Gallo Pinto: The Life Force of Nicaragua

When a Nicaraguan family has 200 pounds of red beans in their house, they have no fear of starvation. Gallo Pinto, literally known as the “speckled rooster”, is the national staple of Nicaragua. A combination of fried rice and red beans is consumed at every meal. Gallo Pinto keeps the wolf from the door, the roof over their stomachs, and blankets them against the economic cold.

Last week Marina commented, “I have no beans in the house. I must climb the volcano and harvest beans.” They have a small community plot of red beans growing on the steep hillside of Vulcan Concepcion. “It is hard work, but my family needs beans,” she lamented.

When the beans are ready to harvest, the women, children, and other family members climb the volcano. She explained that the bean plants are pulled up by their roots and laid in neat rows upside down, like tepees, with their roots exposed to the heavens. Four days later, after the tropical sun dries the plants to a crisp, they ascend the volcano to harvest the beans.

The four-day wait is a critical time. This is the time to pray that the rains hold off. When the little lines of bean plants, neatly stacked in rows of tepees, are drying in the tropical sun, look at the farmers’ faces. They watch the sky with dread, scowling every time a dark cloud sails over their bean plot. For if the beans get wet, the bean piles must be turned over to dry on the other side. If it rains again, the beans must be turned again. The third rain spells disaster because mildew and rot set in and the crop is lost.

Balancing sheets of plastic, beating sticks, and large bags for the beans on their heads, the farmers eagerly climb the volcano in expectations of a good harvest. The rains have not arrived early this year. Their prayers were answered.

Sheets of plastic blanket the dark fields, the tepees of beans are spread over the plastic, and the flailing begins. Salty sweat from brows of parched bean flailers, sprinkles  the crispy beans. Workers pick the beans clean of dry stems, roots, and leaves like leaf cutter ants devour my flowers. Then, the beans are poured into large plastic sacks, and the weary farmers carry the sacks on their backs down the volcano. If they are fortunate enough to have a horse or an ox, the bean sacks ride down the volcano in style.

This morning, I hear the beans pinging from one pan to another. Marina is cleaning the beans and preparing their morning ritual of Gallo Pinto. As the rice and beans sizzle over the open cooking fire, wisps of Gallo Pinto penetrate the moist air. My stomach growls. Soon, sheets of rain drown the sights, sounds, and smell of the Gallo Pinto. It was a good harvest this year, and just in time. With stomachs full, they can rest a while before planting the next crop. Gallo Pinto is the life force of Nicaragua. With 200 pounds of beans in Marina’s house, they have no fear of starvation…until the rains come again.

Blowin’ in the Wind

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How many weeds can a woman pull
before you call her a woman?
How many days can a hatch of chayoles exist
before they are washed to the sea?
Yes, how many times must the coconuts fall
before they land on your head?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind,
the answer is blowin’ in the wind.

My apologies to Bob Dylan for my horrible lyrics, yet this song has cycled through my head all day. I think it began when I was pulling weeds under one of our coconut trees. I am obsessed with clearing the jungle. In my fixation with the weeds, I neglected to consider my location on a windy day….under a 30 ft. tall coconut tree. Fortunately, I beat the odds, but the coconut landed uncomfortably close to my feet. I read that 150 people die a year from falling coconuts. My neighbor was hit by a falling coconut several years ago. She was rushed to the hospital with a concussion. She survived. It was too close for comfort, so I ran into the house to sweep out the mounds of chayoles ( little gnats) that carpeted my house after a giant hatch the night before.

The chayoles arrive at the beginning of the rainy season. They annoy the hell out of me for about three days, then they die. They don’t bite, but for three days, we eat chayoles, breathe chayoles, and sleep with chayoles because they are so miniscule that they can easily pass through our mosquito net. See my post, Sometimes Paradise is Hell: An Oxymoron Story

My deceased friend, Bobby, had a clever way to rid his house of chayoles. He bought an electric blower and blew the tiny suckers out of his house. So, last year, I returned from the states with a new electric blower. I was determined to blow the chayoles from every nook and cranny in my house. Believe me when I say those annoying little gnats get into every crack, too.

