Humans of Nicaragua: Think Potential


“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.

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Cost of Living: March 2017


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.

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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.

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Let’s Get Real about Crowdfunding


“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.

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Ometepe Island is a Good Match for Us


The Weekly Photo Challenge is: A Good Match

Ometepe Island has been a good match for us to retire abroad because…

Our island and volcanoes go hand in hand

img_1365Charco Verde lagoon is in harmony with nature.
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Responsibilities of U.S. Embassy Wardens


“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.

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.

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Fruitful Times


“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.

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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.
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Moving Day in Nicaragua


“Settling into a new country is like getting used to a new pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them and the more you can’t imagine life without them.”
― Tahir Shah

I can’t imagine life in Nicaragua without Nicaraguan ingenuity. My Scottish sister friends moved to their new house on Ometepe Island and they needed to move their belongings.

I know you are thinking, hire a moving van or rent one, right? The problem with that is that the only professional moving company that we are aware of is in Managua. We know that because when House Hunters International filmed us, they had to hire the only professional company in the country to move our belongings from our house, so they could film us “pretending” to view our house to buy.

How in the world did I explain this to our Nicaraguan friends and neighbors, who are only familiar with horse cart moving, when a giant moving company truck pulled on our sandy beach path?  My response was, “It’s Hollywood,” and that seemed to satisfy their curiosity.

The Scottish sisters hired Wilber and his trusty old horse to pull their belongings in a repurposed cart to their new house. They were concerned that Wilber’s old horse might have a difficult time pulling a heavy load and the repurposed cart was heavy, too.

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When Mango Trees Hit Back


“Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Oh, I love this quote! I remember that scene from the Chamber of Secrets well. It reminded me of our mango tree, one of the five mango trees closest to our house. It is an Indio mango and the fruit isn’t as good as our two Rosa mango trees.

Two times a year, this tree drops hundreds of mangoes on our roof. At the peak of mango season, we fill three wheelbarrows every morning with rotten mangoes. They bounce off the roof in the windy season like a rapid fire machine gun. Bam! Bam! And then they roll off the roof and scatter in the front yard.

We’ve tried everything to stop the almost constant supply of Indio mangoes, except for toppling the tree. It is too tall to spray or blow off the blossoms so the fruit doesn’t produce. And, it is a wonderful shade tree!

Last year, I researched an injection that I could put in the trunk of the tree called a fruit inhibitor. It isn’t a pesticide and will actually sterilize the tree so it won’t produce fruit. There were two problems with this; first, it had never been tried on a mango tree, only walnut trees in the states, and second, although it isn’t a pesticide, the container looked like it was a pesticide, which is prohibited on airplanes.

So, it was back to the old climbing the tree and cutting the limbs that hung over our roof. Jorge to the rescue!
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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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Feliz Navidad de Isla de Ometepe


“The smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood” ― Richard Paul Evans

My annual tradition has always been to bake dozens of Christmas cookies and pass them out to my neighbors and friends. Although it was meaningful in the states, for me it is more significant in Nicaragua for several reasons.

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