Home in Nicaragua

No, I didn’t decide to stay in California when I went to visit my family for the month of May. There were too many work projects that needed my attention upon my return to Nicaragua.

I moved to the original casita at the Gúzman Family compound where I lived when I first moved here full time several years ago. Carmen was kind enough to store my necessary items in the casita while I was in the US. My condo 1B is rented until mid-August.

Living in the village has it pluses and minuses. The first three weeks the water supply to the casita was not consistent. Fortunately I always have a 5 gal. bucket of water in the shower to use for emergencies, of which there were quite a few. Carmen finally got a separate reservoir tank that is perched in the tamarind tree behind the casita with the water flow dedicated to this casita.  I rent the casita part of the building but Carmen’s new law office is attached to the front of the building so she wanted constant water there as well. I can take a cold shower everyday if I drum up the courage. Most days I opt out for putting my whole body under the shower head. Although I must admit, it does feel good when it is hot and sticky as it has been the past week.  Rain is on the way for sure.

Back to chronology, the week after I returned to NI, Raman Basha arrived for the Basha Health Clinic in Nicaragua. We spent one week working at Carmen’s Spa where we worked for the past two Clinics. The second week Basha and I traveled to Pacaya Lodge and Spa at Laguna Apoyo to hold the Clinic there. Both weeks were a financial bust. Almost the whole week in Limón #2, it rained. The few ex-pats who were here wouldn’t travel through the muddy roads from Rancho Santana without a 4×4 vehicle. Basha who is the Energizer Bunny personified treated the locals and Gúzman family members gratis so there was some reward to him for NO surfing and very few paying patients.

The second week at Pacaya was like a vacation. Again, there were only two paying clients in a week. However, we were busy everyday treating Pacaya staff and their family members gratis. It was rewarding for sure since none of these individuals would ever be able to pay for acupuncture treatments, if they knew where to get them in Masaya or Managua. Basha and I enjoyed the wonderful rooms that we had and felt like it was a vacation for a week. Basha and I took the Pacaya shuttle to Granada one day. He took over 300 photos of the architecture. We took one of the horse drawn carriages—first time I have acted like a tourist in Granada—and had a great history lesson from our carriage driver to accompany the photos Basha took.   The next day Basha went back again to Granada without me.  I was waiting for my friend, Jan Lowrey, who came to stay with me at Pacaya for two days enroute back to her home in Mexico City. Jan and I, who love to adventure together, took Basha to San Juan de Oriente where he took another 200 + photos. Basha and Jan both came home with two ceramic pots each made by two published artisans. I paid for the commissioned ceramic pot Miguel Maldonado, one of the published artisans, made for me. Miguel is keeping my piece of art in his studio/store until I have a proper place for display in my new house.

It is a good thing that I had time on my hands at Pacaya because it took me almost four days to get the online application for exit visas for the mother and child who went to NY and Shriner’s Hospital in PHL almost three years ago. Hengel has grown and needs an arm prosthesis change plus he was promised a less primitive version at this visit. Let me tell you trying to do anything online with a government agency is a chore. There is almost more BS and redundancy than I can tolerate, although my goal was a successful appointment at the US Embassy for their exit interview. I finally accomplished the task and we all, Yajaira, Hengel, Bayron–yes this is the spelling–my driver and I went to Managua to the US Embassy for a 7:00 am appointment that meant we left Limón at 4:00 am. The appointment went well, thanks to our prayers, since both parents are supposed to attend and the father couldn’t get there. They got their visas and with only one other MAJOR glitch that required another trip back to Managua to the Nica Immigration office for a stamped visa page on Hengel’s passport. This is required for any child leaving the country under the age of 18. Since I didn’t take Yajaira and Hengel to the airport for their first trip, I wasn’t aware of this rule and Yajaira failed to tell me when we were at the US Embassy. Now I know the rule and next time the process—should I endeavor to undertake it again—will run smoothly. Live and learn, right.  Just received a text from Yajaira, the two of them arrived safely in Newark and are enroute to their dormatory for Hengel’s July 19th appointment at Shriner’s Hospital in PHL.

My consulting work with Gail and Success Nicaragua is progressing. I decided not to pursue property management and stick to helping Gail with real estate (RE) sales as a Buyer’s Representative. The first project is my condo. It is listed with Sotheby’s Nicaragua and is posted on four websites including Sotheby’s. I have a couple of other RE projects that I am working on so everyone cross your fingers for me to consummate some of these deals.

