Let’s Play Ball!


“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!” ― Babe Ruth

It should also be noted, never let the lack of a proper field or uniforms keep you from playing the game. Baseball is revered in Nicaragua. Our La Paloma team just received new uniforms and they look so jazzy!
Ron and I donated money for two uniforms and they put our names on the back. Ron’s name means rum in Spanish and when they showed us our names to be printed on the back of the uniforms, they wrote “Rom” instead of Ron. It took me a minute to realize that they were trying to spell “Rum” on his shirt. Haha!
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Fuego y Agua Survival Run 2016


“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
― John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running 

Ron and I volunteer every year for the Fuego y Agua Survival Run and Trail Races. The first week in February is my favorite time of the year because I witness dedication, perseverance, strength, endurance, stamina, courage and GUTSINESS all in one amazing week. 

This year’s Survival Run was BRUTAL. Racers contended with 90+ degree heat, carried 30 lbs. of plantains up and down a 5,500 ft. volcano, ran for two hours holding a live chicken, maneuvered through the cloud forest at night carrying 20-ft bamboo poles, caught fish, and climbed trees…all within a span of 25 hours.

When we arrived at the pre-race events Friday morning, 60 survival runners from around the world gathered to compete. They divided into teams for the pre-race events and organized their team members into those who dug holes with their bare hands, those who made rafts, and those who searched for puzzle pieces in a giant plantain field.

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Survival of the Fittest: February 2015


“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” ― Charles Darwin

 

The Fuego y Agua Survival Run is over until next February. Every year, we volunteer to help at the aid stations for the races. 45 Survival runners line up to register for the race. How many will finish? Their motto is:

“Hold up your right hand and repeat after me: “if I get hurt, lost or die, it is my own damn fault.”

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The Fuego y Agua Ultramarathon and Survival Run


It’s that time of the year again. The Fuego y Agua Ultramarathon and Survival Run starts this week. Ron and I are volunteering at the aid stations like we do every year.

Enjoy this little preview of last year’s Survival Run.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement


The Weekly Photo Challenge is achievement.

We are preparing for the 4th Annual Fuego y Agua Survival Run on Ometepe Island. Every February, we follow the runners up and down both volcanoes and through jungles. It is a grueling race and most do not finish. However, for those who do survive and finish the race, it is an incredible achievement.

Last February’s course for the Survival Run.
survival run course map copyThroughout the course, the runners have to complete many obstacles to receive 4 metals.
I did not failJohnson, our local runner, is hard to beat. He won the Survivor Run two years in a row.

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On the Other Side of Fear


“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” ― Jack Canfield

If there is one thing I’ve learned about the Survival runners in the Fuego y Agua, it is that they live beyond fear. I marvel at their fortitude, their strength, and their…well…craziness! This year, the survival runners ran about 60 miles, up and down both volcanoes, stopping to complete obstacle challenges that included 20 ft. bamboo poles, climbing trees, diving into the lake to get a bracelet attached to a rock, sleeping on top of Maderas volcano, carrying 50 lbs. of firewood on their backs, and other unimaginable challenges that tested them to their limits.

The Fuego y Agua Survival Run Course
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Are you afraid yet? There’s more!

Running With Scissors


This year’s Fuego y Agua races have sadly come to an end. We volunteered for our third year in a row to help the runners. I’m writing a post about the runners, next.  Meanwhile, enjoy our travels from one side of Ometepe Island to the other, as we run with scissors (figuratively)  following the Survival runners from one obstacle challenge to another.

We followed the Survival Runners on February 5th, hopping buses, taxis, and hiking around the island to find their obstacle challenges. First stop: Tesoro de Pirata.
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But wait! There’s a lot more!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie: The Devil Made Me Do It.


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Selfie. For this challenge, snap a selfie with your cameraphone or camera. Feel free to get creative and clever, and if you don’t want to share a photo of yourself, think of a way to approach this challenge in a different way.”

I don’t do selfies. But, I have a creative selfie that is very meaningful to me. Our very good friend, Johnson, was the Fuego y Agua Survival Runner champion on Ometepe Island last year. He gave us his trophy mask, which we have hanging on our Mask of Fame wall, along with other metals Johnson received. This year Johnson placed third in the Fuego y Agua Survival Run, and he gave us his trophy devil mask.

