Weekly Photo Challenge: Dem Broken Bones


The Weekly Photo Challenge is broken.

We are passionate about travel…always have been…always will be. I’m back in the states digitizing my photos and I found the perfect photos to represent broken. While roaming through Portugal, we discovered the Capela dos Ossos ( Chapel of Bones) in Évora.

This small chapel was built in the 16th century by a Franciscan monk, who wanted to send the message that life is transitory. A broken skeleton dangles near the entrance, reminding all who enter that “Better is the day of death, than the day of birth.”

IMG_7916Broken pieces of pelvic bones and shattered knee caps adorn the windows.

IMG_7918The number of broken skeletons of monks was calculated to be about 5000, coming from the cemeteries that were situated inside several dozen churches. Some of these skulls have been scribbled with graffiti.

IMG_7921The ceiling is made of white-painted brick and is painted with death motifs. Skulls embedded in cement make an interesting border.

IMG_7925It reminds me of the old spiritual, Dem Bones.
Toe bone connected to the foot bone Foot bone connected to the heel bone Heel bone connected to the ankle bone Ankle bone connected to the shin bone Shin bone connected to the knee bone Knee bone connected to the thigh bone…

But, here the bones are all disconnected and broken.

IMG_7919Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Now hear the word of the Lord.

IMG_7922Inside the Capela dos Ossos a poem about the need to reflect on one’s existence hangs in an old wooden frame:

Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Stop … do not proceed;
You have no greater concern,
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.

Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.

Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;

If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop … for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.

by Fr. António da Ascenção (translation by Fr. Carlos A. Martins, CC)

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Early Bird Gets the Mango


The weekly photo challenge is Early Bird. Living in Nicaragua, we’ve become accustomed to rising early…sometimes as early as 4:30 am. All of the action occurs early in the morning in Nicaragua…the earlier the better because the afternoons are reserved for long siestas in the tropical heat.

If you are an early bird, you will probably see… the parrot getting the first ripe mango
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Marvelous Malecóns


A malecón is a jetty, but in Nicaragua it is more like a boardwalk and a port. The San Jorge port, where people make connections to Ometepe Island is undergoing a facelift.

When it is completed, it will be a hub of activity with shops, new docks for the ferries, a new parking lot, hotels, restaurants, and a ferry station. When we returned from Granada to San Jorge to catch the ferry home, colorful banners and hundreds of swimmers greeted us for the upcoming Semana Santa week  (Easter week).

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The Gypsytoes Gene


“To travel is to live.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography 

 

IMG_7542I am consumed by wanderlust, nourished by voyages and treks regarded as less than desirable in popular tourist guides, and gorged with peregrination. Traveling is my life. I am lucky in love to have found a partner who shares my enthusiasm and passion for the roads less traveled.

Yet, I often wonder, “Why us?” Neither sets of our parents or grandparents, had the urge to jump into an exotic new life, even temporarily. They were content to stay on their farms, or the small towns in which they lived. They reacted to our gypsytoes with nervous, worried, and dismayed comments. My mother insisted on telling her church companions that we were missionaries in Nicaragua. Ron’s father scratched his head with puzzlement, “Why would anyone ever want to leave home?”

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The Small Fly on the Solentiname Islands


“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?”
― C. JoyBell C.

 

Tito told me of the small fly named Envy, that is creating cracks in the sidewalks along the San Fernando Island in the Solentiname Archipelago. I wanted to know if the sidewalks in the Solentiname Islands connected the people like the sidewalks in El Castillo. What I discovered was somewhat surprising, yet understanding the jealous nature of many Nicaraguans, I gained a new appreciation for Tito, the grandson of a local businesswoman on San Fernando Island. Tito has several plans to reconnect the people and mend the cracks in the meandering sidewalks.

I won’t go into the history of the Solentiname Islands, so check out this descriptive article In Lush Nicaragua,Legacy of a Priest for more information. Tito is the grandson of Ms. Guevara Silva, the owner of the historic Albergue Celentiname Inn, where we stayed.

We arrived at the Malecón de San Carlos to wait for the daily boat to the Solentiname Islands. Finding a boat schedule online was difficult, but a captain at the Malecón reassured us that there was a daily boat which left at 3:00pm for the archipelago and returned to San Carlos at 9:00 am.

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El Castillo: Do Sidewalks Connect Communities?


“Americans consider the sidewalk an anonymous backstage space, whereas for the French it is the stage itself.”
― Edmund White, The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris

 

If the French consider sidewalks to be the stage, then Nicaraguans consider sidewalks to be the entire theater. El Castillo, Nicaragua is proof that sidewalks set the stage for connection and interaction with others, especially in this tranquil community lacking cars, motorcycles, and other forms of motorized transportation.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: An Artist’s Reward


The weekly photo challenge is: Reward

The Solentiname Islands offer a communal space for artistic expression and spiritual discovery. In 1965, Ernesto Cardenal, a Nicaraguan priest and now-famous poet, established a religious community on the Solentiname Islands.

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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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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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Look Up! Thoughts on the Rio San Juan


“Have you noticed how nobody ever looks up? Nobody looks at chimneys, or trees against the sky, or the tops of buildings. Everybody just looks down at the pavement or their shoes. The whole world could pass them by and most people wouldn’t notice.”
― Julie Andrews Edwards, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

We just returned from a week’s trip down the Rio San Juan in Nicaragua. It is a 192.06 km river that flows east out of Lake Cocibolca into the Caribbean Sea. What a spectacular river it is! So full of life. But, you have to LOOK UP.

On the Rio Bartola, one of the thousand tributaries of the Rio San Juan, we met another boat. They are all pointing up at something. What could it be?
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