“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Since returning from the states the end of June, I haven’t felt like playing. Honestly, I haven’t felt like doing anything. We both got Zika, which is like Chikungunya light. But, Zika amplified our ongoing arthritic symptoms from Chikungunya, which we got a year ago. Sigh! I feel so old and exhausted.
On top of our mosquito borne illnesses, the electricity has been horrible this month. Every other day, the power shuts off at six in the evening and blinks on at nine. Some people suspect that the Ferris wheel is the culprit, others say the new Pali grocery store is consuming too much of the electricity.
Whatever the reasons for our unstable power, sometimes I feel like Nicaragua is killing me slowly. I am tired of playing detective. Who hot wired our dune buggy? Who stole my friend’s bicycle, which was chained to her porch? Is it possible to flip a switch and turn off the electricity in our community when there is a big fiesta or bullfight in the next town? Why is my internet so slow? What tropical illness do we have now…parasites, Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, Swine flu, food poisoning, Cholera, E coli? We’ve had them all.
Is it Nicaragua or is it me?
What is the matter with me? Why can’t I play? Nothing excites me or stimulates me in Nicaragua anymore. Is it just a phase? We’ve lived in Nicaragua for 12 years. When they shut off the city water, we built a gravity fed tall water tower. When our internet was too dang slow, I made a woktenna. We’ve shoveled sand to build a road when a flood in 2010 washed our road away.
We’ve built a beautiful life in Nicaragua, yet this life has worn us down and made us think about our future. Do we want to spend the rest of our lives here? We are too old to start all over again. It makes me tired just thinking about it. What happens when we physically can’t play anymore?
We can travel six months out of the year on our pensionado visas. We can choose the worst months weather wise, like the oppressively hot and dry months of March, April, and May and the rainy and mosquito ridden months of September and October.
The problems we face in living in a developing country full-time are common for most expats. The lack of infrastructure, the lack of stimulation, the tropical diseases, the poverty, the opportunistic crimes….it is a huge challenge.
Yet, there are many aspects of living in Nicaragua that we love. The people sold us on retiring here. Nicaraguans are vivacious, carefree, and giving. Where else can we live on a giant lake, wake up to fishermen casting their nets and retire at night to gorgeous sunsets? We live on a Biosphere Reserve, where international travelers come to our doorstep daily.
Nicaragua has provided us with unlimited opportunities to live simply and within our fixed income, to creatively explore ways to enrich our lives and the lives of others. My children’s library is a perfect example. It is my refuge and my solace.
We realize that we are too old to build a new life elsewhere. Frankly, we do not want to let go of the life we built here, the friends we made, and the projects we developed. Living abroad is like a marriage. When it sours, you compromise and find ways to make it better.
Our story is one of passionate travel, of taking calculated risks. We’ve built amazing lives filled with playfulness, fun, and happiness. Now that the building phase is complete, we feel like we are in maintainance mode.
I am sure that many expats can relate to what I am saying. It doesn’t help that we have been sick since we returned from the states. But, exhaustion, sickness, and a lack of playfulness give me an opportunity to be introspective…to explore our options, to deeply contemplate the questions we have as older expats, and to plan for our future.
My answers to those questions are good health, an optimistic attitude, and options to stimulate the lack of playfulness. Even if it is simply riding the toy horse in the playground…it is a beginning.
These feelings will pass, I am sure of it. We are exploring our options and very grateful that we have options. We plan on traveling more and maybe building a casita on our property for a caretaker or a like-minded couple who can watch over our home and pets. Meanwhile, we will never stop playing, for the secret to a young life is playfulness.
The photos above are of our newly remodeled park in Moyogalpa. It even has free wi-fi and garbage cans! It is a wonderful place for all to play.
What is your secret to a young life? How do you deal with the lack of playfulness we all experience at one time or another in our lives?