What a disaster! I didn’t realize the electric blower had different power speeds. I had it turned on hurricane force. Geckos were flying out of cracks in the walls. Toad lips were flapping like parachutes. Dust balls sailed over my ceiling fans, gathering speed, and twirling like a Tasmanian devil. The mountains of chayoles filled the air like a wind storm in the desert.

When I directed the hurricane force blower to my bookcase…that’s when I knew I made a big mistake. Bobby’s ashes were sitting in a small urn on the top shelf. They flew off the shelf like a convict fleeing for his life, the urn broke, and his ashes scattered in the wind. “Oh Bobby,” I cried. “I’m so sorry.” “What do I do now?” I wondered. I grabbed my whisk broom, swept Bobby up from the floor, and took him to the garden.

Bobby’s tortoise, Cuba, is hibernating in a dirt mound in our garden. I gently sprinkled Bobby’s ashes over Cuba’s mound, and told Bobby to wake up Cuba because the rainy season has begun and Cuba should be done with her long winter nap. I felt so guilty! How could I be so stupid?

Now, you may think I’m crazy, but I think Bobby communicates with me through the wind. When I returned to the house and turned on the blower, I heard Bobby say, “Hallelujah! Free, at last!” It could have been a piece of plastic flapping around inside my blower  or my imagination seeking forgiveness for blowing Bobby’s urn off the bookshelf. Either way, I laughed and the song Blowin’ in the Wind recycled through my brain once again.

The chayoles are gone until next year. Bobby is lovingly sprinkled in the garden…one of his favorite places, and I’ve taken a break from weeding under the coconut trees…for now.

The Case of the Dangling Tennis Shoes

Nick Wiebe/Wikipedia

Traveling through Urbite, on Ometepe Island, I noticed a string of tennis shoes dangling from the electric lines. Were they a sign from a gang of thugs marking their territory like dogs defending their boundaries? Were they a warning for low-flying aircraft or UFO’s? Were they slung by bullies taunting defenseless kids? Francisco, who lives in Urbite, believes they were thrown over the electric lines by naughty little kids seeking attention.

All over the world, people encounter tennis shoes dangling from electric lines. Theories abound about what the dangling tennis shoes signify. No one knows for sure. But, I have a new theory. It hit me like a zap of electricity when our wires were crossed by a large wind gust.

Last week, our electricity suddenly blinked off. Now, this isn’t anything to get excited about in Nicaragua because it happens daily. However, when Marina shouted across the barbed wire fence that our electric lines were tangled together and we were the only two houses that lost our electricity, we had to find a creative solution to untangle the wires temporarily.

With each gust of wind, sparks flew throughout our entire community. Neighbors were frantically pulling the plugs to refrigerators, irons, and electronics. Danellia called the electric company, but they were in Masaya ( on the mainland), so there was no telling how long we would be without electricity.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that an easy way to untangle the two electric lines was to place a weight on the bottom line so they could separate easily. A vision appeared of the dangling tennis shoes in Urbite. Quickly, I grabbed my tennis shoes, tied them together and handed them to Ron. “Here!” I ordered. “Throw my tennis shoes over the bottom wire and the weight will separate the lines until the electric company gets here.”

“You want me to do what?” Ron responded with a puzzled look. “You will sacrifice a $90 pair of tennis shoes?” “Anything for electricity,” I replied frantic with worry. “It could be days before the electric company comes to repair the lines.” “This is Nicaragua,” I stated matter-of-factually. “We have to take control of our own lives.”

Although, the thought of dangling tennis shoes separating the electric lines was good, we couldn’t figure out how to throw the shoes over the wire without causing more problems. Ron’s aim had to be perfect, and there was no guarantee that the shoes would land in the correct spot on the line.

Instead, Ron rigged a long plastic PVC pipe with the plastic hook off of our new garden hose, and carried it up the path to the tangled wires. After several wobbly attempts, he hooked the bottom wire, separating it from the top wire, pulled the wire tight, and tied the PVC pipe to a coconut tree. Voila! Electricity!

The electric company arrived at 4 pm. This simple act astounded me! Same day service? Unheard of in Nicaragua! Unfortunately, the man who carried the ladder to the pole was attacked by Marina’s dog. He threw a large coconut at Tyler. It hit him in the shoulder and he yipped in pain. Marina got into a shouting match with the worker and said she was going to call the police. “There are laws, you know, about hurting dogs,” she shouted to the angry worker. I’ve never seen her so mad!

