Fuego y Agua Survival Run 2016


“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
― John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running 

Ron and I volunteer every year for the Fuego y Agua Survival Run and Trail Races. The first week in February is my favorite time of the year because I witness dedication, perseverance, strength, endurance, stamina, courage and GUTSINESS all in one amazing week. 

This year’s Survival Run was BRUTAL. Racers contended with 90+ degree heat, carried 30 lbs. of plantains up and down a 5,500 ft. volcano, ran for two hours holding a live chicken, maneuvered through the cloud forest at night carrying 20-ft bamboo poles, caught fish, and climbed trees…all within a span of 25 hours.

When we arrived at the pre-race events Friday morning, 60 survival runners from around the world gathered to compete. They divided into teams for the pre-race events and organized their team members into those who dug holes with their bare hands, those who made rafts, and those who searched for puzzle pieces in a giant plantain field.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Ometepe Island Aglow from Sunrise to Sunset


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Vibrant.

Ometepe Island is luminous year round. From when the sun electrifies Conception volcano…
IMG_9268to the spirited butterflies…
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Humans of Nicaragua: A Single Expat Woman on Ometepe Island


“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Theresa definitely marches to the beat of her own drummer with grace, optimism, and passion. It takes a combination of ingenuity and creativity to live on Ometepe Island. Living here is not for city folks. Life is slow paced…island living at its best and its worse. It is  predominantly an agricultural area, so Theresa (a retired RN) has become a pig farmer raising litters of cute piggies to sell on the island.

This is the second in my series of Humans of Nicaragua: Single Expat Women. I started with single expat women because Sharon and Theresa are excellent examples of being bold enough to live on their terms, to go against the grain, and take the road less traveled.

Enjoy my interview with Theresa. Next in the Humans of Nicaragua series, I have some wonderful interviews lined up with Don Cabo, an 83 year-young friend of mine, who has lived on the island all of his life, and Wilber, a young Nicaraguan man who is dedicated to improving his life for himself and his family.

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It is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens quote says it all about my life as an expat. I recently read an article which grouped expats as Stayers, Goers, and Newbies. Since we’ve lived in Nicaragua over ten years now, I would classify us as Stayers. Yet, what happens when we can no longer stay?

That has been on my mind a lot lately. In the best of times, we built two houses, planted over 20 varieties of fruit trees, watered and maintained a lush garden, and tended daily to our chores of feeding our dogs, cats, chickens, and stray animals that wandered on our property.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabets in Nature


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Alphabet.

Finding alphabet letters in nature or the natural surroundings and incorporating them into a collage with the name of a favorite place I visited has always been a fun project for me.

My son works in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite picMy nephew’s wedding in the Outerbanks at the Wild Horse.
Wild Horse PosterAnd of course, I can’t forget my favorite place where we live…Ometepe.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Lightness of Being


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Weight(less). We built a plunge pool about six months ago, and I can tell you that there is no better feeling than floating in the cool water when the temperatures are wickedly hot.

I love dipping into weightlessness and sinking into dreams. It’s the freest place to be. The possibilities are limitless and my imagination becomes a weightless wonder.

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A Lesson in Persistence


“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston S. Churchill

“Ron, you have to see this,” I shouted from the living room. A chicken bus spinning its wheels, grinding its gears, and unable to go forward or backward appeared to be hopelessly stuck in the deep sand on our beach.

Yet, throughout the three-hour ordeal, I learned a lesson in perseverance that the Nicaraguans show over and over again. They never give up. What we perceive as hopelessness, they tackle with determination, persistence, and always with smiles and laughter. Incredible!

Nosotros Pequeños Hermanos outing looked like it was headed for disaster. The Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos NGO had an orphanage on Ometepe Island until 2010, when our sleepy Concepcion volcano decided to wake-up. Fearfully, the organization transferred the children to the mainland in Jinotepe, but continued to run a small farm and a project called Samaritan Project on the island.

Every year, they bring the children back to Ometepe Island to visit and volunteer on the farm. When we saw 50 orphans stranded on our beach, we grabbed the shovels and joined in the fun of helping them dig out their chicken bus.

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Old Year Reflections


“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

It is time to embrace the new, but first, I need to release the old. I am not one to make New Year resolutions anymore.  Every year at this time, I have vowed to lose weight…exercise more…eat better…and ___________ (fill in your own resolution). However, nothing…absolutely NADA has stuck with me for very long.

Instead, I make daily resolutions…sort of like my goals I want to accomplish for the day. That way I don’t have to live with unfulfilled expectations and I can do little things each day. At any rate, the temptation to “resolve” is strong at this time of the year! So here is a tip: The resolutions most likely to be kept are the ones rooted in reflection.

Nicaraguans have mastered the skill of reflection and of letting go through their unique Muñecos, or stuffed dolls packed with gun powder. They symbolize blasting away their vices of the past year, and ushering in the new year with a clean slate. I like that concept. However, it takes reflection to make it work.

Last year, I made a Muñeca, or a woman doll.  A Muñeca New Year
This New Year, I think I will spend a quiet day reflecting on the past year because life can only be understood backwards.

I made a list of my top five year-end questions to help me through my reflective process.
IMG_1145Then, I will be ready to usher in the New Year with a BANG!
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Feliz Navidad from Ometepe Island


We set off fireworks from our kayak in the lake last night. Kimo and Cory had a blast, literally.
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“We shall go wild with fireworks…And they will plunge into the sky and shatter the darkness. ― Natsuki Takaya

_DSC0276“Colored lights blink on and off, racing across the green boughs. Their reflections dance across exquisite glass globes and splinter into shards against tinsel thread and garlands of metallic filaments that disappear underneath the other ornaments and finery. All it needs from you is a glance to come alive.” – Vera Nazarian

_DSC0205“Life isn’t always about fireworks. Your fireworks will come, Sarah. And they’ll fizzle out just as fast. Life’s an experience, not a destination. All of us have the same destination, but not one of us has an identical experience. You’ll find someone who will be there when the fireworks fizzle out and the sky turns black and love you just the same. That’s the one to hold onto.”
― Marilyn Grey, Bloom

_DSC0362“Just because there weren’t fireworks the first time doesn’t mean there will never be fireworks. We’re human; we’re adults; we teach each other; we communicate; fireworks don’t just go off, wham-bang; fireworks evolve!” – Marisa de los Santos

_DSC0393“You’re much better than fireworks. They’re all over in a moment, and you’re going to stay for a fortnight. Besides, fireworks are noisy, and they make too much smoke.”
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Where Do They Go From Here?


“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” — Henry Ford

 

In Nicaragua, the academic school year starts in February and ends in December. Ron and I were invited to be a part of two graduation ceremonies this December. The first graduation ceremony took place at our La Paloma elementary school, which has 88 students, 4 teachers, and now the librarian that I hired for my library in the school.

The second graduation ceremony took place in Urbite High School, where our god-daughter graduated. The education statistics are frightful and the state of education in Nicaragua is and has been in crisis and stagnation for many years.

I can’t help but wonder where the graduates will go from here.
IMG_96072014 statistics report that Nicaragua has 1,389,000 pupils enrolled in primary and secondary education. Of these pupils 940,000 (67%) are enrolled in primary education.

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