Can I Survive as a Whole Person Without Internet?


“People who have so much of their personality invested in the Internet can’t really survive as whole individuals without it.” ― Mark A. Rayner, The Fridgularity

Oh boy! That quote hits a home run with me. I invest so much time, energy, and money in trying to get a faster internet signal in Nicaragua. I know that I am addicted to the internet, and I may need an intervention. Yet, I wonder if I would be a better person or a different person without the internet. Would my personality change without the internet?

If you have followed my blog, you know I am a geek girl and I am constantly searching for solutions to increase the speed and connectivity to the internet on Ometepe Island. Check out a few of my past posts.

My Woktenna

Confessions of a Geek Girl

Facebook for Expats: Friend or Foe?

IMG_1764The trees in our neighborhood had blocked the direct line of sight to the mainland for our internet signal. We couldn’t top the trees because many of them aren’t on our property and we couldn’t extend our pole tower on the roof of our casita because the cables wires that secure the poles had to extend beyond our roof.

So, our only option was to build a new and taller tower. Five men came from the mainland on Friday to construct our tower. It was fascinating to watch them build our tower, if not somewhat frightening because I have a fear of heights.

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Wow! You Won’t Believe What Just Happened!


Do I have your attention? I just click baited you.:-) I read that Facebook is changing their algorithms so that click baiting titles that misinform or deceive, kind of like spam, will be moved to the bottom of your news feed.

I am so glad to hear that. I hate clicking on an article, only to find that the title deceives you. But, even though this is not earth shattering news, my post is about the internet, and mainly Netflix in Nicaragua.

My internet has been super slow for about a month. Technicians have been to my house numerous times, and we decided to install a larger internet tower so that we have direct line of sight to the mainland because the trees surrounding our house have grown taller than the tower we have on the roof of our casita.

The new tower is still not installed…mañana they tell me. So, I called Evenor to check out my system because my download speeds were registering 0.02 mbps. Sigh!

I have to backtrack a moment to tell you about my router. I bought a fancy router in the states where the VPN was installed within the router, so all my devices looked like the IP address was from the USA. It worked great, especially for Netflix, until Netflix decided to block all VPNs.

I spent hours chatting with my VPN provider, changing the settings in the router, changing the location of my server in the USA, and fiddling with the router. All to no avail. I still couldn’t get Netflix.

Evenor

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Let’s Get Real about Leaving Family Behind While Living Abroad


“And the danger is that in this move toward new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

 

IMG_1583These are my mother’s hands as she grasps her suitcase not understanding where she is going or where she has been. My mother passed away last week after a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia. That my mother should be my beloved teacher in the art of living a full life, comes as no surprise. She was the first person to tell me, “Go! Live a full life without any regrets. My love will be with you wherever your travels take you.” And, her love continues to be within me, now and forever.

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Apps and Internet Links for Expats


“Mobile is the digital gateway for the real world.”
― Tomi Ahonen

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.22.23 PMI predict that soon becoming an expat will be common. There are massive economic and technological forces that are moving ordinary people abroad by the millions. Do you know that you can even become a virtual expat with the help of technology?

I have searched the internet for apps and links that will make your life easier as an expatriate. Enjoy this list and add your favorite apps and links below.
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Let’s Get Real About Personal Space in Nicaragua


Four airplanes arrived in Nicaragua on the same day and at the same time. We were standing in an unusually long, disorganized line in customs. There was a small space in front of me…enough space for the man’s backpack to rest on the floor. Suddenly, a family of Nicaraguans rushed into the space in front of me. I glared at them and pointed to where the line ended. Yet, they didn’t move. I think they were trying to tell me, “My happy place is in your personal space.”

Cultural space: The final frontier. Invisible bubbles of space surround all of us and they vary according to the norms of the places where we live. Why do we have personal space issues and how do they differ from Nicaragua?

me on chicken bus

Me holding a stranger’s baby on a crowded chicken bus.

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Things I’ve Learned About Life After 500 Blogging Posts


500Yesterday was a milestone day. I wrote my 500th post on my blog. Believe it or not, becoming a blogger was never something I planned. I was looking for a way to network and market my book, Pretiring with the Monkey Lady. But, a strange thing happened along the way in my little corner of the blogging world.

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Duped on Ometepe Island?


         “Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains    enough to be honest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
 

 

I think I have been duped! Last week, a Department of Health medical brigade (MINSA) came to Ometepe Island offering medical services. They walked door to door accompanied by a police officer on a motorcycle.

