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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recuerdo de Nicaragua – Asi es mi tierra

English translation:  Remember Nicaragua – This is my land!

It may be difficult for some of you to understand, but I do feel that Nicaragua is my country.  I feel more at home here than I feel in the USA.  Yes, I miss my family and my friends.  My hope is that you all will come to visit me someday and feel the warmth of the people as well as the temperature.

The past six weeks has presented some exciting adventures for me.  First I must admit that I had almost two months of “party time” since there were a lot of friends here for their vacations in January, February and March.  Now almost all of these friends have gone back to their homes in cold country leaving just a few of us “live here” expats.  This doesn’t mean that my life slows down however.

Next week, April 9 to 11, I am involved with organizing the Aproquen Children’s Burn Hospital three day Burn Prevention program for four schools in Rivas Department and ending with the 8 hour seminar for medical professionals on “How to Care for a Patient Within the First 24 Hours”.  Aproquen had not done any programs in Rivas until the one that I organized last year  here in the rural Tola area.  This year Aproquen will be presenting in the city of Rivas.  I am blessed once again with some great local helpers who tolerate my terrible Español and get me to the exact person or place that we need.  This year the 17 person team will be staying at Convento Sinai, a Catholic conference ground just north of Rivas that is run by two nuns and a couple of families who live there.  The cost of the rooms–two persons per room–is a little over $7 per night including dinner and breakfast.  I am including a photo of Sister Pilar, a helper friend, and I at Sinai.  The Rivas Hospital has a classroom with all the electronic equipment that we need. The Director Doctor Cortes signed up more than half of their staff for the seminar on Saturday.  Hopefully I will get the help I need to transport all of the program items–books, crayolas, drinks, cookies, piñatas–from Aproquen in Managua to Rivas before Thursday when the programs begin.  Last year it took two vans and we stored the stuff in my little house.  This year, we can store the items at Sinai for one night.  You can see Aproquen at: http://www.Aproquen.org.

For the past two weeks I have been working hard on getting a US visa for a mother and child who will be traveling to New York to obtain treatment and possibly an arm prosthesis for 8 year old Hengel–pronouced Angel.  Hengel’s mother works at Rancho Santana as a cleaning lady for the restaurant.  I met Hengel last year when we presented the Aproquen program at his school in Las Salinas.  He was one of the four Baile Folklorico students who put on a cultural program for us prior to our Burn Prevention program.  Dra. Ivette Icaza remembered the name of a US organization that worked with children who were dedicated to making something of themselves by providing medical treatment and prostheses–Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF http://www.gmrfchildren.org).  I contacted GMRF and now, almost one year later, Hengel and his mother have an appointment with a doctor at Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia for Hengel’s first appointment on May 20 at 8:30 am.  I will include a photo of Hengel.  He is a sweetie and his mother is truly dilligent in getting passports, now visas for the two of them.  The statement, “It takes a village” is real here.  Hengel’s Mom, Yajaira, makes $200/month.  She and her husband have another child so they never have money to spare.  Yajaira’s boss at Rancho Santana has been very supportive in allowing her the days off that she needs to go to Managua to get their passports, visas, and next step US Embassy appointment to obtain the visa.  I spent six hours on Wednesday filling out the DS-160 form for non-immigrant visa and finally gave up.  Since this week is Semana Santa nothing is open anyway and I will go back to the task tomorrow.  They need the visas scanned before GMRF will make a plane reservation.  May 20th is looming on my radar.

A major adventure is the new business in which I have become a partner–Proyecto Esperanza, S.A.  We currently are selling high quality biodegradeable bags that are manufactured in India with jute made to our specifications.  In the future we may add more products or parts to the business.  We have inventory here in Granada, Nicaragua and in Baltimore, MD.  We are interviewing potential distributors for an online business in the US.  Anyone interested, get in touch.  Nan Zinn, my partner, and I have decided to use the name of the existing corporation that she had rather then creating the paperwork for Dos Hermanas, the company that I had begun but didn’t finish the paperwork.  Good news is that I got the clear title to my commercial property in Limón #2 this week so Nan and I can use that land for the business in some form or another.

Three weeks ago Saturday, I went with a group of 12 others on a tourism inquiry adventure to the area of Cuascoto.  The objective of the adventure was to cooperate with community leaders in some of the surrounding villages to give cultural integration tours for folks who would choose such an adventure.  Our tour was one of ten tours that took place over ten days.  At the end of the tour we had to fill out a survey about our experience.  I have to say that, although I had a great time, this tour would not be for the weak hearted.  We traveled up the foothills in a 12 passenger van until the road–if you want to call it that–ended at the first finca (farm).  We toured the farm which was very clean and organized, in fact the house was much better than the family houses where I used to live.  We then walked about another football field in length through a couple of barbed wire fences and then divided up and climbed into two oxen driven carts.  This procession progressed further up the foothills for another 20 minutes to another farm that is owned by the 82 year old mother of the first farm woman.  I’ll include photos of the two of them as well as the ox cart.  Our trip lasted for five hours culminating in a typical Nicaragua food fest presented by the community leaders of Limón #2 where I used to live.  This luncheon was actually adjacent to my commercial property, so I could gloat a little about owning the land next door to my tourist integration group.  The day was exhausting; I was so happy to get into a hot shower at the condo when we returned in mid-afternoon.  But it was definitely a fun adventure for me.

The weather here is tolerably warm as the winds are still blowing to keep it from being too hot.  We desperately need rain in our area as in CA so get the prayer wheels a turning.

There are many families here at Rancho Santana for Semana Santa.  Most of the folks are Nicas who either own homes here or who can afford the prices of the rental properties.  Semana Santa is a big week in Nicaragua as in most Latin countries.  It seems that everyone heads to the water to be cleansed in one way or another. I put on a swimsuit and got into the ocean yesterday–first time in four years.  Thought I could use some cleansing too after the unkind thoughts I had about the US Embassy and their awful computer systems that didn’t accept my data and the Embassy person who I finally talked to on the phone who told me to redo everything.  That is when I decided to stop and have a beer–micro brewed by a young man here at Rancho Santa–coffee stout.

Easter Sunday will have to be minus my usual Easter Bread since I don’t have coffee cans here to bake it.  I am having brunch though for six of us and will make Eggs Benedict.  We have a great mixture of community.  One couple who are coming are from Kenya.  They owned the Giraffe Inn outside of Nairobi and sold that last year to come here. I am grateful to be a part of all.

As you can tell, my sign that has hung on the walls of my houses for 11 years is an accurate statement.  This is my land.

Buena Semana Santa.

) IMG_0501 IMG_0510 IMG_0517 IMG_0533IMG_0540

Photos:  Cuascoto trip; 82 yr. old mother on left, daughter Fani on right; Sister Pilar, Brenda Flores (my helper) and me; Condo friends on their patio for sunset, reflected in the window in the back; Hengel