Basha Healthcare Clinic’s May trip was much more organized and successful.  No use of my condo as the treatment space so he had privacy in his living space.  Carmen Spa was perfect and he successfully treated 6 to 8 patients at a time on several days.  Of course, the local Nica people were given free treatments.  What a blessing for all of us.  He worked at Carmen Spa in the morning and Rancho Santana Spa in the afternoon.  Basha will be coming back again at the end of August and I’m looking at a new Spa in Laguna Apoyo–Hotel Placaya–to service more of the Managua and Granada folk.  I need to start working on the logistics before the family comes–Aaron and Rivka this coming Wednesday for a week.  Leah and family and my cousin two weeks later for a week.  I am so excited to have them see this Nica Life.

I have been busy for the past two weeks listening to webinars on investing and health.  Actually I’m collecting CEUs to renew my CA nursing license and Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist certificate.  I’ve had several health issue consultation projects as well this past month.  I love these opportunities.  It keeps me on my toes and off the streets.

My house in Guasacate is now visible to all from the road since the roof is on.  I’ll try to attach photos that I took looking from my terrace through Ron and Ana’s house where I could see Costa Rica from my terrace.  The electrical wires and tubes are being chopped into the concrete walls at my house and Ron and Ana’s place now has tile floors and lighting.  It looks like I’ll have room on the lower level for a small apartment.  Ron wants me to design it soon so he can put in the utility  infrastructure while he is doing the main house.

Progress is being made even with the rain.  I’m glad that the roof job is over.  I hate to see the workers up on the sloping roof beams when they are slippery.  One of the workers fell a couple of weeks ago and broke his collar bone.  Ron and Ana took him to the hospital in Rivas and the next day to his home in Managua.  Construction accidents are very common.  I have seen many patients since 2004 who had serious accidents that we treated at the Roberto Clemente Clinic.

Enough writing for one month.  Next blog will have adventures of Margie’s family in a third world country for the first time.  Pretty exciting.

Sorry about the photos at the top.  I am still trying to figure out how to attach photos in WordPress.

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.

Good News and Sad News

There is much good news to report in this blog.  However, I will begin with the Sad News to get it off my plate and move forward.

My dear friend and occasional traveling partner Carol Dorsett sold her casita and moved back to the US mid-November.  Carol’s family encouraged her to spend more time with them in person than virtually via social media.  Carol received a good price for her home and car and took with her multiple suitcases of her favorite toys.  I have four boxes of her
“things” stored under my desk here.  She reassures me that she will be back soon to get these items.

Another pair of my friends, the first ones I met in 2004, Dennis and Sylvia Green are moving back to NH close to family for health reasons.  They are selling both their beautiful Beach House Cafe on the ocean and their ten acre Ranchette here in Rancho Santana.  This is very sad for both Sylvia and me.  Dennis is more relieved of the constant care that they put forth since 2003 than Syl who loved the beach.  Dennis will not be coming back to NI and Sylvia will be traveling back and forth until the houses are sold.  She has had an ongoing “garage sale” for the past month.  Many of my Guzmán family members and I have benefited from the extremely low prices of the Green’s high quality items for sale.

The saddest of all news is that my friend Elmer Wisley died at his home in FL November 15th.  Elmer and Barb lived here in Rancho full time for eight years.  I have been living in their beautiful house since March taking care of it for them and as I said before I love every minute of being here on the hill in Bella Vista.  Barb will eventually come back to NI I think.

Now Good News.  I met several new friends, some short time visitors who came to find out what Rancho Santana was all about, and a few couples who moved here and intend to stay.

Some new friends are a great pair of physicians from Managua.  Dr. Fidel Morales is a plastic surgeon interested in having a consulting clinic out in our beautiful beach area.  His intention is to do pre and post-op here and perform surgeries at the Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua.  His wife is Dra. Lissette Castillo, a pediatrician and dermatologist.  Together they have the Clínica Beauté in a nice area of Managua.  I talked to them about being the “boots on the ground” caregiving supervisor and wound manager.  We’ll see how this develops in the future.  Anyone wanting plastic surgery let me know.  It costs one tenth of the US price for any surgery here and the surgeons are as good if not better than some in the US.  These two physicians take care of elite Nicas but also do a lot of free surgeries for the poor.  Dr. Morales’ father is a renowned Nica plastic surgeon well known for his charitable work.