Well, this would never do! I had to come up with a plan to sweet talk the electric workers…and quick. I wanted to keep them on our side. You see, two weeks earlier  Arsenio arrived on his bicycle to shut off our electricity. We hadn’t paid our bill since the new meter was installed in February. “But, Arsenio, we never received a bill,” I reasoned. “Yes,” he responded with his Latin logic, “that’s because the fat guy on the bicycle quit and stopped delivering the bills.” “But, it’s not our fault,” I pleaded.

After a little sweet talk, he said that if Ron would pay the bill immediately, and return with the receipt, he wouldn’t cut off our electricity. While Ron rushed into town, I gave Arsenio an English lesson on our porch. Twenty minutes later, Ron handed Arsenio the receipt, and all was well in the world of Latin logic.

Out of the three workers who were there to untangle the wires, Arsenio was the most upset with Marina. What could I do? We didn’t have any cash on hand…we used all of it to pay our electric bill two weeks earlier. I ran back to the house and grabbed several packets of Chiky favorite. “I’m sorry about the neighbor’s dog attacking you,” I said. “I really appreciate you responding to our electric problem rapidly.” I handed each of them a packet of cookies and said that I was sorry I didn’t have more to offer for their help.

Henry, one of the workers, turned to me with a big smile and said, “The cookies are small, but your heart is big.” Problem solved. Electricity restored. Everyone, except Marina, appeared to be happy.

So, the next time you see tennis shoes dangling from electric wires, they may have been placed there to restore electricity from crossed wires…well at least in Nicaragua. Case solved.


The Anatomy of the Cult Ecoovie

Pierre Doris Maltais on Ometepe Island in the beige shirt and sandals.

William Norman (Man to his followers), whose real name is Pierre Doris Maltais was born June 27, 1937 in East Angus Quebec, married in 1961,and had three children. He is known as an “omniscient master”, skillful manipulator of noble ideas, and a dangerous cult leader. Through my investigations, I have discovered that there have been a number of naive idealists (scientists, environmentalists, politicians, businessmen, police officers) who have been taken in by his specious verbiage. He is alive and well and living in Granada, Nicaragua! His son[Osagi, I recently found out is not his son, he is a business partner] manages the Indio Viejo in Moyogalpa, Ometepe Island.

Osagi and Annie copy 2The picture above is of Osagi, in the middle, and Annie. Both Osagi and Annie manage the Indio Viejo. I recently heard that Osagi’s real name is Stephen and he was adopted by Pierre Maltais. ( added March 2013)

Ecoovie, a cooperative in experimental green living, began in 1978 in Paris.  Its mission was ecology and natural food. Pierre Doris Maltais, the founder, claimed to belong to the Micmac Tribe, in Gaspé, Quebec. Ecoovie humbly began in 1973 as an eco-naturalist group in Quebec, known as The Tribe. In Paris, its members become “écoopérateurs” volunteering for Ecoovie.

“William Norman”( one of his many alias’)  founded the University of Ile-de-France  in 1980. He renamed his university, University for Peace (Pax-UNI) in 1983. Through the establishment of a false university, he was able to secure funding to lead his ‘flock’.  In March 1983, he convinced the founder of the United Towns Organization, Jean-Marie Bressand, to sign a memorandum of understanding, and he was elected Federal Secretary for Peace, Disarmament and Human Rights at the 29th Session of the International Council of the UTO.

William Norman then founded the University’s new traveling group (UNI-R), through his newly elected status as Federal Secretary for Peace. The UNI-R was launched on March 21, 1984, called the March of Return: 170 people, including pregnant women and babies, were expected to perform around the world on foot and sixteen on a raft expected to cross the seas and oceans.