Johnson wears his trophy devil mask at the annual Fuego y Agua Survival Run, February 5, 2014.
Johnson and the devilMy selfie: The devil made me do it.
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Cultural Lessons from the Ballpark


“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”
― George F. Will 

Nicaraguans are passionate about their baseball. Baseball is their field of dreams…a door to batting a thousand…a chance to bring it on home. So, when we had an opportunity to go to our first professional baseball game in Nicaragua, how could I not jump at the chance to play ball?  For me, it was a cultural experience…a pinch hitter slice of life moment. Covering all the cultural bases, I’d go to bat for Nicaraguans any day.

Cultural Lessons from the Ballpark

1. Nicaraguans don’t take rain checks and neither do we.
We arrived at the dock early in the morning to catch the 9 am ferry to Rivas. The game started at 11 am, and we were sure we’d have plenty of time to buy our tickets. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the ferry broke down, and we had to wait for the 11 am Che. Meanwhile, Francisco (our friendly taxi driver), frantically called us, “Deborah, the tickets are almost sold out. I’ll buy your tickets for you.” Perfect! We’d miss the first few innings, but Francisco would save our seats. Later, we discovered that many of the spectators were buying one ticket, then reproducing the ticket at the local copy center.  Nicaraguans definitely don’t take rain checks…but, neither do the gate attendants take fake tickets.

IMG_11152. Time to play ball!
Nicaraguans are always ready to play ball in the game of life. Crowds never deter Nicas. No obstacle is too big…too overwhelming…too frightening. They are dare-devil risk-takers, scaling fences… hanging from rafters…without a thought of consequences.
The Yamil Rios Ugarte Stadium in Rivas holds…ballpark figure…about 5,000 people. We pushed our way through the throngs to find our cement bleacher seats, only to stand for most of the game. Time to play ball!
IMG_11193. The bases are loaded everyday in Nicaragua.
When the stakes are high, and a chance presents itself to win…Nicaraguans go for the win. Life is one big baseball game. Not only in sports, but in their daily activities, politics, and with positive attitudes…they are winners.
IMG_11244. Nicaraguans get thrown many curve balls, yet they persevere in style.
Nicaraguans are faced with something unexpected or out of the ordinary on a daily basis. They go with the flow in Nicaland.  A family of the Managua Boers was sitting in the boxed seating area. Although, their team was losing, they were having a grand time, laughing, drinking Tona, and blowing the annoying noise makers to cheer on their team.
IMG_11295. Nicaraguans always get to first base with Jesus on their side.
Nicaragua is predominantly Catholic, and they party heavily with their patron saints in each town. So, it came as no surprise to me when Jesus dominated the advertisements at the stadium. Best Western was a close second.
IMG_11616. Nicaragua brings in the heavy hitters to support the local parties.
I wondered what kind of food would be served at the baseball game. Hotdogs, corn dogs, popcorn? Nooooo! The heavy hitter street venders arrived with buckets of cold beer, trays laden with fried chicken and cabbage salad, pork rinds smothered in cabbage salad, plantain chips splashed with vinegar, and refreshing homemade shaved ice with sweet leche dribbling down the sides. With their decorative frilly aprons, the heavy hitters scored a home run with the crowd.
IMG_11477. It’s easy to tell right off the bat, that the Nicaraguans love their children.
Children are the focus of the Nicaraguan society. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles…everyone…tend to the needs of their children first. Junior and I ate our way through the game. He was fascinated by Ron’s white mustache and tugged on it to see if it would come off. Meanwhile, his parents laughed and gently distracted Junior.
IMG_11418. Nicaraguans love to pitch their ideas.
Since most Nicas live in poverty, they are resourceful and creative with what they have. They play hardball with their bargaining skills. Francisco pitched an idea to us at the ball park. His taxi has over 200,000 miles on it. He needs a new taxi, but cars are prohibitively expensive for most Nicaraguans. “What if I could have someone buy a car for me in the United States and drive it to Nicaragua?” he pitched. “Let me see what I can find,” I said.
IMG_11439. Everyday it’s a new ballgame.
Nicaraguans aren’t easily discouraged. They have a remarkable ability to live in the moment. The Boers were down 16-7, but not discouraged. Their flags waved, their mascots chanted, their drums rolled.
IMG_112310. Nicaragua is in a league of its own.
We jokingly call it “the land of the not quite right.” This vivacious, colorful culture of people have fought wars, overcome adversity, and won my heart. By the way, the Rivas Gigantes trumped the Managua Boers 16-7.This was their first year to play professional ball. Their first baseman, Randall Simon, played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003. If you are familiar with him, you may remember the sausage incident.

Rivas Gigantes are headed for the National Championship. I’m root, root, rooting for my home team. Bring it on home Nicaragua…my home.
IMG_1159The LBPN Professional Baseball in Nicaragua website.