The Fortress of the Immaculate Conception


“Justice is an unassailable fortress, built on the brow of a mountain which cannot be overthrown by violence of torrents, nor demolished by the force of armies.” ~ Joseph Addison

 

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Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ on the River


If you come down to the River
Bet you’re gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have no money
People on the river are happy to give~ Proud Mary sung by Tina Turner

 

Every now and then, I kind of like to do things nice and easy. Rollin’ on the Rio San Juan was one of those nice and easy kind of days. However, life on the river was not always tranquil. What a deep and rough history this river has: pirates, slave traders, William Walker, Cornelius Vanderbilt; cannons, forts, rapids, and crocodiles the size of dugout canoes.

Yet, embarking on our three-hour journey meandering down the olive-green waters of the Rio San Juan, I felt like an explorer perched on the edge of discovering a new way of life…a much slower-paced life…one in harmony with the rhythm and beat of the waves gently lapping the shore in the wake of our long, flat-bottomed panga.

What discoveries lie ahead? Will we find human imprints? Join me as we leave the sliver of civilization known as San Carlos, and glide slowly down the river into the depths of the jungle. Turn up the music! We’re rollin’ on the river Tina Turner style.

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It’s the Journey That Matters: Getting to the Rio San Juan


“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

 

Rolling down the Rio San Juan has been on our bucket list for years. However, having an end to journey toward was not our greatest reward. Instead, the journey itself was our fringe benefit because getting there was half the fun.

Oh the convenience of living beside a small airport! We walked our sandy volcanic path to the airport on a Thursday afternoon and caught a 15 minute flight to San Carlos, Nicaragua. We booked with La Costeña online. Make sure you book early because the planes seat 12 people. At a cost of $85 round trip per person, we felt like it was a bargain, if only for the convenience of walking to and from our house.

And we were off!  We ascended over the patchwork of fields, quaint red tin roofs, and the calm Lake Cocibolca.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: My Hard-Working Community


This week, in a post created specifically for this challenge, show us community, and interpret it any way you please! The Weekly Photo Challenge  My Ometepe Island community is composed of hard-working people of all ages.

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing.” ― Thomas Jefferson

Have oxen, will pick up and deliver

                                                 Have oxen, will pick up and deliver

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
― Beverly Sills

Have sugar cane, will travel.

                             Have sugar cane, will travel.

“Many who are self-taught far excel the doctors, masters, and bachelors of the most renowned universities.” ― Ludwig von Mises

Have boat, will fish.

                                                        Have boat, will fish.

“No one understands and appreciates the American Dream of hard work leading to material rewards better than a non-American. ”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Have wood, will cook.

                                         Have wood, will cook.

“Sometimes there’s not a better way. Sometimes there’s only the hard way.”
― Mary E. Pearson, The Fox Inheritance

Have hands, will pick beans.

                                                    Have hands, will pick beans.

“Children take joy in their work and sometimes as adults we forget that’s something we should continue doing.”
― Ashley Ormon, God in Your Morning

Have goats, will raise.

                                     Have goats, will raise.

“All success comes down to this . . . action” ― Rob Liano

Have cart, will collect garbage.

                                          Have cart, will haul your stuff.

“As I tell my children, ‘If you are going to do something, do your best while you’re doing it.”
― Michelle Moore, Selling Simplified

Have puppies, will charm you into buying them.

               Have puppies, will charm you into buying them.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Stories are Light


“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”
― Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

This Thanksgiving we made some light…fishing in the St. John’s River, sharing family stories under the reflecting palms.
IMG_0292We made some light… cooking pumpkin pies and Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish, while sharing family recipes bathed in the moonlight of the draw bridge.
IMG_0403We made some light…traveling together in my step brother’s plane, while singing Christmas songs over the winding rivers 19,000 ft. below.
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We made some light…returning to my mother’s home, and sharing our Thanksgiving stories and traditions of many years ago lit by the fountain across the street from her home.
IMG_0470We made some light… of our blended families, sharing our gratefulness and thanks for the time we can spend together before we all return to our own homes far away. Our doors are always lit…our stories are our light.
IMG_0466Begin at the beginning…share stories gratefully with others…make some light today.

 

 

15 Minutes of Fame


Andy Warhol coined an expression in 1968 when he said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” I thought I used up my 15 minutes of fame years ago, but I have been blessed with unusual experiences in my life that have kept me jumping on my Gypsytoes.

Enjoy our First Thanksgiving on Ometepe Island from the Project Expat: Recalling Thanksgivings Abroad from NPR.

