One Heart: Paul captured the essence of Ometepe Island. Beautiful!

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Being last has its privileges. Being last provides you with even more drive to do better next time. Being last enables you to witness your surroundings just a wee bit more. Being last allows you to capture that memorable footage of your journey on camera and then introduce that action as the very reason for why you were last. Pretty clever wouldn’t you say? No shame here. I was last.
I practice Buddhism. Not devoutly like my wife. Not always consistently, but I try. For whatever reason, I find myself on the fence with any organized religion. But I try. I do see the benefits usually when least expected.
Before I left for Nicaragua, my wife asked me to be sure to keep prayer in my heart during my run. She reminded me to thank the Guardians of the Law for my protection on the volcano.
Our theme for this…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Moving Forward


Advancing…always moving forward…athletes from around the world participate in the Fuego y Agua Ultramarathon Survival Run on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Advancing with heavy logs..pushing their endurance to the max.

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Advancing with 50 pound stacks of firewood..testing their limits of strength
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Advancing into possibly shark infested waters…testing their fears of the unknown
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Advancing with 20 ft bamboo poles up the volcano..testing balance
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Advancing through cloud forests and jungles…testing agility
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Advancing with humor, kissing a live chicken for 5 miles….always moving forward with a positive and determined attitude.
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Survival of the Fittest



The Fuego y Agua Survival Run, held February 16th on Ometepe Island, as told through Charles Darwin quotes. At the bottom of the page, you can read several blogs from the Survival runners for details of their experiences.

“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” ~ Charles Darwin

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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

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“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” ~ Charles Darwin

IMG_1919“An American Monkey after getting drunk on Brandy would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.” ~ Charles Darwin

Johnson in tree copy“The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man’s inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly plowed, and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.” ~ Charles Darwin

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“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” ~ Charles Darwin

Corinne snuggles with her chicken copy

“I am not apt to blindly follow the lead of other men.” ~ Charles Darwin

Johnson wins the Survival Race.

Johnson wins the Survival Race.

“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.”~ Charles Darwin

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“Blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.”~ Charles Darwin

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Pac and Johnson blush with excitement. They are the only two finishers of the Survival Run.

“…for the shield may be as important for victory, as the sword or spear.”~ Charles Darwin

The four medals collected throughout the obstacle course

The four medals collected throughout the obstacle course

Blogs from the Survival Runners:

1. From the Tread

2. Barb Wire for Breakfast

3. A True Once in a Lifetime Adventure

4. Dirt in Your Skirt

5. I Did Fail: A Recap of the Craziest Race of My Life

Next post will be a recap of the 25K, 50K, 100K, and children’s 5K. Throughout the weekend, I was awed and inspired by the dedication, determination, and survival skills of all the competitors. Congratulations to everyone! It was an amazing race.


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.

A Tale of a Fateful Trip


The Saga of a Fuega y Agua Ultra-Marathon volunteer as told through the lyrics of Gilligan’s Island theme song.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from our tropic port
Of which you cannot skip.

Our mate was a mighty volunteer,
For the Fuega y Agua race
Three volunteers set out that day,
To tour the Survival chase, to tour the Survival chase

DSCN0830Nine passengers were aboard the truck,
The tiny truck was tossed,
If not for the breakfast of snickers and beer,
Our hope would all be lost, our hope would all be lost.

We tracked the runners through the race,
The obstacles were unique
Until we were told to climb the volcano,
Our tour was rather meek, our tour was rather meek.

IMG_1944In skirts and flip-flops unprepared,
Determined to ascend,
We hiked uphill for two exhausting hours,
Avoiding breaking wind, avoiding breaking wind.

With bamboo poles the runners climbed,
They passed us at every turn,
Barely able to descend,
We felt the stinging burn, we felt the stinging burn.

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Midnight came and Johnson won,
We returned to our tropical nest,
To volunteer for the Kids 5K,
But wait until you hear the rest, wait until you hear the rest.