Another great piece of news is that my “commercial” property in Limón #2 is finally legally mine.  It only took two years to get proper title to the three lots that I purchased in 2013.  Now we’ll see what direction this property will take.  At the moment it needs to have the weeds cleared.  The little rain that we had for about two weeks made everything get more than three feet tall.  Workers should be showing up this week to cut the brush using machetes and then trim with weed wacker around the edges.

The Guasacate house is underway with walls about up to the roof line.  I think there may be a roof this coming year.  Progress is slow for my “pay as you go” house project.  It is a good thing that the builder is also my neighbor and good friend.  We will have twin houses on the hill in Guasacate.

Since I listed my RS condo on Airbnb, I have had quite a few inquiries and have rentals scheduled through mid-January and in March.  I am very grateful to Lorna Abunga, my friend from Kenya, for helping me get the condo listed.  I also have it listed with Trip Advisor but so far no inquiries from that posting.

One of the unexpected Good News events was dinner at Mukul, the Pellas resort at Guacalito.  Two gentlemen from FL who came to RS to check out property were introduced to me the day they arrived.  I became their unofficial tour guide. I took them to several of the surrounding towns and developments and in to Rivas to show them where we shop. To thank me and Nan Zinn, my business partner, for showing them around they took us to Mukul.  What a gorgeous place at night.  Dinner cost a fortune I am sure and the men were happy to treat us.

On the way home from Rivas, the guys and I stopped by the new Costa de Esmeralda airport and picked up info on the flights to Costa Rica and Managua.  Wow, I plan on using these airlines in the near future.  The prices are reasonable when you compare them to paying a driver who uses my car to take me on the two hour trip to Managua airport, plus the cost of gas and a hotel stay if the flight leaves early in the morning.  Sansa Air flies to Costa Rica and La Costeña flies to Managua.  The airport is small, customs and immigration ready and  nice.  The employees all speak English.  For the first time since moving to NI, I can hear planes other than copters flying somewhere in the area.  Civilization is creeping up on us rapidly.

There are so many new homes and businesses being built both in the larger gated communities and in the local villages.  I expect that this growth will continue to expand.  The newest wave of people coming to the area are those seeking permanent residences and are entrepreneurs wanting to integrate into the Nica communities.  I love this new phase of growth.  Many more Nicas are also coming and building their vacation homes.

The paved (block) road from Tola to Rancho is progressing too.  Of course, it reaches the airport now and the Guacalito turnoff.  Soon it will be complete to Iguana–the development next to Rancho–and then out our way.  In the meantime we still deal with herds of cattle and pigs on the road.  You have to be more than a defensive driver here as motorcyclists and even cars will pull out from a dirt road without looking in either direction.  I almost hit a moto last week that pulled directly straight into the road.  The guy didn’t turn his head one way or the other.  He was shocked to see me swerve, brake, and honk.  Fortunately for both of us, there wasn’t anyone or animal on the other side of the narrow road.  I thank God and my angels daily for keeping me safe on the roads.

This past month I have kept very busy coordinating property, people, and projects.  At the moment I am helping Sylvia clean out cabinets, garages, and her two homes for sale and eventual move.  On Dec. 14th I will leave for CA to be with my family for the holidays.  I will return home here on Jan. 3rd.  My friend, Nan, is staying at the Wisley House for me and will manage staff both here and the condo while I am gone.

Sorry, no photos this time.  I can’t figure out how to restore photos from the new Apple OS software.

Happy Holidays to  ALL who read this blog.  Remember the Joy that is promised from the Christmas Birth and the hope and prospects of a New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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