It’s common to see a MINSA medical brigade here. When severe flooding eroded the shoreline, MINSA came door to door passing out free antibiotics for Leptospirosis. During the rainy season, they pass out a poison powder to sprinkle in standing water where mosquitoes may breed. But, they never come accompanied by the police, and they are always local MINSA employees.

Marina was cleaning my house, and I was raking the yard when I saw the medical brigade come to my door. I didn’t catch the beginning of the conversation and my Spanish vocabulary with medical words is severely lacking. Although much of the conversation was lost in translation, this is my interpretation of the conversation that took place:

Male nurse: We are offering free medical exams at the hospital on Friday and Saturday.

Me: Great! Sign up my husband and me.

Male Nurse: No. I can’t do that. It is an exam of your ‘bahena’.

Me: What is a bahena and why can’t my husband get the exam, too?

Me: Is it an exam for your heart? For your stomach?

Laughter all around.

Marina: No. It is an exam of your ‘bahena’ and a papagramo exam. ( she said while holding back a chuckle)

Male Nurse: Laughing, while he pointed to my vagina.

More laughter.

Me: Oh, I get it. You are offering free vaginal exams and Pap tests. Sign me up.

I signed a sheet of paper and included my telephone number so they could call me for the time of the appointment. Friday and Saturday passed, and I never received a call. Then, I read this in La Prensa:

courtesy of La Prensa

courtesy of La Prensa

 

For three consecutive days an alleged brigade of the Ministry of Health, heavily guarded by police, has tried uselessly to get into the communities of Sacramento, Moyogalpa, Ometepe Island, where residents maintain an armed encampment with sticks, stones and even machetes. Alberto Lopez, the county Esquipulas, Moyogalpa, said villagers reject the action of MoH for ordering information and ask their opinion on the Canal.

Here lots of times have been brigades of the Ministry of Health, to vaccinate and dispense medicines and they have never come up with police and military riot police, so people joined and they will not be allowed to come to our communities, Lopez said.

He noted that the communities where the brigade is interested in the survey is in Esquipulas, Los Angeles and Sacramento. People decided to keep them out because we want to tell you that nobody here wants to sell their property, are in our territory and we are defending what is ours, argued López.

Juan Barrios, who lives in the Sacramento community, again reported that island communities have returned to ring their church bells to alert the public when pollsters brigade and police and riot police trying to enter the community.

For three days straight doing this encampment to ask these interviewers leave here and the police will say we are not willing to get us out of our territory. Today (last Friday) morning, the police tried to persuade for maintence, but the response of Sacramento was to leave here said Barrios.Juan Barrios, a resident of the community of Sacramento, said when the brigade withdrew assumptions threatened to not send medicines to the health center of the town and told not to return for that place. Villagers said they will not move until the brigade and the police desist from entering the community to ask personal data on the draft of the Grand Canal.

So what exactly did I sign? Who knows? I had been warned by local friends…after the fact…never to sign my name to anything. Have I been duped? Probably. I may have signed a petition in support of the grand canal. They never asked me any questions about the canal…I suppose that once they figured that I didn’t know what a ‘bahena’ was that I would stupidly sign anything. And, I did!

We assume so many things in living in Nicaragua. I want to believe that the police are here to protect us. I want to believe that the Ministry of Health is only offering medical services that we are unable to get on Ometepe Island. I want to believe that the Nicaraguan government wouldn’t use tricks and treachery to gain support for the Nicaraguan canal.

I’ve learned never to assume anything and never to sign anything without questioning.  Always expect the unexpected while living in the land of the not quite right. Life goes on…but I’ll always wonder what I signed…and probably never find out the truth.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: This is Monumental!


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Monument. “Anything can be monumental as long as it’s imbued with a shared sense of importance.” ~Ben

Yesterday a monumental event occurred near Managua, Nicaragua. There was a 6.4 earthquake, along the same fault line that destroyed Managua in 1972. Read more about it here: Nicaragua Earthquake

Last week, our active volcano Concepcion awoke with eight small tremors. This is monumental.

Mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.~Nathaniel Hawthorne

IMG_7681Should I worry?  I have our kayak ready if we need to make a hasty retreat for the mainland.
Wait! There is one more monumental thing. Read on.

