Women’s Soccer in Nicaragua


Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

Only 7 more days for the Divine Women’s Soccer Team to meet their goal. Thanks to the many people who have graciously donated to this worthy cause.

Originally posted on Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

“Soccer isn’t the same as Bach or Buddhism. But it is often more deeply felt than religion, and just as much a part of the community’s fabric, a repository of traditions.”
― Franklin Foer, How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization

Las Divinas de Los Ramos

Las Divinas de Los Ramos

This year, the indigenous community of Los Ramos on Ometepe Island started a women’s soccer team. Twenty-two young women ages 12-31 joined Las Divinas. And, oh how divine this team is! Their lack of uniforms, soccer shoes, and proper equipment didn’t hold them back. They ran in bare feet and practiced with a homemade goal constructed with a large PVC pipe, while onlookers held their babies and cheered for this determined group of women.

Sports, in general, are great motivators to help people around the world to connect with one another and become united. The community of Los Ramos recognizes…

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“Three Myths that Block Progress for the Poor”: The 2014 Gates Annual Letter


Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

Living in a third world country has changed my perspective about poverty. Nicole explains three myths of poverty in her excellent post.

Originally posted on Thirdeyemom:

For the past year and a half I’ve been honored to be a part of an exceptional group of women bloggers using our voices on our blogs and through social media to help try to change the world. As a proud member of the Global Team of 200 and Mom Bloggers for Social Good, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and share with you some of the amazing things different non-profits are doing around the world to save lives and end poverty.

Kibera slum, Nairobi, Kenya Boys sit on a boulder overlooking the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo credit: Gates Foundation

Kibera slum, Nairobi, Kenya
Boys sit on a boulder overlooking the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo credit: Gates Foundation

Jennifer James, founder of our social good team, has worked particularly hard with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It has been fascinating to be a part of some of the work this amazing foundation is doing at changing the world and saving lives.

INDIA / Bihar / Jamsaut village / 23 March 2011 Bill and Melinda Gates with children at an Anganwadi centre in Jamsaut village near Patna. Photo Credit: Gate Foundation INDIA / Bihar…

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The Legend of El Chupacabra


Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

Since we don’t celebrate Halloween in Nicaragua, I am reposting a Halloween post from 2 years ago. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

El Cupacabra and El Duende

Legends of bloodsucking creatures are present all over the world and throughout history. Seven years ago, I read in La Prensa that a young man was lost on Vulcan Concepcion. He had attempted to climb the volcano without a guide and was ill-prepared for the dangerous trek. Those foolish enough to scale the 1610 meter slopes without assistance are usually seriously wounded, lost, or as in the case of the 24-year-old Salvadoran, eaten by El Cupacabra.

My English students told me that the guides found his body a week later.  His head was wedged between two rocks, his leg was broken, and an arm was missing.  Luvis pounded her fist on my plastic table when she heard the news and emphatically stated, “It was the Chupacabra.”  “What in the world is a Chupacabra?”  I asked curiously.  They all looked at me astounded because I had never heard of the…

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My Past. It Lives in a Tuff Shed.


Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

My friend, Mary, wrote a powerful piece on letting go. This is especially true for expats and those who downsize after retirement. Thank you Mary for reminding us to ask, “Does this item bring me joy?”

Originally posted on ¡La Vida Es Rica! ~ Life is Delicious!:

Monsters under the bed.

Skeletons in the closet.

My Past lives in a Tuff Shed.

I’ve come to believe that at a certain point, life creates a dichotomy.

A dilemma.

Do I maintain my safe, comfortable, familiar life — remain with status quo?

Or.

Experience the life I dream of?

Things I’ve enjoyed throughout my life: Linens. Shiny baubles. Rusty gadgets. Christmas ornaments. Funky hats. Books. The unique, the no-longer-produced, the weird and the wonderful. Hand-crocheted nut cups from the 1940s. Rosebud Haviland china. Depression glass. Silver-plated pewter. Rosepoint crystal. Ginny dolls (predecessor to Barbie). Headboard beneath which my great-grandmother was born. The round 54” claw-foot table that expands to seat 21 at which my grandmother fed a multitude of harvest hands at Threshing Time — at which I fed a multitude of Fab Fam and friends for numerous Thanksgivings. A lovely home nestled in the foothills of the Colorado…

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Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua:

I am reblogging an excellent post on the benefits of sweet potatoes. Thank you, ThirdEyeMom, for this post. We started with one sweet potato, smuggled into Nicaragua by a close friend. Now, I think we could furnish the entire island with our sweet potatoes.

