An Update on Our Plunge Pool

I’ve done my water therapy exercises for my knee at La Punta Resort. But we have had many afternoon thunderstorms just as we are getting ready to leave for the pool. So, we filled up our plunge pool so I can do modified knee exercises.

The last time I wrote about our pool, we had started on the landscaping. These stone pathway forms are wonderful for a small patio, garden paths, and even a driveway.
landscaping-around-poolThe finished patio gives us easy access to the pool and keeps the dirt from accumulating in the pool.
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Our Road Less Traveled

“Life is complex.
Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ”
― M. Scott Peck
A Rocky Path…
Main Street Moyogalpa is getting a facelift. Five weeks ago it was a perilous path to negotiate with my crutches. Our road less traveled was piled with many obstacles…mounds of dirt, weathered paving stones stacked and wobbling in the wind, and barbed wire blocking all exits and entrances to the main street.

It was a perfect analogy for my life at the time because the journey through life is always under construction. I.Get.That.Now.

img_2257Life is complex…

The process of building a new road fascinates me. It is not an easy task. In Nicaragua, everything is done by hand. The old paving stones were removed one by one. Then the workers drenched in sweat from the afternoon sun, shoveled down to the road bed removing piles of dirt which were carted away in wheelbarrows and horse carts.

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Can I Survive as a Whole Person Without Internet?

“People who have so much of their personality invested in the Internet can’t really survive as whole individuals without it.” ― Mark A. Rayner, The Fridgularity

Oh boy! That quote hits a home run with me. I invest so much time, energy, and money in trying to get a faster internet signal in Nicaragua. I know that I am addicted to the internet, and I may need an intervention. Yet, I wonder if I would be a better person or a different person without the internet. Would my personality change without the internet?

If you have followed my blog, you know I am a geek girl and I am constantly searching for solutions to increase the speed and connectivity to the internet on Ometepe Island. Check out a few of my past posts.

My Woktenna

Confessions of a Geek Girl

Facebook for Expats: Friend or Foe?

IMG_1764The trees in our neighborhood had blocked the direct line of sight to the mainland for our internet signal. We couldn’t top the trees because many of them aren’t on our property and we couldn’t extend our pole tower on the roof of our casita because the cables wires that secure the poles had to extend beyond our roof.

So, our only option was to build a new and taller tower. Five men came from the mainland on Friday to construct our tower. It was fascinating to watch them build our tower, if not somewhat frightening because I have a fear of heights.

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Humans of Nicaragua: Francesco and the Elements

“That man who is more than his chemistry, walking on the earth, turning his plow point for a stone, dropping his handles to slide over an outcropping, kneeling in the earth to eat his lunch; that man who is more than his elements knows the land that is more than its analysis. But the machine man, driving a dead tractor on land he does not know and love, understands only chemistry; and he is contemptuous of the land and of himself.”― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath 


Francesco is a philosopher. I’ve known him for over 12 years, and until I interviewed him for my Humans of Nicaragua piece, I never knew his philosophy of life that binds him to Nicaragua.  He is a man who is more than his chemistry. He is an artist, a master craftsman, a farmer who kneels in the earth to eat his lunch, and a loving father and husband.

Francesco came to Ometepe Island in 2001. He had everything stolen in a hostel, so he stayed until he could recuperate his loses. According to Francesco…
And the rest is history

He’s seen many changes on Ometepe Island since 2001. He said that when he first arrived, he had to find work to replace everything that was stolen.

It was difficult to find people that spoke English, so I stayed and worked in the hostel because I spoke English, Italian, and Spanish. 

My theme for his interview was his new dome home that he built, but I got so much more! I’ve written two pieces before about the beginnings of his dome home and why he had to tear down his other house piece by piece.


