Weekly Photo Challenge: Earthquake Resilience


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Resilient

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”
― Elizabeth Edwards

On February 11, 2011 the people in Christchurch, New Zealand were eating lunch when their world started to shake. A 6.3 magnitude earthquake destroyed their beautiful city.
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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:

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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We Must Be Living in a Vortex!


“I hate to say this,” said my attorney as we sat down at the Merry-Go-Round Bar on the second balcony, “but this place is getting to me. I think I’m getting the Fear.””Nonsense,” I said. “We came here to find the American Dream, and now that we’re right in the vortex you want to quit.” I grabbed his bicep and squeezed. “You must realize,” I said, “that we’ve found the main nerve.””I know,” he said. “That’s what gives me the Fear.”

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Chapter 6, A Night on the Town…p. 47-48

I think I’m getting the Fear. Last night there was a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in northern Nicaragua, near the border of El Salvador. My cat, Queenie, tried to warn me. I’ve heard that animals are sensitive to movements of the earth. Queenie was exceptionally persistent in rubbing against me and kneading my belly. I thought she just wanted fed.

“What’s wrong with you tonight?” I asked as she dug her sharp claws into my stomach. “Do you miss your brother, Black Jack?”

Earthquake ahead!

Personalizing the Nicaraguan Canal Project


“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” ~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

This is what the locals on Ometepe Island think of the proposed Nicaraguan Canal Project.
IMG_3961                                                           NO to the Canal!

Let me personalize the Nicaraguan Canal Project for those of you who are not familiar with Ometepe Island because personalizing our oasis of peace will give you a better understanding of the ecological disaster lurking like the grim reaper in Ometepe’s future.
This is only the beginning. Keep reading if you love Ometepe Island.

Weekly Photo Challenge: This is Monumental!


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Monument. “Anything can be monumental as long as it’s imbued with a shared sense of importance.” ~Ben

Yesterday a monumental event occurred near Managua, Nicaragua. There was a 6.4 earthquake, along the same fault line that destroyed Managua in 1972. Read more about it here: Nicaragua Earthquake

Last week, our active volcano Concepcion awoke with eight small tremors. This is monumental.

Mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.~Nathaniel Hawthorne

IMG_7681Should I worry?  I have our kayak ready if we need to make a hasty retreat for the mainland.
Wait! There is one more monumental thing. Read on.

Timeout for Art: This Little Piggy Went to Market


“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

A good friend of mine in Nicaragua is a pig farmer. Her two sows recently had two litters of 19 piglets in all. When the piglets are six to eight weeks old, she sells them. She invited me to visit her two farrows of piglets the other day. Scrambling on top of one another, bouncing, jumping, playing, napping…I enjoyed every second watching piglet antics.

This quote seemed very appropriate because there are two giant mama pigs, who take turns nursing the 19 piglets. The piglets sidle up, snuggle close, and I think they just want to be sure of each other.

IMG_3135During this video, there was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Nicaragua. There was plenty of rockin’ and rollin’ going on, but the sweet little piglets didn’t seem to mind one bit. And if you are rooting for the runt (who walks away unable to find a teat), don’t worry. He sidled up with the other mama pig a few minutes later…just to be sure.

An Unseasoned Ground Surfer


I am unseasoned when it comes to earthquakes, but on Wednesday, September 5, at 8:40 am, I encountered my first ground surfing experience due to a 7.6 magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. I felt awkwardly inexperienced, while watching my neighbors calmly balance their babies and young children in their arms, waiting patiently for the deep waves of the temblor to pass. I stood ..uneasily.. in awe of these expert ground surfers, for they have experienced many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on Ometepe Island.

Unfettered by the newness of the experience, I was eager to explore and share my feelings about the earthquake. I wondered what kind of Teutonic plate collision was the cause of my uneasiness. I wondered why I still had an eerie feeling of a loss of equilibrium 30 minutes after the 20 second quake; I wondered if it would happen again.

I found an interesting article by geoscientists, who retold the story of one man’s experience during the 1950 Nicoya Peninsula earthquake.

