My Husband: The Snake Whisperer

“When a woman teams up with a snake a moral storm threatens somewhere.”
― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

Marina shouted across the fence, “Ron, Ron ven aquí rápidamente! Hay una serpiente en mi cocina.” “A snake?” Ron shouted back. As usual, it was after dark on a Sunday night, and we lost our electricity.  I swear, the weekend electricity guys flip a switch every Sunday night leaving us in the dark for two hours. I picture them snickering and snoring in the Union Fenosa office.
IMG_2600Ron and I grabbed a couple of flashlights and squeezed through the barbed wire fence separating us from Marina’s house. Marina was standing on a plastic chair in her kitchen waving the only light she had…her cell phone. “Quick, help me trap the boa constrictor in the wall,” she ordered. “We’ll kill it tomorrow.” Stumbling around the dirt floor kitchen, we spotted some bricks and covered the top holes in the cement block wall. Trapped for the night! We lent Marina a flashlight and whispered, “Sweet dreams” (because their three grand babies were sleeping) and headed home shaking our heads wondering what the next morning would bring.
IMG_2601Early the next morning Marina shouted, ” Ron, Ron ven aqui.” With machete in hand, she was determined to capture and kill the giant boa sleeping in her kitchen wall. Now, we are not snake killers. If they are not poisonous, we trap them and set them free. Boas are beautiful and they eat rats, which is probably why it was in her kitchen wall. But, tell that to Marina, a protective grandmother. A moral storm was brewing.

With a mirror, flashlight, and a ladder, Ron spotted the boa near the top of the hole. He tried pouring warm water down the hole to flush out the boa, but it only aggravated the enormous snake and it retreated farther down. So, Ron chipped a small hole in the cement block, found his tail and started p-u-l-l-i-n-g.
IMG_2603Meanwhile, Adioska was screaming, Marina had her machete in her hand, and Don Jose was comforting his grand babies. This picture is priceless. You can just feel the fear!
IMG_2604But, Ron kept p-u-l-l-i-n-g. That was one strong boa!
IMG_2606Success! Isn’t it a beauty! Marina rushed forward with her machete. “No, Marina,” I explained. “We’re not going to kill it. We’ll put it in a sack and take it far, far, away from your house.”
IMG_2608Marina wasn’t sure. “You’ll take it far away? she whimpered. “Certainly,” we promised. Meanwhile the boa was getting restless. It tried to wrap around Ron’s arm and he lost his grip on the boa’s head. It only bit him once. Jose ran forward with a big sack, and Ron dropped it comfortably into its temporary home.
IMG_2609I have no fear of losing my life – if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it. Steve Irwin
“Stephen, do you want to see the boa?” Ron said reassuringly. But, Stephen ran for his life in the opposite direction. “Dustin, do you want to see the boa?”  Dustin took a few tentative steps toward the sack. He peeked in and soon wanted to touch it. Maybe a new snake whisperer is born.

Ron took the wiggling sack to the new airport. Just as he set the sack on the ground to release the boa, a big, fat rat ran across the path. “Perfect,” Ron told the boa. It looks like it’s lunch time.

Have you seen the movie, Snakes on a Plane? Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we never hear the quote below. LOL

From the movie, “Snakes on a Plane” : Neville Flynn: [TV edit] Enough is enough! I have had it with these monkey fighting snakes on this Monday through Friday plane!

Nicaragua Ain’t for Sissies

 “Nicaragua ain’t for sissies, but it’s got a lot of soul. Folks accustomed to life in the US need an incredibly adventurous spirit if they are to adjust to Nicaragua. Life is challenging here,  for everyone. If you’re from the US,  forget the creature comforts of home. But the reward is that one develops intimate relationships with the people and the land, and these will fill one’s heart forever” ~ Silvio Sirias

He’s right, you know. Nicaragua ain’t for sissies. When the water stops running just as you step in the shower or start a load of wash, the electricity blinks off near the end of your favorite movie,  and the lack of a reliable infrastructure rears its ugly head…

IMG_1705When the fiery dragon breathes down upon the land in March and April, and the only relief is to stick your head in the freezer, find a shade tree, go swimming, or spend an hour in the air-conditioned ATM…
IMG_1703When you make an appointment and the office is closed for a two-hour lunch, or “manana” means today, tomorrow, or a year from now, or you wait in a long line at the bank, only to have ten people step in front of you because there is a SPACE
IMG_1697Don’t be surprised if your frustrations melt away, and are replaced by contagious chuckles and a ‘knowing’ smile because…..
IMG_1696Nicaragua is a country of poets, artists, and lovers. There are no strangers, everyone is welcome.
IMG_1700Generosity, creativity, and a simple zest for life abounds. Smiles are freely passed along the dusty trails. Adios means hello and goodbye.
IMG_1698Passion and humor light up every face. Sometimes, you just gotta laugh in the land of the not quite right.
IMG_1701Frustrations? Yes. However, the rewards of developing intimate relationships with the people and the land far surpass my frustrations. My heart is full; I am sitting on top of the world.
IMG_1692If you would like to read more about the Nicaraguan author, Silvio Sirias, click HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Parades of Culture

If you really want to experience the culture in Nicaragua, then go to a parade. Bombas burst, drummers rat-tat-a-tat, horns blast soulfully, and vendors shout enthusiastically. Vibrant colors assault the eyes, while smells of perfumed flowers and freshly shampooed hair swirl through the crowds. Sweat drops on freshly pressed costumes, children lick  melted drips of ice cream from their chins, while La Gigantona entices the crowds with fruit laden hats and remembrances of traditions of long ago.  Everyone loves parades in Nicaragua…and I’m no exception.

Faces of Los Ramos

Family faces are magic mirrors looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future Gail Lumet Buckley


Faces in the community of Los Ramos. Thanks to Santiago and Ever for the photos.