The University of Peace proposed to the UTO “the pursuit of common goals: peace, solidarity and harmony between men and peoples”; the University of  Peace formed the traveling group and advocated a World March for “a return to the global awareness of problems, peace, racism, and world hunger. “The World Council of Peoples was intended to” protect and promote respect for life in all its forms, freedom-friendly, all natural and human heritage. “

The expedition marched through France, Spain, Portugal, and sailed to Ceuta (Spanish Morocco). Shortly after establishing the UNI-R, word spread that William had scammed the UTO. The Congress of the UTO (September 1984, Montreal) dismissed Jean-Marie Bressand of his presidency (He founded the UTO in 1957).

As for the designs drawn from the primitive customs of the Indians of North America, the followers of the Tribe, guinea pigs. were tested at their expense. The group left Paris in its entirety on March 20, 1984 (day of the equinox) with luggage, tents and Indian children, to travel around the earth. Their travels lasted 16 years until 2000. Former cult followers testified that sanitary conditions were poor, work was unpaid, and medical care was non-existent, but the members had deep convictions.

It was a Danish woman who broke the silence about the cult, Ecoovie. Her name is Jill. For ten years, she lived among the followers of Maltais. She was 18 when she left Denmark to join the sect. She heard of Ecoovie for the first time when she was in the private school, Andebolle in Funen, Denmark. The idea of living like Indians fascinated her. July 27, Jill confided her ordeal in “Jyllands-Posten.” the largest Danish newspaper. (…) I hated the society. Actually I was weak and without insurance. I thought it would make me strong.

At first, Jill felt that she was about to discover the meaning in her life. However, the relationship with Ecoovie ultimately cost her two children. At that time, the followers lived in the forests or mountainous regions in France, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark. Finland, Haiti, and Italy in tepees made of sticks and straw. Alcohol and tobacco were forbidden. The food consisted of roots, twigs and leaves. They were required to lie on the ground in Indian tents or teepees, to find the original heat (heat supplied by the winter compost liter) and droppings around the tent. Not to break the vibratory circuit of soil-plant-eater-alluvial ground, they were forced to defecate on the floor like animals.

 There were no medical or pharmaceutical supplies. William Norman, to this day, claims to be a doctor and claims his recipes are magical. He demanded treatment of diseases in plants, clay poultices, fasting and incantations. It was nature itself that had meant the end of this sinister enterprise, in the form of diseases caused by malnutrition and lack of hygiene: typhus, furunculosis, dysentery, jaundice, and still births. Survival for a traveling group in Finland was even more catastrophic, given the weather conditions (temperatures down to minus 30 ° C), and certain months of the impossibility of finding food locally.

“We had to work six hours and sleep and two hours,” Jill stated. “During the breaks we were often awakened. It follows that we were always stressed, because plans always changed, and we had to decamp to go further. After some time, we were so feeble, that we begin to believe that the enemy “society” was the cause, just as we believed that Maltais was always right and he knew everything.”

Free and community homosexuality was imposed by William Norman (it would allow the transmission of knowledge through semen, according to Indian custom). Maltais had separated men from women. For minors, he had invented the “passages” of sexual initiation rites with the onset of puberty that allowed him to take an interest in children 12 to 16 years. In its report (Belguim Parliamentary Commission, 1997) , the Committee concluded that the touching took place under medical pretexts. As for the conception of children, since men and women were separated, it was Maltais who undertook to “convey the seed”.

“Maltais wanted men and women to live separately … and did not want them where he lived. Instead quantities of young men, had sex with him at night,” said Jill. Her account corroborates the TV Canadian documentary, where two former followers admit:” We had to lick his body. He was sick and he said that we gave him [and] juvenile forces “. One of them said he was 15 years old then.

In 1985, Jill was pregnant. The followers had walked about 1,000 kilometers, across Europe. She weighed only 45 kg. “I asked many times to be excused from work, especially when I was tormented by contractions,” recalled Jill. The answer was always this: It’s a dry race we do. ( I am uncertain of this translation)

On September 25, Jill goes into labor. “The contractions became more frequent and the amniotic sac breaks. I had to say nothing because I was hysterical and cataloged as pain in the neck. However, the pains were so strong that I could neither walk nor stand up.”

For four days, Jill continued to work and walk on the roads. Shantig was finally born between 10 pm and midnight September 29, 1985. The baby weighed only 1,630 gr. and remained a little over a month in a neonatal unit, said the mother.  Concerned cult followers hid Jill from Maltais and took her to a hospital against his commands that she deliver the baby in the forest.

