Renewing U.S. Passports from Nicaragua


Ron and I had no blank pages left in our passports. That’s the price one pays because of the love of travel. We had two options: either get extra passport pages in our passports before December 2015, or renew our passports.

The cost of a packet of extra pages for our passports was $82. The cost of renewing our passports and getting new ones was $110 at the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. It was a no-brainer for us and cheaper in the long-run because our passports could be renewed for ten more years.

Why are extra passport pages going away?

Being curious, I wondered how our U.S. Passports are made.

 

U.S. Passport facts at a glance.

Continue reading

Best 2,300 Travel Blogs on Internet


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 9.16.45 PMI am happy to announce that my blog is included in the 2,300 Top Travel blogs on the internet. It is listed in Part 3: Regional Travel Blogs, under Nicaragua.

Check out the list. Many of my blogging friends have blogs listed, too.

List of Top 2300 Travel Blogs on the Internet

How many pages of the world have you opened in your travel book?

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

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.

Continue reading

Chikun…What?


“It is astonishing how much worse one mosquito can be than a swarm. A swarm can be prepared against, but one mosquito takes on a personality—a hatefulness, a sinister quality of the struggle to the death.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Marina tenderly wrapped her feverish two-year old grandson in a sheet and Gloria rushed him to the hospital on her motorcycle. Braydon, unable to walk, suffering from a high fever and severe joint pain is one of the youngest victims of the mosquito transmitted virus, Chikungunya.

IMG_4985

Continue reading

The Bottom Line: Budgeting for Retiring Abroad


“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” –Joe Biden

 

One of our biggest challenges in planning for retirement abroad was creating a realistic budget before we jumped into a new life. After our ‘pretirement’ experiment in Nicaragua in 2004-05, we set a goal to become financially independent. Many articles have been written about adjusting and assimilating into a different culture, but few articles stress the importance of financial planning before making the big jump.

Continue reading

The Start of Something Big


IMG_5343My former fifth grade student is visiting Nicaragua for the first time. On her 19th birthday, we took her to Charco Verde to see the monkeys. Returning home in the taxi, we had a flat tire. I couldn’t help but laugh at the taxi driver’s t-shirt. The Start of Something Big
His t-shirt says it all about living in Nicaragua.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way Home


The Weekly Photo Challenge is On the Way. We’ve just returned from the USA…a wonderful visit with family and friends, but it is always GREAT to return home.

There are two ways to return to our Ometepe Island home. Sometimes we fly and walk to our house from the airport, but because we were returning with over 200 pounds of books and materials for my elementary school library, we took the ferry.

We usually see unusual things on our way home, but this was really unique. A circus was in town and the trainer took the elephant to the lake for a bath.
elephant in Lake

Continue reading

Five Tips for Making a New Path


“No single decision you ever made has led in a straight line to where you find yourself now. You peeked down some paths and took a few steps before turning back. You followed some paths that came to a dead-end and others that got lost at too many intersections. Ultimately, all paths are connected to all other paths.”
― Deepak Chopra

 

Ron and I made a stepping stone path to our house. I never imagined that there were so many complicated decisions to make in choosing the best path for us. So, I’ve compiled five tips for making a new path.

1. When you find your path, you must ignore fear. You need to have the courage to make mistakes.

Concrete sidewalk? Stepping stone forms? Gravel path? Which path was right for us? We chose to make a stepping stone path to our house using plastic forms, which I borrowed from our neighbor. In planning our path, it led to introspective thoughts about the paths of our lives.

Living in Nicaragua is a challenge and sometimes scary. We’ve made many mistakes along our paths, but we’ve learned to patch the cracks, or start all over again, and instead of ignoring the fear, we learn to make friends with it.

IMG_7669

Continue reading

Let’s Get Real about Working in Nicaragua


Since my post, Lets Get Real about Retiring to Nicaragua, was a big hit, I am going to have a monthly post on Let’s Get Real about…

This month’s post is Let’s Get Real about Working in Nicaragua. It all started with a post on a Facebook forum for expats in Nicaragua.

Hey, how much money will I need to support myself for the first couple of months? When I arrive I am going to travel to a few places (i.e Leon, Granada) and choose the place I like best and then look for work as an english teacher there.

Recently, I have noticed an increase in the number of alarming posts, such as the one above. I say alarming because many foreigners looking for work in Nicaragua haven’t done their research.

So let’s get real about working in Nicaragua as a foreigner.

Continue reading