Part I: Will We Return to Nicaragua to Live?


“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin

One day tourism is booming, my local neighborhood friends are buying taxis, expanding hotels, and competing for wealthier tourists who have recently discovered Nicaragua. Literally, the next day tourism is dead, taxis are repossessed, hotels close, and my friends are struggling to make sense of it all.

People ask us all the time if we will return to Nicaragua. Now that Ron is cancer free (after a long, dark winter of treatment), we think we know the answer, but life altering changes happened so quickly that we don’t trust visions of our future anymore.

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How to Catch a Thief in the Digital Age


“Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances. Stealing is not excusable if, for instance, you are in a museum and you decide that a certain painting would look better in your house, and you simply grab the painting and take it there. But if you were very, very hungry, and you had no way of obtaining money, it would be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it.” ― Lemony Snicket

I asked myself today, “When is it OK to steal?” We’ve had our banana stocks stolen every year because they are close to the small sandy path on the border of our property by the lake. Were they hungry thieves? Is that excusable?

We aren’t novices in crimes of opportunity. We live in a developing country and we understand that anything left out is fair game for people passing by our property. We’ve had hammocks, water hoses, and a fish trap stolen because we forgot to bring them into the house at night. We’ve had an iPhone stolen and a pair of Ron’s shoes by workers who came into our house to work.

Is stealing ever excusable?

Today, I felt betrayed by a young friend. Lauren started coming to our house with her dad when he was building our casita. She was 10 years old and we would make cookies and cupcakes together, draw and paint, and play card games. We developed a close relationship. I seem to have that effect on 5th graders. They like to hang with me.

As she matured into a teenager, she didn’t come to visit as often. When she did, we would give each other manicures and do girlie stuff together. The last time I saw her was last August. I was busy weeding the garden and I told her I couldn’t spend the morning with her. She asked to use the bathroom, and I should have followed my intuition. Something was not right. I found her in the living room and she looked guilty about something, then left quickly.

I didn’t give it much thought. Months passed. I looked for the phone, but figured I had misplaced it and the battery was too low for it to ring. We hardly ever used the Samsung. Lauren never came back to visit. Then, last night I had a dream where I saw Lauren put my cell phone in her purse. Was my gut feeling trying to awaken my consciousness through my dream?

This morning, I checked her Facebook page. I knew she didn’t have a phone and rarely posted. However, when I scrolled through her Facebook page, she had posted selfies every day since last August. And not just normal cute selfies…very sexually provocative selfies. She just turned 15 in November and I was shocked by her selfies. What was going on with her?

I wondered if my old phone number still worked because we still had the phone on our data plan. Long story about that, but Claro advised me not to remove the old phone number from my plan because I would have to start all over again with a more expensive plan. So, I called my old phone number!

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Let’s Get Real About Safety in Nicaragua


“I finally figured out that not every crisis can be managed. As much as we want to keep ourselves safe, we can’t protect ourselves from everything. If we want to embrace life, we also have to embrace chaos.”
― Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Our house is surrounded by ornamental iron keeping us safe from unwanted intruders.

Our house is surrounded by ornamental iron keeping us safe from unwanted intruders.

September 2018 Update and December 2019 update: Things are still bad in Nicaragua.

Unfortunately, this post is old. Nicaragua is not safe to visit at the present time. The Ortega regime continues to repress freedom of speech, thousands have left the country, more than 400 people have been murdered, thousands injured, hundreds arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. We left Nicaragua mid July and have no plans to return anytime soon. 😢😢😢

Now, that’s the truth! No matter where we live in this mad, mad world we can’t protect ourselves from everything. Like most expats, I grew up in one country and moved to another country. My idea of safety abroad revolved around; Don’t drink the water. Always shake out your shoes for scorpions. Don’t wear a lot of bling bling in big cities. My learning curve was steep for keeping myself safe the first couple of years living in Nicaragua.

I’ve categorized four main safety concerns in Nicaragua. Unless you are Bubble Boy, you will probably deal with one of these safety issues at one time or another in Nicaragua. We have dealt with safety hazards from all four categories, but we have never considered any of these safety issues life-threatening.

When moving to a new country there can be a host of hidden hazards that aren’t covered in the tourism brochures. Although no one wants to be ruled by fear, it is better to be aware of what’s out there from disease to crime. So…

  Let’s Get Real About Safety in Nicaragua

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Pros and Cons of Living on an Island


“Every man is an island, and every heart seeks the ferry to cross the main…”

 

― Mykyta Isagulov

Update June 2020

We had planned on returning to our house in July. I wanted to bring a few books and supplies to my library and check on our house with our renters. But…then the pandemic struck and is wiping Nicaragua clean.
I can’t imagine how the expats are surviving, especially those with businesses. The Nicaraguans are resilient though, and they will always find a way.
I can only shake my head in dismay. The corruption and ignorance of the Ortega administration leads to countless deaths that could have been prevented if they hadn’t lied about the virus and taken precautions earlier. Instead, they had a “Love in the Time of COVID“ parade and numerous gatherings and outings with their Sandinista followers. Many doctors have been fired because they told the truth about the Corona virus to their patients. Of course, the civil rebellion two years ago wiped out most of the good doctors because they were either fired or left the country never to return.
Crime is up, property values are way down, electrical outages occur frequently, food is scarce, unemployment is off the charts, medical PPEs for medical staff are not available, midnight burials occur every night,  and the cost of electricity is high. Things don’t look good at all in Nicaragua. Honestly, I am grateful we had the sense to leave Nicaragua when we did…and many of my Nicaraguan former expat friends say the same with a big sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, we are hunkered down in the states…which politically sounds very much like Nicaragua with the corruption and ignorance of the administration. Right now, there is no place to run for safety, except our secure and comfortable home in the states. 😢