My Guasacate house has the most enormous retaining wall and water retention system that rivels some community projects in the US under construction. When it gets done I should never have to worry about water at my house there. If I can I’ll attach some photos. (My photo library is a mess and impossible to find anything. There are photos all over the place in files and folders.)  Someday, I’ll get help for photo storage. In the meantime, I am surprised when I actually find a photo I want.

It is beautiful here now, so green and trees growing like Jack’s Beanstalk. We need a lot more rain as some of the local rivers are still dry.

Rancho Santana has begun the first steps toward energy independence. There are 13 rows of solar panels being installed very near the Desarollo and condo area. I am thrilled to see this project finally becoming a reality. Next thing is for me to convince Ron Urroz that we need to put solar panels on our houses in Guasacate.  Don’t worry I’ll win on that count.

So much new here, it is impossible to write about it all. So I’ll stop.

Everyone take good care of yourselves, your families, and your surroundings. YOU are the good fairies who accomplish it all.



In order:  Raman Basha and our sign in the Pacaya Guadabaranca restaurant;  Hengel and I after their first PHL visit–hopefully the new prosthesis will look different–; the front of my terrace, metal is standing where the apartment will be when the house is finished; Ron standing in front of their portion of the Great Wall; Great Wall in front of my terrace;

New News and What’s New

New News and What’s New

If you aren’t already confused, I’ll elaborate for more confusion.  For those of you who know me, you won’t be surprised, I’m certain.  Life for me is always a progression of changes and learning opportunities.

Last blog stated that I work on the beach from my home and yes, I do that too.  However, with our current technology, I can work wherever my computer and an internet connection are available.  The past two months I am working on several projects that require research and travel within Nicaragua.  I find fun wherever I can–and avoid work along the way.

My friend Marg Satchwell and I spent three days in Laguna Apoyo at Pacaya Lodge while I spent time working on the next Basha Health Clinic venue at Pacaya Lodge scheduled for this summer.  Marg and I didn’t fair so well however.  I tripped going upstairs to my loft bedroom and fell backwards down the stairs.  No broken bones for me but really sore sacrum.  Marg in her fervor to help me tripped on the same landing and jammed her arm into the wall creating an impacted fracture of her radius into her wrist bone.  We learned about the hospital in Rivas the next day where Marg had an x-ray and subsequently spent the night.  Keep in mind this was Semana Santa weekend, specifically Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  The hospital doesn’t provide sheets or pillows for the ancient beds so my driver made several trips to my friend’s in Limón to borrow sheets, pillows and he shopped for food and drink for the three of us–Marg, Maurice my driver friend, and me.  Marg was very fortunate to have the ortho doc working on Saturday to be a pleasant capable surgeon who recommended conservative treatment–manipulation and cast fixation of the radius versus surgery.  I was able to bring Marg home with me on Saturday so that she was only staying with the cockroaches one night.  Yes, unfortunately the Rivas Hospital has gone downhill in many areas over the past four years.  Thank Isis, the doctors are still great.  Not sure how they can stand working in a not so great hospital but it is truthfully the better of the two hospitals in Rivas.  Note to self, STAY HEALTHY.

Before our accidents, Marg and I had a great time exploring artist’s shops in San Juan de Oriente and one whole day in Granada.  It has been a year since I spent any time in Granada and I was pleasantly surprised to see many newly painted buildings and visit the completed Museum at the San Francisco Convent.  In the past Granada hasn’t been my favorite place to visit but I’ve changed my mind and would consider more than one day’s exploration in the future.

The best NEWS for me this Spring is that I now have clear title to my condo.  The Fabulous Beach Condo with a View is now posted FOR SALE on several websites with more to follow.  http://www.escapeartist.com and http://www.latincarib.com to begin with.   The condo is already rented through mid August with potential for rental two months in October and November. Hopefully the rentals will be enticing to potential buyers.  When I return to NI on June 4th, I’ll be staying at Carmen Gúzman’s casita in Limón #2 where I lived when I first moved full time to NI.

I am currently working the past two weeks from my daughter Rivka Bent’s home in San Juan Capistrano.  My grand daughter, Esther Roosvelt Bent, graduated on May 6th from Westmont College in Montecito, CA.  It was an exciting weekend although COLD and raining off and on.  Yes, of course, I was freezing unless I had on my three layers of clothes that are kept in the traveling suitcase that is carried between my children’s homes for when I come to visit.  Fortunately someone in my family travels from Northern to Southern CA at least once a month for something and can therefore transport THE MOM suitcase.  I’ll be here in SJC for three weeks then on to Dixon, CA for my last week in the US.  I have two more grand daughters graduating from high school in June in No. CA.   It is hard to believe these grandkids are getting older and I’m not. (Or so I think.)

