The Power of Focus


Stay alert and aware. The signs you are seeking are very clear at this moment. ~Hawk

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The month of August has been extremely challenging for me. Two weeks ago, I partially dislocated my kneecap chasing my dog in flip-flops. Then, our new internet tower was possibly struck by lightning. I say possibly because every technician who has been to our house has a different troubleshooting approach for our internet loss.

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Humans of Nicaragua: Don Ebierto the Sobador


“Injuries obviously change the way you approach the game.” ~Brett Favre

I’ve watched the Olympics everyday, all day, with my leg raised and my knee iced and compressed. You see, I have my first sport related injury. That is, if you can call chasing my dog in flip-flops a sport.

I hyperextended my knee as I twisted my leg with my foot implanted in the sand. POP! And I fell to the ground in agony. Ron and Jose carried me back to the house and Lourdes ran to find Capitan (Cappy) who likes to run through the holes in the fence and visit the neighbor’s cows and dogs.

Meanwhile, I howled in pain when they plopped me on my couch and I couldn’t move my leg. Ron wrapped my knee, elevated it, and iced it immediately. But, what was the problem and how do I get to the mainland to get a MRI?

My first mistake was using Dr. Google to diagnose the knee problem. It could be a meniscus tear, or an ACL tear, or a sprained knee. The more I read, the more anxious I became. I couldn’t walk and the pain was excruciating.

“Ron, I have to go to the bathroom,” I shouted. He tried to support me and I attempted to hop, but every hop jarred my bad knee. Then it dawned on me! My wheelie office chair. Perfect!

The day after my knee injury, I called a sobador to come to my house to look at my knee. A Nicaraguan sobador is a healer who works on the material level and specializes in the treatment of sore muscles and sprains, and deep muscle massage. Sobadores are traditionally used by many Nicaraguans as a form of alternative medicine. They are a mix of traditional healers and chiropractors who blend their self-taught knowledge of the human body with faith and traditional herbal remedies.

Don Ebierto is a well-known sobador on Ometepe Island. He is respected for his knowledge of the human body and his ability to reset broken bones, massage sore muscles, and set dislocated joints. He doesn’t live very far away, so I called him and he came immediately.

I was apprehensive about calling a sobador mainly because I have little experience with natural healers. Most of my life I have relied on medical doctors, although fortunately the only medical emergency I ever had was an emergency appendectomy. I’ve never broken a bone or sprained or strained a joint. Amazing, right?

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Wow! You Won’t Believe What Just Happened!


Do I have your attention? I just click baited you.🙂 I read that Facebook is changing their algorithms so that click baiting titles that misinform or deceive, kind of like spam, will be moved to the bottom of your news feed.

I am so glad to hear that. I hate clicking on an article, only to find that the title deceives you. But, even though this is not earth shattering news, my post is about the internet, and mainly Netflix in Nicaragua.

My internet has been super slow for about a month. Technicians have been to my house numerous times, and we decided to install a larger internet tower so that we have direct line of sight to the mainland because the trees surrounding our house have grown taller than the tower we have on the roof of our casita.

The new tower is still not installed…mañana they tell me. So, I called Evenor to check out my system because my download speeds were registering 0.02 mbps. Sigh!

I have to backtrack a moment to tell you about my router. I bought a fancy router in the states where the VPN was installed within the router, so all my devices looked like the IP address was from the USA. It worked great, especially for Netflix, until Netflix decided to block all VPNs.

I spent hours chatting with my VPN provider, changing the settings in the router, changing the location of my server in the USA, and fiddling with the router. All to no avail. I still couldn’t get Netflix.

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Wanna Get Away?


“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” — Al Gore

Isn’t that the truth? Purchasing airline tickets is a complicated digital-aged process. Adding the hours I search for the best routes and the lowest prices for airline tickets online, it totals 200 hours a year. That is over 8 days of searching for airline tickets!

Yes, we travel a lot! So, I thought I would give you some helpful ideas of where and how I buy our round-trip tickets from Nicaragua. I love Google Flights because it gives me more information than other travel search sites.

1. Find the cheapest months to fly. 

In Google Flights, it is a breeze. Choose your location and destination and then select “flexible dates.”

Below is a flight from Managua to Los Angeles using a random date.
Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.15.29 PMAnd flexible dates from Liberia, Costa Rica to Los Angeles.
Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.16.16 PMSo far, it looks like Managua has the cheaper flights to Los Angeles than from Liberia, Costa Rica. But, wait!

2. Choose an outbound flight to check the best flights according to the time of departure and the length of the flight. 
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Let’s Get Real About Troubleshooting in a Developing Country


“The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back” ~ unknown

Troubleshooting is a systematic approach to solving problems. But, living in a tropical developing country…nothing is systematic or normal. We’ve spent countless hours trying to troubleshoot electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and computer issues. And the solutions to most of our problems have been anything but normal.

