The Central Bank (BCN) reported that Nicaragua’s oil bill was reduced by 11.2% last year, going from US$ 777.8 million dollars in 2015 to US$690 million in 2016. The reduction was due to a decline in international oil price and greater clean energy production in the country. Reducing fossil fuel consumption has been a priority of the Ortega government since it came to office amid an energy crisis in which the country suffered daily rolling black-outs. In conjunction with that priority, the Nicaragua Small and Medium Size Business Council (CONIMIPYME) and the Clean Energy Production Center (CPML) organized a workshop in Managua on Energy and Small Business Development. CONIMIPYME President Leonardo Torres said small businesses have a positive impact on the economy and it is important to provide training to promote greater use of renewable energy and more efficient use of electricity. (Nicaragua News, Feb. 13)
“We read to know we’re not alone.”
― William Nicholson, Shadowlands
I had many photos to accompany this post, but I received a call this morning telling me that it is against Nicaraguan law to post pictures of Nicaraguan police in uniform. I had no idea! So, I deleted my Facebook post with the pictures of the police reading to the students and I deleted the photos on my blog post to respect the privacy of the officers and the Nicaraguan law.
Our tiny police force on Ometepe Island consists of 14 police officers in Moyogalpa. They receive a pittance of pay and often work long hours without money for office supplies, gas for their vehicles, etc.
When they helped me recover my phone which was stolen from my house by my 15 yr. old friend, I repaid their kindness with a bag of office supplies for their bare bones office.
The other day my police buddy called me to ask if he could come to my house to talk. He mentioned the word “molestar” and I feared we were in trouble. Instead, when he arrived, he introduced me to the new officer and asked if I could give him a notebook and a pen.
I sighed a big sigh of relief because I realized he simply said on the phone that he didn’t want to bother me. “No quiero a molestar.”
I had him make a list of office supplies the police force needed…a very simple list with notebooks, pens, a scissors, and stapler. Then I purchased the supplies and took them to the office. I also went to the gas station and bought a voucher for gasoline for their vehicles.
The officers were very appreciative and asked in return what they could do for me. I asked if they could come to my elementary school library and read the children a story. I think it is important for the police to be role models for their community and I can think of no better way for them to help me develop a culture of reading than to start at the elementary level.
Yesterday, they picked me up in their police truck, and we went to the La Paloma Elementary School to read to the preschoolers. I had to laugh as I rode in the police truck because the neighbors were all freaking out! I know I created quite a stir!
“It is such a happiness when good people get together — and they always do.”
― Jane Austen
Valentine’s Day was also the wedding day of Ever and Blanca. I’ve written about Ever before in Humans of Nicaragua: Ever Builds a New Community. And now, Ever and Blanca are building their new lives together.
For me, Nicaraguan weddings are a wondrous act of simplicity, creativity, and love. The whole family pitches in to create an atmosphere tingling with joyful camaraderie.
“Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Five years ago, the U.S. Embassy warden for Ometepe Island moved back to the states. She asked me if I would be willing to take on the duties of the warden for the island and of course, I said I would.
My primary responsibility as a warden for the U.S. Embassy is to aid in communicating with my fellow U.S. citizens living and visiting Ometepe Island in the event of an emergency. So, I’d like to describe my volunteer position to you.
- My main responsibility as a volunteer is to assist consular sections in disaster preparedness, welfare & whereabouts, and alerting fellow Americans to emergency situations. Mainly, I am a messenger. We have a Google group and a Facebook page where I can send messages I receive to the community of expats on Ometepe Island.
- I facilitate distribution of routine administrative information (changes in section work hours, procedures, embassy closures, voting information) of interest to the U.S. private community. I also provide important, timely safety and security information, which might include the times and locations of upcoming local demonstrations, areas of potential unrest due to local celebrations or elections, or information about a specific medical issue.
- The U.S. Embassy sends me email messages and provides me with a contact list of all the U.S. Embassy wardens in Nicaragua. I am invited to July 4th celebrations at the Embassy. Although, I have yet to attend because it is a long trip to Managua, and I have to spend the night because I can’t get a ferry back to Ometepe Island after 5:30 pm.
“Don’t sit at home and wait for a mango tree to bring mangoes to you wherever you are. It won’t happen. If you are truly hungry for change, go out of your comfort zone and change the world.”
― Israelmore Ayivor
I love this quote! It really represents our life in Nicaragua. We definitely moved out of our comfort zone 13 years ago when we first moved to Ometepe Island. But now that we have settled into our little boomer nest, we are experiencing fruitful times.
Our last rainy season just ended and what a glorious rainy season we had. The past three years have been exceptionally dry, but now with the abundant rains, we have new fruits popping up everywhere.
Ron planted several avocado trees five years ago. This week, I noticed one avocado tree blooming and it is beginning to produce baby avocados. Last avocado season there were few avocados. The extended drought took a toll on the trees. But, this should be a great avocado season. It is still early, yet I am finding local avocados in the grocery stores now.
Last year we had one cacao or chocolate pod on our cacao tree. I was so excited because although the tree is seven years old, we never saw any pods develop. However, the pod cracked and fell off the tree last year. I think due to a harsh dry period. But, this year, we have a couple of pods developing and one is the size of my hand.
“Settling into a new country is like getting used to a new pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them and the more you can’t imagine life without them.”