The rainy season has finally begun on the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua and I hope that it lasts for many months as we desperately need it.  Before I left NI there were a lot of fires caused by dry trees and brush and the increase in smokers who haven’t yet learned what throwing away a lit cigarette can do.  Of course this statement is a judgment.  However in the past years I haven’t seen as many fires along the roads as I have seen this year.  Usually one can see fires up in the hills caused by I’m not sure what.

The Guasacate house project is progressing nicely.  Construction is still focused on the infrastructure a major retaining wall on the ocean side that will also house two rainwater encachment reservoirs and a jacuzzi sized pool.  Ron Urroz, the builder, who is a civil engineer is always coming up with something to enhance the construction.  Now when I get the condo sold, I’ll be able to spend the money on finishing the project.  In the meantime, I am happy with the way the property is coming alive.  I have the beginning of a waterfall in the front entrance side of the house.  The volcanic rock that the house is built on is so hard that it broke the backhoe that was trying to remove rock to level the front.  Ron and I decided to leave the rock and I’ll turn it into a waterfall pond area in the future.  I’ve already been researching ideas.  For those who never saw my house in West Sacramento, I designed a waterfall and small pond that ran 24/7 and held three goldfish that grew to 6 inch specimens and my red-earred slider turtle named Felice.  Time will tell what this water element will end up as.

Although I enjoy seeing my family and friends here in the US, I truly miss my life in Nicaragua and my families and friends there.  I can’t wait to get HOME even though I’ll be camping again for six weeks.  NI is my home.

Once again, I invite guests to join me in my Paradise on the Emerald Coast ocean in Nicaragua.

Photos in order of appearance:

Esther Bent Graduation with Mother, Rivka doing a mother task of fixing an umbrella for the Grad.  Esther and Dad, Brian Bent playing at the last gig of the Bent Duo at Esther’s work place last night – May 12th.

Rock art on the hike that Marg and I did from Pacaya Lodge.  The chapel display for Semana Santa at the San Francisco Convent Chapel in Granada.

My retaining wall in process.  The reservoirs are in front of Ron and Ana’s house next to mine.  My reservoirs will be similar but divided into three spaces.  The Urroz wall is in front of their pool and BIG jacuzzi.  My wall and reservoirs will be off the apartment below my house terrace.    The mammoth space under my house will be a 700 sq. ft.- 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment that I’ll rent out.


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


March in Nicaragua

March in Nicaragua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


New Year – 2017 in Nicaragua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain Brings Humido

Yes, in order to be grateful for the wonderful rain, one has to accept the humidity as well.  I can’t honestly say that I like humidity so I turn on all the fans in the house during the day.  If it is really bad, I’ll turn on some AC for 30 minutes or so to dry things out here in the condo.

Since Sept. 28th I have been back at my condo and will remain here off and on in between  renters.  The new owners of Barbara’s house where I had been living for two years finally were able to move in on Oct. 1st.  It is good to be living in my own place for a number or reasons.  I am able to see what needs repair or replacement on a daily basis.  The condo is almost seven years old and has had its share of renters–some good, some not so careful.  All in all, Loamy Guzmán and his maintenance crew have made all the changes I requested and repaired the dings in concrete, wood, and paint.  In Nicaragua, as in the US or anywhere when you own a rental property, there are always maintenance issues that create choices to repair, replace, or ignore.  I like my homes to be pristine whether or not I live there.

I have had company in October.  Barbara, who was homeless when her house sold, became my roommate for three weeks.  We had a great time, sorting, repacking, and discussing what I need to store and what I would need to use here at the condo.  It was amazing how many things I had moved up to Barbara’s house that then came back to the condo with me. Thank Isis my personal closet at the condo is able to handle six crates of items that will eventually move into the new Guasacate house.  My children brought many of the crates that were stored in my daughter’s garage in CA when they came to visit this summer.  I had forgotten about what I had left in CA–out of sight, out of mind.  Barbara, with her previous packing wisdom, offered to inventory every item as it went into a crate for storage.  Each crate has a number and a separate inventory sheet.  I can now decide in the future if my stuff is relevant to whatever the lifestyle becomes.  Careful inventory lists are not only useful but I recommend they are mandatory.  It is interesting that I had always done the crate inventory lists when I was bringing supplies for the Clinic.  I could whip out the lists from my computer, send the lists to MENSA and then show them to customs at the airport.  This saved me many a headache upon arrival in Managua.  I won’t have to report my stuff to MENSA when I move again, however our lists will be prioritized for unpacking in the new home.