The weather started getting rough,
The waves were strong and mean,
All visitors became castaways,
Their plight was unforeseen, their plight was unforeseen.

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Ron took our mate to meet the boat,
For her expected trip back home,
She waited like a refugee,
Five hours she feared to roam, five hours she feared to roam.

No phones, no food, no boats to go,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primitive as can be, as primitive as can be.

refugee MoyogalpaSo, this was the tale of the castaways,
They were here for a long, long time,
They learned to make the best of things,
An experience very sublime, an experience very sublime.

Booked flights and well made plans,
Flew out the windows last night,
For they hadn’t learned to expect the unexpected,
In the land of the not quite right, the land of the not quite right.

The tale of a fateful trip is done,
Our mighty mate is well,
Aboard the Che and traveling home,
Oh the stories she can tell…oh the stories she can tell.

Stay tuned for a post about the Fuega y Agua Ultra-Marathon held on Ometepe Island February 15-17, 2013.

Weekly Photo Challenge: When a Kiss is More Than Just a Kiss


A kiss is almost always more than just a kiss. It is a language with its own grammar…a recipe of love with unique ingredients. People actually have careers studying kissing; they are called philematologists. Kisses are classified into three categories: the “basium,” for the standard romantic kiss; the “osculum,” for the friendship kiss; and the “savium,” the most passionate kind, sometimes referred to as a French kiss.

But, in Nicaragua I’ve encountered another kind of kiss, which I’ll call “desolo” or the Latin word for abandoned. Eight years ago, I lent my camera to my 10-year-old neighbor, Luvy. Her mother was visiting from Costa Rica where she was working as a maid to support her family on Ometepe Island. When Luvy’s mother returned for a short visit, I told Luvy to record her most precious moments on my camera and I would print the pictures for her.

DSCN0725For most of Luvy’s young life, her mother lived in Costa Rica. Luvy’s elderly father cared for her and her household of siblings and extended family members.  At the age of seven, Luvy bent over the cooking fire preparing meals for her family, as well as tending to the daily needs of her younger nieces and nephews who lived with them.

When Luvy was a teenager, her mother returned to live with them. Sadly, Luvy still lives with a feeling of abandonment, as do most of the younger Nicaraguan children whose parents leave them to find work in Costa Rica. Luvy turns 19 next week. She is following in her mother’s footsteps by moving to Costa Rica to find work. I desperately wish we could stop this perpetual cycle of abandonment.

IMG_1676The photo above has a happier ending. This is Bobby’s dog, Luna. Bobby died a little over a year ago abandoning Luna. She was placed in a loving foster home for a short time, until the woman could no longer care for her. Finding loving homes for pets in Nicaragua is not easy. First, most Nicaraguans don’t understand the concept of pets. Second, Bobby pampered Luna, again something unheard of in Nicaragua.

My friend, Carol, came to the rescue. She lovingly opened her home to Luna. Last week, when we were visiting Granada, we stopped in to say hello to Luna. Very grateful and sloppy Luna kisses smothered Carol with love.

Next time you happen upon kissing, remember that a kiss may look deceptively simple, but a kiss is almost never just a kiss.

 

 

Place Where the Gods Pee


About six miles out of Moyogalpa, one can find a tranquil emerald-green pond called Charco Verde.  The lagoon is an extinct parasite crater of Concepcion Volcano. Steeped in legends and mystery, Charco Verde was a sacred spot for the Nahuatl ancestors, where the indigenous population practiced rituals such as sacrifices, reincarnations, and supplications to the gods. The algae infested lagoon was called Xistletoet by the Nahuatls, which means “Place Where the Gods Pee.” They did have a sense of humor!

Today, Charco Verde is a protected nature reserve where many varieties of local and migratory birds congregate, as well as Howler monkeys, armadillos, rabbits, and deer. Walking the well-maintained trails through the dry tropical forest that surrounds the reserve, we encountered herons, monkeys, cormorants, egrets, woodpeckers, magpies, and a variety of tropical plants and trees.

