Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You


Our lives are like quilts- bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, colored with love.

This morning, we visited a tile factory in Granada, Nicaragua. It reminded me of the quilts my mother used to make. These tiles are a perfect representation of my life, colored with love.

Entering the tile factory

            Entering the tile factory

Blessed are the Piecemakers.

Remembering Conejo


“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
― Mark Twain

Conejo and RonConejo, which means rabbit, was our neighborhood dog. Most of the time our closest neighbors claimed him, but once Conejo realized that the gringos next door (us) had wholesome food and green grass in which to leisurely roll, he chose to live with us.
I asked our neighbors if they minded if we kept Conejo. They shrugged their shoulders and above the barking of their other five dogs roped to trees, they said, “No importa.”

You see, Nicaraguan people don’t understand the concept of pets. They are guards, herders, and working animals. In return for guarding their houses and herding their cattle, they are fed rice and beans, or out of desperation they learn to fend for themselves. Once, I asked our neighbors what they did with their rancid cooking oil, and they said, “Our dogs love it.”

It’s not that the Nicaraguans aren’t compassionate. They are. But, they are very practical and poor people. They understand the importance of a good hunting, herding, and guard dog. However, they don’t understand the importance of giving their dogs nutritional food and tending to their illnesses. Spaying and neutering dogs is not the norm. It’s expensive and in their eyes, unnecessary. It stems from a lack of education and a lack of connection with their animals.

We’re not sure how old Conejo was. Dogs generally don’t live a long life here. One day, I noticed one of our neighbor’s five dogs tied to a tree in their front yard, instead of with the others in the backyard. “Why is your dog isolated from the others?” I asked. “Oh, he is very sick and old,” Jose responded. “He is four years old, and he will die soon.”

Conejo was not familiar with love and affection. He barked at intruders, like a good Nicaraguan dog, but when we tried to pet him or show him some affection, he shied away from us…almost like we were going to hurt him. It took over a year for Conejo to trust us enough to pet him.

But, oh boy, once we started loving on him, there was no end. He followed us everywhere. He’d lie down and let us rub his belly, while he moaned in ecstasy. He was never demanding, always waiting patiently for a few kind words and a bowl of chicken scraps mixed with dog food.

In March, Conejo developed a tumor in his mouth. He looked gross with snot dripping out of his nose, but the rest of his body was healthy…gordo in fact… with no rib bones showing…unlike all the other dogs in the neighborhood.  So, I called our local vet. He arrived with a hunting knife and a piece of rebar. After many injections to put him to sleep, so he could operate on him, they laid him gently on top of our septic tank and removed part of the tumor, then cauterised the cut with a hot rebar toasted over a fire.

Julio holds Conejo while Conejo refuses to fall asleep.

Julio holds Conejo while Conejo refuses to fall asleep.

It was a very primitive operation giving me nightmares for days afterward. Guillermo, the vet, told me he had 35 years of experience, but no professional training. He said, “I was bestowed with a gift from God to help animals.” I truly believe him. His compassion and understanding comforted me. With gentle guidance…and lots of soft homemade chicken soup  ( by the way, everyone laughed at me making chicken soup for a dog), we nursed Conejo back to health.

Yet, I knew his time was short. The cancerous tumor was deep in his throat and inoperable. Guillermo hugged me and told me that when we felt Conejo’s quality of life was compromised, he would return with an injection and euthanize him.

Meanwhile, Conejo got stronger and fatter. He learned how to play…amazing for a dog that never had a playmate. He kept the cows and horses from weaseling their way to our property to munch on the ripe mangoes…and Ron’s garden produce! He dug hundreds of holes in the soft volcanic sand and made cool little nests. He barked ferociously at people passing by our front gates. And he made friends with our three new kittens.

Sadly, the tumor grew back. We added milk or water, or sometimes chicken broth to his dog food so he could eat. His breathing became labored and we knew it was time. Yesterday, Guillermo returned. He helped us dig a grave, and we cradled Conejo  one last time…reassuring him softly that his suffering was over.

R.I.P my friend. We’ll miss you.

There are several wonderful organizations in Granada that rescue abused and neglected animals. If you are looking for an organization or a way to help through donations, or volunteering contact one of these programs:

Granada Animal Outreach
Casa Lupita
Animal Welfare in Nicaragua
World Vets in Granada, Nicaragua

 

Exploring Hotel Granada


Ron and I always stayed at Bobby’s house when we went in Granada. However, when we went to Granada for Bobby’s wake, we knew it was time to explore another part of town. The memories of Bobby’s house are too fresh, every street reminded me of him.

This time, we explored the area around the lake. Hotel Granada was a block from our bed and breakfast. Ron was particularly interested in visiting the swimming pool. A retired swim coach always investigates the pools! For $7 a day, one can swim in their Olympic sized salt water pool. It was magnificent.

Hotel Granada is an old colonial fortress in the historical center of the city. Although the cheapest room is $75 per night, it was too expensive for two retired teachers on a fixed income. Maybe someday, for a very special occasion, we can spring for a night.

For your enjoyment, take a walk with us through this amazing hotel and convention center.

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El Zaguan…Best Steak in Nicaragua


                                      Filet Mignon

Last week, Ron and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. Actually, Bill and Hillary Clinton wed the same day and the same year, too. I used to send them anniversary cards, but when we moved to Ometepe Island, I stopped using mail. We have no mailman, no mailbox, and only one tiny post office in Moyogalpa. But, this is a story about steak!

We both had a hankerin’ for a melt-in-your-mouth dainty fillet. As far as we are concerned, the best place in Nicaragua for a tender filet mignon is El Zaguan in Granada. The service is impeccable, the house wine is dry and perfect for my tastes, and the steaks…well take a look for yourself.

We started our celebration with wine ( Wine isn’t Nicaragua’s forte, but Flor de Cana Rum is! I recommend the seven-year rum.). A crunchy, delicious salad was next with real lettuce. ( When you order a salad in Nicaragua, usually it is shredded cabbage.) Then , the mouth-watering, juicy, filet mignon  arrived smothered in mushrooms. After the main course, we ordered mountain grown Nicaraguan coffee and chocolate cheesecake.

My taste buds tingled for a week after the meal at El Zaguan. Now, how much would you pay for a meal like this in the states? Possibly $100 for two when you throw in the tip and the tax? Maybe more?  Our bill, including the tip and the tax, was $48 inclusive. And best of all…we could use a credit card! It is difficult to find places where a credit card is accepted on Ometepe Island.

Have I told you how much I love Nicaragua?

Window to an Old World


Hola Granada, mi amor!

Hello old friend, my love. It is wonderful to see you again. I missed your chiming church bells bidding me goodnight and good morning. I missed your intoxicating smells, luring me to the market. I am renewed with the sight of lush green tropical plants and flowers, the chirping of the parrots, and the dinging of the ice cream cart near my bedroom window in Granada, Nicaragua.
We are almost home. Tomorrow we will take the ferry to Ometepe Island and you shall see another window to an old world. It’s wonderful to be back!