I wish everyone a wonderful and relaxing holiday season. We’re celebrating Thanksgiving in the states with family. Stay tuned for more Ometepe stories when we return.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways


I enjoy taking a late afternoon stroll along our beach near the sweet sea of Lake Cocibolca. Cormorants chatter among themselves, while searching for the prime spot and the best snack before bedtime.

Gargantious Gar


In the evening, as the brutal sun was sinking into the sweet sea for its nightly nap , a freshwater giant was lurking in the shallow waters of Lake Cocibolca. These gargantious alligator gar have few known predators, mainly because the prehistoric relatives of the megafish have tooth-filled mouths and heavily scaled bodies.

Yet, one unfortunate menacing-looking behemoth couldn’t contend with Julio and his missile-like aim.
IMG_2569With a swiftly flying rock, he pounded the alligator gar into deadly submission. This toothy giant didn’t have a chance.
IMG_2574This gargantious gar may look fierce, but attacks against people are unknown. Tell that to little 8 mo. old Braydon, whose mother just finished bathing him in the lake.
IMG_2573Julio chopped up the gar with his machete throwing twinkly flying sparks….seriously! Then, the big hunks of meat were distributed among the neighborhood. Some say that gar is a tasty treat, others say that gar is bony and tough. The only fact I know about gar is that the eggs are poisonous to humans if ingested.

Stay tuned for my gar recipe. In the meantime, I think I’m taking a break from swimming in the shallow waters of our sweet sea.

 

 

A Big Fish Story: How to get a Tarpon into Town


“Fish,” the old man said. “Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me, too?” ~ Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

In the wee hours of the morning, the fishermen row their dug out canoes into the sweet sea, where the waters are deep and the fish are plentiful. “Maybe today will be my lucky day,” they pray silently.

IMG_1391This morning, Julio urgently called to us. “Run to the beach! The fisherman caught a gigantic fish in his net.” “Holy mackerel!” I shouted. “No,” responded Ron. “It’s a Tarpon.”

IMG_1342“A Tarpon?” I questioned, for I knew very little about Tarpon and especially Tarpon in Lake Cocibolca. The four-foot Megalops, cushioned between the narrow ribs of the dugout canoe, shimmered like the early morning sunbeams beams dancing on the gently rolling waves of our sweet sea. Its enormous eye stared as transparently as the cloudless dawn, while its adipose eyelid glazed over like a frosted donut, signifying that the fight was over. IMG_1344Tarpon generally weigh 80-280 pounds. “How do we get it out of the boat?” they all wondered. “More importantly,” asked the fisherman, “how do I get it into town to sell it?”

IMG_1350“Look at the mouth on that fish!” Julio demonstrated. Its mouth was as broad as the proposed Nicaraguan Canal, with a prominent lower jaw that jutted out farther than its face, sort of like our Moyogalpa dock. “It must be able to eat a lot of smaller fish with a mouth that size,” I said. The fisherman told us that the Tarpon are night hunters and they swallow their prey whole.

IMG_1356The fisherman wheeled his bicycle through the deep volcanic sand and docked it close to the canoe.

IMG_1360The fisherman strapped the strong, handmade paddles to his bicycle to brace the Megalops for the long ride into town.

IMG_1364Heaving and hefting, they lifted the monstrous, slippery Tarpon onto the paddles. It took several attempts because the fish was as slippery as our neighbor’s sweat beaded forehead after tending to her daily cooking fires.

IMG_1368Then, It was tightly bound to the bicycle, leaving no room for the fisherman to ride, only to push his prize into town.

IMG_1375“We need to carefully balance this monster,” the fisherman warned. Meanwhile, his son  dug out his prize..the eyeball!

IMG_1381Pushing it through the deep and unwieldy sand, they slowly make their way to the hard-packed road.

IMG_1384“Steady, steady,” warned the fisherman.

IMG_1387To market, to market to sell a fat fish..jiggety jigging along the sandy path.

IMG_1388Look at the size of those scales! These scales will make a beautiful pair of earrings.

IMG_1389This fish story has a very happy ending. The fisherman received 5,000 cordobas for the Tarpon, about two months’ wages. His son brought us a huge hunk of Tarpon for Ron’s help. Although they are bony fish and their meat is usually not eaten, we decided to try it anyway. Now, I understand why these magnificent fish are not commercially valuable as food fish, but our three kittens and our neighbor’s dog feasted until their bellies bloated.

I love a happy ending!