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.

 

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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.

Living on the hill in Bella Vista at Rancho Santana

Yes, I must admit that I am probably part gypsy and love the life. Since March of this year 2015, I have been living and caretaking my friend’s house on the hill in Bella Vista in Rancho Santana. It is a hard life up here. Many of my friends don’t have a car that can make it up this hill. Too bad for them, although I do go down the hill and pick them up on occasions. You will see in the photos why I love it up here. And why this view prompts me to get my house in Guasacate built before I am too old to enjoy it.

The busy life that took place in July took several weeks to wind down. Aproquen’s Burn Prevention Campaign was, as usual, an inspiring success. We visited five schools—three in Granada area, and two in Nandaime. Over 650 pre-school, kindergarten, first and second graders, plus their teachers and some parents, received the information, coloring books about what is fire, crayons, drinks, cookies and a sweet. The older children enjoyed a giant piñata and both sections played the ticket game to see who got the Aproquen heart which meant that they won a backpack (mochilla) stuffed with school supplies. Honestly, I don’t know who has more fun at the Burn Prevention Programs, the kids or we the team.

The last day of the campaign is the 8 hour seminar for doctors and nurses. This time we added the fire fighter team from Benemerite Grupo de Bomberos to the attendee list. Although there was a rather large blip in the logistics for the seminar—the room, I thought we had arranged for the day at the Hotel Granada was cancelled due to a misunderstanding between me and the convention coordinator—we were given another suitable room the day before the event. This blip was a good lesson for me to make sure I confirm every last detail the week before the event.

Minor blips cannot alter my enthusiasm for what the team does at the seminar. I was emphatic with the seminar participants when I delivered their textbooks that they needed to study the book if they wanted to pass the exam and receive their certificate. Maybe it was their enthusiasm to learn something new, almost 90% of the group passed the exam, including the six bomberos who sat in the front row and paid the closest attention. I was more than thrilled when Dra. Icaza gave me the results and later the certificates to deliver to the participants.  Those that didn’t pass were assistants in hospitals and didn’t have much academic background.

For me it is the little things that make a huge difference. The week after the Aproquen Burn Campaign I drove again to Managua to have Hengel, the little boy who received an arm prosthesis, and his mother interviewed for La Prensa, the major Nicaragua newspaper. Dra. Icaza talked with the interviewer about the cooporation between Aproquen and the Global Medical Relief Foundation (GMRF) in the US that sponsored Hengel’s trip and medical attention. Aproquen is following up Hengel’s physical therapy needs so that his muscles will become strong and hopefully next year he will be able to receive a more sophisticated and prettier arm. At this moment Hengel is all smiles and using his new arm and its limited hand mobility.

That same week after Aproquen, I acquired a consulting job for a wound care patient in Nandaime. This was an exciting opportunity for me because I not only helped the patient and her family but I also went to her Clinic appointment at the Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua. The Clinic ortho doctor was interested in my recommendations for the patient and appreciative of my interest in working with the family to supervise daily wound care in her home. Now I just stop by the house in Nandaime –1 hour from where I live—when I am passing the area for other trips to Granada or Managua. So far so good in the wound department, progress is being made. Thanks to my friends who sell me Bio2 Cosmeceutical AminoPlex in the US at a price I can afford.  I had the patient using AminoPlex with the daily wound care.  The ortho doc is impressed.

Now back to living on the hill in Bella Vista. There is a pair of turkey vultures that come almost everyday and either sit on the pool deck or cavort on the lawn around the pool. My friend, Barb who owns this house, named the pair Henry and Henrietta a long time ago. I think they have an offspring that comes with them so there are the three, no so attractive birds, which entertain me in the mid-afternoon. They are not in the least bit afraid of me and cock their heads as if they are listening to me talk to them. Oh, you may as well know that I have always talked to insects, animals, and plants. Doesn’t everyone?

Another perk of living on the hill is that the sunsets from here are even more spectacular than down at the condo. (If this is possible.) Everyone who has ventured up here for sunset seems to think the same. Sunset with friends and without always consists of watching the sun and clouds with a drink in hand. Drinks are not always alcoholic either. Whenever we want to socialize, we invite someone to “sunset”. This is a wonderful ritual that has seemed to develop over the ten years that I have been coming and living here in Nicaragua. We had a similar ritual when sailing. I love it. Everything else stops for sunset up here.

An idea that has become an accomplishment of the past three months is the organization of the El Limón Salons. http://www.limonsalons.wordpress.com/. Several friends and I had been talking about a need for this type of community for quite a while—years to be exact. Now we have come together on a monthly basis, getting better at the logistics each month.  We had our fourth Salon with 16 people in attendance on August 30th. What a thrill to meet some new folks each time, enjoy the speaker and their topic, and have fun. We are on a roll and will continue. My years attending The Inside Edge in Orange County were a great assistance to help get this group off the ground and running—at least walking for now.

Yes, this has been a good month. A cousin of mine, Terry Little, who lives in Nairobi, Kenya connected me with his friend whose daughter was volunteering for two months in northern Nicaragua, Ocotal, Nueva Segovia. Lorna and Ajuma Abungu came to visit me for two nights up here on the hill. We had a wonderful time enjoying the peacefulness up here and comparing the many similarities between living in Kenya and Nicaragua. Nairobi is a thriving metropolis in an advanced country and Managua is a “becoming” city in a third world country. Interesting social and political similarities however.

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Yes, I do work as a team member with Aproquen.

Lots more I could write now, and I’ll save that for the next blog adventure.

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Bombero at work in the Aproquen Burn Prevention Program

Hengel at his La Prensa interview
Hengel at his La Prensa interview
Another outstanding sunset
Another outstanding sunset
Aproquen and Coci Nica are joining to prevent burns and create more efficient cooking in the home.
Aproquen and Coci Nica are joining to prevent burns and create more efficient cooking in the home.