Part II: Renting a Guagua or Waawaa We Go!


Life is similar to a bus ride, or in the case of Sandy’s Cuban family, a guagua ride. (pronounced waa waa)
The journey began when Sandy rented a guagua to take us to Havana for an evening of entertainment. You see, her extended family is so large and no one owns a car, so it was impossible to treat them to an evening of fun in Havana without renting a guagua.

Thirty dollars bought Sandy an evening with a guagua driver and enough room for the entire community to go to Havana to watch the cannon ceremony.

Continue reading

The Best of Reverse Culture Shock


Traveling from Ometepe Island, Nicaragua and landing in Las Vegas, Nevada was surreal.  We knew to expect a bizarre reverse culture shock which I can only describe like the scene out of a Crocodile Dundee movie. Yet, there is something to be said about embracing the shock when returning to a place that one used to call home.

Articles have been written about the effects of reverse culture shock and ways to combat the adverse effects. But, I am of the persuasion that it is better to embrace it, than fight it and below are my reasons why….

1. The euphoria of feeling out-of-place in your own culture.

Las Vegas is not a city that anyone feels “in place” in our culture. It is the land of excess, overwhelming choices, immigrants, and a city that never sleeps.

When I asked our taxi driver at the airport where he was from he said, “Guess. I will give you a hint. It is where coffee was first produced.”
I guessed correctly on the second try, which really impressed our taxi driver. “Ethiopia!”
I think I created a warm, fast-paced relationship with our Ethiopian taxi driver after that because for the rest of the ride, he told me all about his country, the family he left, and how proud he was that he could provide for them.

Returning home gives me another opportunity to embrace and respect the diverse culture in the U.S. There was no better way to start our journey than the euphoric feeling of being out-of-place in our home country.

IMG_1813

Continue reading

Happy Nicaraguan Mother’s Day


Mothers have a tremendous impact on the world in which we live. All the more reason to celebrate mothers and motherhood around the world.  Nicaragua celebrates Mother’s Day on Monday, May 30th. It is a holiday for all working mothers and my second celebration of Mother’s Day because we celebrate Mother’s Day in the states the first week in May.

To honor the mothers of Nicaragua, the La Paloma Elementary School performed dances, poetry readings, and songs for their mothers.

Maxwell was the DJ. He set up the laptop, downloaded music for the programs and connected the speakers to the laptop. He is the perfect media specialist!

IMG_1708

Continue reading

Ten Films to Watch Before Traveling to Nicaragua


Sorry, I had technical difficulties, but all the movie trailers should show now.

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

 

Living in Nicaragua is like arriving to the movies ten minutes after the big picture has started. We piece the clues together to get the big picture daily. Before traveling anywhere, we always read books and watch films related to that country. It helps to get the “big picture” in areas of historical, socioeconomic, and social contexts.

   Ten Movies About Nicaragua

Continue reading

Things You Think are Normal Until You Live in Nicaragua


“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.”
― Tara Kelly, Harmonic Feedback

Before ever placing my gypsytoes on Nicaraguan soil, I expected “normal”. Without the opportunity to live here for a year ( 2004-05) in our experiment with “pretirement”, I would have expected many of the items I have listed below to be available in Nicaragua.

However, our year in “pretirement” in Nicaragua taught us to expect the unexpected. Normal is not reality. And I prefer it that way because it fits my personality. Nicaragua is an oxymoron with bitter-sweet moments, normal deviations, and fictional reality. It provides us a quirky and unconventional lifestyle, where we can turn nothing into something. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Some Days You Just Gotta Laugh


The Weekly Photo Challenge is: Today Was a Good Day.

Although the WordPress gang wanted us to try their new Mesh program for a gallery of our photos, it was so frustrating that I gave up and instead found photos that made me laugh today.

You never know what you will find on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.  The photos prove that in the land of the not quite right, you gotta laugh.  These photos were taken last week. So, for your entertainment today, I hope you have a few chuckles after viewing my photos.

How do you entertain the taxi driver’s two children on a long ride to Managua? You take goofy photos with your iPad.
IMG_0045 Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Juggling


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Split-Second Story. “Attempt to capture a candid moment in time,” says Shane.

We just returned from a month in Ecuador. I feel as if I am adroitly juggling…coping with an attack of millions of aquatic gnats called chayules…organizing and unpacking my little treasures of seashells, colorful textiles, Panama hats ( really they are made in Ecuador…more about that later) and thousands of photos…balancing my need for sleep with my frustrations of a painfully slow internet. But, it is comforting to be home to sleep in my own bed…to cuddle with my cats…to catch up on the latest news…to be surrounded by faces and stories that are familiar.

While in Ecuador, traveling along the spine of the Andes, there were jugglers at every red light. Some were disguised with elaborate costumes of angels, devils, and clowns. In a split second, they shuffled sharp machetes, bowling pins, glowing balls, and in one case, swords of fire. Their skilled acrobatics amazed me! The timing was perfectly matched to the length of the lights, then they would hustle through the clouds of exhaust to collect coins for their performances. It sure beat the red light vendors in Nicaragua. They hawk windshield wipers in the rainy season, and clean the car windshields in the dry season.

IMG_2406Hang in there with me, my friends. I have many new stories to tell…some split-second stories, some more lengthy. First, I have to clean millions of chayules from my house. They smell like fish, but at least they don’t bite! 🙂

 

Smiles from Nicaragua


“Peace begins with a smile..”
― Mother Teresa

Nicaragua makes some strange lists, but here is a happy list. According to Instagram, Nicaragua is ranked #2 for their overall smiles making it one of the happiest countries in the world. Happiest Countries in the World.

Wouldn’t you agree?
But, wait. You must see the smiles.

On the Other Side of Fear


“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” ― Jack Canfield

If there is one thing I’ve learned about the Survival runners in the Fuego y Agua, it is that they live beyond fear. I marvel at their fortitude, their strength, and their…well…craziness! This year, the survival runners ran about 60 miles, up and down both volcanoes, stopping to complete obstacle challenges that included 20 ft. bamboo poles, climbing trees, diving into the lake to get a bracelet attached to a rock, sleeping on top of Maderas volcano, carrying 50 lbs. of firewood on their backs, and other unimaginable challenges that tested them to their limits.

The Fuego y Agua Survival Run Course
survival run course map copy

Are you afraid yet? There’s more!