Originally posted on Thirdeyemom:

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.31.23 PM

Today I am honored to be collaborating with a group of women bloggers on behalf of ONE, a non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable diseases, to increase awareness about world hunger.

ONE asks:

“How can it be that 40% of Africa’s children are so chronically malnourished by the age of five that they will never fully thrive, physically recover or mentally develop – and this has not improved in two decades, despite so much other development progress?

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MALNUTRITION: FAST FACTS

  • In 2010, 171 million children under the age of five had stunted growth (chronically malnourished)[1]
  • Every year, malnutrition causes 3.5 million child deaths – or more than one third of all deaths of children under the age of five[2]
  • More than 600,000 children die each year from vitamin A deficiency[3]
  • 2 billion people are anemic, including every second pregnant woman and…

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Happy anniversary to me. My blog is one year old today. In honor of my first anniversary, I have created a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly things that have taken place in Nicaragua since July 2011.

THE GOOD

  • My philosophy of compassionate cultural immersion is spreading world-wide
  • Health care programs are improving on Ometepe Island for the expats.
  • My mobile lending library for the elementary schools is expanding monthly
  • Newspapers, TV, and schools are educating people on litter removal and the effects of pollution on their environment in Nicaragua
  • Ometepe Island became a digital island in February 2012 with over 5,000 One Laptop per Child computers donated to all of the elementary schools
  • Sustainable tourism programs are increasing for local communities, offering new jobs and enabling self-sufficiency
  • Our major construction is completed and I have a comfortable nest
  • New Bread Fruit, Jack Fruit, Avocado, Grapefruit, Neem, and other fruit trees are growing rapidly on our property along with Ron’s thriving garden
  • We completed the process of residency and are now legal Pensionado Visa residents of Nicaragua
  • An Ometepe Expat Google group now connects all of the expats on Ometepe Island.
  • The local grocery stores on Ometepe Island are catering to the tastes of expats. Now, we can even place an order online for Hugo’s grocery store and they go to Pricemart in Managua at least once a month. My frig is stocked with chocolate chips!
  • The new airport is almost ready for business. There are pros and cons, but I like the convenience of the airport..I can walk to it from my house.
  • My Spanish has improved tremendously. I can make a dentist appointment over the phone, order pizza delivery, and call our taxi driver. Talking on the phone in Spanish has been difficult for me, so this is a major improvement in my life.
  • The following link is a PDF and the latest progress report of Nicaragua.
    Progress Report of Nicaragua

THE BAD

  • The USA denied Nicaragua the transparency waiver. Its denial will cost the Nicaraguan people $3 million in aid for the next fiscal year.  Read more about it at this link:   Witness for Peace
  • Pierre Doris Maltese, the dangerous cult leader of Ecoovie, is still in Nicaragua. However, powerful people are now aware and much progress has been made to gather evidence and deport him from Nicaragua.
  • The electric and water is still erratic. Much needs to be done to improve the basic  utility infrastructure on Ometepe Island before they open the airport.
  • Health care for the local people on the island needs a major overhaul. My opinion is that instead of a new airport, they should have built a new hospital.
  • The Capuchin monkeys, not native to Ometepe Island, are being held hostage with little food on Monkey Island near Hacienda Mérida. They have attacked  and severely mauled at least seven tourists. More on this later, once I do more research.

THE UGLY

  • My friend Bobby took his life in Granada, Nicaragua in December. I am still dealing with the grief of his unknown despair.
  • Jerry died of a sudden heart attack in April. If only we would have had access to a defibrillator, it may have prolonged his life.
  • Ian and Jose ( young men) both committed suicide three days apart last year.

The total number of good things happening within a year outweighs the combined total of the bad and ugly… at least in this forever optimistic blogger’s voice. Thank you wonderful blog readers. You are the reason I write. I travel throughout Nicaragua; it leaves me speechless, then turns me into a storyteller.   Here’s to many more Nicaraguan stories next year. Life is good, retirement is better, telling stories of my life on an island in the middle of a huge lake, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America is….well, priceless.

War of Worlds


Someone asked me yesterday why I live in a third world country. She spat out the question like she had overdosed on bitter medicine and looked at me with disgust and fear. Puzzled by her reaction I asked, “What is your definition of a third world country?” “Oh, yuck!” she spat. “It’s a country filled with disease and poor people. Who in their right mind would live in a third world country?”