We had a visitor for a week here at the condo.  My friend, Joan Livingston from Salina, KS, finally came to visit after six years.  I met Joan in the Houston airport in 2004 when I was returning from my first NI trip.  Joan was on her way to Rancho Santana to look at property.  We sat next to each other at a coffee shop in the airport and started talking.  I gave Joan all the info about the lot that I had just bought and shared my love of the area.  Joan did buy a lot not too far from my original property in Rosada area of Rancho Santana.  She, however, sold her piece six years ago and hadn’t been back to NI since.  You can imagine the fun that Barbara and I had taking Joan to all the places both inside and outside of RS that were new to her.  We spent everyday, rain or shine, exploring.  Then we rushed back to the condo made dinner and played Dominoes–or tried to learn to play Cribbage.  We made up a new game but never did figure out the rules for Cribbage; had much laughter though.

The three of us had the privilege of invitations to a Fundación Fenix feria and the following evening the 1st year birthday party–a grand event–for Sebastian Morales Guzmán.  Sebastian is my friend/family Carmen Guzmán’s son.  That family/campo has grown from 32 people when I lived there three years ago to 50 members now.  It is so encouraging to see how the family interacts with each other.  The love that is shared among them at all times is elevating.  There is no hierarchy apparent.  Everyone receives respect or correction/instruction as appropriate.  I am fascinated and grateful to be a part of this family.

Fútbol is a big sport in our area.  Three of my Guzmán family chicos play on the RS Limón team so I have been attending the Saturday afternoon games when they are played at Fun Limón field.  The last two games were a dangerous sport because the field was a relative lake.  Players were sliding all over each other in singles and piles.  I honestly don’t know how they played but I guess the water from being down on the ground kept them cool.  It made it hard to run and kick though.  The games are fun to watch although sometimes a little sad too when the opposing team only has half the players and the RS team is in full force.  We tend to support our own in this community and one way is getting them to their games.  I like sitting behind the goal, although this is a little scary sitting at the picnic tables there.  Generally others at the table protect me from flying soccer balls.  I can yell as loud as anyone at the goals and at the referee when it isn’t the only woman ref I have ever seen at a men’s game.  The chica ref reminds me of my son, Aaron, how she calls serious infractions and talks to the players about other stuff.  She is especially good on the very wet field calls.  The last male ref was a real gestapo and nearly caused a riot from both team’s sideline spectators.

There are so many opportunities in NI now.  Alex Cuadra, the general manager for the new Costa Esmeralda International airport 15 minutes from me, spoke at the October El Limón Salon.  He not only discussed the ease of coming in to NI through Liberia, Costa Rica and ECI, he talked about the growing number of opportunities for development in this rural area of Rivas Department.  It seems as though if you blink your eyes too many times, there is a new building in front of you that didn’t exist prior.  In November the El Limón Salon speaker will be Juan Cadera, the president of ANID–Association of Nicaragua Independent Development.  I am very anxious to hear Juan again.  It has been a year since I last heard him speak about development in Managua.  Now with the airport in Rivas, I want to hear what he sees for our area.

Everyday brings a new possibility for me.  I have been showing new people the properties that are for sale. No I haven’t added real estate broker to my Bio, but maybe I should.  It is fun for me and I learn new things too.  There are so many pieces to the puzzle of my life; I enjoy fitting a new piece into place.

Although I haven’t taught my Cuidadores de Personas classes for over two years, there is interest now to begin teaching the course again through the NGO Fides Camina.  A definite need for caregivers exists in NI.  The hospitals especially would benefit from using nursing assistants for the caregiving tasks.  Dras. Chamorrow, who run Fides Camina, are very interested in the possibilities for the defined caregiving program that I developed.  We are slowly working on details of execution for the program.

This brings me to discuss work with Dr. Basha’s Clinic that he will be doing again here in the Limón area this month.  Although we are planning a large Basha Clinic for January in the Granada/Laguna de Apoyo area, Basha can’t resist coming here again to work.  Did I mention that he also likes to surf early in the morning and then work all day.  Basha is such a good Chinese Medicine doctor and acupuncturist; we are privileged that he wants to come here to work.  Of course, I’ll be doing his logistics again.  Unfortunately, my condo is rented while he is here so I’ll have to find another place for him to stay.  There are many options for places to stay close to the surf and to work.  The Spas at RS and Carmen’s Spa are perfect venues for Basha’s work.