At Ecoovie, children were not especially welcome. If followers gave birth, the child was deprived of his biological parents and placed in another camp. “Maltais did not want the parents to begin to bond with their children. The attachment could violate his plans”, Jill said.

“My daughter, Shantig, was moved to another camp a little time after hospital discharge,”claimed Jill. She gave birth to her son Gisga in 1989, when she was only in her 29th week of pregnancy. Two years later she gave birth to stillborn baby boy. For her, it was clear Ecoovie was responsible for this death. The crusade could begin.

In 1991, when she delivered a stillborn, she realized then that the lifestyle had killed her child. A year later, pregnant again, she finally left the cult definitely also for fear of losing her unborn child. She was then admitted to Rigshospital (Copenhagen University Hospital), where she has received psychiatric care for almost a decade.

During this decade, Jill  fought to get her children out of the sect, who refused to say where they were. For three years, her son, Gisgas, remained in Finland. Sick, he refused food for a month. Photos taken a month before his death showed his swollen belly. One day, Jill received a telephone call. The female voice said to Jill, “Your son is not here. He was taken elsewhere.”Jill  immediately left for the northern part of Finland. It took days to reach the camp lost in the forest. When she arrived, she was told that Gisgas was cremated yesterday. After consideration, the authorities had concluded that an infection was untreated and that was the cause of his death. Investigations have shown a number of deaths of children and adults in Ecoovie. Former followers have reported to Jill, then on TV that Gisgas, who had been in the group of boys of Maltais, died of exhaustion and with large pustules on his body.

The same year Jill gave birth to Sami. “Maltais psychically destroyed my daughter,” she reported. It took another five years before she got him to release Shanting, who was then 13 years old.” When I saw her, I have cried endless,” she reported. “She was tiny, delayed, skin and bones. She spoke only French and did not know me. Initially she was afraid to be with me. They told her that I was a demon, very few can understand how this can happen,” said Jill.

“I survive. It makes me strong to love my children, and think that we will overcome Maltais. I do not know what is the strongest [in me] of love or revenge, but the death of Gisgas can not be forgiven,” she said.

Meanwhile, in 1985 William Norman transferred some of his followers to Belgium, where he resumed his undercover naturo-led humanitarian scheme. He rented a castle in Belguim and led a frivolous high-society lifestyle. He received funding from supporters and affiliations with his  World Council of Peoples, a European Foundation of associations, association Re-source, and also a center flanked by a Franciscan Ecumenical theological faculty born in Brussels in 1985-1986. William Norman became Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor Recollects under the name Brother Maolinn Tiam.

While it is impossible to determine how many suckers, young and old, have monetarily supported William Norman and his fraudulent schemes, one horrific fact remains.  While his followers were reduced to living in squalor, surviving on leaves and twigs, and enduring painful ailments without medical care,  Maltais lived in apartments, comfortable hotels, castles, and ate in fancy restaurants in countries where he led a strange business under false identities to make off with the profits with little risk. In Belgium, he had retained a suite at the Metropole hotel under the false name of Henry Bridge. There  he led the good life, and in the private dining room reserved for gourmet, he entertained a parade of investors  interested in funding his world fabulous projects. Keteller Gustave was one of his business partners, he served four months in prison, like Maltais.

 Maltais created SOS-Deserts, in March 1988, aimed at greening the Sahara Desert and presented an international project, “the front of the Sahel”, estimated at $15 billion. Many people had been deceived by his charm and pseudo-friendliness.

Excerpt from an open letter from the UNI-R to the authorities of Ceuta (October 9, 1986): “[…] we are a group of thirty-five to forty people, doctors, engineers, technicians, teachers, students and other professionals who have decided to go around the world on foot in sixteen years. This is a project we prepare for over thirteen-years, a multidisciplinary international shipping and ecumenical […]. We also participate in a huge project: to fight against the desert, called “Front of the Sahel”. This is a program for greening of the Sahara made from a chain of 35,000 localities between Senegal and Ethiopia, thus constituting the “front” whose purpose is to stop the steady advance of the desert and start its regeneration. This project was developed within an international organization: the World Council of Peoples […]. We also chose a diet called “vital and sports’ for economic reasons and physiological: we do not smoke, we do not drink alcohol, we do not consume coffee or tea or other drugs.