The Sky’s the Limit


“Do mistakes and you become a good learner.
Welcome ordeals and you become a good problem solver.”~ Riddhi Sharma

Our SKY satellite TV has been on the blink for a month. Poor Ron! He can’t watch the football games on Sunday and I really miss CNN. Playing detective is a necessary part of life on Ometepe Island. We cut branches of trees close to the satellite dish, checked the cable for tears or scrapes, jiggled the dish, wiggled the wires, and rewired the service box…all to no avail.
The only service technicians in the entire country are from Managua, so we called and put in a work order for them to come to Ometepe to fix our TV. Yesterday, they arrived with the SKY truck.
IMG_0611For two hours they jiggled the cable, repositioned the satellite dish, and checked the service box, while the annoying beeping from the TV indicated that there was no signal.
IMG_0612They moved the satellite dish to a wiggly garden post in the hopes of solving the mystery about why there was no signal.
IMG_0619Hmmm…suddenly the signal was strong and clear. It must be the Neem tree blocking the signal. Three years ago, when we installed the satellite dish, our Neem trees were only a foot tall. Now, they are 25 feet tall. I guess we have to take down the Neem tree. Ron to the rescue with his machete.
IMG_0616Meanwhile, as the sun was setting, Black Jack investigated the SKY truck.
IMG_0622With the tree down, the technicians put the dish back in its original location.
IMG_0623No worries. We still have five more Neem trees on our property.
IMG_0624He repositioned the dish for a strong, steady signal.
IMG_0625And voilà! A strong, steady signal…football games and CNN!
IMG_0627By this time, it was dark and the last ferry had already left for the mainland. “Where are you staying tonight?” I asked. “Can we stay here?” the boss asked. “No problemo!” I responded. I was a little embarrassed because the only problem with our satellite signal was the Neem tree. I felt bad that they had to travel a whole day from Managua, across on the ferry, to solve our problem. The boss wanted to know if there were other people on the island that would like SKY TV, since they were here. I quickly sent a notice to all the expats on the island and received 2 responses by the next morning.
IMG_0628What a great crew! They even offered me a job as the SKY representative for Ometepe Island. It was their first time on Ometepe Island. They slept in our casita, took a quick dip in the lake in the morning, and I gave them the phone numbers of the two expats that were interested in installing SKY in their homes.

The SKY’s the limit, as far as our satellite reception goes. Only in Nicaragua! Have I told you how much I love this country?

Timeout for Art: A Species of Writing


This week’s Timeout for Art asks us to reflect on art as a form of therapy, as well as a stress reducer. As a former counselor and special education teacher, I often used art therapy with my students.

“Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist.”
― Eileen Miller, The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures: Autism Through Art

I was drawing tortugas (turtles) on my curtains for the Turtle cabin (Las Tortugas Casita), when my ten-year old friend, Lauren, stopped by our house on her bicycle. Ron was taking his Spanish lessons on the side porch. As I waited for my turn, Lauren and I tried to talk, but she spoke so rapidly that I had a difficult time understanding what she was saying. So, I asked her to draw it.
IMG_3253One thing I’ve learned about children in Nicaragua, is that they can’t quite figure out why we don’t understand them. I often wonder if our two and three-year old neighbors think we are just plain stupid. I think Lauren understands that Spanish is our second language, but she gets frustrated and rolls her eyes when I ask her to repeat the sentence just one more time…y mas despacio por favor (slower, please).

Lauren rolled her eyes, and tried to describe a sparkly thing that sits on top of a King or Queen’s head. “You know…YOU KNOW,” she said, “Una corona. UNA CORONA.” After I looked at her picture, the puzzling Spanish pieces fell into place.
IMG_3264“You are my best friend among all my friends,” Lauren said. “That’s why I gave you a crown.” Ahhh..how sweet, I thought. “Now, can we make cookies?” she asked. Hmmm, I knew there was an ulterior motive. “Lo siento, mi amor,” I responded. It’s almost time for my Spanish lesson and I need to buy more chocolate chips.  Art can be used where no words exist…too bad I ran out of chocolate chips, though.:-)

“Talking about Art is like trying to French kiss over the telephone”. ~Terry Allen

I had just started my Spanish lesson, and Lauren and Ron were blissfully drawing in my place, when Carlos, the local artist arrived. “Patricia said you wanted to see some of my paintings,” he said. I was thinking about starting an art class at my house and interested in looking for a good instructor.
IMG_3258Carlos has over 30 years of experience as an artist.
IMG_3255IMG_3260Attempting to talk about art was like trying to French kiss over the phone. I needed to see it, feel it, and touch it. I’m still not sure that Carlos and I will be a good match. Communication will be difficult, but his art revealed his love for Nicaragua. He’s very talented and his personality shined through his paintings.

“Art is communication.”~Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

IMG_3261 Living in Nicaragua with Spanish as my second language has convinced me that art is communication. Art reveals personalities, reduces stress, and sometimes even persuades me to make chocolate chip cookies for my favorite ten-year old.