Although I have been bragging for years about my great dental health, this week I will get to experience the excellent work of the NI dentists.  I developed a cavity under my gold bridge that served me and lasted 50 years.  The bridge was removed last week.  This week, I will have the affected tooth removed, two posts placed for a new bridge in two months that will hold both the new tooth and a false tooth that replaced the one in the original bridge with new white crowns on the supporting teeth.  And by the way this whole process will cost me less than $3000 at the Vivian Pellas Odontological Clinic, the most modern facility easily comparable to the best dental practices in the US.  I am very happy with the four dentists I have already seen–the regular dentist who cleans my teeth, Dra. Cynthia Watson; Dr. Ramon Hernandez, the prosthedontist; Dra. (can’t remember her name) endodontist; and Dra. Alvarado, the peridontist who will begin her magic this week.  All of these dentists speak fair English and all but Dra. Watson have had specialty training outside of NI although their initial dental school training was at the university in Leon.  Dr. Hernandez was recently accepted at Loma Linda U. in So. CA for a second Master’s Degree in Prosthedontics–a three year course.   It would pay to come to NI to have major dental work done.  Medical tourism isn’t a joke here especially if you have a local advocate.  Maybe this could be a new business for me too.  Never retire is my motto.

November is the beginning of homeowner’s returning to RS and the general area.  There will be many gatherings and catching up with news.  Hopefully I will be able to keep all the activity lined up and not double book myself–which I have done and had to apologize for the error.

Please continue to pray for rain for us here in NI and ignore my complaint about the humido.

Solo el amor prevalece.

Sebastián Birthday Party Kid’s tables  —  Barbara, Me, Joan (Adult tables)


Sebastián with his proud Dad, Warren.  Birthday tradition someone always puts a finger in the frosting and then puts it on the celebrant’s cheek.  Sebastián had a great time with this.





Happy Spring, Happy Holidays, Good News

Although my intentions have been somewhat wishy washy, as you can see by the start date of this blog, I am finally taking time from Candy Crush Saga to spend Easter Sunday getting back on track.  Today, I set my alarm for 6:00 am so that I could exercise using my TRX before my Daily Meditation and then off to the beach to watch my friend Pope Noel paddle around in the ocean on his surfboard.  Next on the morning agenda was Easter Brunch at my friend Carol Dorsett’s home in Rancho Santana.  If you are wondering what I do all day long here, besides play computer games, the above may give you a clue.  I am a busy lady.

This month has been a very successful one for me.  I achieved total legality as a Nicaraguan resident.  I have my NI driver’s license, with the appropriate insurance–just for the driver’s license–the current 2014 inspection and tags for my car.  The best accomplishment I finally have my ForeRunner registered in my name.  The license and the registration were with the help of a woman who guided the paperwork through all the departments at the police station (30 x 50 foot room) with me standing in the lines with her.  When a gringo takes on the process by themselves, it becomes problematic dependent upon the disposition of the person on the other side of the desk and how they feel at that moment about gringos.  So far I have been lucky as I am always pleasant, dressed like I am going to a special meeting, and thankful for the help that I receive.  Other than the female coyote, I haven’t ever paid bribe money to get my documents.

It is sad to say that in Nicaragua the salaries of the doctors, nurses, teachers and police force are the lowest you can imagine with the police and teachers being at the lowest of the low.  FYI a doctor makes about $800/month, a nurse $400/month.  That is why the doctors and nurses who work for the Roberto Clemente Clinic stay on at the Clinic as their salaries paid by the non-profit Clinic are at least twice what the other professionals make.

Back to my car!  In order to get the registration from the previous owner’s name to mine at the police department, like at the DMV in the US, you have to have a VIN number and here also the chassis number.  Although I had those numbers on a document already, the police department requires their inspection and documentation–a process that is rather clever.  First you find out where the numbers are on the chassis and the motor, then you clean the area with a cloth or something, rub the numbers with carbon paper, and finally place a piece of clear sealing tape over the numbers which are imprinted from the carbon to the tape.  The tape is then adhered to the long document that was written and notarized by an attorney that states the car was actually bought and paid for and is able to be legally transferred.  The young inspection policeman had about 20 or 30 motorcycles awaiting.  We were at the police station at 8:00 am with all those others in line ahead of us.  So including the two hour drive to and from Rivas, the registration took six hours.

