This makes perfect sense to me!
Living in the tropics has many advantages; for one, I’ll never have to shovel snow again. However, living on a tropical island poses many problems for electronic equipment. There is high humidity, dust, sand, and a variety of heat-seeking bugs that would love to invade our TV, computers, and surge protectors, and make a new home for their eggs.
I’ve removed thousands of ant eggs from my surge protector, my neighbor discovered a family of lizards nesting near his sound component in his TV, and once, a rat peed on my keyboard frying my motherboard. It’s a never-ending battle, one that requires vigilance and constant cleaning. Oh, one more thing to bring to the tropics, ant traps that you can buy in Lowes. They are really helpful. The ants go into the little boxes, and take the liquid back to their nests. It has reduced the ant problem significantly in my house.
My biggest problem is guarding my electronic equipment from electrical surges, spikes, and brownouts. If our neighbors are welding, our electricity is low. If it rains, we can usually expect a blackout until the storm passes. Brownouts cause a quick death for electronics, so I had to research the best protection.
Meet Cyber Power CP1500AVRLCD, my constant companion in the electronics world. It is a Universal Supply System that displays real-time system vitals, protects against brownouts, and offers battery backup in the event of brownouts or total power loss. As soon as I turn it on, it displays the voltage, which is hardly ever 120v. in the campo. Today, our neighbor is welding *sigh* so our voltage fluctuates between 105v and 110v. But, I have no fear, because Cyber Power regulates the voltage with its built-in battery and keeps the voltage at a constant 120v. The Cyber Power System is the king of the campo.
Another helpful gadget for the laptop is an inexpensive cooling tray. When my laptop is on, the cooling fans are always running. My laptop tends to run hot anyway, so it helps to keep it cooler. In addition, I clean the fan filters of the laptop regularly. They get clogged with dust, dirt, and stray ants.
Next post, I’ll discuss other handy household items to bring that are unavailable in Nicaragua or poorly made.
Seven years ago, I asked ten-year old Luvis, “Have you always lived in La Paloma?” Her answer included wild gyrations, chopping motions with a mimed machete, and deafening monkey howls. Then, she told me this tale about the monkey lady.
“When I was a baby we lived on the other side of the island, but we had to move far, far away because a monkey lady attacked my Papa while he was sleeping,” she recounted. To my surprise and utter astonishment, La Mona (the monkey lady) is alive and thriving on La Isla de Ometepe.
According to the accounts of many local islanders, La Mona is a woman by day, and a revengeful Howler monkey at night. She can change into a monkey at night so that she can torment her unfaithful husband. If a woman does not have the power or the correct spell to transform, then she calls on the local Bruja (witch), who will gladly attack her friend’s machismo husband. A sharp machete is her weapon of choice and many a man has been known to change his wicked, unfaithful ways after a night visit from La Mona.
One day when I was walking with Francisco to get water, he stopped suddenly and whispered, “See that woman over there? She is La Mona.” “Francisco,” I asked,” is there only one La Mona or are there many?” “There are many Las Monas on the island. Every village has at least one woman who can change into a monkey at night.” he responded. “All people know the Las Monas on the island. They are very popular.”
I’ll bet they are popular, I thought to myself. I don’t know one faithful husband on the island. Every man I know has a dozen kids with different women. This accounts for the successful monkey business. All the women on the island are desperately seeking the services of La Mona at one time or another.
A local Bruja attacked Luvis’ Papa. She was doing her mama a favor. Luvis said in a serious, hushed tone, ” My Papa moved us to La Paloma after the attack of La Mona. He was very frightened.” That’s one for La Mona. You go girl….or monkey…or whatever! Machismo is really going out of fashion and the men need to take responsibility for their unfaithful ways! The women take their monkey business seriously on Ometepe Island.
I’ve been in the wine and baking mode recently. In January, one of my friends smuggled a sweet potato into Nicaragua in her luggage. We cut the sweet potato into several pieces and laid them in a shallow pan of water. In a few weeks, we had sweet potato slips, ready for planting.
Ron planted the slips in April, at the end of the dry season. When we returned to Ometepe in August, Ron harvested the sweet potatoes. After Ron dug them up, he had a 5 gallon bucket full of delicious sweet potatoes. We heard that the best time to plant is at the end of the rainy season because the sweet potatoes will rot in the ground during the heavy rains.
Sweet potatoes are not native to Nicaragua. Not one of our neighbors had ever seen sweet potatoes before. We shared baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato chips, and now sweet potato pie with most of the neighborhood. My neighbors are thrilled with our new garden addition. In exchange, they share their wine recipes with me. Next, we need to help them start a garden with sweet potatoes. They are easy to grow and need very little care. I just hope I have another batch of sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving.
There is never a time when our ground is fruit free. Our trees are always bearing fruit; then, the fruit plummets to the ground like cannon balls, marbles, pea-sized hail, or hand grenades. The seasons come and go; when it rains, it pours fruit…literally. Depending on the month, the odors of rotting fruit range from sickening sweet, to musty and moldy.
It is the season for Nancites. They remind me of crab apples. The marble sized yellow fruits ping to the ground, then are quickly gathered by the neighborhood kids, vendors, and mothers. The kids eat them like candy, the vendors bag them and sell them at the markets, and mothers make Nancite wine. So, I thought I’d try making Nancite wine. It’s supposed to be ‘Rico’.
Recipe for Nacite Wine
1. August and September, the Nacites ripen. Gather a bag of Nacites.
2. Wash them well and let them dry
3. After they are dry, put them in a plastic bottle and add lots of sugar.
4. Cap the bottle and set the bottle in the sun for 3-6 months. When the Nacites start to ferment, add more Nacites and more sugar.
Easy, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to experimenting with the wine in
a few months.