An Update on Our Plunge Pool

I’ve done my water therapy exercises for my knee at La Punta Resort. But we have had many afternoon thunderstorms just as we are getting ready to leave for the pool. So, we filled up our plunge pool so I can do modified knee exercises.

The last time I wrote about our pool, we had started on the landscaping. These stone pathway forms are wonderful for a small patio, garden paths, and even a driveway.
landscaping-around-poolThe finished patio gives us easy access to the pool and keeps the dirt from accumulating in the pool.
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How to Avoid ATM Fees When Living Abroad

“Folks don’t carry money around in their pockets. They’ve got to go to an ATM machine, and they’ve got to pay a few dollars to get their own dollars out of the machine. Who ever thought you’d pay cash to get cash? That’s where we’ve gotten to.”~Bill Janklow

banpro-1Twelve years ago, we had to go to the mainland to take money out of an ATM. The first time we took our neighbor kids to Rivas, the ATM machine impressed them the most. They were amazed at the small cool room, and it really blew them away when money came out of a hole in the machine. When they told their Papa about the miracle they saw in Rivas, he asked us if he could get a card for the money machine, too.

Today, we have at least five ATMs to choose from in Moyogalpa. However, our MasterCard debit card from our bank in the states is only accepted by one bank and one private ATM at the Mega Super grocery store. Recently, our bank sent us new debit cards with the digital chips. Now, the only bank that accepts our chipped debit card is BAC.

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One Historic Moment on Ometepe Island

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.”
― Jimmy Carter


My most historic moment in Nicaragua was meeting President Jimmy Carter on Ometepe Island three years ago. Read my story here. Our Visit with President Jimmy Carter

I admire Jimmy Carter for these great accomplishments:

1. He created the Department of Education
Of course, because I have had a lifetime career in the field of Education, I believe this was a bold and necessary move to separate it from the overburdened Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

2. He installed solar panels in the White House.
This demonstrated to the world that he was serious about conserving energy, which truly starts at home. Then, when Ronald Reagan moved into the White House, he had the solar panels removed because he thought they were silly!

3. He granted amnesty to Vietnam draft-dodgers. Although this was seen as a controversial move, it was gutsy and brought needed closure to an issue that needed closure in order to move forward.

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The Power of Focus

Stay alert and aware. The signs you are seeking are very clear at this moment. ~Hawk


The month of August has been extremely challenging for me. Two weeks ago, I partially dislocated my kneecap chasing my dog in flip-flops. Then, our new internet tower was possibly struck by lightning. I say possibly because every technician who has been to our house has a different troubleshooting approach for our internet loss.

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Let’s Get Real About Troubleshooting in a Developing Country

“The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back” ~ unknown

Troubleshooting is a systematic approach to solving problems. But, living in a tropical developing country…nothing is systematic or normal. We’ve spent countless hours trying to troubleshoot electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and computer issues. And the solutions to most of our problems have been anything but normal.

Steps to troubleshooting in first world countries:

1. Gather information on the issue
2. Eliminate unnecessary components in the issue and see if the problem still persists.
3. Check for common causes. I am sure you’ve read troubleshooting guides and the first question asked is, “Is your device plugged in and turned on?”

This is where I will start as your guide to troubleshooting in a developing country because seldom are the causes normal or usual.

So, Let’s get Real about troubleshooting in Nicaragua. 

1. If your internet suddenly blinks off, it could be because…

a. A monkey is using your cable line for a high wire act and trapeze show. This happened to a friend that lives on Ometepe.
Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 12.48.15 PMb. A parrot pecks through your internet cable

c. A bird builds a nest on your tower internet dish.

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The Secret to a Young Life

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Since returning from the states the end of June, I haven’t felt like playing. Honestly, I haven’t felt like doing anything. We both got Zika, which is like Chikungunya light. But, Zika amplified our ongoing arthritic symptoms from Chikungunya, which we got a year ago. Sigh! I feel so old and exhausted.

On top of our mosquito borne illnesses, the electricity has been horrible this month. Every other day, the power shuts off at six in the evening and blinks on at nine. Some people suspect that the Ferris wheel is the culprit, others say the new Pali grocery store is consuming too much of the electricity.

Whatever the reasons for our unstable power, sometimes I feel like Nicaragua is killing me slowly. I am tired of playing detective. Who hot wired our dune buggy? Who stole my friend’s bicycle, which was chained to her porch? Is it possible to flip a switch and turn off the electricity in our community when there is a big fiesta or bullfight in the next town? Why is my internet so slow? What tropical illness do we have now…parasites, Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, Swine flu, food poisoning, Cholera, E coli? We’ve had them all.

