What Really Matters?


“As one old gentleman put it,  “Son, I don’t care if you’re stark nekkid and wear a bone in your nose. If you kin fiddle, you’re all right with me. It’s the music we make that counts.”
― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

 

I am ready to make some music…either that or get stark nekkid and wear a bone in my nose.  We’ve been home a week, and in that time…

  • Our cat, Black Jack, almost died from a urinary track blockage.
  • The police confiscated my new-to-me little orange dune buggy, took it for a joy ride and crashed it.
  • Our lawyer said we have a problem with the title to our property on Ometepe Island…which always involves lots of money.
  • The city put in a new high pressure pump and it blew out some of our water-lines.
  • Ocho, our other cat, was AWOL for five days.
  • The Chinese are measuring property near our new airport for a resort. WE LIVE NEAR THE AIRPORT!  I think it goes along with their plan for the proposed Nicaraguan canal.
  • The library at our local elementary school is ready for me to set-up. HHI wants to return to film us for the library’s grand opening in their new show, HHI, Where Are They Now?
  • And…and…I’m sick. It must be stress related.

So, I have to ask myself…What really matters? If I don’t, you’ll probably find me stark nekkid, running around my yard with a bone in my nose.

Read more to find what really matters to me.

Tell the World


The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. ~Bill Gates

 

IMG_3800Two weeks ago, we had a microwave internet tower installed. We spent the last four years, struggling with a Claro modem stick which provided slow, inconsistent, and sometimes nonexistent service. Now, our internet speed is fast enough to stream video and watch Netflix movies and my favorite series, Orange is the New Black.
I’m telling the world. Read more.

Anchored to La Isla


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

IMG_2027One of the main reasons we retired to Nicaragua is because it is centrally located and only a two-hour flight to Miami. Our original plan was to build a house on Ometepe Island and use it as a home base allowing us the freedom to travel the world and return to our inexpensive boomer nest when our gypsytoes ached for the comforts of home.
Can we cut the umbilical cord? Read on to find out.

A Great Opportunity


“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

This is a great opportunity for the right people. If you are searching for a new lifestyle, this may be for you. Eleven years ago, my husband and I followed our dreams by answering an ad for a manager of a hospedaje on Ometepe Island. Although, managing a youth hostel was not our thing, it led us to revamp and rewire our lifestyles and we’ve never looked back.

The Corner House on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
IMG_1105

This job may be for YOU! Read on.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Window of Our Lives


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Window. They are portals into the world’s stories. Glimpses into other people’s lives. Looking out (or into) a window can tell you about where you are — and where you’re not — and mark a particular moment in time, linking you to a physical place. Join me as we peek into one window of our lives on Ometepe Island.

A Barbie doll pink house, a big ole’ cement pila, and a worn window signified the beginning of our quest for a simple and carefree lifestyle culturally immersed with friends and family on Ometepe Island.

IMG_2260When Ron destroyed the big ole’ cement pila our journey began.
knocking out a concrete sinkLight filtered through our window and the only thing we saw was the beauty of things to come.
IMG_2797We pretended we worked in a McDonald’s drive-through, happily dispensing peanut butter sandwiches to our workers through our window. They laughed, not having a clue what we were talking about. Later, we found our sandwiches stuffed in a hole of the Mango tree.
IMG_3080I thought retirement was supposed to be… welI…retiring. Instead, I sanded my soft hands to the bone refinishing the window shutters.
IMG_3118Look! We have a TV!  Steeler football games and a cold Tona after a hard day’s work. What more could we ask for?
IMG_3252As the house progressed, the garden grew. We harvested our first batch of tomatoes.
IMG_3919Then the mangoes began to drop…and drop…and drop. Delicious mango jam is on the menu.
Mango JamThe tropics require drinking lots of water. Ron, I caught you drinking out of the jug again. I won’t nag this time because he built us a pine trestle table in front of the window.
IMG_4044Ron’s table has served us well. Family and friends gather around our table for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even a game of spoons. The table nestled in front of the window houses my collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts and my lending library books.

My cupcake and cookie buddy and I often gather around the window where she displays her marvelous treats.

Life outside our window involves swinging, watching chickens, and making dough balls to trap rats in the garden.
IMG_0527We added a string of lights around the window for a festive look at Christmas.
IMG_1439Our window constantly changes scenes adding to our contentment on our little island of peace. One small portal of our lives, one giant step toward our dreams.
IMG_2626

View our House Hunters International Show


If you missed our episode of House Hunters International, click this link to watch it. I published it unlisted on YouTube, so you won’t be able to find it by doing a search on YouTube. Enjoy! This was so much fun to make.

