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.

Let’s Get Real About Personal Space in Nicaragua


Four airplanes arrived in Nicaragua on the same day and at the same time. We were standing in an unusually long, disorganized line in customs. There was a small space in front of me…enough space for the man’s backpack to rest on the floor. Suddenly, a family of Nicaraguans rushed into the space in front of me. I glared at them and pointed to where the line ended. Yet, they didn’t move. I think they were trying to tell me, “My happy place is in your personal space.”

Cultural space: The final frontier. Invisible bubbles of space surround all of us and they vary according to the norms of the places where we live. Why do we have personal space issues and how do they differ from Nicaragua?

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Me holding a stranger’s baby on a crowded chicken bus.

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Toad Suckers in Nicaragua


Petunia gave birth to nine piglets yesterday. Today, she suffers from mastitis. My neighbors ran around my yard looking for a fat Cane Toad to alleviate Petunia’s pain, so she could feed her litter.  A Cane Toad?
“What will you do with the Cane Toad?” I asked.

I know they can be deadly to dogs and cats because if animals eat a Cane Toad, they can die from the milky white poison released from the glands of the toad. The Most-Traveled Cane Toad  What is really frightening in this article is that “people can die within 15 minutes of getting poisoned by a Cane Toad.”

I’ve heard of toad-sucking, but always thought it was an urban legend. I even used to live near Toad Suck, Arkansas. So, my curiosity led me to google toad-sucking, which, by the way, I also read today that googling daily may prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

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The Start of Something Big


IMG_5343My former fifth grade student is visiting Nicaragua for the first time. On her 19th birthday, we took her to Charco Verde to see the monkeys. Returning home in the taxi, we had a flat tire. I couldn’t help but laugh at the taxi driver’s t-shirt. The Start of Something Big
His t-shirt says it all about living in Nicaragua.

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Where does the Mango Stop and the Sky Begin?


One way can be learned by starting to see the magic in everything. Sometimes it seems to be hiding but it is always there. The more we can see the magic in one thing, a tiny flower, a mango, someone we love, then the more we are able to see the magic in everything and in everyone. Where does the mango stop and the sky begin? ~ Joshua Kadison

I have never seen this many mangoes in ten years. We have five mature mango trees. Three trees are Mango Indio and two trees are Mango Rosa. Eating the first ripe Rosa mango is a taste explosion. Ron’s beard is stained a permanent yellow and my clothes are sticky and stained with mango juice.

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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

 

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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Going Green with Dogs in Nicaragua


Happy Earth Day! Not only is it Earth Day, but it is El Capitan’s (Cappy’s) birthday today. Read the story of his birth here: Plentiful Puppies

In honor of Earth Day, I found the Top Ten Green Pet Tips for Earth Day, although most of them do not apply in Nicaragua. I found four tips that are most helpful in Nicaragua.

The most important tip in Nicaragua: 1. Neuter your pet.  Pet overpopulation is a real problem—shelters are over-run and homeless pets are everywhere taxing environmental resources.  Only one in four dogs finds a permanent loving home.  When it comes time for your next pet, support adoption as part of a green lifestyle.

Cappy is one of the lucky ones. We adopted him a month after he was born.

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Accidental Nationality


“Everything you are used to, once done long enough, starts to seem natural, even though it might not be.”
― Julien Smith,
The Flinch

 

Marina’s daughter gave her a chicken killing dog. She tied it to the Mango tree in the front yard because it is a good guard dog. The other day, it chewed through the frayed rope, flew over the barbed wire fence separating our properties, and attacked one of our chickens. She apologized in the only way she could; she made us a pot of chicken soup. Yesterday, her daughter bought a muzzle for the dog. They showed us how the muzzle worked by untying the dog from the Mango tree. It flew over the barbed wire fence, and pounced on one of our chickens, flattening it like a tortilla. This time Marina asked to borrow our machete. I was afraid she was going to kill the dog, so I told her to make us another pot of chicken soup. Ahh…life in Nicaragua. It is beginning to seem natural.

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I am an immigrant from the United States, now living in Nicaragua. My nationality was accidental. I happened to be born on one side of an imaginary line, instead of another. If I would have been born in another country, I would feel just as connected with my heritage, social norms, and culture as I do now.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Early Bird Gets the Mango


The weekly photo challenge is Early Bird. Living in Nicaragua, we’ve become accustomed to rising early…sometimes as early as 4:30 am. All of the action occurs early in the morning in Nicaragua…the earlier the better because the afternoons are reserved for long siestas in the tropical heat.

If you are an early bird, you will probably see… the parrot getting the first ripe mango
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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.
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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!