We do not eat no meat, no milk, no new or other animal products […]. The socio-economic reasons that we have decided to choose this diet were reinforced by excellent and dramatic physiological results to be published in a medical thesis that we are now finishing to be presented in future years. We also chose to eat only after sunset […]. We do not participate in the race for money but more a race for survival of the planet. We live just like the Franciscans, and indeed, we were moved, as the Franciscans have been learning about the history of Daniel and his companions at the gates of Ceuta in 1227. These Franciscans live with Buddhists, Catholics and others interested in the Islamic tradition … “

William Norman was arrested in December 1988 in Belguim, and was jailed for four months , then out of the prison Saint-Gilles, April 14, 1989, and was expelled from Belgium. In December 2, 1991, the 49th Chamber of the Court of Brussels condemned him to three years in prison for forgery and use of forgery, fraud, embezzlement, false names public port and criminal conspiracy.

Four years after the events in Belguim, William Norman fled to Finland in early 1993.  Armed with the label “Indians Quebec,” Norman William and his followers infiltrated the environmental movement for Finnish subsidies. William reported to the Parliament in Helsinki in March 1993 for a conference on ecology, because of his research on the conditions of survival in cold weather! The Finnish government was aware of his background and ordered the expulsion of these unfortunate ecologists (120 were identified).

The French écoovistes identified in Finland, and also in Sweden, all returned to France, where they lived underground.  An investigation was opened by the prosecutor in Nantes, in the wake of death in Sweden of a man from this city, recognized as a member of the Tribe of Man. William Norman returned to Quebec in 1994. Jacques Godbout, Canadian filmmaker and writer, who knew him since 1960, made a documentary film, the “Norman William Case,” which was presented in September 1994 at the International Film Festival in Quebec.

This blog, was written by a traveler who met Abi and Osagi on Ometepe Island. At first he recalled them in a favorable way. The blogger later went back and included a warning at the top saying that Abi gives off a good impression at first, but is a very dangerous man.  Below this warning in red are 4 links to a CBC (reputable news agency in Canada) 4-part documentary about Norman William and Ecoovie.  It is in French.    Read it here.

The Canadian documentary showed Maltais experiencing European hotels, but with 14 false identities. Piel Petjemaltest (aka Pierre Doris Maltais) conducted a series of property transactions for a sheik from Saudi Arabia. Other times it was Norman William or Manolin. He managed to defraud humanitarian organizations out of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonexistent projects.

In 2003,  there was a child abduction case in Canada that involved Pierre Doris Maltais. He was accused of molestation of minors. Ten children were, at that time, excluded from this sect. Among them, the three grandchildren of Helen Martin. “At 8, the eldest still could not read and write. They were totally under the domination of vegan tenets of this sect. My daughter thinks I tried to take away her children. All I want yet is that they have a normal life, they can go to school. and I can see them simply as a grandmother,” she said. Justice Canada released Maltais, and then released the children to their mother … “Which will vanish soon in nature to follow his guru.”

 “This decision is incomprehensible. Again, we must try to locate them. They would still be about thirty, including several children, to surround Pierre Doris Maltais,” denounced Janine Tavernier, former president of the Association for Family and Individual (LISA).

In 2004, my husband and I moved to Nicaragua to run the Hospedaje Central ( renamed El Indio Viejo by an Indian Chief from Canada called Abi) on Ometepe Island. We stayed at the Hospedaje Central in Granada to train for our new jobs. Bill Parker, who owned the Hospedaje Central in Granada and leased the Hospedaje Central on Ometepe Island introduced us to a group of people who were members of an Indian tribe from Canada. They were staying at the Hospedaje Central in Granada. Their leader, Pierre Doris Maltais, was called Abi. The only thing I knew about this strange group was that a young street urchin had been befriended by Abi and one day, Abi reported that the street urchin had stolen $4,000 from him, which had been hidden in a dirty sock.