The sky dawned dark and cloudy on the morning of October 5, 1950. It was rainy season along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. In scattered coastal villages, farmers and ranchers gathered along the shoreline waiting for the cargo launch to arrive from the port city of Puntarenas. Their ox-carts were full of freshly harvested corn, ready for shipment to the mainland. Near the village of Garza, Don Daniel Ruíz Matarita was riding on horseback along the beach with several other men. The horses were skittish, and the nearby rainforest echoed with the roar of nervous howler monkeys. Suddenly, without warning, the ground heaved violently, trees and branches toppled over, and the beach exploded with geysers of water and sand. “Earthquake! We’re done for!” shouted one of the men. Their horses bolted in terror, throwing the riders to the ground. Huge chunks of rock toppled off of nearby cliffs, crashing into the water with a tremendous splash. Certain they were doomed, the men prayed for salvation. When the great earthquake finally subsided, Don Daniel and his companions were amazed and thankful to be alive. As they stood up and looked around, they saw that the ocean curiously had withdrawn from the bay, leaving a wide expanse of barren rocks, seaweed, and flopping fish. Seizing the moment, the men snatched up handfuls of sea bass, content at least that their bellies would be full in this time of disaster. In the days following the earthquake, Don Daniel recalls that the sea did not return as they had expected. He heard stories from others that the same thing had happened all along the central Nicoya coast. Don Daniel remembers one place where the drop in sea level was particularly obvious, a rocky headland known to local fisherman as “La Raspa Nalgas” (The Butt Scratcher). Prior to the earthquake, it had been impossible to get around this rocky point on foot, as it was under water at even the lowest tides. But, after the quake one could walk around the headland without entering the water, indicating a drop in tidal levels near a grown man’s height. Don Daniel recalls that it took nearly four decades for the ocean to reclaim its former level, quickly during the first few years, then slowly thereafter. High tides now reach further inland in many places than they did before the 1950 earthquake. (Marshall, 1991)

The Pacific coastline off the Nicoya Peninsula, September 5, 2012.

Just like the 1950 earthquake, the tide rolled out and the beaches were expanded by at least 30 meters. Maybe the man in the photo is gathering the flopping fish for his dinner.

In my search for the type of earthquake which caused my uneasiness, I encountered many new terms such as: subduction Megathrust, subduction trench, tsunami generating earthquake, and sudden geomorphic changes.

The Nicoya Peninsula is unique because it is one of the few landmasses along the Pacific Rim located directly above the seismogenic zone of a subduction megathrust. Due to its proximity to the subduction trench, the Nicoya Peninsula is particularly sensitive to vertical movements related to the earthquake cycle. (Marshall,J., Cal Poly Pamona University, 1991)

Can someone explain in laymen terms what this means?

Illustration: U.S. Geological Survey

Since I am a visual learner, this simple illustration  explains how the subduction trench (area where the plates are stuck together) ruptures when one plate slides over the other ( a Megathrust), releasing pent-up energy, and causing major expansions of beaches and tsunamis ( sudden geomorphic changes). Simple, right? There were several tsunami watches broadcast, but they were canceled later that day.

Now that I understand the dynamics of a Megathrust earthquake, I am still curious about the feeling I experienced..that of a loss of equilibrium and a minor balance disorder. Standing outside our house for the 20 second duration..which, by the way felt like 20 minutes, I felt a deep wave rolling beneath my feet. I spread my legs apart to gain a sense of balance. I was slightly nauseated and dizzy. This was ground surfing in all its horrific glory. I wasn’t afraid, only disoriented and awed by the power of the swaying ground waves rolling gently below me at a depth of 23 ft. Why did this annoying dizziness continue for about 30 minutes after the quake?

Even we humans are affected with disorientation, giddiness, nausea, uneasiness and feelings of impending calamity prior to and during a quake. Scientists suggest that this is the result of human sensitivity to ground waves, and to electrostatic effects  (including the Serotonin Irritation Syndrome or Serotonin Hyperproduction Syndrome) and electromagnetic forces. In other words, observations have shown that we humans are sensitive to the Earth’s nervous system impulses, too.( Pasichnyk, R. M., http://www.livingcosmos.com/earthquakes.htm)

So, I discovered there is a name for my weird feelings, a syndrome! Some reports indicate that people have an aura before another earthquake…a feeling of unease, a little nausea, and dizziness. I awoke this morning, two days after the earthquake, with these same symptoms. Maybe I’m answering my third question…Will it happen again? There is a “green alert” issued for Nicaragua today. See report here: Green Alert

I’m not sure exactly what a “green alert” means, but if my wooziness is any indication, I may have become a more experienced and seasoned ground surfer. Expect the unexpected….I’m moving my fragile treasures to the floor.

Important update to the Green Alert: I knew it wasn’t my imagination!  Nicaragua’s Capital Prepares for Major Earthquake