Update: 2019

My husband and I left Nicaragua in July 2018, at the height of the ongoing political crisis. A lovely family from Managua rented our house for three years because of the violence in the capital city. We will not return to live in Nicaragua until the heavy repression of the Nicaraguan people stops, the many human right’s violations end, Ortega and his VP wife are tried and convicted of political crimes, and the 60,000 Nicaraguans feel safe to return from exile in Costa Rica and neighboring countries.

Presently, the crisis continues, but the violence has been greatly reduced. For us, it is morally wrong to return to Nicaragua to live. We cannot support this government and their torture, killing, and oppression of the Nicaraguan people.

We will always support our close Nicaraguan friends, adopted families, our goddaughter, my children’s library, and my librarian. There are many ways you can help the Nicaraguan people from afar, if you choose not to travel to Nicaragua at this time. If you do choose to come to Nicaragua, the best way to support the Nicaraguan people who are suffering is to stay in Nicaraguan owned hotels and hostels, eat in Nicaraguan restaurants, and use local taxi drivers, transportation, and buy only local products from Nicaraguan craftsmen, farmers, or business owners.

For my last post on this blog, I will make a list of Nicaraguan owned establishments and businesses, and a list of reputable NGOs where your money can go directly to the people.

And now my post….

Sunday evening, I was invited to speak with a group of women from Finding My Place, a travel agency for women who want to explore living abroad. It was a lovely gathering with well-traveled women who are exploring Nicaragua as a place to hang their hammocks. Many of the questions they asked revolved around the pros and cons of island life. Below are some of the things we discussed, which may be of interest to you, too.

Islands are slow and far away from many distractions. Ometepe Island, Nicaragua is no exception. Island living is not for the faint of heart, yet the rewards are many, tranquility is abundant, and our lifestyles are simple.

Pros of Island Life

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Let’s Get Real about Retiring to Nicaragua


“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
― Dr. Seuss

 

December 2019 update

We left Nicaragua in July 2018 because of the Civic Rebellion that continues to this day. The economy is in a tailspin, 100,000 Nicaraguans fled the country, unemployment is high, the heavy repression of the Nicaraguan people continues, and the Nicaraguan people continue to suffer under a ruthless dictatorship. We cannot return to Nicaragua to live until the dictator and his VP wife are convicted for human rights’ violations and high crimes, until the people who fled their country feel safe to return, until the repression stops, and civility is restored to the lovely people. At this time, we can do more from afar to support our Nicaraguan friends and families.

 

I am grouchy. The April heat is almost unbearable. It hasn’t rained for six months. My internet sucks because too many people are using the bandwidth on my server. The new paint on my plunge pool blistered and we had to drain it. The power and water are unreliable. The entire community of Urbite has run out of water. The city well is dry.  The roaming cows and pigs searching for something to eat knocked down our fence to munch on the sparse tufts of grass that are wilting in our yard. My neighbor had her thyroid removed and she can’t afford the thyroid pills she has to take for the rest of her life. Do you want me to continue?

When I read articles of fantasy such as the one linked below, all I can do is laugh. Fantasy Retirement? Living in Paradise? Let’s get real about living and retiring in Nicaragua. Life here is not all about surfing, drinking Toñas, and watching the beautiful sunsets. Living in Nicaragua isn’t for sissies.

In 2004, we used to enjoy going to San Juan del Sur. It was a quiet, little fishing village. Then, the cruise ships came, the throngs of tourists, and hundreds of expats moved to Nicaragua searching for paradise. Now, prostitutes, thieves, and drug addicts bus from Managua to where unsuspecting tourists are scammed.  Then, they hop back on the buses to sell their loot in Managua. Yes, it is even happening on our little Ometepe Island.

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2004 sunset in San Juan del Sur

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Driving Ms. Debbie


“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

Life is a trip in the land of the not quite right (Nicaragua). I’m learning to expect the unexpected and let reality be reality.  But, occasionally things happen that are so unforeseen, that the only thing to do is let things flow naturally forward in whatever bizarre way they like. It’s the only way to survive in Nicaragua!

Robinson and I went to Granada yesterday to pick-up my new-to-me Scartt dune buggy. I’ve lived in Nicaragua long enough to know that our two-hour drive back to the port to catch the ferry with my conspicuous orange machine would draw a lot of attention….especially from the police.  So, Robinson drove “Ms. Debbie” to the amusement of every trucker, bicycler, cowboy, and vendor along the way.

IMG_4846 The adventure has only begun. Wait until you read what happens next!