Since I am in the states visiting my mother, these comments occur more often. Either people fear for my life because of all the ‘diseases I could get’ or like my mother, question my sanity. My mother tells people I am a missionary in a third world country. “Mom, you have to stop telling people I’m a missionary,” I reprimand. “I’m not a missionary. I’m not even religious.”  “But, you do so many good things for all those poor people,” she said. “You are a missionary in my eyes.”  I sigh and nod my head. She introduces me to a friend of hers. “This is my daughter. She is…the word ‘like’ is barely audible… a missionary in Nicaragua.” I sigh again and nod my head.

I’m beginning to understand my mom’s logic. If she tells people I am a missionary, then they won’t look at me with fear and disgust because I live in a third world country. My mother solidifies her good reputation with God and her church friends because she raised a missionary daughter instead of an insane one. I can live comfortably in a third world country because I am ‘doing good things’ for all those pitiful poor people.

This conversation got me thinking about the definition of a third world country. Despite ever evolving definitions, most people envision a third world filled with suffering, dying, big bellied, crying, dirty, malnourished babies living with uneducated, extremely poor, emaciated, suffering, crying, dirty, and unemployed family members, who live in fear of a harsh, unbending dictator in a socialist or communist country with AK 47′s pointed in their faces.  Often these visions are accompanied by lots of sobbing and pitiful cries with bony fingers extended, and a malformed or underdeveloped baby clinging to a mother’s dried up breast, begging for milk money.

Now, my definition of a third world country can be summed up in one phrase…a lack of a middle class. In Nicaragua, there are impoverished millions in a vast lower economic class and a very small élite or upper class who control the country’s wealth and resources. What makes the United States a first world country and Nicaragua a third world country? If we use my definition, there are striking similarities. Maybe it’s time to reconsider our definitions and differences among a first, second, and third world country. Maybe it’s time to cast away our stereotypical perceptions and visions of people living in a third world country. Maybe it’s time to dissolve our differences and concentrate on our similarities.

When I ask people to explain their definition of a third world country, often it is expressed in a ranking scheme of economic development with the first world on top ( a capitalist society), the second world, and the third world ( socialist or communist) on the bottom rung. This comparative economic and political ranking is utter nonsense, and in my opinion, the real source of misguided evil that has poisoned our world.

All forms of societies ( first, second, or third worlds) give us food, clothing, a home, language, and the tools of a trade. As members of a society, we all seek comfort in sharing our joys, sorrows, and pleasures with friends and family. We satisfy our personal desires, dreams, and accomplishments through gaining attention and recognition from our fellow human beings. We all want to improve the conditions of our lives. We should be ONE world because we all share the same basic needs and wants.

The definitions of the three types of worlds only increase the gap and divide us as human beings. Attempts to pigeon-hole us into narrowly defined economic and political categories create a war of worlds. Personally, I’m tired of people asking me if I’m a missionary because I live in their warped perception of a third world country. I’m tired of trying to convince people that I’m safe, secure, and happy in my decision to live in Nicaragua.

I’ll continue to sigh and nod my head when my mother introduces me as a missionary in Nicaragua. Her perceptions of the world were set a long time ago and there is nothing I can do to change her mind or change her viewpoints. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t plant seeds…little seeds of discontent with the crisis we are facing in the world today. One little seed, tenderly planted in the minds of the young…maybe we can become one world without war…compassionate world citizens. It’s a start.

Meet Napoleon


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Another miracle on the finca. Napoleon was born at 3:30 pm on June 5th. We have been anticipating the birth of Napoleon for a week! Tuesday morning, Marina came over to our house to borrow my cell phone because she didn’t have any minutes on hers. “Princessa is sick,” she said. “I think she is going to give birth today. I am very nervous.”

Marina called the vet first. Then, she called everyone she knew to come and celebrate the birth of Princessa’s calf. “I’ll be the photographer,” I commented. I’ve helped to birth thirteen babies and a litter of piglets. However, a calf was a new experience for me and I opted to watch instead.

At 1:30 pm, Princessa was in heavy labor. I googled “how long does it take a cow to deliver a calf” and according to the site, the new calf was due within an hour or two. The vet arrived just in time. He gently pulled on the calf’s hooves and Napoleon popped out like a big ole slippery seal.

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in the old TV series, Green Acres. Farm living is the life for me!  I am proud to report that Princessa and Napoleon are doing well. Princessa is full of milk and baby bull Napoleon is a happy camper.