― Tahir Shah
I can’t imagine life in Nicaragua without Nicaraguan ingenuity. My Scottish sister friends moved to their new house on Ometepe Island and they needed to move their belongings.
I know you are thinking, hire a moving van or rent one, right? The problem with that is that the only professional moving company that we are aware of is in Managua. We know that because when House Hunters International filmed us, they had to hire the only professional company in the country to move our belongings from our house, so they could film us “pretending” to view our house to buy.
How in the world did I explain this to our Nicaraguan friends and neighbors, who are only familiar with horse cart moving, when a giant moving company truck pulled on our sandy beach path? My response was, “It’s Hollywood,” and that seemed to satisfy their curiosity.
The Scottish sisters hired Wilber and his trusty old horse to pull their belongings in a repurposed cart to their new house. They were concerned that Wilber’s old horse might have a difficult time pulling a heavy load and the repurposed cart was heavy, too.
“Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Oh, I love this quote! I remember that scene from the Chamber of Secrets well. It reminded me of our mango tree, one of the five mango trees closest to our house. It is an Indio mango and the fruit isn’t as good as our two Rosa mango trees.
Two times a year, this tree drops hundreds of mangoes on our roof. At the peak of mango season, we fill three wheelbarrows every morning with rotten mangoes. They bounce off the roof in the windy season like a rapid fire machine gun. Bam! Bam! And then they roll off the roof and scatter in the front yard.
We’ve tried everything to stop the almost constant supply of Indio mangoes, except for toppling the tree. It is too tall to spray or blow off the blossoms so the fruit doesn’t produce. And, it is a wonderful shade tree!
Last year, I researched an injection that I could put in the trunk of the tree called a fruit inhibitor. It isn’t a pesticide and will actually sterilize the tree so it won’t produce fruit. There were two problems with this; first, it had never been tried on a mango tree, only walnut trees in the states, and second, although it isn’t a pesticide, the container looked like it was a pesticide, which is prohibited on airplanes.
So, it was back to the old climbing the tree and cutting the limbs that hung over our roof. Jorge to the rescue!
Safety is as simple as ABC – Always Be Careful.
Several years ago, there was a horrible accident on Ometepe Island. A drunk driver on a motorcycle crashed into another motorcycle head-on. Then, two more motorcycles tried to swerve to miss the accident and they both laid their bikes down.
One motorcyclist died on the panga that transported the injured to the mainland. Two suffered traumatic head injuries. The scene was horrific. The first-responders were ill-equipped police. They had no equipment, no understanding of assessing the injured before moving them, no latex gloves, no ambulance, and no training in first aid or CPR.
Nicaragua has come a long way since then, but there is still a long way to go in training first-responders at the scene of an accident. This past December, every community in Nicaragua held an emergency simulation.
Since Ron is a CPR and first aid trainer, he volunteered to head the simulation.
“Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances. Stealing is not excusable if, for instance, you are in a museum and you decide that a certain painting would look better in your house, and you simply grab the painting and take it there. But if you were very, very hungry, and you had no way of obtaining money, it would be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it.” ― Lemony Snicket
I asked myself today, “When is it OK to steal?” We’ve had our banana stocks stolen every year because they are close to the small sandy path on the border of our property by the lake. Were they hungry thieves? Is that excusable?
We aren’t novices in crimes of opportunity. We live in a developing country and we understand that anything left out is fair game for people passing by our property. We’ve had hammocks, water hoses, and a fish trap stolen because we forgot to bring them into the house at night. We’ve had an iPhone stolen and a pair of Ron’s shoes by workers who came into our house to work.
Is stealing ever excusable?
Today, I felt betrayed by a young friend. Lauren started coming to our house with her dad when he was building our casita. She was 10 years old and we would make cookies and cupcakes together, draw and paint, and play card games. We developed a close relationship. I seem to have that effect on 5th graders. They like to hang with me.
As she matured into a teenager, she didn’t come to visit as often. When she did, we would give each other manicures and do girlie stuff together. The last time I saw her was last August. I was busy weeding the garden and I told her I couldn’t spend the morning with her. She asked to use the bathroom, and I should have followed my intuition. Something was not right. I found her in the living room and she looked guilty about something, then left quickly.
I didn’t give it much thought. Months passed. I looked for the phone, but figured I had misplaced it and the battery was too low for it to ring. We hardly ever used the Samsung. Lauren never came back to visit. Then, last night I had a dream where I saw Lauren put my cell phone in her purse. Was my gut feeling trying to awaken my consciousness through my dream?
This morning, I checked her Facebook page. I knew she didn’t have a phone and rarely posted. However, when I scrolled through her Facebook page, she had posted selfies every day since last August. And not just normal cute selfies…very sexually provocative selfies. She just turned 15 in November and I was shocked by her selfies. What was going on with her?
I wondered if my old phone number still worked because we still had the phone on our data plan. Long story about that, but Claro advised me not to remove the old phone number from my plan because I would have to start all over again with a more expensive plan. So, I called my old phone number!
The Weekly Photo Challenge is Path.
“If you limit your choice to only what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”
― Robert Fritz
I have never followed the path of least resistance. Yet, as I grow older and wiser with an accumulation of life experiences, I sometimes find myself choosing the path of least resistance, simply because it is smoother, easier, and less stressful.
It certainly doesn’t mean that I have fewer choices. My choices are still endless. But, I do believe that compromise is a valuable asset depending on the situation.