Humans of Nicaragua: Wilber’s Story


“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” ~B.B. King

How does one choose between an education and food for one’s family? It is difficult for me to understand from my secure, economically stable, and knowledgeable world. But, choosing to provide for one’s family instead of going to school is a commonplace decision habitually made in most developing countries throughout the world.

The power of education or the power of family? It is almost impossible for me to imagine that this choice has to be made.  Yet in Nicaragua, it really isn’t a choice for the poor; instead, it is a way of life. Food or education? Medicine or education? Low paid unskilled labor or education? The poor do not choose. That is a myth that I am beginning to understand from living in Nicaragua.

Without an education, it is difficult for me to understand how people function in a literate, high-tech world. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the adult literacy rate is the percentage of people ages 15 and above who can both read and write with understanding a short simple statement about their everyday life. In Nicaragua, 78% of the population is literate. Literacy chart comparing 215 countries.

It is almost impossible to imagine what it is like to be illiterate, unable to read or write words, and how terrifying and confusing the world must seem. Five years ago, this was the bewildering world in which Wilber lived. He knew very little about education and even less about the literate world surrounding him.

When Wilber was nine years old, his father ran off with another woman leaving him to care for a sick mother and his younger brother. He quit school and applied for a job as a farm hand on Ometepe Island.

“The farm owner said I was too tiny to work, but I convinced him to hire me because I needed to support my family.” ~ Wilber

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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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Let’s Get Real About Packing and Moving to Nicaragua


“I hear there are people who actually enjoy moving. Sounds like a disease to me – they must be unstable” ~ Jan Neruda, Prague Tales

 

When Ron and I finally decided to move to Nicaragua, our first question was, “How do we get all of our stuff there?” I had a brilliant-to-me idea. I contacted the cruise ships to see if it was possible to book a one-way trip from Miami to San Juan Del Sur. Then, we could unload all of our stuff from the cruise ship, hire a truck or van to take us to San Jorge, and board the ferry to our new-to-us shack we purchased on Ometepe Island. It was the cheapest option I could find, as well as sounding like a lot of fun. For a few days, we would have a floating storage locker in our stateroom on a giant cruise ship.

Cruise ship in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Cruise ship in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

“Sure, that is possible,” said the first booking agent. She proceeded to tell me how it could be done and I thought…this is so easy. I am brilliant.

I contacted a second agent to ask about luggage limits. She said there were no restrictions. Again, I told myself, this is genius!

But, the third agent must have had a bad day when I asked her if there were restrictions about what I could pack. “Can I bring a trunk with my pots and pans and is there room in the stateroom for our kayak?” I asked.

“Why would you need to bring pots and pans? You can’t be cookin’ any beans in your stateroom,” she snarled. So, I had to tell her that we were moving to Nicaragua and we wanted to bring several trunks with our possessions.

“This isn’t the Grapes of Wrath and it sure isn’t a moving company, so find another way to move!” and she hung up on me. Back to the drawing board!

The way I see it, there are three options for packing and moving your stuff to Nicaragua. So, for my monthly Let’s Get Real series…

                  Let’s Get Real About Packing and Moving to Nicaragua

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How to Get Absentee Ballots for U.S. Citizens


Voting-Quote-1My husband and I have always exercised our right to vote in local, state, and national elections. Even as expats, we continue to vote for we believe that “the ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

With important elections in the United States now upon us, I want to explain our process of receiving absentee ballots and voting from Nicaragua.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Ometepe Island Aglow from Sunrise to Sunset


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Vibrant.

Ometepe Island is luminous year round. From when the sun electrifies Conception volcano…
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Ten Films to Watch Before Traveling to Nicaragua


Sorry, I had technical difficulties, but all the movie trailers should show now.

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

 

Living in Nicaragua is like arriving to the movies ten minutes after the big picture has started. We piece the clues together to get the big picture daily. Before traveling anywhere, we always read books and watch films related to that country. It helps to get the “big picture” in areas of historical, socioeconomic, and social contexts.

   Ten Movies About Nicaragua

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Surfing through Life


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Optimistic

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”
― James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion

 

Our son and his fiancé are living in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua for six months. Not only is it wonderful to have family in Nicaragua, but they are two of the most optimistic people I know. They surf through life with enthusiasm and believe that we live in the best of all possible worlds.

Thanks Kimo, for this fantastic photo of Tina surfing through life.
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Humans of Nicaragua: A Single Expat Woman on Ometepe Island


“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Theresa definitely marches to the beat of her own drummer with grace, optimism, and passion. It takes a combination of ingenuity and creativity to live on Ometepe Island. Living here is not for city folks. Life is slow paced…island living at its best and its worse. It is  predominantly an agricultural area, so Theresa (a retired RN) has become a pig farmer raising litters of cute piggies to sell on the island.

This is the second in my series of Humans of Nicaragua: Single Expat Women. I started with single expat women because Sharon and Theresa are excellent examples of being bold enough to live on their terms, to go against the grain, and take the road less traveled.

Enjoy my interview with Theresa. Next in the Humans of Nicaragua series, I have some wonderful interviews lined up with Don Cabo, an 83 year-young friend of mine, who has lived on the island all of his life, and Wilber, a young Nicaraguan man who is dedicated to improving his life for himself and his family.

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It is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens quote says it all about my life as an expat. I recently read an article which grouped expats as Stayers, Goers, and Newbies. Since we’ve lived in Nicaragua over ten years now, I would classify us as Stayers. Yet, what happens when we can no longer stay?

That has been on my mind a lot lately. In the best of times, we built two houses, planted over 20 varieties of fruit trees, watered and maintained a lush garden, and tended daily to our chores of feeding our dogs, cats, chickens, and stray animals that wandered on our property.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabets in Nature


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Alphabet.

Finding alphabet letters in nature or the natural surroundings and incorporating them into a collage with the name of a favorite place I visited has always been a fun project for me.

My son works in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite picMy nephew’s wedding in the Outerbanks at the Wild Horse.
Wild Horse PosterAnd of course, I can’t forget my favorite place where we live…Ometepe.
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