Steps to troubleshooting in first world countries:

1. Gather information on the issue
2. Eliminate unnecessary components in the issue and see if the problem still persists.
3. Check for common causes. I am sure you’ve read troubleshooting guides and the first question asked is, “Is your device plugged in and turned on?”

This is where I will start as your guide to troubleshooting in a developing country because seldom are the causes normal or usual.

So, Let’s get Real about troubleshooting in Nicaragua. 
  

1. If your internet suddenly blinks off, it could be because…

a. A monkey is using your cable line for a high wire act and trapeze show. This happened to a friend that lives on Ometepe.
Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 12.48.15 PMb. A parrot pecks through your internet cable

c. A bird builds a nest on your tower internet dish.

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The Secret to a Young Life


“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Since returning from the states the end of June, I haven’t felt like playing. Honestly, I haven’t felt like doing anything. We both got Zika, which is like Chikungunya light. But, Zika amplified our ongoing arthritic symptoms from Chikungunya, which we got a year ago. Sigh! I feel so old and exhausted.

On top of our mosquito borne illnesses, the electricity has been horrible this month. Every other day, the power shuts off at six in the evening and blinks on at nine. Some people suspect that the Ferris wheel is the culprit, others say the new Pali grocery store is consuming too much of the electricity.

Whatever the reasons for our unstable power, sometimes I feel like Nicaragua is killing me slowly. I am tired of playing detective. Who hot wired our dune buggy? Who stole my friend’s bicycle, which was chained to her porch? Is it possible to flip a switch and turn off the electricity in our community when there is a big fiesta or bullfight in the next town? Why is my internet so slow? What tropical illness do we have now…parasites, Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, Swine flu, food poisoning, Cholera, E coli? We’ve had them all.

Is it Nicaragua or is it me?

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My Place of Solace


“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” ― Mark Twain

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People often ask what we do all day since we are retired. One thing is for certain. We have stopped watching world news. It is too depressing. Besides, there is very little we can do about fixing the big problems in the world. But, there are many little things we can do as expats to help make the world a little better for our local communities.

I started a children’s library in our small La Paloma Elementary school two years ago. It has become my solace and place of refuge from this mad, mad world in which we live.
It is my place of hugs, laughter, and wisdom absorbed through my skin.

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When Wal-Mart Comes to Town


“I don’t know what would have happened to Wal-Mart if we had laid low and never stirred up the competition. My guess is that we would have remained a strictly regional operator.” Sam Walton

Wal-Mart entered Nicaragua in 2005 and became Wal-Mart Centroamerica in 2006. The total retail units in Nicaragua are 89 (as of 2015). This includes 64 Pali stores, 16 Maxi Pali, 1 Wal-Mart Supercenter, and 8 La Unión stores.

And now, make that 65 Pali stores because Moyogalpa on Ometepe Island had their grand opening on June 30th.

IMG_2194Wal-Mart has been part of our lives in the United States for over half a century. Debates continue to rage as to the impact on the U.S. economy and society, as well as the positive and negative influences of this powerhouse. Time will tell what impact Wal-Mart has on our little island, but I already see some changes.

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Humans of Nicaragua: Romeo’s Juliets


“Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” ― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Once there was a homeless dog on the Calzada in Granada, Nicaragua. He loved hanging around the outside café tables, begging for food, playing with the tourists, and sleeping peacefully under tourists’ feet. He was nicknamed Romeo for his charming personality. What a lover he was!

Romeo charmed many people with his sweet personality, but it wasn’t until two very special people came into his life, that he found his forever home.

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Romeo’s first Juliet

The first “Juliet” in his life was Jennifer who works with Granada Animal Outreach-Nicaragua. Jennifer said that Romeo came to her attention because he was always on the Calzada looking for food from tourists.

He was sweet as can be and we became buddies. I noticed he had the mouth issue, constantly moving his jaw. I tried to look in his mouth to see if something was caught in his throat, but saw nothing. He needed to be neutered so that was a great opportunity to have him sterilized and have his health checked out. The vet, Dr. Steve from Canada, the director of World Vets in Granada, described this condition as the symptoms of a previous case of distemper, probably when he was a puppy. This was now his ´´new normal.¨

13617398_10153778440693660_517514316_nAfter his surgery, the area became infected and he was in a lot of pain so I took him to my house to recover. He was pretty much perfect… wanting to please, looking for love and attention. I knew more than ever that I wanted to find him a permanent home. Also, some of the kid street vendors had started to abuse him and hit him with palm fronds… I knew it would not be a happy ending.

So, she posted this on the Granada Animal Outreach Facebook page:
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I had received numerous messages about him from people that had met him on the Calzada…. like maybe 5-6 people but no one ever followed through. I was feeling really down. And then Laura came along…..
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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.

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