House Hunters International: The Retirees and the Volcano on Ometepe Island

Tonight is the Night


HHI on TV  2Although we won’t be able to watch our House Hunters International episode until we are in the states next week, we hope you can watch it. Enjoy the show, and if you find that you are really embarrassed for us, don’t tell us. LOL

I have lots of stories to tell. They are patiently waiting for me to hit the publish button on WordPress. Stay tuned for “Tito Crosses Over: The life of an illegal immigrant” and many other stories. I’m not sure how often I will be able to post during the month of November, meanwhile, enjoy the show.

 

Look How Far We’ve Come


In the lyrics of Shania Twain, “I’m so glad we’ve made it. Look how far we’ve come, baby.” It’s been nine years since we first rented our little beach shack, four years since we bought it, and three years since we have lived here permanently.

Enjoy the song, while you look through our comparison pictures 2004 to 2013.

Our living room in 2004: We lived like Nicas… minimalists. Our living room in 2013: Now, my boomer nest is complete and comfortable, but it was a tremendous amount of work.

Our kitchen in 2004: A tiny space, with few amenities. Our kitchen in 2013: We finally have an oven and a large working space.

Our porch in 2004: Dirt floor, little security. Our porch in 2013: Secure, beautiful outdoor living space where we can watch the ferries pass by our house daily.

Guest bedroom in 2004: YUCK! Would you want to be our guest? Guest bedroom in 2013: We turned it into a small home office. However, now that we have a small guest house, the guest bedroom is in the other casita and our studio and work space will be moved to the room upstairs in the casita. ( Pictures of the guest house coming soon.)

House from the side in 2004: It definitely had potential. House from side in 2013: Lots of indoor and outdoor living space.

Back of the house in 2004: Hardly any trees and no garden. Back of house in 2013: Now we have a huge, thriving garden behind the house and dozens of fruit trees and shade trees planted.

What I miss about the old house. I loved this rancho. It was a large gathering spot for community activities. Maybe we’ll build another one someday. That’s the great thing about living here. We have control over what we can build at a fraction of the cost of building in the states. Our imaginations are limitless. :-)
our rancho

Dreamers Turned Doers


“Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.”
― Robin S. Sharma

We are constantly looking for new ways to do practically everything in our rewired and retired lives. Researching  practical innovations that would help to make a better way of life for all of us, I found these amazing things on the internet. Click on the navy blue link to read more about these dreamers turned doers.

John Lennon glasses

1. A New Way to See the World
My neighbors need prescription glasses, but they are very expensive. This new technology injects fluid into the lenses and by rotating the dials, you can achieve the perfect prescription without a costly eye exam.

ear phones2. A New Way to Hear
Robinson had a horrible motorcycle accident a year ago. As a result, he lost most of his hearing in one ear. A delicate operation is needed to reposition the tiny bones in his ear, but there is no guarantee this will work. Using bone conduction technology originally developed for military special ops, these headphones transmit vibrations directly from your cheekbones to your inner ear, bypassing the eardrum.

edible glasses3. A New Way to Drink
Plastic bottles…a huge problem on Ometepe Island. These edible glasses are made from pectin, a gelling agent derived from fruits, the cups are surprisingly durable, and Briganti hopes they’ll help replace disposable plastic. We could definitely use these here!

Fresh Paper4. A New Kind of Paper
This would be a boon for our small agricultural island. The inventor is partnering with nonprofits in developing countries to ship FreshPaper to some of the roughly 1.2 billion people in the world who lack refrigeration, including small-scale farmers in India and Africa who sometimes can’t sell their crop before it spoils.

drones delivering mail 5. A New Way to Deliver Our Mail?
A company called Matternet has tested unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones,” in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it hopes to help deliver medical supplies and food to areas that lack reliable roads. Now, this would be fantastic, since we have no mail delivery on Ometepe.

  taking a course online 6. A New Way to Take Free College Courses

I used to teach online graduate level education courses. The greatest thing about teaching online was that I could do it from anywhere, even wearing my PJs. I’ve signed up for a course with Coursera. With 300-plus free online courses — Moralities of Everyday Life,  Archaeology’s   Dirty Little Secrets, Women and the Civil Rights Movement — all taught by professors at 62 of the world’s top schools, including Yale and Stanford, the Web site Coursera reads like the course catalog you wish you’d taken advantage of in college. The company’s goal is to allow every person in the world access to an Ivy League–caliber education — without the frat parties and calculus requirement.

vaporizers  7. A New Way to Quit Smoking
Cigarettes are really cheap in Nicaragua. If you are thinking of quitting, new studies show that using a vaporizer, or e-cigarette, is as effective if not more so, than using a nicotine patch.