The process for my driver’s license was an all day trip to Rivas with back and forth to Red Cross for blood test–type and cross match of blood type that is put on to your driver’s license–payment at the bank for the license (police department takes no money for anything) then back to the police department for Q&A and then finally photo.  One good thing is that when everything is in the police department computer, they print your license with lamination right on the spot.

Many of my friends, who don’t live here permanently, bitch and moan about the police and the laws and the changeable interpretation of the laws.  I find it rather fascinating that just because Nicaragua is a third world country people think there should be loosy goosy laws.  I don’t mind standing in lines as long as there is a little breeze and I get to practice more Spanish.  As I have stated many times the people are so friendly when you offer to speak, even rotten Spanish, you can have a very interesting conversation.

April is probably the hottest month of the year here and like the dry season in California, it is drier than you can imagine.  I live on a main dirt road, so you can picture what the inside of my house looks like on a daily basis.  Bringing down the Shark Navigator vacuum cleaner this January was the smartest thing I brought this year so far.  My maid thinks it is the best too.  For someone who is totally illiterate the maid learned how to use, clean, and take care of that machine in a week.  I have almost all of my appliances, kitchen tools, water dispenser etc. covered with cloth covers that I made while in CA at Christmas.  For the water dispenser with a 5 gallon bottle, the plastic bag that the vacuum came in works perfectly and keeps the grit off.

Yes, April is hot, dry, and has mucho polvo/dirt.  It also happens to be one of the months for the best surfing waves here at our beaches.  The road is now traveled by surfers who have no regard for the dirt they are kicking up by their speed as they are interested in hitting the waves ASAP.  My family here–remember there are 30+ people who live in the compound–don’t have a vacuum or screens on their windows or ceiling fans and bemoan the fact that the motos and the cars race by creating dust that sometimes you can’t see through.  Respiratory diseases are the most chronic conditions seen at the clinics. We are all praying that the rainy season comes soon.

This brings me to a new attitude adjustment.  I am more serious than ever about getting my house built at Guasacate.  Three or four times a week I drive over to the lot and stand in Ron and Ana’s house that is being built next to my lot.  It is cooler up there and I can see and hear the ocean, watch the birds, the ocean fishing boats, and the clouds design characters then disappear overhead.  The workers at the house, who have been making concrete for the floors, are no longer interested in what I am doing there.  They continue to go about their work.  After the earthquakes last week I looked carefully around the Guasacate structure to see if there were any cracks and I saw none.  Ron says that he builds his homes like forts and I do believe this.  Their house in Managua went through the big quakes without damage.  Our development will never have to worry about tsunami either as we are up high and far enough from the ocean to be protected  unless it hits the shore with a 100+ foot wave.  Now I am praying that the right person will come along in West Sacramento and appreciate the ability to pick your own fruits and vegetables and have a disability friendly home with a therapeutic spa.  I know the person/s will find my house and buy it soon so that I can build here.

In addition to Rivas trips I have been to Managua to Aproquen, the not for profit Burn Center, situated at the Vivian Pellas Hospital.  I met with the Director, Dra. Ivette Icaza, a very sweet dedicated bright woman.  I wanted to talk to her about using the wound care product that I have promoted in the US and use here for wounds.  Dra. Icaza told me that she spent a week at each of the  Shriner’s Burn Centers in Sacramento, Galveston, TX and Madison, WI.  Aproquen is a remarkable facility.  The organization has done wonders to educate the people about burns and how to treat them within the first 24 hours.  Aproquen has an education program for medical professionals and another for very young school children.  I am organizing both of these educational events out here in our rural area with the help of my nurse friends who work at the Roberto Clemente Clinic and the government saluds.  I am hoping that we will be able to make this happen sometime in May.  Since this past week was totally consumed here with Semana Santa, a really big vacation holiday, I will have to get very busy this coming week to set dates and find places to have the programs and house the trainers.

I am planning on coming to the US in early June for my grandson James Wilker’s high school graduation.  There is no set date as yet although graduation is on June 12th, also my birthday, graduation most important.

The photos that I am including this month are:  The view from Ron and Ana’s in the process house where I hang out.

The newest girls who are now three months old held by their cousins, Priscilla with baby Samantha, Lidieth with baby Melinda standing next to my house.

My traveling friends Barbara Wisley, Dixie Moore, Carol Dorsett had lunch at SOMA a restaurant owned by a couple from SFO.

Still in process April 2014
Taken February 2012 Still in process April 2014

Priscilla w/Samantha, Lidieth w/MelindaPhoto Soma 140413