Weekly Photo Challenge: Dem Broken Bones


The Weekly Photo Challenge is broken.

We are passionate about travel…always have been…always will be. I’m back in the states digitizing my photos and I found the perfect photos to represent broken. While roaming through Portugal, we discovered the Capela dos Ossos ( Chapel of Bones) in Évora.

This small chapel was built in the 16th century by a Franciscan monk, who wanted to send the message that life is transitory. A broken skeleton dangles near the entrance, reminding all who enter that “Better is the day of death, than the day of birth.”

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Marvelous Malecóns


A malecón is a jetty, but in Nicaragua it is more like a boardwalk and a port. The San Jorge port, where people make connections to Ometepe Island is undergoing a facelift.

When it is completed, it will be a hub of activity with shops, new docks for the ferries, a new parking lot, hotels, restaurants, and a ferry station. When we returned from Granada to San Jorge to catch the ferry home, colorful banners and hundreds of swimmers greeted us for the upcoming Semana Santa week  (Easter week).

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The Dream Dome


“Create with the heart; build with the mind.”
― Criss Jami

 

Ron and I have known Francheco for over ten years. When we first moved to Ometepe Island to manage a youth hostel, Francheco worked at the hostel. In 2012, Francheco’s new yellow house and property were expropriated by the Nicaraguan government to make way for the La Paloma airport. He dismantled his house, brick by brick, dug up his newly planted saplings and flowers, and relocated to a beautiful piece of land south of the airport, near Punta Jesus Maria. The House that Francheco Built.

He married a beautiful Nicaraguan woman. They have a little son, now. Francheco built a temporary house for them and started a restaurant, Dos Mangoes. You would think this story has a fairytale ending, right? But, not so quickly.

Francheco’s dream was to build a dome home. He is extremely talented, which translates to his ability to create from the heart, yet build with his mind. With the help of one worker, he began building a dome home two years ago, one row of bricks at a time.

Francheco’s house from the back of the property.
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An Open Letter to the Chinese


Ometepe and the ChineseThree weeks ago, a Chinese delegation representing the proposed Nicaraguan Canal came to Ometepe Island. They measured land south of our new airport in La Paloma, including Punta Jesus Maria, a sacred and lovely point of land, which served as an indigenous trading port thousands of years ago, and now, is a must-see tourism locality.

Wang Jing has complete sovereignty and power to exercise dominion over all areas along the proposed canal route. He does not have to ask permission of any mayor, the expropriation of land is at his whim, and he will not have to pay taxes.
Please read on and SPREAD the WORD!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Zig Zag


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Zig Zag.

Unexpected turns zig zagging through the city of Quito, Ecuador led us to a unique and surprising basilica. Also known as “La Basilica,” “Catedral Consagración de Jesús” or “The Basílica de San Juan,” it is the largest of the neo-gothic basilicas in the Americas.

Still unfinished, the residents of Quito believe that the day the basilica is completed, the world will end. The urban apocalyptic legend exemplifies the intrigue of this church, which comes from its neo-gothic architectural style and art display.

Zig zagging and meandering around every crevice and corner, armadillos, turtles, dragons, birds, iguanas, monkeys, and caymans, illustrate in a not so humble way, this apocalyptic legend.

Do these stone monkeys’ irregular stances seem to invite welcome in the passerby or ward off evil?

IMG_2437 Lots more unusual photos of the strange creatures zig zagging around the basilica.

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Cities


Where’s My Backpack Travel Theme this week is Cities. We just returned from traveling through Ecuador for a month and the cities are spectacular. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

We huffed and puffed our way up a ladder to the rooftop upon arriving in Quito. With an altitude of 2,800 meters, we dizzily watched the twinkling lights of the city below and the beacon of light from the Basilica de Voto Nacional.
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More city photos. Don’t leave yet!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Strange Bedfellows in Moyogalpa


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Juxtaposition. “A juxtaposition is “the act of placing things side by side, especially for the purpose of comparison or contrast.” The other day, I had two hours to kill because the ferry broke that was supposed to take us to the mainland for the baseball game. Its guts were splayed all over the port. So, I finally had a chance to walk around our port town, Moyogalpa, and take pictures of strange bedfellows in town.

