Weekly Photo Challenge: Trios from Our Travels

The Weekly Photo Challenge is TRIO.

There is something magical about three you know – a trio is tight and nicely economical. ~Ian Williams

One of the best things about living in Nicaragua is that we can afford to travel because the cost of living is much cheaper than in the United States. Enjoy my trios from our recent travels through Guatemala.

A trio of benches and puppets at a children's library in Antigua.

A trio of benches and puppets at a children’s library in Antigua.

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As Much Money and Life as You Could Want!

“As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all – the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


IMG_5788What would you do if money wasn’t an issue? If you live abroad in a developing country like we do, would you move? Travel more? Buy a big house and a new car? Start a charity? Pay off college loans?

We initially moved to Nicaragua because we could retire early from our teaching positions with small pensions. Nicaragua is affordable and we could live easily and simply on a fixed income. I nicknamed us “Economic Refugees” because we could never afford to retire early on fixed incomes and stay in the U.S. Money mattered in our decision to retire in Nicaragua.

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Pros and Cons of Living on an Island

“Every man is an island, and every heart seeks the ferry to cross the main…”
― Mykyta Isagulov


Sunday evening, I was invited to speak with a group of women from Finding My Place, a travel agency for women who want to explore living abroad. It was a lovely gathering with well-traveled women who are exploring Nicaragua as a place to hang their hammocks. Many of the questions they asked revolved around the pros and cons of island life. Below are some of the things we discussed, which may be of interest to you, too.

Islands are slow and far away from many distractions. Ometepe Island, Nicaragua is no exception. Island living is not for the faint of heart, yet the rewards are many, tranquility is abundant, and our lifestyles are simple.

Pros of Island Life

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Plain Cotton to an Ornate Weaving

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Ornate.

How does one transform plain cotton into an elegant work of art? The answer is simple if you are an indigenous Mayan weaver. Weaving colorful cotton fabric was an art form among high-ranking ancient Mayan women. Today, weaving is a daily part of Mayan women’s lives as they pass down their skills from generation to generation and sell their ornate woven products through women’s cooperatives in Guatemala.

We visited the San Pedro Women’s Weaving Cooperative in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala where we were taught the process of transforming this…
IMG_0948into this…the traditional elaborate Mayan women’s clothing.
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Let’s Get Real about Rum in Nicaragua

IMG_7647“If I ever go missing, please put my photo on a Rum bottle, not a milk carton. I want my friends to know I am missing!” ~ Laurie Manzer

It is November and time for my monthly Let’s Get Real Series. This month I am focusing on the Flor de Caña rum made in Nicaragua. What is the history of the rum? Who makes it? What problems exist with the sugar cane workers who cut the sugar cane for the rum? And why the heck did they decide to child-proof the Flor de Caña rum bottles?

Let’s Get Real About Rum in Nicaragua
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Guatemalan Market Treats

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Treat.

We do not celebrate Halloween in Nicaragua. Instead, we observe the Dia de Muerto ( Day of the Dead), on November 2nd. That is the time we gather at the cemetery to clean and decorate the graves of our loved ones.

My favorite indulgence, besides chocolate, is when we travel abroad. The biggest feast for my eyes is to treat myself to a local market. And I mean LOCAL, not the tourist traps where throngs of foreigners go. When we were in Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, we took a chicken bus to Santa Clara to visit the local market. We were the only foreigners there and what a treat it was!

Market Day in Santa Clara.
IMG_0820Fresh strawberries…such a delight.
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You Know You Have Chikungunya When…. ( check out my update)

Update: Yesterday ( Wednesday) we couldn’t take the pain anymore. It was our 24th day with our second relapse. All of our local friends told us to get Valerpan injections, a type of steroid. They have been almost pain-free since their injections for months after the injections. I have been nursing my aches with natural teas, vitamins, and Aleve at night…to no avail. Nothing relieved our pains.

So, we sucked it up and went to the pharmacy to buy the Valerpan and the syringes. I laughed at the display case in the front of the pharmacy because it contained every drug known to man that would help to alleviate Chikungunya symptoms.

We purchased two vials of Valerpan, after googling the adverse side-effects, which by the way are few. We also purchased syringes and Meloxicam pills, an effective drug that can enter the small joints where the virus is trapped and release the toxins. For $18 total, we were stocked up and ready to experiment with our new medications. No doctor’s appointment or prescriptions were needed.

Our expat nurse friend, Theresa, administered our injections. She took the Valerpan about a month ago, and is almost symptom-free.  She told us to expect relief in 2-4 hours. I was exhausted after our trip into town, so I fell asleep on the couch when we returned home. Three hours later, Ron and I both began to notice less arthritic pain. This morning we are almost pain-free.

I have been born again. Hallelujah! I have so much energy from the steroid, but I’m going to take it easy and not overdo. I decided to take the Valerpan injections during the full moon phase, because that’s when my body rids itself of lots of water. I am a Cancer and greatly affected by the full moon.

So far, so GREAT! I am saving the Meloxicam pills for a time when I may need them to reduce additional inflammation and arthritic pain. I will be sure to keep you updated on our progress.


I feel like my life is spiraling out of control…
IMG_0556and I blame Chikungunya. Ron and I have had extremely painful relapses and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. If you’ve never experienced chronic pain, I will try to describe what it feels like with my pictures of our Chikungunya vacation to Guatemala.

                            You Know You Have Chikungunya When…

…you’ve mastered the walk like a zombie
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Antigua, Guatemala vs. Granada, Nicaragua

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
― Roman Payne, Cities & Countries 

Both Antigua, Guatemala and Granada, Nicaragua are charming old colonial cities that for many years were the political, religious, and economic hearts of Central America. How do these colonial cities compare? You may be surprised to discover that there are more similarities than differences.

There are a handful of both dormant and active volcanoes close to Antigua. You can see several of them from any vantage point in Antigua. The most popular volcano destination is Vulcán Pacaya. It is always in a near state of eruption with plumes of volcanic gases, steam, and occasional flashes of glowing red lava.

There are also several dormant and active volcanoes one can see around Granada, too. Mombacho Volcano is one of the most popular dormant volcanoes due to its location only 10 km from Granada, its diverse cloud forest, and its four craters. On a clear day, you can see our magnificent active volcano on Ometepe Island, Vulcán Concepcion. Masaya National Park is a short drive from Granada. Easily accessible, one can peer into the steaming crater of this active volcano where political dissidents and prisoners were once thrown.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefully Climbing with Chikungunya

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Careful.
 Ron and I planned a 40th wedding anniversary trip to Guatemala. The morning before we left, we both had a relapse of Chikungunya. I won’t go into all the debilitating details. You can read my post on Chikun…What? However, let me say that we both mastered the ‘walk like a zombie’ for Halloween. We tried to change our airline tickets, but it was prohibitively expensive. So, we sucked it up and hobbled to the airport with delicate painful baby steps.

Guatemala, is not a place to visit with Chikungunya. The cobblestone streets of Antigua were painfully difficult for our swollen ankles. We calculated every step carefully.

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A Three-Hour Tour

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…I hummed that song for three hours on my flight from Ometepe Island to Managua, which was supposed to be a 20 minute flight.

IMG_0272I was a little concerned when I booked my flight online with La Costéna because it is usually $50 plus taxes for a one-way flight. This time it was $83. Why the increase in the cost? The flight schedule said the plane left at 2:45 and arrived in Managua at 3:05.

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