What’s in an Expat Fridge?


“Drink from the cup of life, you will be fulfilled.
Yet…
drink from the milk container in the fridge,
and your wife will make you wish that you had drunk from the cup of life.”
― Anthony T. Hincks

I am on a housesitter’s forum on Facebook because it helps me get contacts for good housesitters. Also, as a homeowner, we sometimes get trashed on these sites because housesitters complain that our homes are too dirty, or our fridges are full of rotten, moldy food, or our pillows are too soft or too hard, etc. Sometimes I feel like I have to defend the homeowners.

A housesitter posted a list of questions she asked prospective owners. Most of the questions were reasonable like, “How many pets do you have? Are they up-to-date on their vaccinations? Is the closest town within walking distance?”

But then I read this, “Post a photo of the inside of your refrigerator.”

Hmmm…So I asked why. And she responded,

It’s something we ask after getting surprised one too many times with refrigerators not sanitary in any way, shape, or form. We’re not looking to see what you have per say, as much as the condition you keep your fridge because we’ve found that to be a good indicator as to how clean you keep your home as well. It really sucks when the first thing you have to do upon arrival to a home is spending 4-6 hours cleaning the fridge just to make sure you don’t get food poisoning. Not to mention, quite often the rest of the home is just as dirty. And we aren’t there to be your house cleaners. After experiencing three like that in a row, we now ask to see what the fridge looks like. 

I thanked her for her response and checked her off my list as a potential housesitter.

Although this post isn’t about housesitters, I became curious to know what is inside expat fridges because they do represent a different way of eating and storing food, especially in the tropics.

So, here is a picture of what’s inside my fridge. Notice, it is clean, no rotten food, no mold, nothing that would cause food poisoning. Although, I have to admit that were notorious for keeping some moldy leftovers in our fridge in the states.  But, living on a tropical island has changed our fridge contents and our respect for food drastically. Let me explain why.


1. Sanitary conditions

 Living in the tropics, nothing is sacred to the infestation of bugs that swarm annually. Everything must be sealed tightly and even then, the tiny insects can always find a way to ruin your prized pumpernickel bread you found at La Colonia. All perishables go into the fridge or freezer.

Currently we have an infestation of tiny book lice. Fortunately they don’t like my food, but they are building nests inside my Kindle. ( And yes, they are really called book lice! ) Their only entrance is through my charger hole, so I had to find a way to deter them. After shaking hundreds of tiny book lice gently out the charger hole, I discovered that a drop of neem oil around the charger hole keeps them at bay.

Things rot quickly in the tropics. We experimented keeping our tomatoes out of the fridge or inside. They rotted within two days outside the fridge, and stayed rock hard inside the fridge. Nicaragua doesn’t have a good selection of tomatoes anyway, so we chose to refrigerate them so they would last longer.

All fruit is either refrigerated, processed and frozen, or canned. We freeze mangoes, water apples, Jackfruit, and Suriname cherries from our trees and bushes. We used to make mango jam and salsa and can it, but unless we started at 4 am, the day was too hot to keep the water boiling on the stove for canning.

Milk comes in cardboard containers and when we open it, the container goes into the fridge. We keep our eggs in the fridge, too. I know that is not custom here, but if we don’t put them in the fridge, we need a safe spot so our kitties won’t swipe them onto the floor. They are little rascals like that!  Continue reading

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Fruitful Times


“Don’t sit at home and wait for a mango tree to bring mangoes to you wherever you are. It won’t happen. If you are truly hungry for change, go out of your comfort zone and change the world.”
― Israelmore Ayivor

I love this quote! It really represents our life in Nicaragua. We definitely moved out of our comfort zone 13 years ago when we first moved to Ometepe Island. But now that we have settled into our little boomer nest, we are experiencing fruitful times.

Our last rainy season just ended and what a glorious rainy season we had. The past three years have been exceptionally dry, but now with the abundant rains, we have new fruits popping up everywhere.

Ron planted several avocado trees five years ago. This week, I noticed one avocado tree blooming and it is beginning to produce baby avocados. Last avocado season there were few avocados. The extended drought took a toll on the trees. But, this should be a great avocado season. It is still early, yet I am finding local avocados in the grocery stores now.