                               Contrasting colors adorn every entrance.

IMG_1079                            JC Penney? Victoria’s Secret? Side by side?
IMG_1091                                         Laundry service AND a guide?

IMG_1109            Always smile if the volcano erupts because there is a BUNKER!
IMG_1112   Ron, we ran out of propane! Go to the Divine Baby Jesus Store to get another tank.
IMG_1107       A Mercedes convertible in Moyogalpa? Now, that is a real juxtaposition.
IMG_1092Finally, I have always admired this metal window in Hotel Aly. I snapped a shot of the window and continued to walk down the street. Suddenly, the owner pedals beside me on his bicycle. “Did you take a picture of my window?” he asks. “Yes,” I answered. “I’ve always liked your window.” “Please erase it, please, please,” he responded. At first I was puzzled, then he explained that a tourist had climbed the volcano and put his dirty socks and shoes in the window to dry. I hadn’t even noticed. I lied. I’m bad, I know. But don’t let that stop you from spending the night at a great hotel. The owner was very apologetic and wants to represent his beautiful hotel without dirty socks. Only in the “Land of the Not Quite Right.”
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Weekly Photo Challenge: One Window of Our Lives


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Window. They are portals into the world’s stories. Glimpses into other people’s lives. Looking out (or into) a window can tell you about where you are — and where you’re not — and mark a particular moment in time, linking you to a physical place. Join me as we peek into one window of our lives on Ometepe Island.

A Barbie doll pink house, a big ole’ cement pila, and a worn window signified the beginning of our quest for a simple and carefree lifestyle culturally immersed with friends and family on Ometepe Island.

IMG_2260When Ron destroyed the big ole’ cement pila our journey began.
knocking out a concrete sinkLight filtered through our window and the only thing we saw was the beauty of things to come.
IMG_2797We pretended we worked in a McDonald’s drive-through, happily dispensing peanut butter sandwiches to our workers through our window. They laughed, not having a clue what we were talking about. Later, we found our sandwiches stuffed in a hole of the Mango tree.
IMG_3080I thought retirement was supposed to be… welI…retiring. Instead, I sanded my soft hands to the bone refinishing the window shutters.
IMG_3118Look! We have a TV!  Steeler football games and a cold Tona after a hard day’s work. What more could we ask for?
IMG_3252As the house progressed, the garden grew. We harvested our first batch of tomatoes.
IMG_3919Then the mangoes began to drop…and drop…and drop. Delicious mango jam is on the menu.
Mango JamThe tropics require drinking lots of water. Ron, I caught you drinking out of the jug again. I won’t nag this time because he built us a pine trestle table in front of the window.
IMG_4044Ron’s table has served us well. Family and friends gather around our table for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even a game of spoons. The table nestled in front of the window houses my collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts and my lending library books.

My cupcake and cookie buddy and I often gather around the window where she displays her marvelous treats.

Life outside our window involves swinging, watching chickens, and making dough balls to trap rats in the garden.
IMG_0527We added a string of lights around the window for a festive look at Christmas.
IMG_1439Our window constantly changes scenes adding to our contentment on our little island of peace. One small portal of our lives, one giant step toward our dreams.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected


“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.”
― Ron Hall

We are in the states for Ron’s mother’s celebration of life. The day of Jane’s celebration of life, we were greeted with unexpected surprises throughout the day. Most people want to be circled by safety…we prefer the unexpected.

                                                 Using an outhouse.
IMG_0176                           A headless scarecrow?
IMG_0180                                                   Snow???? Brrrrrr.
IMG_0041                              A little bird landed on Ron’s fingers.
IMG_0165                                      We found a secret tunnel at the museum where Jane’s
                                                    celebration of life was held.
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