Out of Nicaragua

“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?

Time will tell. I am going to write a post about it soon. It certainly is a consideration at this point in our lives.
Could we live in Yosemite National Park?

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.



19 thoughts on “Out of Nicaragua

  1. Such a great intro photo of the homemade, what-the-heck-is-it? trailer in Cuba! And your point that Cuba’s tourist industry will continue to thrive with or without US tourist dollars is spot on. Independent US travelers will be out of luck unless they sneak in from another country and the legal tourist companies will continue to charge thousands for a legit tourist visa. And in the middle, just the people of both Cuba and US who want to make and save a dollar, and who will be the ones who lose …
    The “Could we live here?” question followed us through our years of traveling full-time and helps you see a place, after the tourist enchantment fades away, with fresh eyes. Finding groceries, navigating by bus and taxi, interacting with the people and adapting to the climate all take on a different perspective when you think of a visit becoming more permanent. I can definitely see the allure of exchanging those hot, dry spring and summer months in Nicaragua for a “fresher” (I love how the Mexicans describe cooler weather as “fresh!”) climate in Patzcuaro.
    As always, I’ll be looking forward to seeing where your life and passions take you in your future posts. Stay well, Debbie! Anita

    • Anita, that homemade, what-the-heck-is-it, was in Trinidad, Cuba when the carnival came to town. They were old rides from the 1960’s they were setting up on the main street of town. I should post all of my pictures of the old fashioned carnival rides. They are a hoot!
      Thanks for your comforting thoughts, too. I think we have the seven year itch and are yearning for a scene more cosmopolitan and less countryish. Time will tell.

      • There is no need to flip through the backlog – just dip your Gypsy toes into the cooling waters of WP whenever you have time. Your body needs a lot of r&m while your eye/eyes recover/adjust —- after being on the road/air/etc and getting your immune system back to norm. Sometimes I wonder if mine will ever be norm again.

        I’ve found that adding fresh turmeric to the ginger ‘teas’ seems to boost my progress.. most days i make a large pot of ‘aguita’ and drink it throughout the day…
        Rest a lot, dear friend! Love, Lisa

  2. Another great blog post. The nice thing is you can live where ever you want. How lucky we are! So many paradises to choose from! Every place we have lived we always said one more chapter in our life adventures. We look forward to the next chapters even though we love living here in Boquete, Panama after 3 years, we know there are other places to check out.

  3. HI, I didn’t realize you were the person whose son we met in Yosemite several years ago on an astronomy junket. Nice young man. We also saw you on House Hunters one time. We just returned from Yosemite (love love that place) and head to Granada in July. Have a home there. Maybe you’d like to visit some time. I enjoy your views and viewpoint. Best wishes

  4. Hi there!!!
    Thanks soooo much for all your updates !!! SOOOOOO COOL!!

    I’m very interested in Patzcuaro , and checking it out ….does it have a social life there, in any manner??

    Im in Guatemala now , and a going to rent for a year in Antigua next,,been living in lake Atitlan, love it… but don’t want to build here, the lake is gorgeous but a hassle for me always on a boat…theres always something!!

    Just finished a 2 week workshop on permaculture and natural builds … and plan to build 3 lil houses near Antigua , but ,,Im iffy about the rainy season now … its awful….always something..!!!!

    Anyhow , perhaps a visit to Patzcuaro is around the corner for me and I will do alot of research too.

    Blessings to u….

    and for your eye , healing prayers to you too.

    Light ,

    • Thanks, Heidi! Maybe we are destined to keep moving. I’m not sure where, but our gypsytoes have been itching for the past year. We loved Patzcuaro. It has a social life and lots of activities and projects with Mexicans and expats intermixed. That was one of the things I really liked about Patzcuaro. There is a middle class of Mexicans who are actively involved in community projects.
      I don’t think I could live there in the winter, though. It is too cold and damp. But, we may opt to spend 3 months in Patzcuaro, and other months somewhere else.

  5. And you guys are more than welcome to visit me again in Lake Atitlan, nice climate and just a long sleeve shirt takes care of the infrequent times of cold.

  6. Hi Debbie, your article and pictures are amazing. The Yosemite ones are better than any day that I have been there. I used to live in Tuolumne county for 20 years. The shot in front of the La Paloma Biblioteca looks like both of you have been in a disaster area. Him with his cast and you with your eye patch! We would love to house/pet sit in Patzcuaro in 2018. We will be in Tepoztlan Dec-Jan, then San Miguel de Allende for Jan-Feb. We are looking for more opportunities in rural/small towns in Mexico. Please tell your friends over there about us. They probably know someone that could use our services after Feb 12th. Kindly share our web site address and e-mail with them. http://www.joyfultravellers.com


    Sharing the Joy Of Travelling | Sharing the Joy of Travelling http://www.joyfultravellers.com April 7th – As of today Johanne and I have been slow travelling throughout Latin America for 1 year. It has been a fabulous experience- the best year on record.


  7. I, too, love Patzcuro, and we thought of locating there — but our choice for Home is Guanajuato, about 2 1/2 hours by car. Still an attractive low cost of living but with much more to offer in variety of culture (symphony orchestra, musical groups, art, restaurants, events), public transportation, the youthful energy of its universities, and a more temperate climate than Patzcuaro which is much MUCH colder in the winter. I’m sorry our paths didn’t cross when you were in our area…. Huge hugs

    • Hi Mary! I am sorry our paths didn’t cross, too! But, we will return next year for sure and explore your lovely area. Mexico is so diverse! We racked our brains to find something, anything bad about Mexico and especially Patzcuaro. It took us a while to acclimate to the altitude, and of course the cold weather and it was spring. Our apartment had mattress warmers and a fireplace, which made it nice. But, I don’t think I would like living there in the damp, cold winter. Thanks for your thoughts. We’ll be back next year.

  8. The cost of living in the Pátzcuaro area lowers if you live out of town. Then, of of course, you have to deal with transportation. The inexpensive combis are o.k. for day trips. But if you buy large appliances, say in Morelia, you have to come up with another solution. We rely on a car.
    It’s costly.

    Saludos, Don Cuevas

    • Hi friends! We miss you already! How is your new car? I have a lot more posts to write about Patzcuaro. But, with traveling and my eye surgery, I’ve been negligent. I wish we could send you some Jackfruit! It is the most amazing fruit I have ever seen. I’m sure you could be very creative with it. Hugs!

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