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Last year we had one cacao or chocolate pod on our cacao tree. I was so excited because although the tree is seven years old, we never saw any pods develop. However, the pod cracked and fell off the tree last year. I think due to a harsh dry period. But, this year, we have a couple of pods developing and one is the size of my hand.
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When Mango Trees Hit Back


“Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Oh, I love this quote! I remember that scene from the Chamber of Secrets well. It reminded me of our mango tree, one of the five mango trees closest to our house. It is an Indio mango and the fruit isn’t as good as our two Rosa mango trees.

Two times a year, this tree drops hundreds of mangoes on our roof. At the peak of mango season, we fill three wheelbarrows every morning with rotten mangoes. They bounce off the roof in the windy season like a rapid fire machine gun. Bam! Bam! And then they roll off the roof and scatter in the front yard.

We’ve tried everything to stop the almost constant supply of Indio mangoes, except for toppling the tree. It is too tall to spray or blow off the blossoms so the fruit doesn’t produce. And, it is a wonderful shade tree!

Last year, I researched an injection that I could put in the trunk of the tree called a fruit inhibitor. It isn’t a pesticide and will actually sterilize the tree so it won’t produce fruit. There were two problems with this; first, it had never been tried on a mango tree, only walnut trees in the states, and second, although it isn’t a pesticide, the container looked like it was a pesticide, which is prohibited on airplanes.

So, it was back to the old climbing the tree and cutting the limbs that hung over our roof. Jorge to the rescue!
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Weekly Photo Challenge: A Tropical Look Up


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Look Up.

Living in the tropics in the rainy season if you don’t look up, you will miss out on some wonderful surprises. Take a walk with me around our finca this morning as we look for new life blossoming in the tree tops.

I love the shade our mango tree provides, but the termite nests and the mangoes dropping like bombs on our tin roof…not so much.
IMG_1681The sour sop fruit is almost ready.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Shades of Pitaya


The Weekly Photo challenge is: Monochromatic.

Our Pitaya fruit is ripe and OHHHHH is it beautiful and delicious. I took a kaleidoscope photo on my iPad of our bowl of Pitaya fruit. Problem was… I was so excited to eat it, I neglected to get a “normal” photo of our ripe fruit. 🙂

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Our Fruit From Every Angle


The Weekly Photo Challenge is From Every Angle. Our fruit is growing and falling from every angle on Ometepe Island. It pings, smashes, bounces, and crashes to the ground. It twists, climbs, and sways in the wind.

Our nancites are ripe and ping to the ground every few seconds. The neighborhood kids bring their buckets and scoop up the marble size fruit to eat it like candy.

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How Does Your Dragon Fruit Grow?


Dragon Fruit or Pitaya, as it is called in Nicaragua, is the most heavenly fruit I know. The exact origin of this amazing cactus is unknown, but it is native to the jungles of Central America and grows well in Nicaragua. The Pitaya cactus is a prolific climber, using aerial roots to propel itself higher and farther along whatever paths it can find to reach lengths of up to 20 feet or more.

We’ve been growing Pitaya for several years, and this year the Pitaya cactus treated us to an amazing sight…our first buds and the night-blooming flowers.
IMG_8576After a rain about two weeks ago, I photographed several of our Pitaya buds. They were only budding on the Pitaya cactus that received full sun.
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After the Rain: Did you know that….?


It’s the rainy season in Nicaragua. After the all day rain yesterday, I walked around our property to see how the people, plants, and insects reacted.  Did you know that…?

Butterflies dart into protective vegetation and scramble beneath leaves when dark skies, strong winds, and the first raindrops signal an imminent storm. Can you imagine weighing about 500 milligrams with a massive 70 milligram raindrop pelting you? It would be like trying to dodge a water balloon with twice the mass of a bowling ball.

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Where does the Mango Stop and the Sky Begin?


One way can be learned by starting to see the magic in everything. Sometimes it seems to be hiding but it is always there. The more we can see the magic in one thing, a tiny flower, a mango, someone we love, then the more we are able to see the magic in everything and in everyone. Where does the mango stop and the sky begin? ~ Joshua Kadison

I have never seen this many mangoes in ten years. We have five mature mango trees. Three trees are Mango Indio and two trees are Mango Rosa. Eating the first ripe Rosa mango is a taste explosion. Ron’s beard is stained a permanent yellow and my clothes are sticky and stained with mango juice.

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When Great Trees Fall


Our magnificent Pera tree fell down last night in a rapid rain storm with strong wind. Some say it was a cyclone. I am reminded of Maya Angelou’s poem, When Great Trees Fall.

 

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