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The Heart of My Home

“The heart of the home beats in the kitchen and a healthy one beats three times a day” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom


Good food and a warm kitchen make a house a home. In 2004, our tropical island kitchen lacked what most would call aesthetically pleasing conveniences, but since we were  renting our beach shack in our experiment with ‘pretirement’, we could only dream of the kitchen we would eventually call home.
DSCN1120With only a two-top stove burner and no storage space, we still managed to make our funky kitchen the heart of our home.
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Our Lives Abroad in the Idioms of Mind

This week marks the fifth anniversary of our retired lives on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua and the fourth anniversary of my blog. Attempting to explain what these past five years have been like for us, the origin of the word “anniversary” came to mind.

The word “anniversary” first appeared in English in the 13th century, and was based on the Latin word “anniversarius,” meaning “returning yearly” (from “annus,” year, plus “versus,” a turning). The first uses of “anniversary” were in the church, and “anniversary days” were usually dates with particular religious significance, e.g., the days of martyrdom of saints, etc. The use of “anniversary” for the yearly marking of any past occasion dates to a bit later, and such dates were previously known as “year-days” or “mind-days,” times when a notable occasion or person is “brought to mind.”

Mind-Day…I like that expression because looking back on our five years of living on a tropical island in the middle of a giant sweet sea, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America reminds me to always be grateful for every aspect of my life. Happy Mind-Day to us!

Our Lives Abroad in the Idioms of Mind

Mind Boggling
This was our life in luggage in September 2010. It took us five years to plan for our move, and the adventure had just begun the day we boarded the plane to take us to Managua.
My Life in Luggage.


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Master Craftsmen in Nicaragua

 “You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It all depends on how you view your life.”
― Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

I am an adventurer always in search of treasure. The Pre-Columbian pottery shards and pieces I find on my daily walks along the beach sit in piles on my bookcase and on my porch forever gathering dirt and dust and harboring tiny colonies of insects. Yet, more than protecting my pottery, I found a greater treasure in the master craftsmen in Nicaragua.

The time was long overdue to protect my treasures! I designed a wooden display cabinet, then I had to find a master woodworker to build the cabinet to my specifications. Marina recommended Herman, her door maker. When I saw the quality of his work, I knew he would be perfect.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Living Without a Door

The Weekly Photo is: Door

Two years ago I completed a Weekly Photo Challenge: Opening Colorful Doors

Yet, for this photo challenge, I am taking the opposite approach. What would life be like living without a door? You see, my neighbors are adding to their small dirt-floor house. Yesterday, I crawled over the barbed wire fence separating our properties to see the progress on their addition.

There are many ‘firsts’ in this addition, and they proudly showed me around their two new rooms. It is their first cement floor, their first barred windows, and their first cement block walls waiting for a smooth concrete finish.

IMG_8520But, they have run out of money, so they are going to live without doors until they can afford to have doors made. It may be a long wait because one strong handmade door will cost them several months’ pay.

“A door is an everyday thing, yet is often a symbol — of a beginning, a journey forward or inward, a mark of one’s home, or even a step into the unknown.” Yet, I wonder what life will be like living without a door? I can’t imagine life without a door…it’s a leap for me to step that far into the unknown…a journey of faith and trust extending outward in the world.

They live without so much as it is: no running water in their house, no gas stove, only a wood fire for cooking, no indoor plumbing, and an outhouse. Yet, they are always happy!
Marina even added a touch of color by attaching plastic flowers from Don Jose’s funeral to her new barred windows.

IMG_8523Do doors symbolize a new beginning, an opportunity, new possibilities, or potentials? Not for this family!
IMG_8525For this family, living without doors demonstrates their openness and trust between their inner and their outer world. They are so proud of their accomplishments in building this addition. All of their extended family members helped to build it…kind of like an Amish barn raising. I’m proud of them, too.

What do you think living without doors would be like? Have you ever met someone who lived without doors in their house? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Five Tips for Making a New Path

“No single decision you ever made has led in a straight line to where you find yourself now. You peeked down some paths and took a few steps before turning back. You followed some paths that came to a dead-end and others that got lost at too many intersections. Ultimately, all paths are connected to all other paths.”
― Deepak Chopra


Ron and I made a stepping stone path to our house. I never imagined that there were so many complicated decisions to make in choosing the best path for us. So, I’ve compiled five tips for making a new path.