Bill died Christmas Day, 2004 of cancer. His Hospedaje Central in Granada was sold to ‘Abi’, and they took over the lease on the Hospedaje Central on Ometepe Island, changing the name to El Indio Viejo. A year or two later, he sold the Hospedaje Central in Granada  and his entire tribe moved to Ometepe Island.

In October of 2011, a Nicaraguan National Police helicopter arrived on the island to rescue a young boy, who reportedly had been kidnapped by Pierre Doris Maltais. We heard many rumors, the most prevalent being that this young boy had been chained up and abused in the Hospedaje for several years.

Update: According to the police report, this boy was from Haiti and “adopted by Pierre Maltais, 74 years old and FRANCOISE, MARIE, JACQUELINE, ODILE, EDITH, POUDRE, 51 years of age. 

He was reportedly suffering from malnourishment, reportedly had mental challenges (or retardation), and was locked in a house alone near the church in Moyogalpa. He was discovered naked laying on the floor, surrounded by a few coloring books and some ropes ( of which I am not sure what they were used for. One can only surmise.) The house had no furnishings. He slept on a mattress on the floor. The police took the teenage boy off the island, after a complete physical and psychological examination was completed, and will not give him back to Abi.

Shortly after that, most of the Ecoovie members fled and dispersed to….? An old man that made delicious sour dough bread for the tribe returned to Granada, where he continues to make his delicious sourdough bread.

Osagi (son of Maltais) returns to the island frequently, but he’s not there all the time. An older woman is currently running the Indio Viejo with a young volunteer. Several weeks ago, when Jerry died, Osagi offered to buy Yogi’s Place. He said he wanted to buy it for his brother, who was moving to the island. He also said that his father (Pierre Doris Maltais, aka Abi) was a biologist and was interested in doing ecological research.

I suspect that their lease on the Indio Viejo is going to be broken soon, so they are scrambling, and I hope, leaving the island for good. But, look out Granada, because another unverified rumor is that Pierre Doris Maltais bought a hotel on the Calzada in Granada.

How in the world does this “Face of Evil” avoid getting caught? It reminds me of the movie, “Catch Me If You Can.”  All I know for sure is that I spent a considerable amount of time researching Pierre Doris Maltais and his cult, Ecoovie. The problem with Nicaragua is a lack of communication and a lack of resources to investigate most crimes, which makes it a perfect location for Maltais and his cult members of Ecoovie, or whatever they call themselves, now, to hang out unrecognized.

So, when coming to Ometepe Island or Granada, please be on the lookout for this face of evil. Beware, use caution, and please spread the word. We don’t want him in Nicaragua! Spread the word for Gisgas, for Shantig, for Jill, for Helen Martin’s grandchildren, for the countless number of children and adults abused, malnourished, and abandoned by Pierre Doris Maltais. Spread the word for the abuse of power, greed, fraud, and the innocent conned into his evil trap. Spread the word in the name of humanitarianism, peace, and truth.

When the Well is Dry

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, (1706-1790), Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746

dry lips : Thanks to Varbak website for the photo.

Two days ago, I received an alarming text from a friend: Tonight I really need your help. I’m so down. My bebe is dieing. He’s been 4 days now with diarrea now. We’re heading to the hospital. Please help me. I beg you for god sake. Please.

Dr. Juan José Amador, Director of Health Systems and Technology in Nicaragua at PATH:

During my childhood in Nicaragua, I used to see a shocking sight: Groups of people  carrying child-size coffins through the streets toward the cemetery. Families-usually the poorest in my community-mourning the deaths of their youngest members. Almost always, diarrhea disease was the cause. (2009)

Recently, Nicaragua began vaccinating newborn babies against rotavirus, the most common cause of severe diarrhea disease among young children. Hospitals are better equipped with new saline solutions and educational programs offer families information about hygiene and clean water. As a result, infant mortality rates have been cut in half in Nicaragua.

But, there is still much work to be done. Although the local people have abundant knowledge about natural medicines, they know little about preventive health care. Their knowledge of preventive health care consists of rural legends, such as “keep a newborn away from drunks. If a newborn is near a drunk, he will get sick.” There may be a grain of truth, but it is a miniscule grain without any scientific understanding of how diseases spread and how to prevent them from spreading ( except, of course, to keep newborns away from drunks).