Is it Nicaragua or is it me?

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My Place of Solace

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” ― Mark Twain


People often ask what we do all day since we are retired. One thing is for certain. We have stopped watching world news. It is too depressing. Besides, there is very little we can do about fixing the big problems in the world. But, there are many little things we can do as expats to help make the world a little better for our local communities.

I started a children’s library in our small La Paloma Elementary school two years ago. It has become my solace and place of refuge from this mad, mad world in which we live.
It is my place of hugs, laughter, and wisdom absorbed through my skin.


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The Best of Reverse Culture Shock

Traveling from Ometepe Island, Nicaragua and landing in Las Vegas, Nevada was surreal.  We knew to expect a bizarre reverse culture shock which I can only describe like the scene out of a Crocodile Dundee movie. Yet, there is something to be said about embracing the shock when returning to a place that one used to call home.

Articles have been written about the effects of reverse culture shock and ways to combat the adverse effects. But, I am of the persuasion that it is better to embrace it, than fight it and below are my reasons why….

1. The euphoria of feeling out-of-place in your own culture.

Las Vegas is not a city that anyone feels “in place” in our culture. It is the land of excess, overwhelming choices, immigrants, and a city that never sleeps.

When I asked our taxi driver at the airport where he was from he said, “Guess. I will give you a hint. It is where coffee was first produced.”
I guessed correctly on the second try, which really impressed our taxi driver. “Ethiopia!”
I think I created a warm, fast-paced relationship with our Ethiopian taxi driver after that because for the rest of the ride, he told me all about his country, the family he left, and how proud he was that he could provide for them.

Returning home gives me another opportunity to embrace and respect the diverse culture in the U.S. There was no better way to start our journey than the euphoric feeling of being out-of-place in our home country.


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Humans of Nicaragua: Francesco and the Elements

“That man who is more than his chemistry, walking on the earth, turning his plow point for a stone, dropping his handles to slide over an outcropping, kneeling in the earth to eat his lunch; that man who is more than his elements knows the land that is more than its analysis. But the machine man, driving a dead tractor on land he does not know and love, understands only chemistry; and he is contemptuous of the land and of himself.”― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath 


Francesco is a philosopher. I’ve known him for over 12 years, and until I interviewed him for my Humans of Nicaragua piece, I never knew his philosophy of life that binds him to Nicaragua.  He is a man who is more than his chemistry. He is an artist, a master craftsman, a farmer who kneels in the earth to eat his lunch, and a loving father and husband.

Francesco came to Ometepe Island in 2001. He had everything stolen in a hostel, so he stayed until he could recuperate his loses. According to Francesco…
And the rest is history

He’s seen many changes on Ometepe Island since 2001. He said that when he first arrived, he had to find work to replace everything that was stolen.

It was difficult to find people that spoke English, so I stayed and worked in the hostel because I spoke English, Italian, and Spanish. 

My theme for his interview was his new dome home that he built, but I got so much more! I’ve written two pieces before about the beginnings of his dome home and why he had to tear down his other house piece by piece.


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Maid in Nicaragua

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 8.50.47 PMTwo times in my life I hired a maid and two times in my life, I had to let them go. The first time was when I lived in the states. I was working two jobs and my obsessive house cleaning routine got the best of me. A friend recommended a professional domestic housekeeper that cleaned for her. She wasn’t cheap and she was bonded, which made me feel better about hiring a housekeeper. She also told me to leave a list of the things I wanted done on a weekly basis.

I followed her advise and included in the list, “Clean the baseboards and the ceiling fans.” The next day the new housekeeper unloaded on my friend, showed her my list, and said that I was a slave driver and she was not a servant. I had to let her go.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I felt extremely uncomfortable hiring a domestic housekeeper. It stemmed from the collective uneasiness many women have in the U.S. of the idea of hired household help. We think it sounds nice, but maybe a little indulgent. I wondered if I would seem snobby, entitled, and spoiled. After all, I was a middle-class woman with all the modern and time-saving devices that made multi-tasking a breeze.

But, most of all, I felt guilty. I read the book The Help, I saw the sexy maid costumes at Halloween, and Downton Abbey sure didn’t help to change my perceptions of servants.
In my mind a servant, a maid, and a domestic housekeeper were all the same. The terms all had a derogatory feel to them. They brought up the same bad connotations, regardless of which word I used to describe them. And letting go of the housekeeper I had for one day confirmed my perceptions.

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