My Expat Christmas List


All I want for Christmas is.....

Seven years ago, I could easily compose a list of ‘wants’ for Christmas. Ometepe Island was a primitive island with few expat novelties. There was no ATM, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, internet dongle, sufficient cell phone coverage, books in English, or rat traps. When Cory came to visit at Christmas, all we wanted were books in English, rat traps, and a squeegee mop.

Now, Ometepe Island is thriving and growing like the huge papayas in Ron’s garden. We have four ATM machines, an airport which will be completed in 2012, and two grocery stores that cater to the exotic tastes of foreigners. I can download and borrow hundreds of Kindle books from my public library in the states. With a little creative ingenuity, my homemade woktenna delivers a steady internet signal to my dongle. Sky satellite TV broadcasts world news, my washing machine spins with authoritarian control, Ron’s year-round garden supplies us with green vegetables, and Skype allows me to visit daily with my family and friends back in the states.

What more could I want? My expat Christmas list this year isn’t as tangible as it was seven years ago. After much thought, here is my 2010 list:

1. Children’s books in Spanish.
I am determined to give the gift of reading for pleasure to the children on the island. My collection is growing slowly for my mobile lending library. If you are traveling to Ometepe Island over the holidays, please consider dropping off a children’s book in Spanish at the Corner House Cafe, Mar Dulce, or the American Cafe and Hotel in Moyogalpa. Tell them the books are for the book lady in La Paloma.

2. More Time in the Day
The sun rises and sets in the tropics at 6 am and 6 pm. We are early risers, but with all of our daily chores, we seldom have time to stop and ‘smell the roses’ until the sun sets. Retirement is all about fulfilling passions and dying with no regrets. Santa, please stuff my stocking with more time this Christmas.

3. Lots of anti-itch cream
I am definitely allergic to ant bites. The only relief is the anti-itch cream with Benadryl. Santa, please fill my stocking to the brim with anti-itch cream.

4. Simplicity
I have a house full of ‘stuff and junk’ back in the states. It is an anchor in my life. When I return to the states, will you come to my yard sale? It’s time to empty my boomer nest and give it all away.

5. Fluency in Spanish
Although I can understand and respond simply to most conversations, I want to be fluent in Spanish. We are culturally immersed in an all Spanish-speaking community. Santa, please give me the gift of fluency in Spanish. It would be helpful if I could wake up one morning and speak fluently. I’ve practiced patiently for over eight years, yet I still sound like a third grader. Please?

I struggled making this expat list. Honestly, my life has changed so much that I am not tuned in to the frantic Christmas pace and capitalistic mentality of my younger years. Realistically, Santa, if you can’t deliver my expat Christmas list, it’s no big deal…there’s always manana.