“Masks beneath masks until suddenly the bare bloodless skull.” ― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

“His dress told her nothing, but his face told her things which she was glad to know.”
― A.A. Milne, Once on a Time


“For a moment at least, be a smile on someone else’s face.”
― Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun

“Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character.” ― Clarence Day

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow. ~Helen Keller

When I look at the smiles on all the children’s faces, I just know they’re about to jab me with something. Dan Castellaneta

“Every child needs a champion.” ― Hillary Rodham Clinton



Weekly Photo Challenge: Heads Up!

Life is a balancing act. You need to keep your head up and your feet on the ground, while allowing your heart to go wherever it pleases! ~Susan Gale

I spend entirely too much time with my nose to the ground in Nicaragua. There are hidden dangers lurking in the forms of scorpions, red ants, and biting centipedes. Yet, I need to remember that life is a balancing act. There are beautiful surprises awaiting when I choose to hold my head up high!

Coconuts, the life force of Nicaragua.


Hidden among the fronds are vampire bats.
vampire bats 2Our Peras are ripe. A new batch of apple sauce and Pera pie is on the way.

PerasThe bananas have a couple of months left before they are ripe.
IMG_2567If we can only keep the Howler monkeys from nibbling on the bananas!
IMG_1785Our orchid is blooming, strung high in the nancite tree.
IMG_5979Marvin’s welding mask is strung high in the water tower. Our new water supply is almost finished.
IMG_2549My new Moroccan lamp shines colorfully in the darkness reminding me to keep my head up and my feet on the ground, for life is truly a balancing act.

My heart will always be free to roam, wherever it pleases. Thank you, my precious Nicaragua.


Gargantious Gar

In the evening, as the brutal sun was sinking into the sweet sea for its nightly nap , a freshwater giant was lurking in the shallow waters of Lake Cocibolca. These gargantious alligator gar have few known predators, mainly because the prehistoric relatives of the megafish have tooth-filled mouths and heavily scaled bodies.

Yet, one unfortunate menacing-looking behemoth couldn’t contend with Julio and his missile-like aim.
IMG_2569With a swiftly flying rock, he pounded the alligator gar into deadly submission. This toothy giant didn’t have a chance.
IMG_2574This gargantious gar may look fierce, but attacks against people are unknown. Tell that to little 8 mo. old Braydon, whose mother just finished bathing him in the lake.
IMG_2573Julio chopped up the gar with his machete throwing twinkly flying sparks….seriously! Then, the big hunks of meat were distributed among the neighborhood. Some say that gar is a tasty treat, others say that gar is bony and tough. The only fact I know about gar is that the eggs are poisonous to humans if ingested.

Stay tuned for my gar recipe. In the meantime, I think I’m taking a break from swimming in the shallow waters of our sweet sea.



Raising the Water Tower

Five Tips for Raising Water Towers

1. Think creatively. When one lives on a primitive island that lacks cranes and pulleys, it helps to think outside of the well when raising a tall water tower.


2. Be Positive. Marvin said, “Don’t worry! I’ve raised water towers many times. I never use machinery.” Also, it helps to be a good boss using clear directions.

3. Have a basic knowledge of physics. Plus, it helps to have strong ropes, thick gloves, and many strong men.

4. Know when to let go and NOT to let go of the ropes. It could save lives.

5. Celebrate the raising of the water tower! Gaseosa! Coca Cola!

Enjoy the video of Marvin Raising the Water Tower. It was an amazing feat of strength and ingenuity.

The Water Tower from Debbie Goehring on Vimeo.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Adapting to Climate Change

Poor rural people are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in Central America. On Ometepe Island, we live on ecologically fragile land and the locals depend on agriculture, livestock, and fishing to make a living.

An increased frequency of uncommon weather patterns has had a wide impact in Nicaragua. This year, for instance, we had an uncommonly dry rainy season. Drought has ravaged farmers, prompting a spike in food prices, as well as water rationing throughout our regional water supply area.

We usually have running water every other day for half a day. This morning, the water pressure was strong enough to fill my washing machine and run a load of clothes  (for the first time in two weeks), but I had to start the washing machine at 5:30 am. It’s a good thing I’m an early riser, because at 9:00 am the water stopped.

Although we have no control over the climatic changes, we do have control over the water supply in our house. Marvin to our rescue! He’s constructing a six meter water tower in our back yard, with a maximum capacity pressurized water tank at the top. That way, even when we don’t have electricity, we’ll have water running throughout our house.

Once the tower is complete, we are going to run a water line to our neighbor’s house, too. I can’t imagine living with three small children under the age of four without access to water. These pictures represent a big change in the making for us. By next week, we should have a steady supply of water for two families.


Only Two Racers Arrive Alive

The Survivor Run of the Fuego y Agua Ultra-marathon held on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua on February 16, 2013 was an incredible event. We volunteered in the Survival Run and were fortunate to be able to follow the Global News crew from one obstacle to another, up and down Maderas volcano, through the cloud forest, and across the beach.  I still can’t imagine running up and down the volcano, climbing and chopping down trees, carrying a chicken, then carrying 50 pounds of firewood (after being handcuffed by the police), balancing a 20 ft. bamboo pole for miles, digging a hole on the beach, and swimming to an island inhabited only by monkeys in the dark, dark night of the sweet, sweet sea. Twenty hours later, two racers arrived alive. Out of 37 racers, only two finished the race…Pac and my hero, Johnson, the winner. By the way, the other racers survived…barely!

The family that volunteers together, stays together.

The Goehring family portraitThe Global News video of the Survival Run is HERE. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of our island of peace and these amazing racers. It is a well-done 25 minute video. Enjoy.