“One does not travel by plane. One is merely sent, like a parcel.” ― Karen Blixen
We’ve been out of Nicaragua for three months. It is the longest time we have been away in the seven years that we have permanently lived here. Three countries, 16 airplanes, two trains, three ferries, two rental cars, too many buses to count, and one eye operation later…we are finally home!
My impressions of the countries we visited are dependent on many factors such as economic, political, climate, and most important…the people we met from all walks of life. In every country we visit we ask,”Could we live here?” The answer often surprises us. Yet, it helps us to form lasting impressions of the country.
Could we live in Cuba?
Foremost, we are grateful we had the opportunity to visit Cuba in March before Trump’s Cuba policy redefined “good” U.S. tourism. We are and always will be independent travelers. In most packaged tours and cruises, you see what the tour companies want you to see…predictable, expensive, and unsustainable tourism. Instead, we like to explore as detectives searching for clues about why people live as they do, what the real culture is like, and what makes a country tick.
We had that opportunity in Cuba because Ron’s sister is married to a Cuban. So we were able to visit with her extended family. I’ve written several posts about Cuba. This post in particular answers our question, Could we live here? Lasting impressions of Cuba
I am afraid the sun is setting on independent Cuban travel for U.S. citizens. The new rules will herd U.S. citizens back toward the prepackaged predictable tours. Will it hurt Cuba’s emerging private sector that caters to independent visitors? “The Trump plan asserts that the Obama-era rules facilitated what the White House called “illegal” tourism by allowing U.S. travelers to rent rooms in Cuban homes through sites such as Airbnb.”
( Washington Post, June 17, 2017)
But, what the U.S.does not understand, is that these sanctions will do nothing to deter the creative entrepreneurship of the Cuban people. Tourism is alive and thriving in Cuba without the U.S. Who are we to be so arrogant to think that Cuba cannot survive without the U.S.? They have resisted for 60 years and will continue to thrive with Canadian and European tourism.
As far as Airbnb, I am afraid it will be closed to Cuba. I wrote about staying in Airbnb’s here. The History of Airbnbs in Cuba
Could we live in Cuba? No. Will the new policy deter us from visiting again? No. If our new extended Cuban family needs us for any reason, we will find a work-around to visit them. This shameful policy will not deter us. Viva Cuba!
Could we live in Patzcuaro, Mexico?
Let me count the ways we love thee, Patzcuaro: the markets, the climate, the handicrafts, the parks, the museums, the culture, the cleanliness, the people! We have good friends who have lived in the Patzcuaro area for 10 years. The month of April in Nicaragua is oppressively hot and dry, so there was no better plan than to spend the month of April in Patzcuaro, Mexico.
This is the rooftop terrace view from our Airbnb apartment we rented for the month. What is there not to love about this view? I still have many posts to write about Patzcuaro, so I won’t go into any details. Instead, visit this website to get a sneak peek of all the places we visited in the surrounding area. Patzcuaro/Visit Mexico
We got into a daily routine of walking to the bakery for breakfast and sitting in the park watching the city come to life. Everyday was a new adventure. Some days, we took the shuttle buses, called Combis, to surrounding areas. Other days, we visited museums or visited with our friends. Life was perfect!
Patzcuaro is a gorgeous mountain town with an elevation of 7,200 feet. There is a small population of expats who live there, but mostly Patzcuaro and the surrounding handicraft villages are visited by Mexican tourists. The day we took the ferry to Janitzio, a touristy island in Lake Patzcuaro, we were the only foreigners there.
Semana Santa celebrations, parades, and food and craft vendors filled the parks for a week. The culmination of the Semana Santa festivities sold us on Patzcuaro. We went to the park expecting to see the ceremony of the burning of effigies. I thought it was going to be a religious ceremony, but instead they hauled out an effigy of Donald “Tromp”.
As he twirled and burned, the crowd went wild! I couldn’t stop laughing!
Could we live in Patzcuaro? Definitely! The cost of living is only a little higher than living in Nicaragua. We would sit in the park every morning and discuss the pros and cons of moving to Patzcuaro. The biggest con was that we built an established and fulfilling life on Ometepe Island. Can we give it up? Sell everything, and move again?
Cory, our son has lived and worked in Yosemite National Park for nine years. We try to visit him at least once a year. This May, we spent two weeks with him in his little apartment in Yosemite Valley.
The numerous waterfalls, 46 and counting, were booming in Yosemite due to the heavy snow melting in the mountains. It was a sight to behold. That last time we visited, the area had been in a three-year drought and there were no waterfalls.
It remains to be one of my favorite places in the world. But, could we live there? Maybe. We thought about buying a condo outside of Yosemite so we could visit Cory more often. We could rent it the times we weren’t there.
We also thought about getting a camper and becoming volunteer camp hosts for a summer in Yosemite. There are so many options. But, Cory may not be in Yosemite for the rest of his career, and that is the main reason we would want to live there.
Can we continue to live in Nicaragua?
The first thing I did when we returned was to visit my children’s library. Maxwell, my librarian, had recently had wrist surgery, and I had eye surgery. We looked like we had gotten into a fight!
My library is my legacy on Ometepe Island. I can’t imagine leaving it behind. What would happen to my programs? Where would Maxwell work?
After my eye surgery, it was a wake-up call. I must have two more surgeries. Medicare covered 80% of my surgery in the states. Although we have international health insurance, my deductible is $2,500 for the hospitals in Managua. I have an appointment at Vivian Pellas next Tuesday to see if the eye specialist can do my second surgery. It will depend on if they have the equipment and if he has done this type of surgery before. If not, then I have to fly back to the states in August for my second surgery.
How could we ever leave our abundant gardens and fruit trees? Our Jackfruit tree is producing our first fruits! These giant fruits are not only nutritious, but I have been amazed at their versatility. Last night we made vegetarian pulled pork barbecue sandwiches with the Jackfruit. It tasted exactly like pulled pork! With hundreds of pounds of Jackfruit, we have plans to make Jackfruit tacos, ice cream, and cookies with the ground seeds.
We are in the process of renewing our 5 year residency cards, our cedulas, too. So, although we wonder what life may be like in other parts of the world, we are not in any rush to make any changes soon. We love Ometepe Island, and we can figure out a way to have the best of all worlds just by traveling and coming back to our lovely boomer nest in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of a sweet sea, in the middle of Central America!
Life is good, even when it throws you curveballs.