I watched the talking heads on CNN the other night and suddenly realized that I was screaming at the TV, “Not my circus! Not my monkeys!” When my anxiety decreased, I became aware that these two simple phrases have a lot of meaning in my life lately. Then, I burst out laughing.
“One does not travel by plane. One is merely sent, like a parcel.” ― Karen Blixen
We’ve been out of Nicaragua for three months. It is the longest time we have been away in the seven years that we have permanently lived here. Three countries, 16 airplanes, two trains, three ferries, two rental cars, too many buses to count, and one eye operation later…we are finally home!
My impressions of the countries we visited are dependent on many factors such as economic, political, climate, and most important…the people we met from all walks of life. In every country we visit we ask,”Could we live here?” The answer often surprises us. Yet, it helps us to form lasting impressions of the country.
Could we live in Cuba?
Foremost, we are grateful we had the opportunity to visit Cuba in March before Trump’s Cuba policy redefined “good” U.S. tourism. We are and always will be independent travelers. In most packaged tours and cruises, you see what the tour companies want you to see…predictable, expensive, and unsustainable tourism. Instead, we like to explore as detectives searching for clues about why people live as they do, what the real culture is like, and what makes a country tick.
“One quarter of Medicare beneficiaries have five or more chronic conditions, sees an average of 13 physicians each year, and fills 50 prescriptions per year.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care
I went to see my eye doctor in Tennessee the other day. When the nurse entered my information into the electronic files, she asked me, “Are you sure you don’t take any medications?” I replied, “Yes. Nothing.”
She couldn’t get over the fact that I had no pre-existing conditions, took no prescription medications, and had no medical history other than my appendectomy and tonsillectomy, which were removed when I was a teenager.
“I have to put something in the spaces,” she commented. “Do you take any vitamins?”
“Once in a while I take glucosamine,” I replied. With almost a sigh of relief, she asked me how many milligrams and how often I took glucosamine. “You are the best and easiest patient I have ever had,” she said. “But, you aren’t normal.”
The Weekly Photo Challenge is Wanderlust.
I know some of my readers wonder why I include posts about our travels to other countries besides Nicaragua. After all, my blog is supposed to be about living in Nicaragua.
Yet, my gypsytoes ache for travel. Because we live in a country where the cost of living is low, we can afford to travel, especially during the most brutal and oppressive heat of March through May.
Currently, we are in the mountains in Patzcuaro, Mexico. We were in Cuba in March and are headed to the states next week for the month of May. No matter where our wanderlust takes us, it is always great to go back home!
“The Wanderlust has got me… by the belly aching fire”
― Robert W. Service, Rhymes of a Rolling Stone
“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.
Since I am preparing envelopes for our house sitters with two and a half months of expenses, I thought I would give you an idea of our latest cost of living expenses for the month of March 2017.
We own our home, thus no rental expenses. This month, we paid our property taxes of $25 and I included that in the miscellaneous expenses along with gas, propane, and a few other small expenses.
The amounts are in dollars. The total monthly expenses are: $960.
If you are considering living in Nicaragua, it will depend on your location and your needs. Ometepe Island is cheaper for home rentals than most of the larger cities like Granada and San Juan Del Sur. But, there are some expenses that cost more, such as a rural internet provider since we don’t have cable internet available outside of the main cities. Our service provider is Ggnet and it is on the mainland. We built a tall tower in our backyard because we need direct line of sight to the mainland to receive a strong signal for our microwave internet system.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston S. Churchill
I have used a crowdfunding website to ask for donations two times. Once when Los Ramos needed help recovering from a devastating landslide. Help Los Ramos Rebuild
The other time was to help Los Ramos get uniforms and supplies for the Divine Women’s Soccer Team.
Both times I was thrilled by the success of the fundraisers. But, like Winston Churchill says, “We make a living by what we get and a life by what we give.” Sometimes both are intertwined in a scam from a crowdfunding website.
For example, a crowdfunding website in which a guy named Nigel asked for donations to help Los Ramos during the landslide. He posted his GoFundMe webpage on a Facebook forum of expats in Nicaragua. I’ve been actively involved with the community of Los Ramos for over 12 years, so I contacted Nigel on Facebook. We became Facebook friends, and I asked what he was planning to do for the people in Los Ramos with the funds.
He gave me a song and a dance and my gut told me something was fishy about his GoFundMe website. I went to Los Ramos and asked if they knew a guy named Nigel who delivered medicine and paid for the bulldozer to grade a new road into their community. No one had ever heard of him, no medicines were delivered, and they said that the mayor in Altagracia had paid for the bulldozer.
Further investigation led me to a police website in Florida where he was wanted for fraud. I contacted the GoFundMe website administrator, gave them all the information I had, and his webpage was shut down the next day. A week later, I saw him on the island and personally confronted him. He disappeared from Nicaragua and deleted his Facebook account.
My point in writing this article is that we have to be very careful when we give to a crowdfunding webpage, especially if we are not familiar with the person.
So, Let’s Get Real about Crowdfunding Websites with a list of pros and cons.
“Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Five years ago, the U.S. Embassy warden for Ometepe Island moved back to the states. She asked me if I would be willing to take on the duties of the warden for the island and of course, I said I would.
My primary responsibility as a warden for the U.S. Embassy is to aid in communicating with my fellow U.S. citizens living and visiting Ometepe Island in the event of an emergency. So, I’d like to describe my volunteer position to you.
- My main responsibility as a volunteer is to assist consular sections in disaster preparedness, welfare & whereabouts, and alerting fellow Americans to emergency situations. Mainly, I am a messenger. We have a Google group and a Facebook page where I can send messages I receive to the community of expats on Ometepe Island.
- I facilitate distribution of routine administrative information (changes in section work hours, procedures, embassy closures, voting information) of interest to the U.S. private community. I also provide important, timely safety and security information, which might include the times and locations of upcoming local demonstrations, areas of potential unrest due to local celebrations or elections, or information about a specific medical issue.
- The U.S. Embassy sends me email messages and provides me with a contact list of all the U.S. Embassy wardens in Nicaragua. I am invited to July 4th celebrations at the Embassy. Although, I have yet to attend because it is a long trip to Managua, and I have to spend the night because I can’t get a ferry back to Ometepe Island after 5:30 pm.
“Don’t sit at home and wait for a mango tree to bring mangoes to you wherever you are. It won’t happen. If you are truly hungry for change, go out of your comfort zone and change the world.”
― Israelmore Ayivor
I love this quote! It really represents our life in Nicaragua. We definitely moved out of our comfort zone 13 years ago when we first moved to Ometepe Island. But now that we have settled into our little boomer nest, we are experiencing fruitful times.
Our last rainy season just ended and what a glorious rainy season we had. The past three years have been exceptionally dry, but now with the abundant rains, we have new fruits popping up everywhere.
Ron planted several avocado trees five years ago. This week, I noticed one avocado tree blooming and it is beginning to produce baby avocados. Last avocado season there were few avocados. The extended drought took a toll on the trees. But, this should be a great avocado season. It is still early, yet I am finding local avocados in the grocery stores now.
Last year we had one cacao or chocolate pod on our cacao tree. I was so excited because although the tree is seven years old, we never saw any pods develop. However, the pod cracked and fell off the tree last year. I think due to a harsh dry period. But, this year, we have a couple of pods developing and one is the size of my hand.