1. When you find your path, you must ignore fear. You need to have the courage to make mistakes.

Concrete sidewalk? Stepping stone forms? Gravel path? Which path was right for us? We chose to make a stepping stone path to our house using plastic forms, which I borrowed from our neighbor. In planning our path, it led to introspective thoughts about the paths of our lives.

Living in Nicaragua is a challenge and sometimes scary. We’ve made many mistakes along our paths, but we’ve learned to patch the cracks, or start all over again, and instead of ignoring the fear, we learn to make friends with it.


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A Plunge Pool in Progress

Floating in a pool free of gravity, I discovered that I don’t need to be in survival mode throughout the end of the dry, hot season in Nicaragua. A plunge pool sets me free. Free from the oppressive heat…from strangling dust that seeps into every pore and orifice in my body…from the brutal sun.

For several years I tried to convince Ron to build me a pool. His reasons for not building a pool were: 1. expense  2. maintenance  3. We live on…literally on the lake shore.

My reasons for building a pool were: 1. a plunge pool is cheaper to build  2. No filter needed and low maintenance  3. We live on the lake with a giant caiman lurking around our beach.

I won after Ron floated blissfully in my friend’s plunge pool in Granada. His sighs of content could be heard echoing all the way to the hardware store for materials to build our little rectangle of cool delight.

We decided to build the pool behind our house on the back porch for privacy. Plus, we have a view of our active volcano Concepcion. Work on the foundation began a few days after we returned from Granada.
IMG_7612We hired Raymond and Jose to build the plunge pool because they are experts in working with cement. The walls are going up and up.
IMG_7614The dimensions inside our pool are 4 ft deep x 48″ wide x 80″ long.
IMG_7618Raymond puts a fine coat of cement over the pool. It is called repayo in Spanish.
IMG_5289The floor is paved with bricks, then topped with a piece of mesh fencing we had leftover. Then the cement is poured on top.
IMG_5282I wanted a shelf on one side of the pool for flowers, cool drinks, and candles.
IMG_5293Next, tile lines the top of the pool.
IMG_7620Raymond smooths the cement around the tile. We didn’t want any sharp edges around the pool.
IMG_7621Then, we added a step to enter the pool from the front, and another one at the side of the pool. The bench and a drain in the wall complete the inside of the pool.
IMG_7627We wanted a tile patio in front of the door, so Raymond and Jose prepared the foundation.
IMG_5306I think the tile is beautiful. It’s slip resistant and will help control the dust and dirt in the dry season.
IMG_7629Next, we filled the pool for two days to help cure the cement. Of course, we had to dip often. I bought a food strainer for 1 dollar to clean the pool. After it is painted and filled again, we’ll add a teaspoon of pool chlorine and drain the pool once a week. We’re going to put a mosquito net over the pool to keep out leaves and flying insects. It will hang over the pool just like the mosquito net over our bed.
IMG_7635I am sad to report that we drained the 720 gallon plunge pool this morning. Monday, we  paint the inside of the pool with special pool paint made specifically for swimming pools. The outside of the pool will be the same mango color as the walls.

Pool is painted inside. Now, we wait for it to dry for 3 days before filling it with water.

We will start the landscaping next week, too. We’re going to build a stepping stone patio around the pool, make new flowerbeds, hang a hammock between the Neem trees, and move some of the electrical wires that are dangling from our internet tower.

I’m in the process of designing a mural for the wall behind the pool. I’m planning to add colorful, whimsical fish. I also decided to make a Pre-Colombian pottery shard caiman mosaic on the front wall of the pool. Take that you sneaky caiman! You won’t keep us from enjoying April and May floating blissfully in our new plunge pool.

The pool was built in one and a half weeks, and the total cost of the pool materials and the labor was less than $400. I believe plunge pools are the wave of the future. They are economical, almost maintenance free, and use very little water.

Stay tuned for the finished pool. Come float with us, soon!