Fishermen cast their nets daily.

IMG_5597Gardens display duendes, sort of like mischievous little gnomes or leprechauns hidden among the foliage.

IMG_4453Map of the 1.7 kilometer trails through the reserve.

IMG_1807Majestic Concepcion volcano casts its enormous shadow into the green lagoon.

IMG_1801Herons and Egrets wait patiently for breakfast.

IMG_1792Zapolotes or buzzards circle the lagoon, always picking the ripest morsels of flesh.

IMG_5600This tranquil lagoon has a history of magic and witchcraft. Read the Legend of Chico Largo here.

IMG_1805The Howler monkeys take daily siestas in the tree tops. This little one says, “Who’s there?”

IMG_1788Cowboys herd their stray cattle back home. Who knows? This cow may be the cowboy’s father who made a pact with the devil. Legend has it that one can call forth the devil in Charco Verde, trade one’s soul for riches, and when the devil recalls the soul, he turns the deceased into a cow. Our local butcher says he found several cows with gold teeth.

IMG_1796No need to be petrified about these legends. Life in Charco Verde is abundant and full of vitality. Next time you are wandering around the lagoon, watch out for the cows. It could be a deceased relative.

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We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!


We spent the past week painting three rooms in our house. It’s not an easy task remodeling or building anything in Nicaragua. The environment is harsh, termites ravage wood, everything is done by hand, and supplies are limited. But, we’ve come a long way in the two and a half years since we’ve lived here permanently.

IMG_1660 Our couch is still in Marvin’s workshop. When it arrives, I’ll hone my upholstery skills. Then, I’ve designed a glass and iron coffee table for Marvin to make. IMG_1662 The kitchen is slowly coming together. I’m designing kitchen cabinet doors that are punched tin, allowing air to circulate. IMG_1663Ron made me a sewing table. My library books are waiting to be delivered to several schools next week. Looks like I’m going to be very busy, but that’s the way I like it.

IMG_5966Most of our living is done outside, so we have a large wrap around porch for our hammocks and rocking chairs.

Before Construction

8Our pink living room.

10My pink den and workroom.  15The pink kitchen. YUCK!

Our House Through the Years

12003-2004 when we rented our little beach shack for a year.  22009 when we bought the beach shack. Renters had painted it Barbie doll pink, inside and out. IMG_1295Our house today. Whew! It tires me just looking at all the work we’ve done. I think it’s time for a mini-vacation. So, we’re off to the beach for a few days. See you soon. 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge 2: The Heavenly Chocolate Chip Tree


The Silk Floss Tree, or species of Ceiba is the majestic giant of the rainforest. It has long been considered sacred for the indigenous people of Nicaragua. One of their myths is that the souls of the dead would climb into the branches of the Ceiba to reach heaven.  Large spines protrude from the trunk to protect the bark and discourage predators.  I call it the chocolate chip tree because its unique spikes resemble chocolate chips.

the chocolate chip tree copyLike the Pickle Tree, the Chocolate Chip Tree has many uses.
Uses for the wood:
The straight trunks of the tree are used to make dugout canoes. The wood is pinkish white to ashy brown in color, with a straight grain.

Uses for the seeds and fiber:
The brown seeds are round like peas and grow in pods. The pods burst open and inside a whitish cotton like fiber surrounds the brown seeds. The fiber is extremely light, buoyant, and water resistant. It is used to stuff pillows and life jackets. I have some fiber sitting in a bowl on my porch and the hummingbirds gather it for their nests.The fiber has also been used to wrap around poison darts to be blown out of blowguns.

Medicinal Uses:
The seeds , leaves, bark, and resin are used medicinally to treat dysentery, fever, asthma, and kidney disease.

Thanks to my son, Cory, for the stunning photo.