I am a mule. I have hauled more items to Nicaragua from the states than I can recall. This evening my bags are packed again…and I am ready to return to Ometepe Island.
“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” ~ the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke
It sounds so simple: say what you mean. But, all too often, what I try to communicate gets lost in translation…literally. Let’s face it! Communicating effectively in a second language is not my strength. Many days, I have a failure to communicate. But, last week’s problem was not because of ineffective communication in Spanish. It was a problem with forgetting my cell phone.
Last Sunday, our god-daughter invited us to her presentation at the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Her father, Jairo, had tried to call us for a week to invite us to Alba’s presentation. Unfortunately, I had turned off my old cell phone…the number that Jairo knew. So, Jairo had to walk to our house to give us the invitation.
That was my first mistake. I gave Jairo my new number and asked him to send me a text message with directions to the place where Alba would give her presentation. That was my second mistake. Jairo doesn’t know how to send a text message. Who knew?
This week marks the fifth anniversary of our retired lives on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua and the fourth anniversary of my blog. Attempting to explain what these past five years have been like for us, the origin of the word “anniversary” came to mind.
The word “anniversary” first appeared in English in the 13th century, and was based on the Latin word “anniversarius,” meaning “returning yearly” (from “annus,” year, plus “versus,” a turning). The first uses of “anniversary” were in the church, and “anniversary days” were usually dates with particular religious significance, e.g., the days of martyrdom of saints, etc. The use of “anniversary” for the yearly marking of any past occasion dates to a bit later, and such dates were previously known as “year-days” or “mind-days,” times when a notable occasion or person is “brought to mind.”
Mind-Day…I like that expression because looking back on our five years of living on a tropical island in the middle of a giant sweet sea, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America reminds me to always be grateful for every aspect of my life. Happy Mind-Day to us!
Our Lives Abroad in the Idioms of Mind
This was our life in luggage in September 2010. It took us five years to plan for our move, and the adventure had just begun the day we boarded the plane to take us to Managua.
My Life in Luggage.
Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. ~ John F. Kennedy
My news feed is filled with political articles about building impenetrable fences and walls. Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall represents a very common sentiment among neighbors everywhere. “Good fences make good neighbors.” But, is this statement true?
Geography has made us neighbors to all the wandering cattle along our beach path. Living on a predominantly agricultural island, I have learned that fences here are built to keep the cattle, wandering pigs, and horses out…definitely not people. I prefer it that way.
I dislike impenetrable walls with electric fences and shards of sharp glass clinging to the tops of the walls like prisons. That’s one of the main reasons we chose to live in a rural area surrounded by gracious neighbors with whom we can share our lives.
I understand that human relationships need boundaries. Robert Frost’s poem is a metaphor for establishing one’s boundaries. When boundaries are clear, human relationships prosper. But, we needed a new fence to keep out the cows who have no understanding of human nature.
Necessity has made us allies in Nicaragua. Let’s face it. Without the help of our neighbors, we would be lost. I do not have a green thumb. Marina knows that. The other evening, Marina and her father planted flowers in my flower bed in front of our house. Early the next morning, Marina stretched her hose across our property line and watered the newly planted flowers…and they bloomed! That’s what a good neighbor does. Continue reading
Ron and I had no blank pages left in our passports. That’s the price one pays because of the love of travel. We had two options: either get extra passport pages in our passports before December 2015, or renew our passports.
The cost of a packet of extra pages for our passports was $82. The cost of renewing our passports and getting new ones was $110 at the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. It was a no-brainer for us and cheaper in the long-run because our passports could be renewed for ten more years.
Being curious, I wondered how our U.S. Passports are made.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo
Check out the list. Many of my blogging friends have blogs listed, too.
How many pages of the world have you opened in your travel book?
All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that. ~Baltasar Gracian
Living in Nicaragua requires a different mindset of time management. I used to pride myself in the ability to plan and control how I spent the hours in my day to effectively accomplish my goals. I had mastered the skills of planning for the future. setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and monitoring where the time goes. THEN…I moved to Nicaragua where mañana could mean today, tomorrow, sometime in the distant future, or never… where I am constantly reminded to slow down and be present. What I’ve learned about time management in Nicaragua may surprise you. It’s not all bad.
Let’s get real about time management in Nicaragua.
1. Most Nicaraguans are better at single-tasking, than multi-tasking.
“Man is not truly one, but two”
― Robert Louis Stevenson
The Weekly Photo Challenge is Half and Half. “This week, let’s split our photos in two.”
How about, “This week let’s split ourselves in two?” Sometimes, being a mother, a traveler, a partner, an expat, a maid, a librarian, a writer, and an all-round handy woman…I can see that Robert Louis Stevenson is right…except he should say, “A woman is not truly one, but two.”
When asked why foreigners immigrate to Nicaragua, often they say, I just want to feel free, like never before. My response is usually, Free from what? Does Nicaragua offer more freedom than we can obtain in our home countries? If so, what are those freedoms and are there restrictions to our freedom while living in Nicaragua?
I’m reminded of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song, Free Bird. It is a metaphor for life. “Things just couldn’t be the same. ‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,” the group sings. Life happens whether we want it to or not. Since life passes so quickly, I figured that I might as well jump right into the thick of it…take calculated risks…live my dreams…change and grow. I couldn’t handle staying where things were always the same day after day. Life seemed to be passing me by, and I needed a change where I could spread my wings and fly. Nicaragua gave me that change.
What freedoms do we have in Nicaragua?
Some expat business owners say that they have more freedom to conduct business in Nicaragua. I assume that means there isn’t as much bureaucracy. Others interpret freedom to mean less financial stress and less work. For me, now that we are retired, freedom = lifetime pensions. We can live comfortably on a fixed income in Nicaragua.
As expats, we express our freedom in many creative ways. We are artists, builders, writers, chefs, teachers, and photographers. We cherish our freedom and our rights to free speech. We defend our home countries, and pack our traditions, values, cultures, and symbols of freedom to display in our adopted country.
Four airplanes arrived in Nicaragua on the same day and at the same time. We were standing in an unusually long, disorganized line in customs. There was a small space in front of me…enough space for the man’s backpack to rest on the floor. Suddenly, a family of Nicaraguans rushed into the space in front of me. I glared at them and pointed to where the line ended. Yet, they didn’t move. I think they were trying to tell me, “My happy place is in your personal space.”
Cultural space: The final frontier. Invisible bubbles of space surround all of us and they vary according to the norms of the places where we live. Why do we have personal space issues and how do they differ from Nicaragua?