Cacoon-hanging-tree-house-1-640x6448. A New Kind of Tent
 I’m not sure how practical this would be, but it is very cool. I wonder how difficult it would be to make?

How Long Would You Work for a Jar of Pickles?


At the current $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage has become a poverty wage. A full-time worker with one child lives below the official poverty line.
Bernie Sanders

Yesterday, we hit the jackpot when shopping in Rivas, on the mainland. For the first time in Nicaragua, I found a jar of whole dill pickles, French honey mustard, and Snyder pretzels. Today, I received my first Social Security deposit. I’m officially old and lovin’ every minute of it. Yet, both of these events got me thinking about the poverty level in Nicaragua.

Do Nicaraguans think they are poor or do we, who were born into a capitalistic society, only perceive Nicaraguans as poverty-stricken? Do Nicaraguans prioritize their lives around how much things cost? To help answer my philosophical ramblings, I asked myself, how long would a Nicaraguan have to work for a jar of dill pickles?
pickles copyOn the average, a full-time Nicaraguan employee earns 100 cordobas a day. That’s the equivalent of $4 a day at the current exchange rate. My jar of dill pickles cost 135 cordobas, which means the average Nicaraguan would have to work more than a day to buy a jar of pickles.

To put this into perspective, a minimum wage worker in the states would have to work about 42 minutes to buy a jar of pickles. Of course, pickles are a luxury item here, so the cost is much higher than in the states. My neighbor kids love mayonnaise. They beg for mayonnaise when they come to visit because it is pricy and out of reach for most wage earners in Nicaragua.

Honestly, I seldom look at the prices of most food items in Nicaragua. We buy very little processed food, but there are certain treats like peanut butter, mayonnaise, pretzels, chocolate and pickles that we enjoy when we can find them.

Out of curiosity, I’ve compiled a list of how long a Nicaraguan would have to work for various items that we normally think nothing of purchasing.

One day of work would buy: 100 cordobas or $4.00
1. 1 jar of mayonnaise
2. one giant Hershey bar
3. A week of telephone minutes ( depending on how long one talks and if calling a Moviestar phone from a Claro phone)
4. 4 pirated DVD movies
5. 4 bottles of Tona beer
6. almost a jar of pickles

One week of work would buy: A work week is 6 days. 600 cordobas or $24
1. A month’s Claro internet plan for a dongle modem
2. 3 jars of peanut butter…very expensive in Nicaragua
3.  A tank of gasoline for a motorcycle
4. A cloth hammock
5. 2 bags of cement

One month of work would buy: About 3,000 cordobas or $120
1. Rent under $120 a month for a small house.
2. One double mattress thick and padded
3. A used bicycle
4. 4 baby piglets
5. Two taxi rides to Managua from Rivas

One year of work would buy: 36,000 cordobas or $1,440
1. A cheap Chinese motorcycle
2. A refrigerator, a washing machine, a bottle of propane, and a small two burner cook top.
3. 2 rt airline tickets to Miami , plus the cost of the visas
4. A manzana of land for grazing cattle on the volcano
5. 2 fiberglass canoes

Compiling this list put a lot of things into perspective for me. Now I understand why the prices for most furniture, appliances, electronics, and vehicles are listed first in monthly installments with the full price at the bottom. Most Nicaraguans buy on credit with little understanding of interest rates. Usually, they will buy an item on credit, and if they can’t make the monthly payments, the repo man visits. The repo men are very busy in Nicaragua.

Now, I understand why most young families live with extended family members. Who could afford to rent a house? Even on Ometepe Island, where the rental prices are still reasonable, a small house with a tiled floor, one bedroom, and a flush toilet will run about $150 a month unfurnished.

Now it makes sense to me why mayonnaise is “rico” and gallo pinto for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the life force of Nicaragua. I can see why they cook with wood instead of propane because a bottle of propane costs about $15.

Now, I understand why the Nicaraguans barter, beg, or steal. They are their best when bargaining for a good deal. It’s accepted practice to never take the first price offered. In fact, it’s a performing art to watch the thrifty Nicaraguans bargain.

Now it makes sense why most Nicaraguans live a stress-free life and why making money or getting rich is not a main goal in their lives. I understand why they don’t have a clue about budgeting because they live day-to-day with little extra money to budget.

Finally, I understand what it is like to live like a Nica. Money is not high on their list because they have so little of it. They creatively make do with what little they have. They work hard, play hard, and laugh often. They don’t think they are poor. Their birthplace determines their future, and in my opinion, it has little to do with money. They prioritize their purchases depending on immediate needs, not wants. If their basic needs are met, then they buy luxury items on credit, or barter and bargain for them. Do I think the Nicaraguans would work a whole day to buy a jar of dill pickles? Not a chance!