Next, we’re going to learn how to make cheese and yogurt. Stay tuned for the Gringa Gourmet..NOT  recipes.

Health Care in Nicaragua: A Hypochondriac’s Story


Nasty ant bites, swollen foot

Last September, I was hauling brush away from the beach, when I felt a strange tingling sensation. It started at my toes, and like a super charged lightning bolt, the sensation passed through my body to the top of my head. I began to itch like crazy, then my upper lip swelled and became numb, as if I had just received a shot of Novocaine.

Living on a tropical island, we have learned to take charge of our own health care. There is a hospital in Moyogalpa, the port town; however, I have been there with Marina, and I don’t want to return. EVER! Our workers, propped my foot on two cement blocks, and gave me a little cap full of…I think it was Benadryl…because I fell asleep upright on the only piece of furniture we had in our house at the time. (a purple plastic chair)

My foot swelled to the size of a small papaya and I was unable to put any weight on it for a week. I’m not one that likes to be incapacitated, so I began to research ant bites and allergic reactions. The locals know the insects, plants, and animals intimately. They all agreed that I had a horrible allergic reaction to ant bites.

Thank God for the internet! Once I determined the cause of my swelling and the treatment, I hobbled to the closest pharmacy armed with an array of new Spanish words..swollen foot, allergic reaction, numb upper lip, cortisone cream. Prescriptions are unheard of in Nicaragua. One only needs to discuss the symptoms with the pharmacist and the pharmacist will dispense one pill, or as many as one needs or can afford to buy.

Six years ago, Ron thought he had parasites. We went to a little shack…literally…where they had the only centrifuge in town. A man handed Ron a little plastic cup and said, “I need poo poo.” Then he directed him to the outhouse. As the centrifuge whirled the poo poo around and around, we waited patiently on the front porch, watching a long string of leaf cutter ants hauling their loot to their nests to make a fungus for the queen.

“Poo poo white,” he announced. “No parasites.” So, because of the white poo poo, he sent us to the pharmacy with a little scrap of paper that told the pharmacist what we needed to buy. All for the cost of one dollar.

Health care is cheap in Nicaragua. Even at the best hospital, Vivian Pellas Metropolitano, in Managua, expect to pay much, much less for all procedures. For example, a hip replacement in the USA is approximately $53,000. At Vivian Pellas, a hip replacement will cost $8,700…total..no hidden costs. And, that price is without purchasing their insurance plan. With the Silver Insurance plan, take an extra 40% off the total cost of the hip replacement. I know you are wondering how much the insurance costs for Vivian Pellas….$26 a month!!!!

When we retired and moved to Nicaragua, we could have continued on our group health insurance, Cigna. However, the monthly cost of $500 would have been taken out of my tiny teaching pension check. Too young for Medicare ( which isn’t accepted in Nicaragua), and too poor to have $500 deducted from my pension, we really didn’t have any options. Before Vivian Pellas started to cater to expats, we had to take charge of our own health and care for our own aging bodies. Plus, we were at a disadvantage because of living on an island…with a one hour ferry ride to the mainland.

After my allergic reaction to the ant bites, I became a hypochondriac. Every sneeze, every ache, every insect bite, everything kind of out of the ordinary…I researched. Most of the little health issues were just due to an aging body. Yet, due to the fact that we are growing our own food, walking and swimming everyday, and always active, we are healthier than we have ever been before.

A retired RN lives close to us, now. I have become friends with a homeopathic doctor, who has a clinic in Moyogalpa. We found a great chiropractor in San Juan Del Sur, and an acupuncturist in Moyogalpa. Soon, we will have an airport a quarter of a mile away from our house. Should a medical emergency arise, we can hop on a flight to Managua for less than $50. Vivian Pellas hospital is getting better all the time, with international awards, U.S. trained doctors, and medical tourism programs.

Now, the only thing we have to worry about is health coverage in the states. Fortunately, we don’t return to the states often. But, when we do, the only health coverage we can get is on our car (stored in our garage back in the states). We upped the medical coverage for accidents in our car. So, if I break my leg, or anything else that requires immediate medical care, I have to do it in the car to be covered. What a shame! Health care in the USA is a mess. But, that’s another story for another day. A story I have no control over.

Here in Nicaragua, I have control over my own health, and a wonderful group of professional friends, and locals who can help us identify and treat the minor problems. If we need immediate medical attention, Vivian Pellas is only an hour’s flight away. What more could we want?