Frantically, while I searched the internet to see how I could help, baby Sayid was rushed to the hospital and an IV was inserted in his tiny arm. Within an hour, he was showing improvement. Yet, what could I tell this loving family to prevent this from happening again? That’s when I discovered Oral Rehydration Therapy.

A very simple recipe for oral rehydration: a liter of boiled water, 8 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt. Mashed bananas, lemons, or orange juice can be added for taste. I translated the recipe into Spanish, gathered all of the ingredients, and headed to the hospital to see baby Sayid, where his mama was gently rocking him to sleep.

One of the major problems, besides a lack of understanding of preventive health care, is the lack of money. Although hospital care is free, the poorest families have no money to buy medicine (such as pedialyte) to prevent severe diarrhea. Hopefully, next time baby Sayid is stricken with diarrhea, this family can start the oral rehydration therapy immediately, maybe preventing a trip to the hospital and a painful IV inserted into his tiny arm.

Dehydration is a killer! Until we moved to Nicaragua, I never gave clean, accessible water a thought. Now, I’m obsessed with water filters, drinking gallons of water daily, and researching symptoms of parasites. Last month, this newspaper headline piqued my curiosity about the prevalence of kidney disease on the island: Mystery Epidemic Devastates Central American Region.  

Medical researchers at first suspected the cause of chronic kidney disease to be a result of agricultural chemicals. Agricultural workers lack understanding of the need to wear protective gear when using toxic chemicals on the fields. Now, however, they are making more links to chronic dehydration as the culprit. Scary!

Maybe my next project should be to issue liters of oral rehydration therapy, included with recipes, to all the agricultural workers and families on the island. It seems to me, to be a simple, inexpensive way to prevent chronic dehydration. First, there is no lack of plastic liter bottles. Second, it would be easy to attach directions and the recipe on each bottle, so they can refill the bottle.

Benjamin Franklin was a smart man. He understood the importance of clean, abundant water. I will never take clean water for granted again. It is the source of life and health.

The Seed Swap

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Our island of volcanic rock, isolated by miles of sweet sea in every direction, was completely separated from the rest of the world. As Ometepe Island emerged from the majestic Lake Cocibolca, new species of plants were introduced by the birds and animals hardy enough to survive the journey. Seeds hitched a ride to the island hidden in the plumage of birds. Insects and spiders probably rode the wind to Ometepe.

Over time, new species of plants and animals were introduced by sweet sea-faring visitors and indigenous tribes who were called by a vision to settle in the land of two hills. The arrival of mankind permanently severed Ometepe Island’s isolation, thus introducing a variety of animal and plant species not native to the area. Today, the steady traffic of ferries to and from the island brings a constant stream of invasive species.

We are also guilty of introducing new species of plants to the island. My friend, Carole, smuggled a sweet potato in her luggage, and now Ron is known as the sweet potato king of the island. Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure. All of the new species smuggled, exchanged, and carried to the island immediately begin to compete with native species, and the native species almost always are on the losing end of the battle. Several years ago, expats started a Tilapia farm on the Maderas side of the island. Some of the Tilapia escaped, reproduced rapidly, and continue to compete for food with the native fish species, Guapote.

Last week, we were invited to a seed swap on the other side of the island. Among the seeds and saplings, we found a Jackfruit tree. A.heterophyllus-jackfruit(1)  In researching the Jackfruit tree, I found that it was introduced in Brazil as a reforestation project. This program was the first Brazilian initiative to recover a forest ecosystem previously devastated by sugarcane and coffee cycles. However, the Jackfruit has become an invasive species. The rainforests have suffered major impacts due to biological invasion, and Brazil had to start management and control of this invasive species.

I don’t want to start an invasion meltdown…it’s quite a dilemma. I enjoy my sweet potato pies and Jackfruit cookies. On the other hand, the introduction of non-native species negatively impacts our fragile ecosystem. The statistics are startling and more attention must be paid to the problem. Awareness is the first step.

Fortunately, most of the seeds and plants at the seed exchange were native species. The locals have an astounding knowledge of the medicinal uses of all the plants and trees on the island and I learned many uses of the seeds, barks, leaves, and roots of the plants. It was a great day on the other side of the island. Enjoy my slideshow trip.