Check out this six-minute video created by a friend of Sam Bauer, our real estate man on Ometepe Island. Nicely done!
Our son, Cory, and his friend, Sam, developed and implemented tourism programs for the community of Los Ramos that mesh with responsible tourism practices on Ometepe Island. According to Sam:
Time here on the island is starting to wind down, and with that comes some amazing closure. Below is the brochure we have put together for the community of Los Ramos. Cory and I have worked side by side with the community helping them develop cultural based tourism programs. We have worked very hard to empower the community, and reveal to them how many amazing programs they are able to offer. The focus throughout has been to embrace who they are and what they stand for. Often times you will see tourism develop in a way that changes the heart and soul of communities just like this. Instead we were striving to keep the heart and soul, and have that be the focus of EVERY program. The development of tourism is inevitable, so why not do it in a way that can embrace the people and not just the place.
I am so proud of these young men. They have worked unselfishly to empower an indigenous community on Ometepe Island. From making nacatamales with the local cooks, to trail blazing, to wild dug-out canoe boat rides, to riding a bull for seven hours…they have done it all.This is responsible tourism at its finest! They came with a mission statement for their business, OutMore Adventures, and not once have they strayed from their path. Their philosophy of responsible tourism connects tourists with the local culture and traditions of an indigenous community, as well as providing income for Los Ramos. Hopefully, this hard-working community will never have to leave their beloved island to find work in Costa Rica or wash dishes and clean toilets for a foreign-owned resort.
Empower the people, not just the place! Their dreams are now a reality!
Ron and I always stayed at Bobby’s house when we went in Granada. However, when we went to Granada for Bobby’s wake, we knew it was time to explore another part of town. The memories of Bobby’s house are too fresh, every street reminded me of him.
This time, we explored the area around the lake. Hotel Granada was a block from our bed and breakfast. Ron was particularly interested in visiting the swimming pool. A retired swim coach always investigates the pools! For $7 a day, one can swim in their Olympic sized salt water pool. It was magnificent.
Hotel Granada is an old colonial fortress in the historical center of the city. Although the cheapest room is $75 per night, it was too expensive for two retired teachers on a fixed income. Maybe someday, for a very special occasion, we can spring for a night.
For your enjoyment, take a walk with us through this amazing hotel and convention center.
Three years ago, Francheco, our Italian friend, built a beautiful yellow house at the end of the proposed runway for the new airport. He hired a trustworthy crew and they worked side-by side to build a house worthy of his talents.
At the time, he wasn’t aware that he would have to tear down his house brick by brick and lovingly unearth his flowers and trees to make way for progress. When the Nicaraguan government came knocking at his door, he was tenderly watering his young saplings. “Your house is at the end of our runway,” the government reported. “This is a problem.”
No kidding! A problem? More like a disaster! After months of negotiations, the government acquired his property, and Francheco assembled his trustworthy crew once again.
“The most disheartening thing about this, is that I have to pay the same crew who helped me build my house, to tear it down….brick by brick,” Francheco lamented. All is well that ends well…at least we think! Francheco bought beautiful property near the Punta Jesus Maria. Wire, toilets, bricks, and other building materials are slowly reuniting at his new site.
The other day, the Pellas family helicopter flew to the island. Rumor has it, they bought the Punta Jesus Maria and are planning to build a resort. After all, when the rich tourists fly to Ometepe Island, they must have proper accommodations befitting their lifestyles. Francheco can’t escape progress. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the latest turn of events. Time will tell. Francheco may be digging up his saplings again.
We harvested Bobby’s bananas today. Actually, Sam wanted to cut the banana stock with a machete since he just learned how to harvest plantains, but a strong gust of wind blew over the heavy bunch of bananas before Sam could show off his machete skills.
The baby banana sprout was a gift from my close friend, Bobby. He passed away in December. The day after his death, the bananas started to blossom. I don’t believe in coincidences. Serendipity is a better choice for my feelings because it’s a talent for making fortunate discoveries, while searching for other things. I sat under Bobby’s bananas daily, talking to him, trying to understand his despair. A few days before the harvest, I could hear Bobby’s whispers in the wind. I think he was trying to tell me, “Don’t go bananas over my death. Enjoy my gift with acceptance and love.” Truly a serendipitous moment.
Bobby was a creative and talented gardener. To honor Bobby’s harvest, below are a few questions I had for Bobby about bananas, and his answers. GO BANANAS!
1. What do I do with this banana tree, Bobby?
Well, first, Debbie, it’s not a banana tree. It’s a plant. It’s a giant herb in the same family as lilies, orchids, and palms. Do you really want me to tell you what to do with it? I knew better than to say ‘yes’! Bobby was very creative, and I could imagine a dozen possibilities, none of which involved actual planting.
2. Where are the banana seeds?
He smashed a banana, and had me look for the seeds. “They are exceptionally tiny, because I can’t find one,” I said. So, he handed me his binoculars and made me sift through the banana mush, meanwhile he had a silly grin on his face and I knew I had been HAD!
The banana plant doesn’t grow from seeds. It actually grows from a bulb, a rhizome. The rhizomes sprout new shoots each year until the plant dies. Once the babies shoot up, only the daughter and the granddaughter should be grown and cultivated from the mother plant.
3. How many bananas will we get?
More than you can possibly eat. Again, his creative juices began to flow as he told me what I could do with a stem of bananas. I won’t go into his possibilities here, because many of his ideas are not for the public. When ten or more bananas grow on a stem, they are known as a hand. Individual bananas are called fingers. A stem can have up to fifteen hands or over 150 fingers. I think we must have a couple of feet and lots of toes on the banana stem we harvested today.
4. How will I know when the bananas are ready to be harvested?
Don’t worry, we talk almost everyday. I’ll tell you when to harvest them. True to his word, he arrived like the wind, the stem gently swayed and dropped to the ground when they were ready to harvest. Another serendipitous moment. They should be ready in three to four months after they blossom. I’ll tell you when to harvest them…don’t worry.
Our banana stem was so heavy, we had to use a wheelbarrow to get them to our bodega where we hung them up to ripen. My guess is that they weigh over 100 pounds. Since they all ripen at exactly the same time, I’m going to go bananas trying to figure out what to do with over 100 fingers. Bobby and I are going to have to have another chat. Tomorrow, when I sit under the shade of his daughters and granddaughters, I’m going to ask him, “OK, what do I do now?” He’ll chuckle in the wind and I’ll have a hundred possibilities…all whispered with love.