My Obituary for Pierre Doris Maltais


Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 7.50.11 AM Pierre Doris Maltais was born June 27, 1937 in East Angus Quebec, married in 1961, and had three children. He died in July, 2015 in Granada, Nicaragua.

Known to many as Norman William, Brother Maolinn Tiam, Man, Abi, Indio, and numerous other aliases, he was revered by unsuspecting victims and followers of the Cult Ecoovie, and hated by those who were knowledgeable of his evil past.

Continue reading

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.
IMG_8610 Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: I Spy Eyes Close Up


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Close Up. I wandered around my house today shooting close-ups of eyes.

Queenie says, “I see it is an in-my-face kind of day.”
IMG_8692 Continue reading

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.

IMG_8568 Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split in Two


“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.”

IMG_0021I know that many of you can identify with me, especially when you have one of those days.
Right?

Expats: Free Birds or Jail Birds


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.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Books as Symbols


The weekly photo challenge is symbol.

 

Symbols are stories. Symbols are pictures, or items, or ideas that represent something else. Human beings attach such importance and meaning to symbols that they can inspire hope. ~Lia Habel

 

I can think of no better symbol of hope than a book. When I opened the La Paloma Elementary School Library in my community, I had hopes of instilling a joy of reading in a culture that lacks understanding of books. It has grown beyond my expectations!

 

“There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy
spanish books“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
IMG_5331
Continue reading

Guess Who Came to Dinner?


doctorsMarina was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease over two years ago. Her journey through this condition led her to a public healthcare surgeon in Managua, who removed her diseased thyroid in two operations a year apart. Gloria, her daughter, brought the diseased thyroid home in a plastic cup for all to see before taking it to a private clinic for a biopsy report.

I shook my head in disbelief.

What kind of pubic health system allows patients to bring a diseased body part home, then asks them to pay a private clinic for a biopsy report?

For Ron’s birthday, we decided to make a North American meal for 15 of our Nicaraguan friends and neighbors. Marina said, “My surgeon and his family are vacationing at my house for a week. Can they come, too?”

“Of course,” I replied. Again, I shook my head in disbelief.

Why would a surgeon want to spend his vacation in a humble abode of a patient instead of a fancy hotel? “Aren’t all doctors rich?” I asked Marina.

What I learned about the public healthcare system in Nicaragua will surprise you.

IMG_8535

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Living Without a Door


The Weekly Photo is: Door

Two years ago I completed a Weekly Photo Challenge: Opening Colorful Doors

Yet, for this photo challenge, I am taking the opposite approach. What would life be like living without a door? You see, my neighbors are adding to their small dirt-floor house. Yesterday, I crawled over the barbed wire fence separating our properties to see the progress on their addition.

There are many ‘firsts’ in this addition, and they proudly showed me around their two new rooms. It is their first cement floor, their first barred windows, and their first cement block walls waiting for a smooth concrete finish.

IMG_8520But, they have run out of money, so they are going to live without doors until they can afford to have doors made. It may be a long wait because one strong handmade door will cost them several months’ pay.

“A door is an everyday thing, yet is often a symbol — of a beginning, a journey forward or inward, a mark of one’s home, or even a step into the unknown.” Yet, I wonder what life will be like living without a door? I can’t imagine life without a door…it’s a leap for me to step that far into the unknown…a journey of faith and trust extending outward in the world.

They live without so much as it is: no running water in their house, no gas stove, only a wood fire for cooking, no indoor plumbing, and an outhouse. Yet, they are always happy!
Marina even added a touch of color by attaching plastic flowers from Don Jose’s funeral to her new barred windows.

IMG_8523Do doors symbolize a new beginning, an opportunity, new possibilities, or potentials? Not for this family!
IMG_8525For this family, living without doors demonstrates their openness and trust between their inner and their outer world. They are so proud of their accomplishments in building this addition. All of their extended family members helped to build it…kind of like an Amish barn raising. I’m proud of them, too.

What do you think living without doors would be like? Have you ever met someone who lived without doors in their house? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.