Our Road Less Traveled


“Look for chances to take the less-traveled roads. There are no wrong turns.”
― Susan Magsamen

We have always tramped the road less traveled. It keeps us young and energetic. When we moved to Ometepe Island permanently in 2010, we built our house during the worst flood of the century. The lake rose into our property beyond our coconut trees. 👇

As a result, the road in front of our house was destroyed and never repaired. We dealt with the inconvenience by shoveling, ditching, and filling in holes and ruts with rocks and coconuts. All by hand! Our road less traveled became a hindrance and impossible to maintain without heavy road equipment.

Last week, we had an amazing surprise. Cappy ran to our gate and barked at the tanker truck, the road grader, the dump truck, and the bucket truck roaring back and forth in front of our house. What in the world was happening? And who was paying for this?

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Gypsytoes or Stickytoes


This says it all about our lives on Ometepe Island. We want the best of all worlds. How does one decide to stay or go? Is it possible to have Gypsytoes and Stickytoes  together? If so, how does that work?

Here are some of our considerations in deciding to stay or go.

Financial

 

We grow a lot of our fruits and vegetables.

In 2016, we traveled to Colombia, Fiji, New Zealand, Las Vegas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. We accounted for all of our expenses and income for 2016, and we actually saved money and came out ahead when we balanced income vs expenses.  We own two homes, we have no mortgages and no expenses for our home in the states. Our trusted friends live in our house, collect our mail, and they even took care of our old cat, Tokyo, until she passed away this year. The small amount of rent goes into a special account which we use to pay our property taxes, rental insurance, and for repairs on the house.

If we were to sell our house on Ometepe Island, we would be free to travel the world, but it would come with a price. We would continue to live only on our monthly income, and try not to dip into our savings, yet it would be difficult because we would have to pay a monthly rental fee, which we don’t have to now. Traveling is expensive. We aren’t backpackers anymore, and we like to stay in Airbnbs throughout the world. It is doable, but will take some work to stay within our budget.

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Humans of Nicaragua: Think Potential


“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
― William Faulkner

When we first rented our little beach shack in 2004, we dreamed about buying it and remodeling, planting fruit trees, raising a big garden, and building a guest house. When we were ready to move permanently to Ometepe Island, we found the owner of the beach shack and asked if we could buy it. And the rest is history.

The possibilities are endless when building on Ometepe Island. Friends from Slovakia had a dream. They searched for beachfront property and found their piece of paradise near Moyogalpa.

They rented a house near their property. Before they could start building, they had to clear the land and burn brush. Then, they dug a long trench and laid water pipes for their new trees and vegetation. It hasn’t been easy and the challenges are great, but they are on their way to fulfilling their dreams.

They started by building a wall out of sand filled earth bags. Their land is at sea level and is prone to flooding. The earth bag retaining wall will protect their house and gardens. Plus, in experimenting with the challenges of earth bag construction, they decided that their house would be built with bricks instead.

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Why We Need Cabinets in Nicaragua


We hope that, when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics. ~Bill Vaughan

I spend my life in Nicaragua sweeping up bug carcasses. No space is sacred, nothing is left untouched. We have regular infestations of termites, ants, spiders, and chayules (aquatic mites that swarm from the lake). See my life in Battling Bugs.

Herman, the master cabinetmaker, came into my life when I needed an enclosed space to put my collection of Pre-Colombian pottery pieces I find on the beach. The bugs particularly liked to nest in the ancient pieces. Master Craftsmen in Nicaragua

When the ants attacked all the food that was sitting on open shelves, Herman returned to build me kitchen cabinets. The Heart of My Home

Now, Herman is back with his latest masterpiece, cabinets for my office.

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Moving Day in Nicaragua


“Settling into a new country is like getting used to a new pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them and the more you can’t imagine life without them.”
― Tahir Shah

I can’t imagine life in Nicaragua without Nicaraguan ingenuity. My Scottish sister friends moved to their new house on Ometepe Island and they needed to move their belongings.

I know you are thinking, hire a moving van or rent one, right? The problem with that is that the only professional moving company that we are aware of is in Managua. We know that because when House Hunters International filmed us, they had to hire the only professional company in the country to move our belongings from our house, so they could film us “pretending” to view our house to buy.

How in the world did I explain this to our Nicaraguan friends and neighbors, who are only familiar with horse cart moving, when a giant moving company truck pulled on our sandy beach path?  My response was, “It’s Hollywood,” and that seemed to satisfy their curiosity.

The Scottish sisters hired Wilber and his trusty old horse to pull their belongings in a repurposed cart to their new house. They were concerned that Wilber’s old horse might have a difficult time pulling a heavy load and the repurposed cart was heavy, too.

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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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